Our Guide To Aussie Slang For International Students

Welcome to Australia! As an international student, Australia is an amazing place to live, study and enjoy life. No doubt you will fall in love with the culture, climate and lifestyle. If you moved to Australia as an international student, ready to tackle your choice of study down under, you might need some help understanding some Aussie slang first. Even if English is your first language, our slang can be difficult! Let this guide help you!

Surfer doing the shaka
“Have a crack”

Australians are typically laid back and relaxed and our lifestyle reflects this. We’re also quick speakers, and have no time to waste when explaining or describing! These two notions put together creates our Aussie slang. Some may refer to us shortening our words as lazy, we’d argue it’s efficient. We get our points across quicker (right?!). Anyway, here are some basic ground rules that will help you enormously.

Aussie slang, part 1: Abbreviations

Basically, a lot of Aussie slang is abbreviating long words, or putting an ‘o’ at the end of the word, replacing the last syllable of said word. Some common examples include:

  • “Arvo” refers to afternoon
  • “Uni” refers to University
  • “Servo” refers to Service Station or Petrol Station
  • “Bottle-o” refers to Bottle Store or Liquor Store
  • “Woolies” refers to Woolworths (a grocery store you’ll come to know)
  • “Brekky” refers to Breakfast
  • “Exxy” refers to something being expensive
  • “G’Day” technically refers to Good day, but is used as a friendly hello
  • “Sambo” refers to a sandwich
  • “Barbie” refers to having a BBQ
  • “Cossies” or “Togs” (depending where you are in Aus) refers to swimsuit or bathers
  • “Esky” refers to a cooler or an ice box that keeps your drinks cold (important)
  • “Thongs” refer to flip flops or sandals
  • “Devo” refers to being devastated

Honestly, this is only the beginning of slang words that you’ll hear most days, but they’re not hard to pick up and understand once you’re fully immersed down under.

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 11: Pete Samu of Australia during the Bledisloe Cup match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Australian Wallabies at Sky Stadium on October 11, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
Footy, one of Australia’s national sports

Aussie slang, part 2: Sayings and expressions

Aussies also tend to use lots of expressions that may represent something, an action or a feeling. These get thrown around a lot, and they may take you a while to understand but we’d like to give you a quick crash course on some sayings we know you’ll hear often. 

Our Guide To Australian Slang For International Students

  • “Righto” is like ‘ok then’ in agreement
  • “She’ll be right” means it will work out fine
  • “Take a sticky beak” refers to someone having a look at something
  • “Suss it out” refers to looking into something more thoroughly or checking out a situation
  • “Chucking a sickie” means calling in sick to work (usually when you’re not sick)
  • “Heaps” is used frequently, and refers to many or a lot, for example “I miss you heaps”.
  • “Bloody oath” means something to be true
  • “Carrying on” refers to someone having a tantrum
  • “Dogs breakfast” refers to something being really untidy or dirty
  • “Flat out” refers to being super busy
  • “Have a crack” means to try something new
  • “Hectic” describes something as cool or fun, for example ‘That footy game was hectic’
  • “Footy” refers to football, Australian Football, Rugby Union and Rugby League, but “Soccer” refers to Soccer (known as football in other parts of the world)
  • “That’s a bit iffy” means something is a bit off, or a bit risky
  • “Hooroo” means goodbye
  • “Mad as a cut snake” refers to someone or something being crazy
  • “My shout” means someone is buying drinks for you
  • “No worries” means it’s okay, or you’re welcome, people usually respond with no worries to a thank you
  • “Play it by ear” refers to something being decided later on
  • “Stoked” refers to being very happy about something
  • “Yeah, nah” means no and “nah, yeah” means yes (we know this one is confusing but you’ll get it)

For some more insight into Australian slang and humour check out the comedians from Inspired Unemployed, for example here.

Aussie slang for avocado on toast is avo on toast
Aussie dish: Avo on toast

Aussie slang, part 3: Food

So, we’ve run you through a fair few Aussie expressions, and we’re almost certain you’ll come across a few you definitely haven’t heard which is bound to happen – and that’s ok! The best thing about moving to another country to study is learning all about the culture, the language and the lifestyle! Another huge part of moving to a different country is eating all the new food. We think you should probably understand some colloquial terms for types of food or dishes in Australia – no doubt it’ll come in handy. 

  • “Avo” is an avocado
  • “Snag” is a sausage – “throw some snags on the barbie” refers to putting sausages on the barbecue
  • “Maccas” refers to McDonalds – technically not Australian cuisine as such, but we know you’ll hear this one
  • “Cuppa” is a cup of tea
  • “Choccie” is chocolate, “choccy biccy” is a chocolate biscuit
  • “Schnitty” is a chicken schnitzel – commonly ordered at the pub with chips and salad
  • “Parmi” or “Parma” (depending on where you move in Aus) is a chicken parmigiana, also commonly ordered at the pub
  • “Spag bol” is spaghetti bolognaise
  • “BLT” is a bacon, tomato and lettuce sandwich
  • “Dog’s eye” refers to a meat pie
  • “Lollies” refers to candy or sweets
  • “Chewie” is chewing gum
  • “Pav” is a pavlova, a dessert usually had on Christmas
  • “Roast chook” is a roast chicken

We’re sure you’ll come to know and love all of these types of food, dishes and snacks in time. Moving to another country as an international student is such a unique and incredible opportunity, getting to experience life as a young person in a different culture and lifestyle. It’s one of the best things you can do, and we think Australia is a great choice. Soon you’ll be using all of the slang like a real Aussie!