10 Really Weird Things Australians Say

10 Really Weird Things Australians Say

I spent the majority of last week hanging with Mr Smaggle’s work buddies. He has an employee that lives in Canada and he and his girlfriend flew over to work on a project with us. Over the course of a week there were many things that confused our Canadians and in the interest of entertaining my lovely readers, I diligently noted down everything we said that confused them and came up with the top 10 really weird things that Australians say (to Canadians). Enjoy.

1. Jetty

Maryse – ‘What’s this ‘jetty’ you keep talking aboot?

Mr Smaggle – ‘Like a long wooden bridge thing that boats go to?’

Maryse – ‘Ah! A pier!’

2. Full Cream Milk

One morning we found both Canadians staring into the fridge looking horrified. When they were asked what the problem was they replied ‘Is Full Cream Milk like 100% cream???‘. In Canada, milk is in percentages so 2% milk has 2% cream. We couldn’t quite figure out what the equivalent was in Australia but we assured them that Full Cream Milk was definitely just regular milk and not 100% cream.

3. Bush

Maryse – ‘Oh! Like forest!’

Me – ‘Yeah… but also pubic hair…’

4. Pavlova

Adam – ‘What’s pav?’

Me - ‘It’s a meringue dessert with fresh fruit, cream and passionfruit.’

Adam – ‘That sounds amazing.’

Strawberry cake with white cream on wooden background

 

5. Flat White

‘Is that just coffee with milk?’

Pretty much.

6. Tram

‘We don’t have those in Montreal… so they’re like trains that go on the street?’

7. Bludger

Maryse – ‘Qidditch ball in Harry Potter?’

Me – ‘No it’s more like someone who tries to get out of work or takes money from you and doesn’t pay it back.’

8. Snag

Me – ‘They’re sausages.’

Maryse – ‘Why do you call them snags?’

Me – ‘No idea.’

9. Cacking Yourself

Maryse – ‘Is it like shitting yourself?’

Me – ‘Yeah but with laughter.’

10. Dag

Adam – ‘What’s this dag thing you’re talking aboot?’

Me – ‘Someone who’s unfashionable.’

Adam – ‘Like a loser?’

Me – ‘It’s a bit less harsh than that. You can almost call someone a dag to their face. It’s kind of good natured. If a kid is walking around wearing gumboots and a tutu you’d call them a dag or if you have a mate who wears the same shirt every day is also a dag.’

Though none of our phrases were so bad as the time when I said ‘I’ve got the shits!‘ to a bar full of New Yorkers who thought that I had loudly declared that I had diarrhoea.

Are you Australian? If not have you ever visited our fair country? What ‘weird’ things do you say in your country that foreigners don’t understand?

Carly is the founding editor of Smaggle which launched in 2007 back when blogging was weird. She has appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Cosmopolitan and Cleo magazines. Hoop earrings are totally her thing and she almost got run over by Myf Warhurst while out jogging one day.

54 Comments

  1. Raquel 3 months ago

    I lived in Australia for a few years when I was a kid, and Mum and I were shopping for school supplies. On the list was ‘textas’ and we didn’t have a clue what they were. Embarrassed, we asked a staff member and she showed us the textas. “Ohhhhhh. Felts,” we said.

    My favourite guide to kiwi slang is here http://www.brenontheroad.com/travellers-guide-new-zealand-slang/

  2. Author
    Carly Jacobs 3 months ago

    Oh wow! That’s a great one. I actually don’t think they use ‘texta’ in New Zealand… they say something else. They also call White Out something else… I’ll have to get my bestie on to it! She’s a kiwi.

    • Sarah Dawn 3 months ago

      White Out is called twink. I think you can get stuff that’s called white out, but the generic term for anything like it is twink.

      It sounds racist, especially considering you’re painting something white…

    • Nadine 3 months ago

      Textas are felts and white out is twink.

    • I’m a kiwi too. Luckily though, I had watched hours of The Comedy Company while growing up, so I knew what textas were. Handy now that I have children born in Australia and have to speak Australian to them. It’s embarrassing for everyone when I do it with a Kylie Mole accent or worse, Con the Fruiterer.

    • denvergalea 3 months ago

      In the UK people didn’t know what White Out was, they call it Tipex, which is just a brand.

