Caught up in ‘Aussie Slang’

October 7, 2020

I had the privilege of studying in English medium right from my nursery until the completion of my studies, except for Std. I where my parents experimented with Hindi medium due to transfers my dad would have to endure as a government employee. Naturally, as a result of this exposure I became well-versed in the language so much so when we migrated to Australia in October 2006, this was one thing I was least worried about. A few linguistic instances during our initial entry to the land Down Under in August 2003 had brushed it as a one off, although ended up buying an Aussie slang dictionary to go through. The dictionary still sits in our home library without even a page being opened to this day but had a photograph clicked to publish in this piece of writing.

It was a tad hilarious then when I was caught out many a times trying to make sense of the English spoken here which was a ‘slanguage’ (slang language) rather than proper English language. The Encyclopaedia Britannica defines slang as “unconventional words or phrases that express either something new or something old in a new way. It is flippant, irreverent and indecorous.” Simply put, slang is a language consisting of words and phrases that are regarded as very informal are more common in speech than writing and are typically restricted to a particular context or group of people. I felt like a batsman on the crease beaten every time by a fast swinging delivery, without having a clue which way the ball would go, once it had pitched.

Are you CROOK?

We got our Permanent Residency Visa in June 2003, the terms and conditions of which were, we had to enter any part of Australia within a year and before the five year validity ends on June 2008 to settle, unless an extension was granted for exceptional circumstances. We decided to visit Brisbane and Gold Coast in the State of Queensland for our ‘first entry.’ On the third day in Gold Coast, I began feeling a bit unwell with an irritating nose and constant sneezes. While in India, I was always prone to ‘dust allergy’ with continuous sneezing and this was not something new.

I had to go to the Front Desk (Reception) that day to obtain some information from the Receptionist. As I approached the Reception Desk, I just could not help letting out a couple of sneezes. The lady receptionist looking at me asked: Are you crook? No doubt, I was feeling a bit sick and sneezing and I for one thought she was making light of my condition by asking, whether I was a crook? I felt a bit awkward hearing it and so tried to ignore her question and then when she queried again I had enough and shot back, ‘I am not. You are the one who is a crook!’ She went mum and numb (they don’t talk back to the guests) and politely asked: How she could be of help? Meanwhile, I noticed a bloke (man) standing at the edge of the Front Desk who had a sarcastic laugh on his face. I endlessly stared at him, while my job was being done and pushed off.

Today, CROOK is a favourite term of mine, when I dial my Manager to inform him that I will not be able to come to the workplace as ‘I am Crook.’ I might have to visit a Doctor!

In contrast to proper English meaning that states a crook is a person who is dishonest or a criminal, crook in Aussie slang simply means ‘to be unwell or sick or to have fallen ill.’ When the Receptionist was politely asking me that question after I sneezed looking at my bloated face, she was actually enquiring my well-being. I had contracted ‘hay fever,’ an allergy that is common here in which the mucous membranes of the eyes and nose are inflamed, causing running nose, watery eyes and sneezing.


It took me almost 8 monthsto get my first full time permanent job in Oz but the wait was worthwhile as I got a good break in a leading Professional Services Company as a Senior Consultant. My boss, checking on me at the end of my first day at work enquired: How you going? that sounded as a single word Howyoogoing? As I understood him perfectly well or so I thought, I responded: I am going by train, hearing which my colleagues seated around could not help laughing by themselves, though my boss just proceeded to his room without saying anything. I was a bit confused as whether going by train was a taboo here and driving to office is all that matters or whether I should have politely asked: It will be great if you could drop me in your car or I would appreciate if you give me a lift!

It was only after a few days, I understood the meaning of that slang phrase so much so it had nothing at all to do with what bike (bicycle), bus, tram or train you plan to get to the office or return home. It literally means, How’s things?/How are you doing?/Hope you are doing well/All is going OK with you. In the context of my boss simply put, he was asking "how yoo going?" (with the task I was doing) i.e. Are you coping OK?

It is one of the most common greetings you will hear around, but when he had asked me that day, I completely misread the yorker and was clean bowled. When we visited the United States in January 2019, out of habit tended to greet the people there - How yoo going? They simply frowned on us as if we had descended from another Planet and a few youngsters even went berserk.


In a Veggie (Vegetable) market, an excited Caucasian (white) lady was trying to grab her hubby’s attention who was standing a bit further when she discovered Avocados (scarce at that time of the year), calling out ‘Avo’ audibly. I for one thought a Bollywood movie was being shot with the heroine calling out for her hero: Aao, Aao (‘Come’ in Hindi). Avo is the slang for Avocado, the humble yet favourite Aussie fruit by far.


On another occasion, I was commuting by bus during summer and was seated opposite the driver. The driver was complaining, today is so ‘muggi’ as he rubbed his face with his towel. The only muggi I was aware of hitherto with an almost identical pronunciation was the ‘maggi of 2 minute instant noodles fame’ and so whatever the driver was saying naturally went under my feet. Muggy simply means ‘unpleasantly warm and humid’ though I am not sure whether it is an Aussie slang, some other slang or a proper word but it is widely used in that context.

