Australian Proverbs, Slang And Sayings

A collection of Australian Proverbs to inspire you. Wise Australian sayings in the form of proverbs that have been passed down for generations.

See also: Australian FolkloreAboriginal ProverbsAboriginal Words In Australian English, and Australian Aboriginal Religion and Mythology

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Australians, colloquially known as Aussies, are citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia. Home to people of many different ethnic origins, religious and national origins, the Australian culture and law does not correspond nationality with race or ethnicity, but with citizenship and loyalty to the country. Although Australians may be descended from Convicts and other underclasses of the world, it seems the underclasses have some interesting things to say.

Australian Proverbs

Australian Proverbs

A bad worker blames his tools. – Australian Proverb

A bad workman blames his tools. – Australian Proverb

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. – Australian Proverb

A bird makes his nest little by little. – Australian Proverb

A champion team will always beat a team of champions. – Early Collingwood

A determined soul will do more with a rusty monkey wrench than a loafer will accomplish with all the tools in a machine shop. – Robert Hughes

A fair go for all, regardless of ethnicity, race, religion, except for Poms, Seppos and Kiwis. – Australian Proverb

A good conscience is a soft pillow. – Australian Proverb

A handsome shoe often pinches the foot. – Australian Proverb

A man is known by his friends. – Australian Proverb

A man may be a tough, concentrated, successful money-maker and never contribute to his country anything more than a horrible example. – Robert Menzies

A Man of Business is one who becomes possessed of other people’s money, without bringing himself under the power of the law. – Marcus Clarke

A Platypus is a duck designed by a committee. – Australian Proverb

A spark can start a great fire. – Australian Proverb

A stitch in time saves nine. – Australian Proverb

A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour. – Australian Proverb

A watched pot never boils. – Australian Proverb

A wise man doesn’t need advice, and a fool won’t take it. – Australian Proverb

A wowser is…a person who is more shocked at seeing two inches of underskirt than a mountain of misery. – John Scaddan

A wowser…is a man who, being entirely destitute of the greater virtues, makes up for their lack by a continuous denunciation of little vices. – William Holman MLA

Actions speak louder than words. – Australian Proverb

After the storm comes the calm. – Australian Proverb

All our best heroes are losers. – Richard Glover

All the evil in his nature (and who is without any) had been developed and nourished by harsh and cruel treatment, kindling, perhaps, a revengeful feeling against all mankind – a feeling, often the cause, in Australia at a future period, of the barbarous murder of innocent individuals. – Convict Saying

Always back the horse named self-interest, son. It’ll be the only one trying. – Jack Lang

Angry words fan the fire like wind. – Australian Proverb

As a leader you must celebrate life, you must celebrate success and paradoxically, you must celebrate heroic failures. – Lieutenant General D.M. Mueller

As a work of art, it reminds me of a long conversation between two drunks. – Clive James

As is the gardener so is the garden. – Australian Proverb

Australia – land of tomorrow. – Australian Proverb

Australia is a nation of compassion. Courage and compassion. And the third of these great values: resilience. – Kevin Rudd

Australia is just so full of surprises. – Bill Bryson

Australia lives with a strange contradiction – our national image of ourselves is one of the Outback, and yet nearly all us live in big cities. Move outside the coastal fringe, and Australia can feel like a foreign country. – Kate Grenville

Australian Quotes

Australian seafarers make an important contribution to national security in a country with thousands of kilometres of uninhabited coastline. – Anthony Albanese

Australians always want everyone to be average, as if the best thing you can do is fit in. – Poppy King

Australians and the British are very similar: If you try and stand out in any way, and you try to reach for success, someone is gonna be there to cut you down. – Joel Edgerton

Australians are a passionate lot. We are also a very practical lot. – Kevin Rudd

Australians are very provincial in many ways. If they feel that you’ve used them as a stepping stone to bigger things, they resent it. – Graham Russell

Australians will never acquire a national identity until individual Australians acquire identities of their own. – Patrick White

Australia’s treatment of her Aboriginal people will be the thing on which the world will judge Australia and Australians – Not just now, but in the greater perspective of history. – Gough Whitlam

Bad news travels fast. – Australian Proverb

Before you criticise someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticise them, you’re a mile away and have their shoes. – Australian Proverb

Being an Australian that’s been No. 1 in the world back home playing in Australia, that’s a pretty cool moment to have. – Jason Day

Being different is easy. Doing something better than others is hard. – Australian Proverb

Better safe than sorry. – Australian Proverb

Better to have than to wish. – Australian Proverb

Big fish eat little fish. – Australian Proverb

Blood is thicker than water. – Australian Proverb

By 1990, no Australian child will be living in poverty. – Bob Hawke

Call a spade a spade. – Australian Proverb

Call on God, but row away from the rocks. – Australian Proverb

Charity begins at home. – Australian Proverb

Crying is for poofters and girls. – Australian Proverb

Cut your coat according to the cloth. – Australian Proverb

Distance lends enhancement to the view. – Australian Proverb

Distance makes the heart grow fonder. – Australian Proverb

Do right and fear no man. – Australian Proverb

Do you know why I have credibility? Because I don’t exude morality. – Bob Hawke

Dog must not steal from dog. – Convict saying

Don’t blow your own trumpet. – Australian Proverb

Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched. – Australian Proverb

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. – Australian Proverb

Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched. – Australian Proverb

Empty vessels make the most sound. – Australian Proverb

Encourage your people to be committed to a project rather than just involved in it. You know the difference between involvement and commitment don’t you? In a meal of bacon and eggs, the chicken is involved, the pig is committed. – Richard Pratt