  3. Darren Cullerne 3 months ago

    A “Dag” is also what ends up around a sheep’s bum as a result of sheep poo mixing with wool. Sheep Farmers have to regularly remove the dags from sheep or it can cause disease. Also, yes, someone who is unfashionable :-P

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 3 months ago

      Oh yeah we totally mentioned that as where it came from at the time! That’s never what I’m personally referring to when I say ‘dag’ though. :-)

  4. Vanessa 3 months ago

    Apparently what we call full cream is about 4%.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 3 months ago

      Oh good to know! We couldn’t figure it out because half and half is like 10% which we pointed out was clearly not half and half. If it was, it should be 50%. That system is so weird, :-)

      • From what I understand, it’s not 10% cream and then 90% milk. It’s half milk, half light cream. So there’s 10% fat in the cream half and 18% fat in the milk half.

  5. I Spy Plum Pie 3 months ago

    Love it! I remember confusing a lot of Brits & Americans when I was studying in Europe with things I’d say, particularly because we shorten absolutely everything! I remember one guy being especially bemused that we go so far as to shorten the Melbourne Cricket Ground to the MCG and then further to just the G, and that people still know what we’re referring to!
    I’m probably even more confusing because I use a combination of Aussie & Kiwi slang thanks to my upbringing!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 3 months ago

      Kiwi slang is the best. My bestie is Kiwi and when she gets drunk she goes full Polynesian. It’s hilarious. It’s the same with my Irish uncle – when he’s had a few beers every second sentence comes out in Gaelic. It’s amazing what booze can do our culture memory.

      • I think I would like your bestie.
        When I get drunk with a bunch of other Kiwis, we sing childhood Maori songs together. Loudly and badly. Ask her to sing you Tutira Mae Nga Iwi.

        • Author
          Carly Jacobs 3 months ago

          Yeah she’s brilliant. Everyone loves her! I’m sure she’d know that – we sing one that goes Peko, Peko, Peko, Torro! Peko! before we go on stage.

  6. Dannielle 3 months ago

    Haha! I had so much trouble being understood when I was in Canada. Apparently I just speak in Aussie slang all the time. The most perplexing for them was when they asked how I wanted my tea and I said “white with one”. They had no idea what I was on about.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 3 months ago

      Oh wow! They must been like ‘One what?’. Hilarious.

  7. Sarah-Louise 3 months ago

    We form a line….. the brits form a queue. My cousins always laugh at me went I say ive lined up

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 3 months ago

      Oh wow totally – like she thinks you’re lining up cocaine??? :-)

      • Sarah-Louise 3 months ago

        Haha I think so.

  8. Nadine 3 months ago

    Apparently it’s weird that NZers say ‘yeah nah’, but of course I do it all the time and it’s perfectly normal to me . . To be honest I would say ‘yeah no’ though, but same diff.

    • I have a fridge magnet with “Yeah, Nah” on it. Next to my “Haere Mai, everything is Ka Pai Magnet”.
      This post about Aussie slang and Canadians has made me homesick for NZ.

  9. Careeragogo 3 months ago

    I lived in Asia for a number of years. One evening I was out with a mixed group of Singaporeans, Americans and Brits. I used the word “Bastard”. Well, you would have thought I had dropped the C-bomb, the way everyone looked at me! I also had to explain the term “ratbag” once – that’s a funny term, when you think about it!

  10. KellyNH 3 months ago

    We loved terrifying our UK manager while he was here with amazing stories about drop-bears. Pretty much had him cropping his daks at the thought of some rabid koala launching itself at his face, something that is fully supported by Google! But I find I say ‘yeah nah’ a lot. I do cringe at the thought of other countries thinking we all speak like Alf from Home and Away though….

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 3 months ago

      It actually astounds me how many people think drop bears are a thing. Unbelievable it actually makes no sense at all.

  11. Tahlia Meredith 3 months ago

    Number three made me laugh out loud :D

  12. Mel Hay 3 months ago

    This made me laugh too! And it took me straight back to the year I spent confused living in Edinburgh. Every morning I arrived at work and my colleagues kept asking me ‘you alright, Mel’? I seriously thought I must’ve looked hideously tired/sick/hungover until I worked out that’s just how they say goodmorning!! Hahah

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 3 months ago

      Oh yeah that UK thing of you alright? It confuses me as well I’m like… yeah… I’m fine. Thanks

  13. denvergalea 3 months ago

    I lived in the UK for two years and I always got pulled up on calling medication ‘drugs’. And ending sentences with ‘but’: ‘Yeah, it’s good, but.’

