Australian Slang | Real Life English! | Vocabulary and Common Expressions

Lesson Overview

Lesson Summary 

Learning the slang vocabulary used by any native English speakers is a challenge… And Australian slang is no exception! In this lesson, I’ll introduce you to a few Australians who will share a few common, Australian expressions!

We’ll cover:
Chuck a sickie
Ace / ripper
She’ll be right, (mate)!
A tradie, chippy, sparky and brickie
Knock off
Take it easy
Arvo

Get some listening practice with some Australian native English speakers!


Video Transcript
Section 1
This video is one that you’ve been asking me for, for a long time! I’m Emma from mmmEnglish, here to share some very common, very Australian expressions with you.

If you are living in Australia or planning to visit Australia in the future and plan to chat with some locals while you’re here, you’re going to have to learn some of the local slang expressions some of the local slang expressions an Australian English accent.

If you don’t already know, I’m from Australia, a very big, very beautiful island underneath you a very big, very beautiful island underneath you. Now, my Australian English is an English teachers version of Australian English, so I thought it would be useful to get some real Australian accents on here just to show you what it’s like.

So I’ve asked a few friends to think of some common Australian expressions that they use all the time and then try to explain them for you. It’s going to seem like a bit of a random collection of expressions because I asked them to think of ones that they use. But they are super useful and they’re used every day! Ready?

Let me first introduce you to Ben. Now you’ve actually met Ben before in this video here.

Arvo

Ben: I often say “What are you doing this arvo?” which means, well it’s a compressed way of saying “What are you doing this afternoon?”

Thanks Ben! that was a pretty good explanation. This afternoon is very often spoken by Australians as “This arvo” or even “sarvo”. Arvo is used in spoken English only and that goes for most of the expressions in this video. They’re informal and they’re mostly used in spoken English. And Australians like to shorten words as much as possible.

  • Arvo
  • Avo
  • Ambo
  • Servo
  • Barbie
  • Sanga
  • Kanga
  • Blowie
  • Footy
  • Mozzie
  • Bottle-o

And it just goes on and on! That’s where arvo comes from. And then there’s the link between the words, this and arvo. And this happens all the time in spoken English for all native speakers who are speaking at a natural pace no matter where they come from. Words that end in a consonant sound are often linked to the following word, if it starts with a vowel sound.

  • I’m a little hungry. I’m a – I’m a little hungry.
  • Keep it together. Keep it together. Keep it together.

So that’s why this and arvo sound like they’re smashed together. This arvo.

  • We’re having some mates around for a barbie ‘sarvo, you should come!

You can also hear arvo on its own.

  • I’ll pick it up on Wednesday arvo.

Let’s move on.

She’ll be right (mate)

Jess: Where would I use “she’ll be right“? Any time that something looks like it’s going to go wrong or you’re in doubt or any uncertainty (yes!) and you’re just like “nah it’ll be fine”  but instead you just go “she’ll be right”.

Mate, add a “mate” on the end. Mate is that extra convincer. It just reassures everyone she’ll be right mate.

Like Jess said, this expression is used all the time when you’re trying to convince yourself or someone else that everything will be okay. It’s the equivalent of saying “don’t worry about it” or “it’ll be fine”.

  • The car feels a little strange, I hope we don’t have a flat tire.
    She’ll be right, there’s only ten km’s to go.

The trick with this expression is that ‘she’ as a pronoun doesn’t always refer to a woman or a girl. Most of the time, yes it does, but sometimes you’ll hear people refer to objects as she – it’s just something to keep in mind, particularly for this expression.

Here, ‘she’ is referring to the tire or even to the situation in general.

Ace / ripper

So let’s hear a few common ways that Australians talk positively about something. Here’s Ali.

Ali: I say either it’ll be ace or I’ve had a ripper of a time! It’s a great thing. If you have a ripper, yeah a ripper, a ripper of a time, you’ve had a great time like it’s it’s up here. And the good time’s probably here and a ripper of a time and an ace time is like like maybe a little bit lower.

Okay so all of these expressions are used to say that something is really great. Note that ace is an adjective, it could be used to describe people, things, experiences. Ripper can be an adjective too!

Ripper can be an adjective too! But it can also be used in this fixed expression as a noun.

  • A ripper of a time.
  • How was your trip?
    It was ace! We had a ripper of a time! We just hung out on the beach all day!