Every man is the architect of his destiny. – Australian Proverb

Experience is the father of wisdom. – Australian Proverb

Faint heart never won fair lady. – Australian Proverb

Familiarity breeds contempt. – Australian Proverb

First impressions are the most lasting. – Australian Proverb

God helps those who help themselves. – Australian Proverb

Good company on the road is the shortest cut. – Australian Proverb

Half a loaf is better than none. – Australian Proverb

Happiness will never come to those who don’t appreciate what they have. – Australian Proverb

Hatred is a blind as love. – Australian Proverb

He who laughs last, laughs longest. – Australian Proverb

Help the poor by not becoming poor. – Australian Proverb

How clearly does the behaviour of that unlearned heathen prove that shame is an artificial sentiment resulting from education alone; and that different communities measure propriety, nay even right and wrong, by various standards established under the operation of dissimilar circumstances. – Convict Saying

I do not pretend that I have led a blameless life, or that one fault justifies another, but the public in judging a case like mine should remember that the darkest life may now have a bright side. – Ned Kelly

I have outlived that care that curries public favour or dreads the public frown…let the hand of law strike me down if it will, but I ask that my story be heard and considered. – Ned Kelly

I like villains because there’s something so attractive about a committed person — they have a plan, an ideology, no matter how twisted. They’re motivated. – Russel Crowe

I say to the young blokes, when you get asked for an autograph, don’t knock it back because there’ll be a time where no one will ask you. – Brett Kenny

I’ve never seen anyone rehabilitated by punishment. – Henry Lawson

If I had a donkey What Wouldn’t go, do you think I’d wallop him, oh dear no. – Convict Saying

If my lips teach the public that men are made mad by bad treatment, and if the police are taught that they may exasperate to madness men they persecute and ill treat, my life will not be entirely thrown away. – Ned Kelly

If the guy next to you is swearing like a wharfie he’s probably a billionaire. Or, just conceivably, a wharfie. – Australian observation

If the section cannot remain here alive, it will remain here dead, but in any case it will remain here. Should any man through shell-shock or other cause attempt to surrender, he will remain here dead. – Lieutenant F.P. Bethune

If you catch a man, throw him back! – Australian Proverb

If you go out for a big night and by some misadventure you end up in a prison cell, you can count on your best friend to bail you out, but your best mate will be in there besides you. – Australian observation

If you lie down with dogs, you’ll get up with fleas. – Australian Proverb

In particular, Australia, because of its ancient geography, soil profile and distinctive weather patterns, is more adversely affected by climate variability than some other continents. – Peter Garrett

In the planting season, visitors come singly, and in harvest time they come in crowds. – Australian Proverb

Indeed I am not certain that every individual in the two English Houses of Parliament would be the worse for seven years, “lagging”; it would make practical men of them. – Convict Saying

It is Australian innocence to love The naturally excessive and be proud Of a thoroughbred gelding who ran fast. – Peter Porter

It is better to be defeated on principle than to win on lies. – Arthur Calwell

It is easier to destroy than to build. – Australian Proverb

It is easy to remember your enemies, its easy to forget your friends – Australian Proverb

It is long accepted by the missionaries that morality is inversely proportional to the amount of clothing people wore. – Alex Carey

It is the first step that is difficult. – Australian Proverb

It may be that your sole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others. – Australian Proverb

It’s Australian to do such things because, however uncivilised they may seem, it’s human to do them. – Hugh Mackay

It’s dead easy to die; it’s the keeping on living that’s hard. – Douglas Mawson 

It’s like the axe that’s had two new blades and three new handles but otherwise is just as it was when grandfather bought it. – Australian proverb

It’s no good crying over spilt milk; all we can do is bail up another cow. – Joseph Chiefley

It’s Australian to do such things because, however uncivilised they may seem, it’s human to do them. – Hugh Mackay

It’s rare that there’s a role that requires an Australian accent. – Heath Ledger

Keep your eyes on the sun and you will not see the shadows. – Australian Proverb

Leave tomorrow till tomorrow. – Australian Proverb

Lighting a cigarette with a sense of achievement for company made the journey worth it. – S.A. Tawks

Lost time is never found again. – Australian Proverb

Many drops make a shower. – Australian Proverb

May as well be here we are as where we are. – Australian Aboriginal saying

Nationalism is both a vital medicine and a dangerous drug. – Geoffrey Blainey

Necessity is the mother of invention. – Australian Proverb

Never complain, never explain. – Kerry Packer

None are so deaf as those who would not hear. – Australian Proverb

None so deaf as those who would not hear. – Australian Proverb

Not lip service, nor obsequious homage to superiors, nor servile observance of forms and customs… the Australian army is proof that individualism is the best and not the worst foundation upon which to build up collective discipline. – General Monash

Nothing they design ever gets in the way of a work of art. – Robert Hughes

Once bitten, twice shy. – Australian Proverb

One gets tired of the role critics are supposed to have in this culture: It’s like being the piano player in a whorehouse; you don’t have any control over the action going on upstairs. – Robert Hughes

One good turn deserves another. – Australian Proverb

One man’s meat is another man’s poison. – Australian Proverb

Ordinary people need to lead and not sit there and think that governments are going to spoon feed them. – Ian Kiernan

Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love; and then we return home. – Australian Proverbs

Out in the bush, the tarred road always ends just after the house of the local mayor. – Australian observation

Shoot straight you bastards. Don’t make a mess of it. – Harry ‘Breaker’ Morant

Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once. – Australian Proverb

Step by step one goes far. – Australian Proverb

Such is life. – Ned Kelly

Tears are words the heart can’t express. – Australian Proverb

The Australian accent is sort of like going down a step in smartness, you could say, because you guys pronounce things as they’re spelled. We add and abbreviate stuff. – Callan Mcauliffe

The Australian economy is resilient, but business and consumer confidence is fragile. – Julie Bishop

The Australian fans are really friendly and personable; the sense of humour is a lot less dry than the English. – Tom Hopper

