Your Turn to Teach: Educate an American (or Australian) Day

What You’re Not Getting

Let me say right off the top that today’s discussion is all about having some fun so don’t take the topic or yourself too seriously. If you came here in search of some wisdom, insight, philosophy or brain-food, today ain’t your day. Let me also say that I love my (many) American readers and value your contributions. :) As you read this, keep in mind that about half of my readers are not from Australia. At last peek, we had subscribers in over one hundred countries and somewhere in the vicinity of half a million readers (plus) each month. The idea for this chat came from a well-meaning, kind and thoughtful comment left by one of our regulars (sparkrunner) re last Friday’s post about my garden guy Joe’s come-back to competitive sport. Here’s the comment:

“Go Joe!  We’re all rooting for you!”

Now, in Australia the word rooting has a somewhat different meaning to the good old U.S. of A. In the States, it typically means cheering on, supporting and encouraging – usually in relation to a sporting performance. However, here in the Land Down Under, our equivalent word for such a sporting context is barracking. So, we would say something like:

“Go Joe! We’re all barracking for you!”

And yes, ‘barracking’ is an awkward, ugly word. Don’t blame me.

Here in the land of koalas, kangaroos, deadly spiders, sunshine, surf, big-arse sharks and Julia, the term rooting is a very common (slang) word for… er… aah… you know; that thing grown-ups do. For the first two years of marriage anyway. So, in the name of on-going education, breaking down cultural barriers and international relations, here are three self-explanatory (I think) sentences you won’t ever read on me-dot-com again.

1. I’m totally rooted.
2. I could do with a good root.
3. I was rooting half the night.

Classy, I know. I hope that clears it (rooting) up for my international readers. You’re welcome.

And the take-home message for today? If you find yourself rooting at a sporting event in this country, you’ll probably get arrested. ;)

Your Mission?

So, if you’re an Aussie, your mission for today is to share with our international readers one or two (not ten) of your favourite uniquely Australian words, expressions or sayings (and their meaning). Keep it clean. Ish. If you live beyond the shores of our fine land, we would love you to enlighten us with some of the mildly amusing colloquial language and expressions of your country. For you Americans, keep in mind that most of us Aussies grew up watching your television programs (sad, I know) so we’re pretty familiar with your language, culture and slang. Although, I’d love you to surprise us.

And yes, I’ll send something spesh (anywhere in the world) to the person (people) who make me smile, laugh or cringe. 

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{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Catherine September 15, 2010 at 5:12 am

On the hoy? Gan canny man Craig. Love from Durham.

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Maria September 15, 2010 at 6:29 am

Ah, such a lovely word and sadly not used much these days.
Took me ages to work out what my dad meant when he said that the car was was “kangaroo edward”. Think about it…roo ted. Ha!
When anything ever went belly up it was either “kangaroo edward” or had “had the dick”.
Some words are national but we even have differences between the states. As a Victorian now residing in the sunshine state the word that makes me cringe is “port”. My prep age child gets sent out to get her “port from the port rack”. I chase her up and say, “your bag, get your bag”.
Thanks for the smile :)

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Greg September 15, 2010 at 7:13 am

Hey all you Yankydoodles,
Here’s a couple of Aussie examples of how to & not to communicate in the greatest country in the world (Australia).

If you find yourself out in the drier parts of our land, & it’s been a particularly hot day, someone may ask you the question, “Are you thirsty mate ?” To get your message understood clearly, all you have to say is, ” I’m as dry as a dead dingo’s donga (penis)!! ” .

And the next one is a warning to you American guys iff your talking to a lovely Aussie woman. Trust me you don’t want to make any comment about how good her fanny looks in those jeans, because while over in the US of A, fanny means backside (bum), in this country it refers to their…. .. umm……other bum.

Cheers
Greggo

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Zal September 15, 2010 at 7:37 am

Boob tube = straples top/dress

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Big Dan September 15, 2010 at 8:21 am

Hello my American Bretheren, :) Two closely related Aussie terms for you:

‘Fairdinkum’ = genuine, real deal (“are you fairdinkum?”)
‘Ridgey Didge’ = the truth (“is that ridgey didge?”)