  14. nicole 3 months ago

    Felts? That didn’t clarify text as for me…I’m Canadian!

    • Caitlyn 3 months ago

      American here – I had to look it up – markers (as in felt tip markers – no idea where texta comes from).

  15. A Flat White is a little more specific than that. It’s almost identical to a latte, but not quite. There’s just the smallest difference between the amount of milk. Also, I’ve seen them in a couple places over here.
    From what I recall, % are still used on the front of Aussie milk containers, just not in the title. Like Skim milk mentions that’s it’s got 1% fat. I can’t for the life of me remember what you call the stuff that has 2%, but it’s one step up from skim, but not full cream. People here call skim “non-fat milk” and regular milk “full fat milk”.

    I’ve lived in the US for a very long time, and I still sometimes get things like this. The one I’m thinking of right now is a person having no idea what I meant when I said “paddle pop sticks”. And a friend thinking I was asking her something else when I said “give me a ring” instead of “give me a call”.

    • P.S. I believe Canadians have Trams, but they call them Street Cars.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 3 months ago

      If milk in Australia has % on the front I’ve never noticed. It’s usually in the nutrition bit at the back. There % system confuses me so much especially the half and half thing because that should means it’s 50% cream but it’s only 10% cream.

      • I don’t know why Australian’s call regular full fat milk “full cream milk” because cream is not another word for fat anywhere else that I’ve been and maybe that’s what’s tripping you up? The % is how much fat is in the product. Not how much cream. There’s 10% fat in the cream portion of Half and Half and the rest of the cream would then be a certain percentage protein, etc. So, full fat milk, would mean it’s regular milk and therefore has all the fat that comes in milk. Not that the entire carton is 100% fat. I checked the woolies site and most of the bottles/cartons had the % really small on the front.

        • Author
          Carly Jacobs 3 months ago

          That makes a lot more sense now… and yeah full cream milk is a very weird thing to call milk. :-)

  16. Rae Hilhorst 3 months ago

    An esky is a chilli bin
    Bathers are togs
    Flip flops are jandals
    Loved reading the differences x

  17. Jamie 3 months ago

    We do have trams in Canada, and yes, we call them street cars. Also, anyone who grew up in a rural area would absolutely know the meaning of bush for forest (as well as for the other meaning!) :-)

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 3 months ago

      I think they just don’t have them in Montreal – she’d heard of street cars but I think street cars are technically differnt to trams… it’s something about pulley vs electric or something? Don’t quote me on that though.

  18. I like bludger :) I just don’t want to be one!

  19. Kathryn Skinner 3 months ago

    I’m an Aussie, my partner is a Brit. (He’s a bit iffy about being called a Pommy, but to me it’s not nasty it’s just like us being called Aussie). He said one day that he would cook sangas on the barbecue – I had no idea what he meant until I saw the sausages! Yeah they would be snags not sangers that’s a sandwich! He also says ‘twat’ occasionally, which I thought meant
    twit until I said it and he nearly fainted – yep it means the ‘c’ word apparently! Kathryn :)

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 3 months ago

      Twat is my favourite! I use twat! But I would certainly never call a sausage a sanga… that’s definitely a sandwich. :-)

  20. Corinne 3 months ago

    I live in Dubai and so I’m constantly translating for the many nationalities. My all-time favourite was when some Canadian friends came over for a BBQ and my hubs said to them. “G’day, I’m just chucking some snags on the barbie, so just help yourself and grab some stubbies out of the esky.” They just stared and had no idea.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 3 months ago

      That is the best. It barely even qualifies as English right? :-)

  21. Doona baffled me for a while, Mufty?? Like its casual people! Oh and root in the verb sense , had to be careful with misusing that one….. #bloodyirish

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 3 months ago

      Oh yeah doona is a great one. My bestie (from NZ) is all ‘WTF? Doona? That’s such a made up word.’ They’re duvets almost everywhere else.

  22. Zannia 2 months ago

    I’m from South Australia and recently moved to Western Australia, where everyone uses the word “lackey band” instead of hair tie. Dafuq? Seems SOMEBODY just wanted to be different.

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