The Australian language is easier to learn than boat talk. It has a vocabulary of about six words. – J. O’Rourke

The Australian nation is a nation of blow-ins and we’ve got the lot here – bog Irish, reffos, dagos, wogs, slopes, you name it. – Bill Leak

The Australian people expect the Government to govern, they don’t expect it to make excuses. – Tony Abbott

The Australian people want to help build this country into a great nation. This budget has not realized the capacity of the Australian people. It has underestimated them. It has let us down. – Lionel Murphy

The Australian public are very fair and they are always prepared to give a leader of a major political party a fair go. – Tony Abbott

The best way to help the poor is not to become one of them. – Lang Hancock 

The bigger the hat, the smaller the property. – Australian proverb

The bigger the hat, the smaller the property. – Australian Proverb

The clash of ideas brings forth the spark of truth. – Australian Proverb

The cricket bat is mightier than the pen and the sword combined. – Australian Proverb

The difference between a stupid man and a wise one is the stupid man’s inability to calculate the consequences of the action. The same goes for government. – Brian Penton

The family that prays together stays together. – Australian Proverb

The grass looks greener on the other side of the fence. – Australian Proverb

The hood does not make the monk. – Australian Proverb

The law locks up the man who steals the goose from the common, but leaves the greater criminal loose who steals the common from the goose. – Convict Saying

The more you know, the less you need. – Australian Proverb

The most intense hatreds are not between political parties but within them. – Phillip Adams

The only time an Australian ever walks is when his car runs out of petrol. – Barry Richards

The pot calls the kettle black. – Australian Proverb

The sun shines on both sides of the hedge. – Australian Proverb

The true Aussie battler and his wife thrust doggedly onwards: starting again, failing again, implacably thrusting towards success. For success, even if it is only the success of knowing that one has tried to the utmost and never surrendered, is the target of every battler. – Michael Page & Robert Inapen

The twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy. – Alex Carey

The wowser mistakes the world for a penitentiary and themselves as the warden. – Australian observation

There are people who wish to draw attention to themselves by attacking me. – Don Bradman

There is a thin line between love and hate. – Australian Proverb

There is nothing more Australian than spending time in somebody else’s country. – Australian Proverb

There is nothing so costly to the state as a ruined life. – Catherine Spence

There is something about the Australian psyche that seems to like films that are slightly offbeat. – Nick Park

They who came here in chains, who were lashed while they worked in convict gangs at Port Arthur. They who like many others were driven through starvation or oppression from their home-lands to the shores of this new country, Australia. They, who for a multitude of reasons that hopefully, I or my children will never witness or experience, decided not to harbour grudges or discontent but rather to look to the future. They who embraced this country as their own and said; “let’s get on with it, this is a new land, this is our home. – Dennis O’Keeffe

Those who lose dreaming are lost. – Australian Aboriginal proverb

Those who play bowls must look out for rubbers. – Australian Proverb

To each his own. – Australian Proverb

To plunder is at first as natural as to eat. How readily children lay their little hands upon every tempting article they see, until taught that it is not proper to do so. – Convict Saying

Tomorrow is a new day. – Australian Proverb

True beauty lies within. – Australian Proverb

Unless you’re willing to have a go, fail miserably, and have another go, success won’t happen. – Phillip Adams

We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love; and then we return home. – Australian Proverb

We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. – Australian Proverb

We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home. – Australian Proverb

We are moving toward recognition of the first Australians in the Australian constitution. – Kevin Rudd

We are not so much as disillusioned but illusion free. – Miranda Devine

We believe in the Australian promise; that if you work hard, you won’t be left behind. – Wayne Swan

We cultivated our land, but in a way different from the white man. We endeavoured to live with the land; they seemed to live off it. – Tom Dystra – Aboriginal man

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians. – Kevin Rudd

We want to create a sort of linguistic Lourdes, where evil and misfortune are dispelled by a dip in the waters of euphemism. – Robert Hughes

What rugby league teaches you is that everything is temporary. The dead-set certainty is that there’s adversity coming as well as success. You may as well make the most of it while you can. – Matthew Elliott

When you play test cricket, you don’t give the Englishmen an inch. Play it tough, all the way. Grind them into the dust. – Don Bradman

Where there are Torres Strait Islanders there is a community. – Bill Stephens

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. – Australian Proverb

Whether the difficulty in disposing of criminals, and whether the production of so many denote an unsound condition in the mother country, must now be determined by the wiser heads now occupied with the subject. Nevertheless, one cannot help fancying that the necessity for cure, in a certain measure, be economically superseded by prevention. – Convict Saying

While there is life there is hope. – Australian Proverb

Who needs a bodyguard, I’ve got a donk. – Australian Proverb

Why are people so unkind? – Kamahl

Winning needs no explanation, losing has no alibi. – Greg Baum

Wisdom is better than strength. – Australian Proverb

You can’t live on bread alone. – Australian Proverb

You can’t judge a book by its cover. – Australian Proverb

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. – Australian Proverb

You might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb. – Australian Proverb

You never want an Australian with his back against the wall. You put any 12 blokes together and you’ll get a job done. Whether it’s getting a bogged four-wheel-drive off the beach or standing in front of a cricket wicket and making sure we’re in a dominant position. It’s the same dog, different leg action, so to speak. – Matthew Hayden

Australian Proverbs

Australian Slang and Sayings

The term for Australia slang and pronunciation is called Strine. One of its signature features is making words as short as possible. It’s also interesting to learn how the Australian accent evolved.

