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Top 26 Aussie Slang Terms

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Published January 29th 2017
Streuth, Stone the Flamin' Crows
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Australia Day Scones (by Matthew Kenwrick / BY-ND 2.0)


Australian slang, our unique blend of home-grown shortcuts mixed with British, American and K-Pop, boggles overseas visitors as much discovering our toilets don't drain in the opposite direction and drop bears don't exist. To prevent embarrassing misunderstandings, familiarise yourself with this A to Z of translated colloquialisms:

A couple of lamingtons short of a CWA meeting = confused or ignorant. Our national cake, a sponge coated in chocolate and coconut, is a must-have at a Country Women's Association meeting, where the focus is on your baking skills. The lamington, created in a moment of cooking chaos in Brisbane's Government House, resulted from a sponge cake falling into a bowl of chocolate sauce. Lord Lamington (his real title) suggested dipping the 'spoiled' cake in desiccated coconut so it could be enjoyed without sticky fingers.
Barmy as a bandicoot = crazy. Although it's catchy alliteration, there's no evidence that bandicoots are insane.
Carry on like a pork chop = have a tantrum.
Dorothy dixer = an easy, rehearsed question to a politician during parliamentary question time, allowing for self-promotion. Originating from advice columnist, Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer (pen name Dorothy Dix), and her practice of editing reader's questions to control the tone and content of the answers.
Eyes on, hands off = look but don't touch, especially handy for inquisitive children near anything fragile. Inspired the NSW road safety campaign targeting mobile phone use while driving, 'get your hand off it'.
Fandangled = new and complicated technology, baffling the owner. Peter's released the Fandangled range of ice cream to ease our confusion, with flavours including birthday cake and fairy
Gone two rounds with a revolving door = trying but failing.
Holus-bolus = the sum total.
It's within coo-ee of here = a destination within reach as coo-ee could be shouted and someone at the destination would hear you.
Jack of this = frustrated with something.
Knock it on the head = stop what you're doing. Now recognised by Cambridge University.

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Lamington (knife and fork optional) (by Monica Shaw / Public Domain)


Lower than a snake's belly = untrustworthy, immoral.
Mouthful of marbles = mumbling, confused speech or using overly elaborate and pompous language.
Nervous as a long-tailed cat in a roomful of rocking chairs = very nervous.
Once over = A review to check the condition of a person or product.
Piker = someone failing to complete a task, either due to fear or anxiety. Commonly used aboard sky-diving planes and bungee jump platforms.
Quick as a koala on a sleepy day = slow. An unfortunate association for the koala, forced to sleep up to 22 hours each day to conserve energy while digesting eucalyptus leaves, high in toxin and low in nutrition.
Right up your alley = something you'd like.
She'll be apples = the situation will be resolved. Alternatives include 'She'll be right'. Landline took the phrase literally in a story about year-round apple production.
Things are crook in Tallarook = there is a problem. Originating from Jack O'Hagan lamenting his woes in song and popularised by Australian soldiers during World War II. Tallarook is a small rural town in central Victoria with approximately 200 residents.
Up there Cazaly = cheer for someone, especially an AFL player. Originating from shouts from Fred "Skeeter" Fleiter to his South Melbourne Football Club team-mate, Roy Cazaly, during matches in the 1920s, urging Roy to leap skyward to catch the ball. Became an Australian idiom after spectators began chanting the phrase. Returned to popular culture in 1979 when Mike Brady released a song by the same name, promoting the Victorian Football League.
Veg out = Relax, rest, become lazy. For the health conscious, you can veg out while at Veg Out, a fruit and vegetable shop in Sydney.
Wouldn't be dead for quids = loving your current situation. Les Norton, the protagonist in a series of novels by Robert G. Barrett, took the expression the extreme with a larrakin's sense of humour and an adventurous urban life.
XXXX = Australian beer (pronounced for-ex). Fosters beer, although first brewed in Australia by 2 Americans, isn't our beer of choice. Throughout Queensland, especially during the rugby league State of Origin series, XXXX guzzled like water. When XXXX was first brewed in Castlemaine, Victoria in 1924, the letter X was used to denote the alcoholic content of an ale. More Xs = stronger beer. The beer's brewing went north to Milton, Queensland when the town's brewing company, Castlemaine Perkins, a division of a Kirin, acquired the rights.
You've got two chances - buckleys and none = an ambitious endeavour where failure is predicted. Ironically originating from the escape by convict William Buckley from a Victorian settlement in the early 19th century. He actually survived for 3 decades, aided by an Indigenous tribe. To add flourish to the phrase, the department store Buckley's and Nunn was included despite also succeeding for over a century.
Doesn't have a zack: bankrupt. Zack was slang for a sixpence, an Australian Imperial coin in circulation until the 1960s. One of the lower valued coins, it was roughly equivalent to 5 cents in decimal currency. Zack was the Australian translation for the thickly Scottish pronunciation, sounded as 'saxpence'.

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Australian thumbprints - handier than photo id (by Kurious / Public Domain)


Which Australian phrase deserves to be added to the Macquarie Dictionary? Please let us know with a comment.




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Your Comment
Krikey! Don't know the origin sorry.
by debra (score: 0|4) 628 days ago
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