Australian – pronounced ‘Strayan’ or ‘Strine’ in the local tongue – is a majestic language; a distant cousin of the Queen’s English that has developed by baking in the outback sun for the last couple of centuries. Learn these 15 phrases and you’ll seamlessly blend in with the locals, from ripper larrikins to bogan nuffies and everyone in between.
G’day (guh-day) / Hello
The words ‘good’ and ‘day’ jammed together to form Australia’s most common greeting. Often accompanied by an utterance of ‘howzitgarn’: the expression ‘how’s it going?’ mashed into one indistinct yet uniquely Australian drawl.
Fair dinkum (fair dink-um) / Genuine
An article of unknown origin, although ‘dinkum’ is thought to derive from a phrase in the English Midlands meaning ‘work’ or a Chinese expression from the Gold Rush era meaning ‘true gold’. Today, this two-word adjective underlines authenticity, stresses veracity and adds emphasis, for example ‘This weather is fair dinkum unbelievable’ or ‘The English cricket team is fair dinkum hopeless’.
U-ey (you-wee) / U-turn
Apparently pronouncing words in their entirety is too much effort for Australians, so they embrace every opportunity for a contraction, such as this abbreviation of the common term for performing a 180-degree turn while driving. The noun is only ever paired with the verb ‘chuck’, as in ‘Hey mate, chuck a U-ey’.
Bottle-o (bot-low) / Off-licence, liquor store
The universal Australian abbreviation of ‘bottle shop’, a purveyor of alcoholic beverages; what a Pom (Englishman) would call an off-licence or a Yank (American) would call a liquor store. The place where Australians pick up their grog, piss, turps, coldies, frothies, stubbies, tinnies and slabs. Yes, Australian-English is a rich, colourful dialect when it comes to alcohol.
Esky (ess-key) / Ice chest
A portable, insulated receptacle used to cool grog, piss, turps, coldies, frothies, stubbies, tinnies and slabs, with the assistance of a bag of ice picked up from the servo (service station, or gas/petrol station). The esky also doubles as a makeshift a seat, dinner table, or wicket for a game of backyard cricket.
Chockers (chock-ahs) / Full
Also ‘chock-a-block’or ‘chock-full’, originally naval slang during World War II. These days the term means extremely full, as in ‘Sydney’s roads are fair dinkum chockers’ or ‘We can’t fit any more stubbies in the esky, it’s totally chockers’.
Barbie (bar-bee) / Barbecue
The label given to both the appliance that sizzles snags (sausages), as well as the time-honoured social gathering chock-a-block full of merriment and revelry. Unrelated to the blonde-haired children’s doll of the same name, and contrary to popular belief, rarely used in the same sentence as the word ‘shrimp‘.
Munted (mun-ted) / Drunk
A colourful adjective used to describe a state of inebriation when someone has indulged in one too many frothies, also known as being pissed, legless, blind, or as full as the back of a plumber’s ute. Munted also means something (or someone) that is unpleasant on the eye; ugly.
Arvo (arr-voh) / Afternoon
Another classically Australian diminutive that refers to the best time of day to pop down to the bottle-o, pick up some grog to stick in the esky, slip some snags on the barbie, then get fair dinkum munted.
Pash (pash) / Kiss
An indelicate description of kissing passionately, hence the name. Pashing typically leads to two things: pash rash (red marks around the lips caused by excessive kissing), and/or rooting (the crass Australian term for the birds and the bees).
Bogan (bow-gun) / Redneck
Britain has chavs, the United States has rednecks, and Australia has bogans. Often spotted in their traditional dress – flannelette shirt, footy shorts and thongs – with a cigarette in one hand, a bourbon in the other, with a mullet shading the tattoos on their neck.
Larrikin (la-rick-un) / Maverick
The embodiment of Australia’s national character, best defined by the country’s pre-eminent historian Manning Clark as ‘larger than life, sceptical, iconoclastic, egalitarian yet suffering fools badly, and, above all, defiant’. A fair dinkum Aussie.
Nuffy (nuff-ee) / Idiot
Everyone wants to be a larrikin, but no one wants to be a nuffy, a term that refers to someone whose IQ lies in the vicinity of their shoe size. Also known as a nuff nuff, mick mock, spud, mug, boof head, drongo, dipstick or galah.
Deadly (ded-lee) / Great
A term chiefly used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people meaning awesome or wicked. Other Australian (and perhaps slightly more bogan) colloquialisms that express the same sentiment include ripper, bonza, grouse and heaps good.
Bugger (bug-gah) / Various
The most versatile word in the Australian vernacular. Can be used as a noun to mean thing (e.g. ‘Slippery little bugger’) or nothing (‘This grog cost bugger all’), as a verb to mean ruin (‘You had one job and you buggered it up’) or waste time (‘I buggered around all arvo’), as an adjective to mean tired (‘I’m buggered after work’), as an imperative to mean get lost (‘Bugger off’), or as a mildly profane exclamation (‘Bugger!’).
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.