Arvo, Brolly, and Cuppa: The ABC’s of Australian Lingo

Whether you are studying English in the beautiful city of Brisbane, magnificent Melbourne, or stunning Sydney, you will hear some words that cannot be found on Google Translate. It turns out that Australian English is more than just an accent and as a result, Aussie English can be confusing at first. The term for Australian slang and pronunciation is known as Strine, and it is often characterized by making words as short as possible! In fact, the word Selfie came from Australia! Knowing this is a great start to understanding Strine, as Strine-words usually resemble the original English word but in a shorter form. So let’s start with some of the most commonly used Australian slang words:


1. Arvo- Afternoon
2. Brolly- Umbrella
3. Bogan- An un-cultured person who is lazy and maybe not very smart (probably a lot of tattoos)
4. Cuppa- Cup of tea
5. Fair Dinkum- Honest, real, and genuine
6. Hard Yakka- Hard work
7. Pash- A long passionate kiss
8. Straya- Australia
9. Sweet as- Excellent, awesome, everything’s great
10. Shark biscuit- Someone learning to surf

Ignacio seated in front of a cabin which has a painted Australian flag


Not all Australian Lingo is short. Here are some famous Australian phrases.
1. Kangaroos loose in the top paddock – Not very smart
2. No worries, mate, she’ll be right – This expression suggests that everything will turn out okay and therefore, there is no point worrying about anything
3. Have a Captain Cook – Have a look. Captain Cook was the first person from Britain to map eastern Australia.
4. What’s the John Dory? – What is the story? John Dory is a fish found in the Sydney Harbour and happens to rhyme with “story”.
5. Wrap your laughing gear ’round that – While some suggest you can laugh on the inside, your main laughing gear is your mouth. So when you wrap your laughing gear ’round something, you are eating it.
6. Better than a ham sandwich. Better than a kick up the backside – Something that is better than nothing.
7. Do the Harry – To Disappear. Harold Holt was the prime minister who disappeared off Victoria’s coast in 1967.

Now that you have a better understanding of Australian Lingo and Phrases, you will be speaking like a local in no time! To practice your Strine outside the classroom with ILSC, check out our activities calendar in Melbourne, Brisbane, and Sydney. You are now well on your way to speaking like an Aussie!




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