Aussie Translations



Kangaroos, Koalas, Eucalyptus trees, Thor, Wolverine. We’re pretty down right awesome. But one thing I’ve learned is that although we speak English, sometimes we need translating. I’m an Aussie who has been living in the USA for more than four years, plus six months after high school as an exchange student, so I’ve had people call my Aussie-isms cute, giggle at me, and give me weird confused looks quite a lot.

So here we go!

In Australia, our school system is fairly simple. We have Kindergarten(Kindy) through Year 6, aka 6th grade, which we call Primary School, then High school is 7th-12th. Juniors are 7th-10th grades and Seniors are 11th and 12th grades. Our grades are called Year (insert number here). Most Aussie schools have school uniforms, and on the days kids get to wear casual clothes it’s called a “mufti day.”

Schools have sports, but they are not the main source for sports. Clubs for Saturday comps is how most people participate in sports.

Our seasons also run opposite to most of the rest of the world. It’s a hemisphere thing… So, Dec/Jan/Feb is summer and Jun/Jul/Aug is winter. This means… Christmas is in the summertime! It’s so sweet. Gosh I miss water guns and body boards for Christmas. Or laying on the tiled floor to cool off. Mmm… home sick… moving on…

Guns are banned in Australia. Living here in the US where this particular topic is hot, hot, hot, especially here in AZ, this is a good thing to know, as some Australian authors might pop something into their stories about not having guns, knowing how to use guns etc. My husband asks me, “how do people defend themselves?” I smile and say in a heavy drawl, “That’s not a knife…” and he gets the picture. Mind you, the only thing people seem to get riled up about is how the football is going, especially during State of Origin.

Here are some words the other Aussie Owneders mentioned that they noticed confused others outside Oz.

Breaky – Breakfast

Ute – truck (pickup)

Plait – Braid

Braid – French Braid

Maccas – McDonald’s

Arvo – Afternoon

Barbie – Barbeque

Loo / Dunny – Toilet

Fair dinkum – “No Way!” “Are you serious?”

Prezzy – Present

Woop woop – The middle of nowhere, like here in Arizona! LOL I kid.

Bogan – ahh roughly equivalent to a redneck, or maybe trailer trash? Usually they wear scruffy clothes often with a plaid shirt.

Westie – Someone who comes from Western Sydney, often combined with bogan hehehe.

Car park – Parking lot

Esky – Cooler/Ice chest/Ice box

Douvet/Doona – Comforter maybe even a quilt

We also say, “I’m going to the toilet” rather than “I need to use the bathroom.”

We also spell things differently! Hooray! That was fun when I moved over here… so here are some examples.

Mum – Mom

colour – color

behaviour – behavior

generally anything ending with “or” is “our”

Also -ize’s are -ise’s for example –

realise – realize

Oh, and my favourite:

gaol – jail

I must admit, I sometimes switch between these two ways of spelling and thank goodness for CPs who catch them!

Aussies like cricket, rugby, Aussie Rules football, soccer (which is mostly played by boys), and netball. Funny story about netball. I played netball for years upon years like a lot of girls, and when I came to the US as an exchange student a friend asked me while we were at a wrestling tournament what kind of sports I played. I said netball and she looked at me weird and said, “What??”

So I repeated, “I play netball.”

Then one of the wrestlers turned around and was like, “WHAT?? Like this?” and he lifted his shirt and flicked at his nipple. Turns out, with my accent, Netball sounds like nipple. That was one of those moments.

Anyway! I hope this helps at least a little. If you have any other words you’ve seen/heard us use, go ahead and ask! I’m happy to help.

Katie Teller

Katie Teller is a writer of NA fiction. Her debut, Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh, is now available. You can find out more about Katie and Kiya, on twitterfacebook or at her own blog.


  1. Hehe, I guess the differences with Aussie English are more striking in the US than they would be in the UK. My mum lived in Australia for a few years, and, as such, has a few Australian friends, so I’ve never really noticed the vocab differences outright. Oh, and Australian soaps (we get Neighbours and Home and Away over here) have influenced my dialect. I’ve caught myself saying arvo and my friends just give me a weird look!
    Do you guys say ‘wag school’, as in to skip school? I’m pretty sure it’s not UK slang, but I’ve lost track of where I got the phrase from.



  2. Haha! Brilliance. I’m a fair dinkum Oz and though I’ve never been to the USA, I have lots of internet-American-friends. Once I said, “I write in the arvo.” And everyone though I’d made the typo of the century. XD The differences are HUGE. Thong/flip-flop is another embarrassing one…



  3. Don’t forget “taking the piss”, which is making fun of something and does not involve urine removal in any way. And “no worries”, which is what we’d say when others would say “that’s fine” or “don’t worry”.

    Slang is fun. :p



Leave a comment. We love hearing from you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s