  • A face like a dropped pie
    • Translation: To have an unattractive face.
      Meaning: An insult to describe someone whose face looks like the mess made when a pie is dropped.
  • A few Kangaroos loose in the top paddock
    • Meaning: Someone who is a bit daft, strange or loopy.
      Example: “Sharon’s not the smartest tool in the shed, she’s got a few kangaroos loose in the top paddock”.
  • A few roos loose in the top paddock
    • Translation: Intellectually incompetent.
      Meaning: To describe someone’s mental state as deranged and out-of-their-mind crazy by comparing them to having kangaroos loose on your farm.
  • A few stubbies short of a six-pack. A few sandwiches short of a picnic
    • Meaning: A six-pack has evolved to mean anyone with fit abdomens, but long ago the six-pack was (and still is) a group of beers. If one is perceived as being a little slow — more than feeling “under the weather,” they’re actually quite dumb — they’re a few stubbies short of a six-pack. They’re not the “full quid.” For those who don’t speak about money or alcohol, they’re “a few sandwiches short of a picnic.”
  • As crook as Rookwood
    • Translation: Chronically ill.
      Meaning: To describe someone who is very unwell by making reference to Rookwood cemetery, the largest necropolis in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Bastards
    • Meaning: Often used to refer to the British, or anyone who doesn’t play fair. The last Australian to be shot by an English firing squad in the Boer War, Breaker Morant, famously shouted his last words: “Shoot straight, you bastards!”
      During the infamous 1932-33 Bodyline cricket series, English captain, Douglas Jardine, walked into the Australian dressing room to complain about being called a bastard. An Australian cricketer supposedly asked his team: “Which one of you bastards called this bastard a bastard?”
      In politics, a third party, the Australian Democrats, was formed in the 1970s to “keep the bastards honest.”
  • Better than a ham sandwich. Better than a kick up the backside
    • Meaning: Something that is better than nothing. Even if you are paid peanuts — a pay rate that usually attracts monkeys — it’s better than a kick up the backside. You’d prefer a “fair whack.” As things become more worthwhile, they may even be better than a ham sandwich.
  • Blokes and sheilas
    • Meaning: When Julia Gillard was voted in as the country’s first female prime minister, it didn’t take long for Australia to start calling the prime minister’s partner “the first bloke.”
  • Bloody oath
    • Translation: That’s certainly true.
      Meaning: Used to declare honesty and convey your approval when you agree with what has been said.
      Example: “Mate, did your mate drink that whole carton of beer I had in the fridge?” – “Bloody oath he did”
  • Buckley’s chance
    • Meaning: William Buckley was Australia’s very own Robinson Crusoe, a man who escaped a convict ship during the first attempt to settle Melbourne in 1803. Three decades later, colonials returned to find a tattooed, two-meter tall, long-bearded man with half Aboriginal children who spoke tribal tongue. He picked up English within days.
      They soon realized it was Buckley, who was given a pardon and used as a peacemaker between whites and blacks.
      Buckley’s local knowledge led settlers to indigenous tribes throughout modern-day Victoria. He advocated cooperation with Aboriginals. After the 1840s decade of indigenous slaughter saw locals massacred, it was said that he had “Buckley’s chance” of making peace.
      Buckley spent the latter part of his life as a poor loner in Tasmania. There was a concerted lobby for the government to give him a pension for his service to the colony. Once again, he had “Buckley’s.”
  • Budgie smugglers
    • Meaning: Small or tight male beachwear featuring the Speedo logo.
      The bulge in the Lycra briefs resembles that of an incarcerated avian creature.
      Example: “The Prime Minister was relaxing on the beach in his budgie smugglers”.
  • Bushman’s handkerchief
    • Meaning: Not really a handkerchief at all, but using your hands to delicately drain the snot from your nose.
  • Can’t be bothered
    • Translation: I’m not in the mood to do that.
      Meaning: When you don’t feel like doing something because you’re tired, lazy or it’s not of importance to you.
      Example: “I can’t be bothered going to the gym today.”
  • Chuck a sickie
    • Meaning: Taking a day off work or school without necessarily being sick
      Example: I’m not feeling so well today, I’m gonna chuck a sickie
      Did you know Australians actually get a certain amount of sick days? At my last job I got 10 paid sick days a year. 10! When I worked in The Netherlands I rarely called in sick at work. But in Australia they just ‘give you’ 10 days to be sick. Rightio, mate!
  • Chuck a U-ey
    • Translation: Make a U turn.
      Meaning: To perform the U turn driving manoeuvre or to turn around in any manner of movement.
  • Cark it / Cactus!
    • Meaning:  To die or stop working
      Example: “Rob’s auntie carked it yesterday”, “My battery’s carked it”, “My phone’s cactus”.
  • Cooee
    • Meaning: A loud, Aboriginal cry in the “outback” that tells people where you are, assuming they’re within cooee range. So, if you’re not within a cooee of something, you’re nowhere bloody near it.
  • Crikey, blimey
    • Meaning: Euphemisms used to communicate amazement or surprise.
  • Dingo’s breakfast
    • Meaning: Not to have breakfast.
      A dingo is an Australian wild dog which is often persecuted and leads a tough life.
      Example: “I’m starving, I was in such a rush this morning I had a dingo’s breakfast, then came to work.”
  • Drink with the flies
    • Meaning: To drink alone
      Example: “We should invite that bloke (man) over to join us, he’s drinking with the flies”.
  • Do the Harry
    • Meaning: Harold Holt was the prime minster who disappeared off Victoria’s coast in 1967. He did the bolt, some say, from the responsibilities of the prime ministership.
  • Dog’s breakfast
    • Meaning: Messy, but doesn’t refer to food. Often used by parents to describe their kids’ chaotic lives. Not in order, a shambles, no thought, just a bit of everything. A “dog’s breakfast.”