A chance meeting with Shane Warne

During March end of 2018, I had been to India for three weeks flying by Thai Airways. On my return in April, when inside the terminal building of Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on my way to the designated gate to take my connecting flight to Melbourne, a gentleman dressed in black with a bag on his right shoulder walking briskly overtook me. It did not take me long to realise he was the Aussie cricket legend Shane Warne. I caught up with him in a short while from then and requested for a selfie (Australian origin word selfie was the Oxford Dictionaries ‘Word of the Year’ for 2013) for which he readily obliged.

A couple of selfies clicked, I said ‘Cheers mate’ and he replied ‘No worries!’ Interpreting these Aussie slangs …

A mate in Australia is more than just a friend and is a term that implies a sense of shared experience, mutual respect and unconditional assistance. It can also be an acquaintance but anyone can be a mate. 'Cheers' is a casual way of saying 'thank you'. Put the two expressions together and you have 'Cheers, mate' which means the same as 'Thank you, my friend.' Cheers can also mean ‘goodbye’ or ‘have a nice day.’ Warnie’s reply ‘No worries’ in the said conversation meant ‘you’re welcome’ though the same term has many other meanings like ‘do not worry about it’ or ‘it’s all right’ or ‘no problem’ or ‘sure thing’ depending on the context it is used.

Over the years, my batting has considerably improved, perfectly negotiating the swing with the middle of the bat; however there are times when I have been beaten by sheer pace missing the ball altogether!


You must be wondering most of the Aussie slang end with the pronunciation you just read. No, not at all, I sorted out a few with that ending. Australians all speak differently depending on which area you visit. Every state/territory have a set of their own slang and many a time a word/phrase used in a region with a particular meaning may have a different meaning in another region. This nonsensical Aussie slang can be a bit of a head-scratcher and I have ended up creating my own instant slang shortening and ending the word with a vowel leaving the listener baffled to say the least. A few times when it has gone terribly awkward, I have taken refuge in turning the palms of my hand the opposite ways uttering: I NO ENGLISH, something the Chinese do when the words go over their head.


The Name Slang is created by individuals concerned knowing the Aussies find it challenging to pronounce their long name as one or two syllables is better, quicker and easier. When one introduces it goes like this: My name is Roopinder and you can call me ‘Ruby.’ The chosen name becomes ‘standard’ so much so no one is aware of her given name. In an over-regulated country, surprisingly this is perfectly acceptable. It took me a while to compile the short list below as I struggled to recollect the original names of my friends, so much so I had to call the penultimate person mentioned to find out her given name.

A couple of years ago, I had a call from a Company Receptionist informing that the item I was expecting has arrived and I should meet one Kim to collect it. I reached the place at the designated time and the Lady called the person out over by intercom, as she advised me to take a seat. I was expecting a blonde (lass with pale yellow hair) to come around and instead a male appears, shaking my hand and introducing himself as Kim. That was such a nasty bouncer; all I could do was just duck underneath the ball in the nick of time while it sailed over my head to the wicket-keeper. At the end of it all, Mr Kim gave me his Business (Visiting) card to contact him for any issues arising and there was his name printed in bold: Mohammad ha KIM, the last three alphabets of his surname said it all.

… and finally, STEVIE is my name, and if you do come in search of me calling out my full first name, you may not even find me, though I might be just loitering somewhere there!

The term for Aussie slang and pronunciation is STRINE and is often characterised by making words as short as possible; the story goes it developed by speaking through clenched teeth to avoid blowies (blow flies) from getting into the mouth. The great Aussie slang phrases however are the ones with inappropriate words with perfectly appropriate meaning. I will not venture into those here.

I will leave you with a short Aussie slang story followed by their proper English meaning in the brackets.

My mate (friend) Mark called - G’day (Hello) mate! Wanna(Want to) come over this arvo (afternoon) for a quick cuppa (a cup of tea)? Mark is from another region of Straya (Australia). I told him No Drama (No problem/It’s OK) mate, “Can we just go to Macca’s? (McDonald’s) I really feel like a burger.” On the way to Macca’s, we had to stop at the servo (service station) for some petty (petrol).

We arrived in our thongs (flip-flops) to Macca’s. I ordered a burger and chips (fries) and Mark ordered chicken nuggets and a choccy biccy (chocolate biscuit). Mark said, it’s my shout mate (that means he is paying). Free Wi-Fi was available, so as we ate, we used our lappys (laptop) and logged into Facey (Facebook). When we were leaving, I ran into Sheila(a female), our neighbour with her ankle-biter (toddler) going to Macca’s. Howdy (Hello), she said and told me to pop around (come over) to her place for tea (evening meal/dinner) and bring a plate (bring a dish to share with everyone). Sweet as! (Awesome), will be there defo (definitely) I said and ta heaps (thanks lots)!

I am still learning ….




