When Chris and I lived in Australia we found a lot of words didn’t mean quite the same as they did in the States. I decided that it was time to take a trip down memory lane and refresh my memory on what some of the fun words were that were common place in Australia and reincorporate them into daily use. I actually do use quite a few of these common ones and thought it might be fun to share them with my readers. After all you never know when you might take a trip and need to know them.
Crack onto—to hit on someone, pursue romantically
Dog’s eye—meat pie
Fairy floss—cotton candy
Kangaroos loose in the top paddock—-intellectually inadequate
Lucky country—-Australia, of course
No-hoper—somebody who will never do well
Oldies—parents “I’ll have to ask my oldies.”
Perve—-looking lustfully at opposite sex
Not the full quid—-low IQ
XXXX—beer made in Queensland—pronounced Four X
Of course there are some words that we use in America that are totally inappropriate to use in Australia. One of those words was “root”. For example the sentence “I am going to root for the Tarheels.” just means that I am going to back them to win the game. In Australia it takes on another connotation and translates to a derogatory way of saying someone is having intercourse. Yikes. I was made keenly aware of how I misspoke when I talked to a competitor in the Paralympics and quickly corrected myself.
Another phrase that takes on a different meaning is “luck out”. In America it means that you got lucky. In Australia it means basically the opposite.
Another term which is somewhat understandable is “bum”. In America panhandlers are sometimes referred to as bums. In Australia this refers to someone’s bottom so calling someone a bum would be inappropriate.
A napkin is a serviette in Australia. When you ask for a napkin there you are asking for one of the sanitary kind which would be a bit embarrassing to have at a dinner table, don’t you think?
Hope you enjoyed this throwback to our days in Australia. I plan to do a few more posts for those of you who find yourselves wanting to learn more about this intriguing country that was the starting point of my blogging life. Stay tuned and don’t forget to comment. It all goes for our June Comments for a Cause.
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Good to know! It’s hilarious how something innocent can mean something inappropriate there and vice versa. Like napkin.
Exactly. Could be very embarrassing.
I know someone (guess who?) whose kangaroos are loose in the top paddock! I love that expression, I think I’ll have to start using it!
Also – most of these make sense as to their meanings. But where does “seppo” come from?
Well, Marci–it is a good question and this is basically what it means taken from an Aussie lingo book: “In Australia, you’re a septic tank—seppo for short. The term was originally derived from rhyming slang: Yank = septic tank. Not exactly sure on the logic there, but the term has also been said to reference Americans’ tendency to be “full of *&^%.” Don’t take it too personally though; as long as it wasn’t preceded by an irate expletive, you can consider it a term of endearment. ”
Love this! I just returned from visiting my family there…how quickly we fall into using local language! interesting that some of these vary from state to state…just as our regions have varying expressive words! Fun read 🙂
Thanks for stopping by, Joan! It is a wonderful country and yes—you do kind of get in the groove of the different words and start using them. Love that you have family there.
It’s interesting how we all have our colloquialisms. Take for instance “pop,” the Minnesota word for a soda.
Or buggy for shopping cart! That one is my favorite. 🙂
The British use some very odd words too. One of the funniest is when they call an eraser a rubber. The first time someone asked me for a rubber I thought they wanted a contraceptive! They use whinge as well.
Oh yes—I remember rubber in Australia as well. Also gum band for rubber band. The Brits and Aussies have a lot of the same phrases because of their relationship, I am sure.
[…] When we had a short stint living in Australia we had to learn some new words and terms for things. It was pretty easy to assimilate into a society where English was spoken but we found some of the words that they used a little bit different. I recently shared some of the lingo that we learned that was different in this post. […]