Now when Ali and Jess were using their hands to show how great these expressions were, they were explaining the degree of greatness. So according to them, a great time is here and an ace time is here and a ripper of a time is here.

I guess that might be true! Australians, what do you think? Is a ripper better than ace? I think so.

Tradie, chippy, sparky, brickie

Meet Tom. Now Tom is a tradesman and tradesmen work in trades. They build things and they fix things. Here in Australia, it’s really common to hear the abbreviated names of these jobs. The shortened version because we Australians love to make words shorter.

Tom: Say out of all the tradies, which is a tradesman, tradies. You got your chippies – which is a carpenter. Sparkys – which is an electrician. The brickies – which are bricklayers.

Did you get that? He’s referring to people’s jobs. A tradie is a tradesman. A chippy is a carpenter. Someone who works with wood. A sparky is an electrician. A brickie is a bricklayer.

Knock off

Tom: Probably the other best part of the day is where we knock off. Finish. Get on the piss, which is like you go have a beer. Knock off and get on the piss.

Not distinctly Australian expressions there but ones that you will definitely hear when you’re speaking to Australians. Unfortunately. Knock off is to finish work for the day.

  • What time do you knock off?
  • I’ll knock off early so we can go to the cinema.

Get on the piss

To get or to be on the piss means to drink alcohol and usually quite a lot of it. One glass of wine is not “getting on the piss”. Drinking ten beers is definitely on the piss.

Now this is not really a pleasant way to describe this activity. It’s very, very informal and used only amongst friends but for goodness sake’s please don’t tell your boss that that’s what you’re doing on a Tuesday night. Tell your boss you’re meeting a friend for a drink. But then when you’re talking to your friend you could say “let’s get on the piss.” That would be letting them know that you were interested in drinking a lot that night.

  • Where’s Stan?
    It’s Friday, he’ll be on the piss with his mates.

Please don’t tell anyone you learnt that from me, you learnt it from Tom.

Chuck a sickie

Ben: I’ve got a few mates who often chuck a sickie which means when you can’t be bothered going to work, they pretend to be sick and they tell their boss, well they tell them I’m sick, but they’re really chucking a sickie.

Okay this is a good one, every Australian watching has definitely chucked a sickie at least at some time in the past. And you might have done it as well. So this is when you tell your boss that you’re unwell and that you need to take the day off work. But really you just want to do something more fun like go to the beach or maybe the night before, you went out and you partied too hard and you can’t be bothered, you feel lazy.

So in Australian slang you can say that you chucked a sickie.

Your new friends here might try and convince you to go camping with them one long weekend.

  • Come with us! You can just chuck a sickie on Monday!
  • The weather is so good today, I think we’ll just chuck a sickie and go to the beach.

Also check out how Ben said Australia.

Not in Australia anyway. Not in Australia anyway. Not in Australia anyway.

This is literally what Australia sounds like when Australians say it.

Let’s get back to the girls.

Take it easy

Jess: If you’re too keen, too excited. When else do you use it? Like if you, just like, I’m going to take it easy. Too much. But then you can also tell someone if they’re like angry or like angry too like, erratic. Just say like whoa take it easy.

Take it easy is not strictly Australian. You’ll hear it said by lots of different native English speakers but it does have a few different meanings like Jess suggested. It can mean relax, to do nothing, just rest or chill out.

  • What are you doing on the weekend?
    Nothing much, just taking it easy. 

Or it can mean calm down so if someone is getting angry or upset or they’re too energetic, then you can say,

  • Hey, take it easy, Sam. Stop yelling, tell me what’s wrong.

Okay we’re just going to deal with the shrimp thing right now. You probably think that we say “Chuck another shrimp on the barbie!” all the time. No! In Australia, this is not a shrimp. It’s a prawn.

We never say shrimp, you’ll never hear an Australian say shrimp. But barbie is slang for barbecue and you’ll hear people say that all the time!

  • Come round to our place for a Barbie on Sunday. 

That just means come around to our house for dinner. A dinner that we’re cooking on the barbecue.


So there you have it, a collection of Australian expressions by Australians. Thanks to all of my awesome Aussie mates Thanks to all of my awesome Aussie mates who helped to make this video. who helped to make this video. That’s just a little taste of the type of English that you can expect down here in Australia.

Don’t forget to subscribe and check out some of my other more serious English grammar lessons over there. Thanks for watching, I’ll see you soon.

Links mentioned in the video

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