By Stephen P D’Souza, Melbourne
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Comment on this article

  • John, Mangalore

    Thu, Oct 08 2020

    Nice one! Also,
    Are Chinese trying to push their slang on Aussies, Indians... and Russian in Europe?

    Our Lady on Virus, Russian and Chinese invasion plans in a message to William Costellia (an Ozy) dated Wednesday 7th October 2020.

    MESSAGE NO. 817

    Through the Mysteries of the Rosary the Doors of Heaven will be opened and mankind will receive the gush of the Eternal Beatitudes – The Holy Rosary is the ‘Key’ to crush Satan – Russia and China plan to invade Europe, the Asian countries: India, Indonesia, Japan and Australia – The Virus is a small part of the Illuminati and the Freemasonry’s plan to bring forth the Mark of the Beast 666 – An Asteroid will enter the atmosphere and cause much damage – A major disaster will befall Australia soon...


  • Stephen P. D'Souza, Kadri, Mangalore / Melbourne

    Thu, Oct 08 2020

    G’day (Hello) to ya (you) Cobber (very good friend) Alwyn. When I am down next, let’s have some tucker (food) over a coldie (beer). Ta (Thanks) for your comments mate (friend)!

  • Alwyn, Mangalore

    Thu, Oct 08 2020

    Dear Steve, well written... keep it up ... nice to read. looking forward for many more articles to come.

  • Stephen P. D'Souza, Mangalore / Melbourne

    Thu, Oct 08 2020

    Thanks for your appreciation Alzira, as always.

    Yes! The Barbie (Barbeque) in the backyard and the beach is intertwined with an Aussie. Australians like to show they are normal and friendly people and the best way to communicate this is through language. Living on the coast, happy and relaxed, seldom find the need to use a complete word. Hence, the language is based around abbreviations, diminutives and a lot of idioms. Aussies are so obsessed with shortening words that even the Airline – QANTAS – is an acronym (Queensland and Northern Territory Airline Service).

    That ‘Guddaithan Mai’ was too good. I did have a hearty laugh!

  • Alzira Mascarenhas, Mangalore / Australia

    Thu, Oct 08 2020

    Steve, yet another bang !
    Never imagined it would be our own Aussie slang.
    Any migrant to Down Under would wonder what is 'fair dinkum'
    And like words 'mate' 'ta' 'maccas' takes some time to sink in
    Whole of 'Aussie slang' seems like a dialect
    Time to roll our heads and grab a grease Frisbee you bet !

    Well, I just loved the article. As a migrant myself it was a mind boggling exercise to juggle and understand Aussie slang. Getting into your shoes it took me down memory lane.... even the spellings and pronunciations can be tricky, but lots of fun to master them. After all, can anyone say no to 'Barbie' (BBQ), not a Sheila I mean. Some slang words can be confused when intertwined with our mother tongue. For instance when my elderly relative visited Melbourne, my son said to her 'Good Day Mate'. and she was flabbergasted. In Konkani she interpreted as 'Guddaithan Mai'. We had to explain the meaning but had a real good laugh at the end.

    So Good on ya mate ! I mean, very good !

  • Stephen P. D'Souza, Kadri, Mangalore / Melbourne

    Thu, Oct 08 2020

    Thanks Ronald. Agree! Every country has its own slang. Each of 50 States in America has their own accent, pronunciation and slang as well. It is the same with other languages too.

    Sometimes, I wonder if a few Konkani words have sneaked into Aussie slang. The slang ‘Bikkie’ is for Biscuit. It can be a cracker, cookie (American) or a plain, slightly sweet round snack you eat with your tea. The slang ‘Ambo’ has nothing to do with the Konkani Mango but is used to refer to both the ambulance (the vehicle) as well as the ambulance driver. It’s hilarious when the kids here say 'there goes the Ambu (Ambulance)' and you are looking for that delicious mango lying somewhere.

  • Ronald, Mangalore/Bangalore

    Thu, Oct 08 2020

    Hilarious piece. Guess, every country has its slang. I have heard the british have their own.

  • Stephen P. D'Souza, Kadri, Mangalore / Melbourne

    Wed, Oct 07 2020

    Thanks Rohan. Ripper (Really great) to know that you had a chance to visit Straya (Australia).

    Fair Dinkum (True), Patrick is a very common name here and addressed in one syllable as Pat. Colac is a very beautiful town with a rich farming and forestry history, about two hours from Melbourne, on the shores of Lake Colac from where the place derives its name from.

    Australian slang is full of hilarious expressions. One of my all time favourites. ‘Dry as a dead dingo’s donger.’ For example: I walk into a pub, the bar man says ‘howyoogoing’ and my reply: I’m as dry as a dead dingo’s donger. That means - I am very thirsty.

  • Rohan, Mangalore

    Wed, Oct 07 2020

    Very entertaining writing mate..
    When I visited a conference with dad Patrick I was astonished when they announced all the PATs can have their personal meeting in room number.... I could find around 44 PATs, that's a common name they said...
    I was also surprised to find a place COLAC on the great ocean road the spelling very near to my surname.
    Yeah oz land can be quite a place to be in...

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