Australian English 101: Some Common Terms and Phrases

Given everything you know about Philippine culture and history, it is not surprising to find that more people are exposed to American English as compared to Australian English.   Sure, you see a lot of skilled workers flying to the land down under, opening a window for their families to see through and somehow have a glimpse of everything Australian. But you just can’t deny the fact that Filipinos will always be more familiar with all things American over things that are unmistakably Australian.   This is why it isn’t surprising to see Filipinos who are stepping into Australian borders for the first time looking a little bit lost and confused about what’s going on around them.   The main suspect?   The language.   Introducing: Australian English   Australian English is unbelievably different from American English. The accent alone often leaves a lot of Filipinos staring and thinking hard about what somebody just said to them.   But then again, you know pretty well how great Filipinos are at adapting easily to whatever conditions they are thrown, especially when it comes to language. Give any Filipino the basics, and they can easily figure out the rest from there.   So here’s an introduction to Australian English. These are pretty basic, but it’s all you need to understand what people say the first time you land in Australia. It’s also going to help you jump in on a conversation anytime, knowing that what you’re going to say is somehow going to make sense.   Here’s a simple way to look at how Australians speak:
  • They love playing with words.

  • They love using shortcuts.

These two basic rules to speaking like an Australian could get you far. It can also give you an idea on how Australian words have evolved over time.   Basic Words and Phrases   With the basic rules in mind, here are a few commonly used Australian terms that you can hear and use in daily conversations. And knowing that you’re a Filo (that’s your first one and yes, that word is used to refer to a Filipino), you’ll get the hang of it in no time.
arvo afternoon Cya this arvo!
barbie barbeque We’re havin’ a barbie this arvo.
bogan an uncultured person, a redneck Check out those bogans hanging out by the trash.
bottle-o a liquor store or bottle shop I’m dropping by the bottle-o to grab a few cannies.
daks pants (US) or trousers (UK) I got new daks at the shops yesterday.
defo definitely
fair dinkum genuine or real Now that girl’s a fair dinkum Aussie.
grommet a young surfer I’m stoked to see that grommet rippin’ it out there!
heaps a lot Thanks heaps!
hooroo goodbye Hooroo mate, I’ll see you soon!
mozzie mosquito Watch out for mozzies, put on some bug spray.
rellies relatives The rellies are in town so I’m taking them to the shops.
roo kangaroo There are a lot more roos than people in Australia.
root sex ***This is one term that often gets foreigners into trouble, especially when they say they’re rooting for someone’s team.
rubbish garbage Take that out to the rubbish bin.
scratchy scratch lottery ticket I never win anything on those scratchies.
servo petrol station ***Australians say petrol, not gas. Asking for gas could mean that you’re asking someone to fart. I’m stopping by the servo to get some petrol.
shops mall or shopping centre I’m heading to the shops, do you need anything?
shout someone’s turn to buy drinks Your shout now, mate.
sickie sick day ***If you call in a sickie and you’re not really sick, that’s called ‘chucking a sickie’. I might end up taking a sickie if this flu doesn’t let up.
stickie sweet wine Some stickie after din-din would do it.
swimmers bathing suit Take your swimmers with you, we’re heading to the beach.
sunnies sunglasses This weather calls for sunnies.
stubbie a bottle of beer Grab me a stubbie at the bottle-o.
ta Thank you.
tradie a tradesman

***Each tradie also has his own nickname, like chippy for carpenter, sparky for electrician, garbo for garbage collector, or truckie for truck driver.

torch flashlight Take out your torch, it’s getting dark.
tosser a useless idiot I don’t want anything to do with that tosser.
ute utility vehicle or pickup truck Load everything up on the ute.
yewy u-turn You missed the exit, take a yewy here.
  These are just some words to start you off. The longer you say in Australia, you’ll pick up a few more that you can add to your vocabulary.   Special thanks to sccart for the main image.
Rica J

I am a mother, a wife and a technology loving Filipina who loves reading hi-fiction books (dragons!) , good stories, dancing, laughter, lying on the grass and eating balut. I am born and raised in the Philippines and now resides in Australia but finds myself in the Philippines for at least 3 months a year. I am part of the Filipino Australian Community and have been living between Australia and the Philippines since 2007.


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