  • Dog’s eye
    • Meaning: There’s much conjecture about what really goes inside the national staple, a meat pie. Is it beef? Kangaroo? The important thing is that it rhymes. So when you’re having a pie, it’s looking back at you, in a canine kind of way. It’s a dog’s eye. Could that really be the runny meat filling?
  • Don’t wake up next to a koala
    • Meaning: Don’t get into an accident, be safe.
      Example: It’s okay you’ll get here late. Just make sure you don’t wake up next to a koala
      The owner of the hostel where I did my 88 days of farm work sent me a text saying “Don’t wake up next to a koala’ when I told him I’d be arriving late. I replied “Ehhh, I don’t intend to…? :)”
  • Faffing around / mucking around
    • Meaning: To waste time, or do nothing
      Example: “Stop faffing around and do the dishes!”
  • Fair Dinkum
    • Meaning: True or genuine
      An old-fashioned saying used to emphasize or query whether something is genuine or true.
      Example: Australian politician at Press Conference “Yes, I am fair dinkum when I tell you, I did not use Union funds to support my prostitution addiction”.
  • Fair go, mate. Fair suck of the sauce bottle. Fair crack of the whip
    • Meaning: Made famous by the ill-fated former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who enjoyed using Australian slang to speak to the electorate and often pleaded for a “fair suck.” The phrase generally means that you want to be treated fairly.
      “Fair suck” was coined by struggling Australian families who shared droppings of tomato sauce to flavor their meat. Such was the hard life that all they wanted was an equitable suck. In the fields, they needed a “fair crack of the whip.” Fair go, mate.
  • Fair shake of the sauce bottle
    • Translation: To give it a fair go,
      Meaning: To give something a chance or a try. Used excessively by ex-Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd during an interview in 2009.
  • Fit as a Mallee bull
    • Translation: To be in excellent physical condition.
      Meaning: To be as fit and as strong as the bulls in the Mallee, which is a beef production region with harsh environments that demand the cattle be tough and in top form.
  • Flaming galah
    • Translation: What a fool.
      Meaning: Used to insult someone who is stupid by comparing them to a galah (rose-breasted cockatoo). The term is used by the character Alf Stewart on Home and Away.
  • Flat out like a lizard drinking
    • Translation: Very busy.
      Meaning: To be hard at work, just like a lizard who physically lies out flat in order to drink water which is done quickly and is a main source of activity during the day.
  • Go troppo
    • Meaning: To lose the plot, or go crazy.
      Troppo derives from the word tropical, referring to someone who lives in the tropical regions of Australia in or in hot weather. The heat is said to go to their head and makes them go crazy.
      Example: “What’s his problem?” – “He’s gone troppo, mate”
  • Go walkabout
    • Meaning: To be lost or can’t be found.
      The term walkabout refers to a rite of passage during which Indigenous male Australians undergo a journey during adolescence, typically between 10 to 16 years of age. They live in the wilderness for a period as long as six months to make the spiritual and traditional transition into manhood.
      Example: “Have you seen Simon?” – “Nah, he’s gone walkabout”
  • Going off
    • Meaning: Depending on the context it can either mean something that something is going extremely well or when someone is really angry to the point of yelling.
      Example: I’m glad I woke up early for a surf because the surf was really going off this morning”., “Did you see Stevo fight with his girlfriend? He was going off!”.
  • (Good) Onya!
    • Meaning: Said both with and without good, this expression is short for “good on you” meaning “great job” or “well done”.
      Example: “Onya, mate! Now you can understand us Aussies.”
  • Gone walkabout
    • Meaning: Another piece of language (much like the accent itself) that’s derived from indigenous culture. The natives enjoy going “walkabout,” as do other Australians who enjoy traveling — whether it’s backpacking around Asia or following a harvest at home, they’re going walkabout.
  • Happy little vegemite
    • Meaning: being very happy or satisfied.
      Example: She’s a happy little vegemite.
      Vegemite is Australia’s famous salty-tasting spread made of yeast extract, similar to the English Marmite. They say you either love it or you hate it. I personally looooove it! Did you ever try a vegemite-cheese-scroll at Coles or Woolies? Heaven!
  • Have a Captain Cook
    • Meaning: A look, a brief inspection. In apparent honor of the first Brit to map eastern Australia, Captain James Cook, who skippered the HMB Endeavour. After landing at Botany Bay he sailed on past Sydney Harbour. He had a Captain Cook (a look) and liked it.
  • Have a go, you mug
    • Meaning: The favored call of those who watch sport from budget seating. Heard at cricket games where batsmen block the ball too much, or football games where the team isn’t being inventive enough in trying to score. Generally refers to anyone who isn’t putting in a full effort or taking any risks.
  • Have a good one
    • Translation: Have a nice day.
      Meaning: Often used in place of ‘goodbye,’ the phrase is a pleasant send off.
  • Having a whinge
    • Meaning: To complain without a good reason.
      This a variant of to whine, to moan or to complain.
      Example: “Steven is having a whinge about his girlfriend. I stopped listening after he opened his mouth.”
  • Hit the turps
    • Meaning: To drink alcohol
      Turps is short for turpentine, a strong solvent.
      Example: “I had such a rough day at work yesterday, that I hit the turps hard last night”.
  • Hit the frog and toad
    • Meaning: Different to “having a frog in your throat,” which means having a sore throat. And while some Queenslanders and Territorians organize whacking day outings against the spreading plague of cane toads, it’s not used to describe the ritualized slaying of the dreaded toad. Hitting the frog and toad is when you hit the road. Get out of ‘ere.
