Australian Slang Words You Probably Don’t Know

Ah, Australian slang. A lexicon unto itself, slang in Australia puts Cockney rhyming to shame. The country’s jaw-gritting determination to abbreviate even the shortest of words is a point of national pride. If you find yourself in the land down under during your travels, fear not: this list of Aussie slang will have you fluent in localese before the afternoon arvo is over.

Everything from body parts to gas stations is fair game for slang in Oz: abbreviation (or outright recoining) is a way of life here. As one Aussie pal put it: “The trick is in shortening anything that’s already been shortened and then giving it a longer nickname.” Makes sense, no? Check out the Australian words below for a quick taste of the continent’s flavorful slang.

1- Mate

Where to begin? It’s a term for friend, sure, but it’s so much more. Mate can mean any of the following in Australia, depending on the context: yeah, nah, you serious?, I’m serious, come on, awesome, don’t try me. (With the proper inflection, you can make “mate” work for you however you want.)


Breakfast. Not too exciting, but an absolute must-know if traveling with hard-partying Australians.


To “scull down” a drink is to chug it. There’s some controversy as to whether it’s “scull” or “skol,” but most Australians seem to agree on the former. The Aussies love sculling so much they’ve even got a song for it: 

Here’s to [insert drinker’s name], he’s true blue.
He’s a piss pot through and through.
He’s a bastard so they say,
Should have gone to heaven but he went the other way!
He went down, down, down, down, down!
The crowd won’t stop singing until the piss pot in question sculls down his drink.


A woman.


An Australian redneck. Often found in remote parts of the country, or, if on holiday, getting maggot in Bali.


Keen as. Sick as. Drunk as. Cool as.The implication, of course, being that these things are “as something” (as heck, presumably). But Australians, and their penchant for abbreviation, don’t have time to get around to the actual comparison. They’re lazy as.

7- Thongs

Sandals, not underwear. This is useful if someone tells you the dog is chewing on your thongs.

8- Root

To have sex. Acceptable variations are “to root” and “to get a root.” (But beware: “rooted” just means that you’re tired, so use carefully.)


A gas station.


Term of endearment for an entertainingly eccentric, careless person (often with bad fashion sense).

11- Tanty

A tantrum. If I don’t have a durry soon, I’m going to have a tanty.

12- Durry

A cigarette. They may be “smoked” or “munched” — same thing.

13- Flat Out Like a Lizard Drinking

To be busy; to be working hard.I’m flat out like a lizard drinking, trying to keep up with all this slang!


To vomit. One theory is that the word originated as English rhyming slang after an Australian cartoon character named Chunder Loo. (Chunder Loo = spew.)

15- Cossies

A bathing suit. Short for “bathing costume,” they might also be referred to as “bathers.”

16- Keen

Keen means the same thing in Australia as it does anywhere else: to be interested or eager. But the Aussies use it so much that it’s become a word all their own. In many instances, it simply acts as an emphatic “yes.”Want to go surfing?

17- MAggot

Drunk. For example: “Let’s get maggot!” or “I’m so maggot!”

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