Despite us all sharing a common language, holidays in Australia have the potential to flummox even the most silver tongued American or British tourist due to the prevalence of slang littered throughout the Aussie vernacular.
This can sometimes lead to confusion and even embarrassment. For example, while asking someone if they have their thongs on is totally normal in Oz, it will mean something very different back in the motherland.
Our short guide to Australian English will help you fit right in with the locals and who knows, you might even get invited back to crack open a tinnie and enjoy a few snags on the barbie!
Arvo simply means afternoon, as in “see you Saturday arvo”. It can also be used as “sarvo” meaning this arvo. It’s a typical example of Aussie’s first shortening a word before adding an additional O or I, as in Journo (journalist) or uni (university).
Bloody Oath is a very strong way of affirming a statement in a light hearted humorous way, e.g. “England were pretty disappointing in the Rugby World Cup”, could be answered, “Bloody Oath they were mate”.
If something is dinkum, it is honest genuine and reliable. It can also be used in the compound form “fair dinkum”, which essentially means fair or equitable dealing.
Like many Aussie slang phrases, “fair dinkum” derives from 19th century British dialect, with the British equivalent being “fair-dos”.
Fair Go means a fair deal or a reasonable chance as in “the director didn’t give him much of a fair go at the audition” It can also be used as an exclamation, as in, “Fair go mate, let us have a go at picking the restaurant this time.”
Fans of long running Aussie soap, “Hone and Away” may recall shopkeeper Alf Stewart berating the local teenagers with a booming utterance of, “you flaming galah!”
A galah is a type of bird and the word comes from the Aboriginal word for the grey-backed cockatoo. Since the 19th century it has been used to denote an imbecile or an idiot, as the bird itself is perceived to be somewhat stupid!
Dunny means toilet in Australian English. It originates from the British word, “dunnekin” which refers to ah outside privy. In modern parlance however, the dunny can be used to refer to any type of toilet, as in, “hang on a sec mate, I need to use the dunny”.
Ripper is a way of conveying delight and saying something is great, as in “that was a ripper night out”. It originates from the old British word “ripping”, as in “a ripping great yarn”. The word “bonzer” can also be used to mean the same thing.
She'll be apples
This is a term of reassurance to say that everything will be OK, fine, alright etc. An example night be, “I’m really worried about this job interview”, to which the answer might be, “Don’t worry, she’ll be apples”.
It actually derives from the rhyming slang, “apples and spice” meaning nice, as in “everything will turn out nice”.