  • How ya goin’? / Howzit goin’?
    • Meaning: How are you going? How is it going?
      A casual greeting. This expression is more of a pleasantry than a genuine question.
      Example: “G’day, howzit goin’?”.
  • I’m not here to fuck spiders
    • Meaning: I’m not here to waste time.
      Example: Let’s get started mate, I’m not here to fuck spiders.
      Nowhere in the western world you’ll find so many (deadly) freaky spiders as in Australia. They even include them in their expressions!
  • Like a bandicoot on a burnt ridge
    • Translation: To be alone.
      Meaning: To describe someone who is isolated and lonely.
  • Like a pick-pocket in a nudist camp
    • Meaning: to be very confused
      Example: He didn’t understand it and felt like a pick-pocket in a nudist camp
      Hahahahahaha. Aussies and their humor, love it.
  • Lobster, pineapple, gray nurse
    • Meaning: Australians don’t barter with lobsters and pineapples, but most have had at least one friend ring them up (or hit them up at the pub) to lend a lobster or a pineapple.
      The $20 note being a sparkling red (lobster) and the $50 note being bright yellow (pineapple) lends itself to the phrase. The $100 note, a blue gray, has now been named after a shark (grey nurse). The less important $5 and $10 notes are often referred to as past international sporting stars — Pam Shriver (fiver) and Ayrton Senna (tenner).
  • Lower than a snake’s belly
    • Translation: To have a low moral standing.
      Meaning: To describe someone an unpleasant person with no morals by comparing those to a snake who glides across the floor and is as low as any animal can get.
  • Mate’s rates
    • Meaning: A large discount.
      This term refers to the selling a product or service to someone, usually a friend or relative, at the same or close value to what the product or service will cost you. Thus, the recipient receives a large discount.
      Example: “Johnno fixed my car, he charged my mates rates.”
  • May your chooks turn into emus and kick your dunny down
    • Translation: I hope your chickens turn into emus and kick the toilet down.
      Meaning: Used when you want to wish someone bad luck.
  • My shout
    • Translation: It’s my turn to pay.
      Meaning: To buy something for someone and get the bill, commonly used to convey that you will purchase the round of drinks. Aussies are great at not splitting checks, instead, they take turns paying for things.
      Example: “Let’s go down to the pub, my shout!”
  • No Dramas / No Worries
    • Meaning: It’s like saying “don’t worry about it”, “no problem” and “you’re welcome” all at the same time.
      Example: “Thanks for lending me your ute (utility truck)” – “No worries, mate”.
  • No worries
    • Translation: Sure thing, you’re welcome.
      Meaning: Very commonly used, the phrase is similar to no problem and is a friendly way to say ‘that’s all right,’ or ‘you’re welcome.’
  • No worries, mate, she’ll be right
    • Meaning: Reflects a national stoicism that suggests everything (she) will turn out fine in the end. This being the case, there’s no real point in worrying about anything.
  • Not pissing on someone when they’re on fire
    • Meaning: Means you don’t really care about somebody. Even if they were on fire, you wouldn’t do them the service of pissing on them to put the fire out.
  • (Not) within cooee
    • Meaning: (Not) within a manageable distance. Figuratively suggesting a long way away.
      Cooee! is a shout used in Australia, usually in the Bush, to attract attention or indicate one’s own location. When done correctly – loudly and shrilly – a call of “cooee” can carry over a considerable distance. The word “cooee” originates from the Dharuk language of the Aboriginal inhabitants of the Sydney area.
      Example: “He doesn’t live within cooee”.
  • Ocker, yobbo
    • Meaning: The loudmouth who’s a larrikin, who likes the sound of his own voice, is a yobbo — often a bit of a troublemaker. A yobbo typically has a deep Australian twang to his accent, in which case he’s an “ocker.”
  • Oi for drongos and galahs
    • Meaning: Chanted three times after “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie,” in perhaps the world’s cheesiest national cry. But in normal use, it’s mouthed when you disagree with what someone is doing, or to convey annoyance and get someone’s attention: when you’re being a “drongo” or a “galah” — in fact, not native birds, but someone who has “rocks in their head” — doesn’t know what they’re doing.
  • One for the road
    • Meaning: A last drink before going home. Said at bars or friends’ houses before going home. The saying hasn’t been eradicated by the increased amount of random-breath alcohol testing on roads.
  • On the piss
    • Meaning: To drink alcohol
      Example: “Dave’s been on the piss since 4pm“.
  • Onya bike. Tell your story walkin’
    • Meaning: When you don’t want to have anything to do with someone, you tell him or her to get “onya bike,” which suggests he or she leave. Quite the opposite to “hold your horses,” which requests someone to stay, or begs their patience, similar to “keep your pants on” or “don’t get your knickers in a knot.” When you tell someone to get “onya bike,” even if they’re trying to excuse themselves with well-concocted verse, you bid them to “tell your story walkin’.”
  • Pull one’s head in
    • Meaning: Usually used in an annoyed or confrontational manner, meaning both shut up and or mind your own business.
      Example: “I’ve heard just about enough out of you mate, you’d best pull your head in.”
  • Pull the wool over your eyes
    • Meaning: Similar to “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse and chase the jockey,” this one derives from the bush. A history of “earning a buck” around woolsheds meant people had to give an honest day’s work (“eight hours’ work, eight hours’ play and eight bob a day” chanted the union movement).
      Australians had to be genuine with each other so they could all get their “fair share” of “spuds” (potatoes). If someone is being a little “sheepy,” dishonest, or “spinning a yarn,” they are trying to “pull the wool over your eyes.”
  • Put a sock in it
    • Meaning: Tells somebody to “shut up.”
  • Ripsnorter
    • Meaning: Someone playing a good game of sport (having a “blinder”), or something that’s exceptionally good. Can also be “bonza” or “beaut.”
  • Shark biscuit
    • Meaning: someone new to surfing.
      Example: Look at those Shark biscuits trying to become real wax heads
      And surfers are called wax heads, if you didn’t get that one yet
  • She’ll be apples
    • Translation: It will be alright.
      Meaning: A play on the phrase ‘she’ll be right,’ which means that whatever is wrong will soon be okay. The subject ‘she’ represents everything and the user of the phrase can be seen as optimistic or apathetic.
  • She’ll be right / She’ll be apples
    • Translation: Everything will be all right or ok.
      Example: “Nah, don’t worry mate” said Bruce, “She’ll be right.”
  • Six of one, half a dozen of the other
    • Meaning: It’s not quite you’re “damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” nor is it being “caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.” It’s when it’s 50-50 odds that whatever decision you make will not likely affect the outcome of the situation. “Six of one, half a dozen of the other” means you’ll end up with a dozen, anyway. Unless, of course, it’s a baker’s dozen.
  • Smoko, garbo, bowlo, bottlo, arvo
    • Meaning: An “o” is the suffix to any word it can shorten. If in doubt, throw an “o” on the end of the word and it’s bound to be Australian.
      A break when you smoke is a “smoko.” Someone who collects garbage is a “garbo.” A bowling and community club is a “bowlo.” A bottle shop is a “bottlo.” And the word afternoon, with three syllables, just doesn’t stand a chance: it’s evolved/devolved to arvo.
  • Some suggest the (secretly communist) politician was abducted by a Chinese submarine or UFO.
    • Meaning: More likely, he was caught in deadly currents and washed out to sea from Cheviot Beach, near Portsea. His body, however, has never been found, so anyone doing a disappearing act is doing a “Harold Holt.” So, when you have to “mosey on,” or “get the hell out of here” you do the “bolt” — the “Harold Holt.” Or simply, you do “the Harry.”
  • Spit the dummy
    • Meaning: To indulge in a sudden display of anger or frustration; to lose one’s temper.
      A similar display of when an infant spits out their pacifier “dummy” and bursts into a hysterical crying fit.
      Example: “He spat the dummy when he didn’t get the promotion”.
  • Sus it out
    • Meaning: Manage to find out something which may or may not seem suspicious.
      Example: “I don’t know if he’s single, but I’ll sus him out.”
  • Sweet as!
    • Meaning: Sweet, awesome, terrific!
      Aussies will often put ‘as’ after adjectives to give it more emphasis. Other examples include lazy as, fast as, and hot as.
      Example: “Dave’s new car is sweet as!”
  • Tall poppy syndrome
    • Meaning: A distaste for any kind of success of others.
      When someone is outwardly envious of someone because of their achievements or success.
      Example: Sharon has a bad case of tall poppy syndrome. She is constantly berating her best friend ever since she got a pay rise and a diamond engagement ring.
  • Tell him he’s dreaming
    • Meaning: Given air time by Michael Caton in “The Castle:” when you advise someone involved in a business transaction to tell their counterpart that he’s “dreaming,” you’re suggesting that the other side is not offering a fair deal.
  • Throw a shrimp on the barbie
    • Meaning: In a regression to stereotype, Paul Hogan introduced the world to this phrase and in the process invited countless tourists to come over. Australians aren’t in the habit of cooking small people — a “shrimp” refers to a yabby (or more simply, a “prawn”). It’s a way to invite someone to your house for lunch, where you throw a shrimp (or a “snag,” that’s a sausage) on the barbie.
  • Toads, banana benders, cockies, sandgropers, crow eaters
    • Meaning: These are favorite ways Aussies disparage those who live elsewhere. Tropical Queensland has many more bananas and cane toads than people, so they’re branded banana benders or cane toads. Queenslanders get their own back, calling Sydneysiders cockroaches in honor of the omnipresent, nuclear-immune pest found around the harbor city. South Australians — particularly early settlers — partake in the delicacy of crow eating, while Western Australians spend their lives groping sand (sandgropers).
  • To be stoked
    • Meaning: Extremely enthusiastic, exhilarated, or excited about something.
      Example: “Mate, I’m stoked about our surfing trip this weekend”.
  • To have a pommie shower
    • Meaning: To just put some deodorant on after a night of going out and drinking
      Example: Mate you smell. Did you wash yourself this morning? Nah mate, I just had a pommie shower”
      ‘Pom’ means ‘Prisoner of Motherland’ and is what Australians use to refer to an English person. Others claim Pom comes from the word pomegranate because an Englishman’s skin can get as red as a pomegranate from the Australian sun.
  • Two-pot screamer
    • Translation: Someone who can’t hold their drink and gets drunk easily.
      In Australia, a pot is a half-pint glass.
      Example: “Mate, keep an eye on how much your girlfriend drinks tonight, she’s a two-pot screamer”.
  • What a beaut!
    • Meaning: Something or someone beautiful
      Example: “Oi mate, that sheila’s (woman) a beaut! Is she single?”
  • What’s the John Dory?
    • Meaning: John Dory is a fish found in Sydney Harbour and it’s great grilled with lemon and pepper, or deep-fried. It also rhymes with story. So when people want to know what’s going on, or they’re requesting the “goss” (gossip), they ask what the John Dory is.
  • Woop woop
    • Meaning: An isolated place or any destination outside of your local area deeming it far away.
      Example: “Where does he live?” – “Out in woop woop”
  • Wrap your laughing gear ’round that
    • Meaning: 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 eat it.
  • You little ripper
    • Translation: That’s wonderful.
      Meaning: An exclamation to express delight or pride in someone.

Australian Proverbs

Australian Slang Words

  • Arvo
    • Meaning: Afternoon
  • Bloody ripper
    • Meaning: Really awesome
  • Blind
    • Meaning:Highly intoxicated
  • Blowing the froth off a few
    • Meaning: Drinking alcohol
  • Bludger
    • Meaning: Someone who is lazy or doesn’t work
  • Brickie
    • Meaning: A bricklayer
  • Bogan
    • Meaning: An uncouth or unsophisticated person
  • Bottle-O
    • Meaning: A liquor store
  • Brolly
    • Meaning: Umbrella
  • Buggered
    • Meaning: Exhausted
  • Can’t be arsed
    • Meaning: Can’t be bothered to do something
  • Cark it
    • Meaning: Die, stop functioning
  • Carrying on like a pork chop
    • Meaning: Someone acting silly or crazy
  • Chippy
    • Meaning: A carpenter
  • Chockers
    • Meaning: Full to the brim
  • Chuck a U-ey
    • Meaning: To make a U-turn in a vehicle
  • Chunder
    • Meaning: Vomit
  • Crikey
    • Meaning: An exclamation used to express mild surprise
  • Cracking the sh*ts
    • Meaning: Getting stroppy or angry
  • Crook
    • Meaning: Sick or ill
  • Cut
    • Meaning: To be angry or upset
  • Dead horse
    • Meaning: Tomato sauce or ketchup
  • Deadset
    • Meaning: Absolute or definite
  • Defo/Defs
    • Meaning: Definitely
  • Devvo
    • Meaning: Devastated
  • Dogged it
    • Meaning: Didn’t show up
  • Dog’s breakfast
    • Meaning: A mess or a complicated situation
  • Drongo
    • Meaning: A stupid or incompetent person
  • Drop your guts
    • Meaning: To pass wind
  • Dry as a dead dingo’s donga
    • Meaning: To be thirsty, usually for alcohol
  • Dunny
    • Meaning: Toilet
  • Durry / dart
    • Meaning: Cigarette
  • Etch
    • Meaning: Suspicious or sketchy
  • Festy
    • Meaning: Dirty or disgusting
  • Fix you up
    • Meaning: Pay back money owed
  • Flanno
    • Meaning: A shirt made from flannelette
  • Flaming galah
    • Meaning: An insult used to describe a fool or an idiot
  • Flat chat
    • Meaning: Very busy
  • Footy
    • Meaning: Australian Football League (AFL), Rugby Union (Union) or Rugby League (NRL), but not football (see soccer).
  • Frothing
    • Meaning: Very keen
  • Furphy
    • Meaning: A rumour or story, that’s untrue or absurd
  • G’day
    • Meaning: Hi or hello
  • Garbo
    • Meaning: A garbage collector
  • Gone walkabout
    • Meaning: To go missing or head off without warning
  • Goon bag
    • Meaning: The silver pouch inside a cask wine box
  • Goose
    • Meaning: A light-hearted insult to describe a foolish person
  • Hard yakka
    • Meaning: Hard work
  • Have a go, ya mug
    • Meaning: Used to encourage someone to attempt something, usually if they are unsure
  • A head like a dropped pie
    • Meaning: Describing someone who is unattractive
  • Hoooroo
    • Meaning: See you later/goodbye
  • Hungers
    • Meaning: Hungover
  • Ken Oath
    • Meaning: “F*****g oath”. A similar term to “dead set” or “fair dinkum”.
  • Knackered
    • Meaning: Tired
  • Loose cannon
    • Meaning: Someone who has no self control
  • Maccas
    • Meaning: McDonald’s
  • Mates rates
    • Meaning: Discounts
  • Nah, yeah
    • Meaning: Yes (“Yeah, nah” = no)
  • No wuckin’ furries
    • Meaning: A fun way to say “No f*****g worries.” Not a problem or you’re welcome
  • Not here to f**k spiders
    • Meaning: Let’s get the job done
  • Ocker
    • Meaning: Someone with a heavy Australian accent or mannerisms
  • On the cans
    • Meaning: Drinking alcohol
  • Pelican
    • Meaning: An insult similar to “goose”
  • Playing for sheep stations
    • Meaning: Used either seriously or ironically to describe something as a big deal, or make it not seem so important
  • Ridgey-didge
    • Meaning: Legitimate; the real deal
  • Sausage sizzle
    • Meaning: A sausage served in white bread with tomato sauce. Used as a fundraiser, especially at election polling booths (a “democracy sausage”).
  • Servo
    • Meaning: Service or petrol station
  • She’ll be right
    • Meaning: Everything will be fine
  • Shout
    • Meaning: To buy the next round of drinks
  • Shoey
    • Meaning: Drinking alcohol from a shoe to celebrate a win
  • Smoko
    • Meaning: A quick break from work for a cigarette or snack
  • Sparky
    • Meaning: Someone employed as an electrician
  • Spit the dummy
    • Meaning: To throw a tantrum
  • Soccer
    • Meaning: Football with a round ball, such as the EPL.
  • Stoked
    • Meaning: Very happy
  • Straight to the pool room
    • Meaning: Used to describe something of high quality or to be proud of
  • Stubby
    • Meaning: A can of beer
  • Stubby holder
    • Meaning: An insulated sleeve to keep a beer cold
  • Strewth
    • Meaning: Used to express surprise or dismay
  • Suss
    • Meaning: Suspicious
  • Suss it out
    • Meaning: To figure out a tricky or unknown situation
  • Taking the piss
    • Meaning: To make fun of someone or something in a light-hearted way
  • Tell him he’s dreamin’
    • Meaning: Used to describe someone with unrealistic expectations
  • The lot
    • Meaning: An Aussie burger containing meat, lettuce, egg, bacon, pineapple, cheese, beetroot and sauce
  • Tinnie
    • Meaning: A can of beer or a small aluminium boat with an outboard on the back
  • Thongs
    • Meaning: Rubber flip flops
  • Tickets on yourself
    • Meaning: Used to describe someone with an inflated opinion of themselves
  • Top bloke
    • Meaning: A good guy
  • Tosser
    • Meaning: A jerk (and variation on “w**ker”).
  • Tracky dacks
    • Meaning: Sweat pants
  • Tradie
    • Meaning: A tradesperson
  • Truckie
    • Meaning: A truck driver
  • True blue
    • Meaning: Genuine; authentically Australian
  • Turps
    • Meaning: Alcohol
  • Up the duff
    • Meaning: Pregnant
  • Waazoo
    • Meaning: Bottom; but “up the waazoo” can mean “lots of something”

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