You’re Welcome (as CH says) ;)

Danny Boy

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Michael September 15, 2010 at 8:36 am

Don’t use Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches it’s Peanut Paste and Jam. Horrible and full of fat and sugar anyway :)

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Gary September 15, 2010 at 8:53 am

Craig: G’day
Re. Joe: I could say “I’m pulling for you” except, of course, that could have a pejorative connotation too, eh? Oh we nasty Yanks (oops).
Cheers, Gary

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Jen September 15, 2010 at 9:11 am

In Australia I wear thongs all the time. I even have some nice gold leather ones with sequins that I wear for casual Friday at work.

In the US a thong is a very different thing and I probably wouldn’t be allowed to show off those thongs at work – no matter how many sequins.

So in Australia, thongs are footwear and the bum-floss undies are called a g-string. In the US thongs are the scary undies and the footwear are usually called flipflops.

Don’t mix them up or you’ll just end up walking funny.
- Jen

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Helen September 15, 2010 at 9:29 am

Hey Craig,
I was thinking :

You Ozzie’s

Struth (shit)
I was Spewing (upset – angry)
Pissed off (upset)
Fair suck of the sav (now wait a minute)
I could eat the ass of a low flying duck (very hungry)
She’ll be right mate (its cool)
Fair crack of the whip
Pull the other one it sings a tune (like I really believe you)
Rack off hairy legs (piss off)
Hairy eye ball (bottom)
Piece of piss (easy as !)
True Blue (telling the truth)
Its dinky die (good stuff)
Dob someone in
Harold holt (do the bolt)
Give it a burl
Grundies (your undies)
Grass cutting (sleeping with your friends wife)
He topped himself (ah hes killed himself)
Chunder (vomit)
Have a wee crack at it – try
Hot as : lizard drinking
You could cook and egg on the bonnet

Us Kiwi’s

Choice ! (excellent)
Sweet ass – cool
Tata – good bye
Take a hike – get lost
Thick – not to smart
Two sammies short of a picnic – he’s thick
Tiki tour – scenic tour
Tramping – hiking
I’ve got the trots – diaorrhea
“Eh” – normally finishing a sentence that is expecting a response from the listener
Dairy (corner store which may sell milk)
Dodgy (unreliable)
Bonk (to bonk is to root)
banger (sausage)
gas gussler (chews up a lot of petrol)
chilly bin (esky)
sparrows fart – early morning start
strewth – really honestly
pissed around – stuffed around – wast of time
lost his bottle – got scared
Sunday driver – drives to slow
Suss out – figure it out
pushing up daisy’s – hes dead
scull – drink rapidly
hit the sack – go to bed
Knackered (exhausted)
I’ll have your guts for garters (your in big trouble)
Miss you heaps (lots)
Hooray love (kiwi goodbye)
Hunky dory – lifes good
Judder bars – speed humps
hows it going bugalugs (hows it going mate)
bun in the oven (pregnant)
up the duff – pregnant
she cracked a wobbly – she got angry
Ace (noice one)

;) Helen

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Fatima September 15, 2010 at 9:32 am

Hi Guy’s

Well I know the ones I hear from the most dry places of WA being Lake King, where my husband is from would typlically involve every day of the week finishing in eeee as an example Monday we would pronouce with the A present, my husbands family on the other hand like to use Mondee, Tuesdee….drives me batty (batty – to meen drives me crazy)

His favorates when talking about WA transport system – couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery ie a drinking session in a pub,
Root in a brothel – as Craig mentioned root as a very different meaning here or derogitory terms such as a bogan (someone who wears black, usually a part of a bikey group, likes ACDC ONLY, you don’t mess with them) and one of my child hood favorates, bushpig, to describe someone who is ummmm a slob/gross/invokes a strong sense of dislike in you… :)

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Pet September 15, 2010 at 9:38 am

When I was in the States many moons ago, I took my young cousin to the movies…..we saw the Flintstones movie….when we came out he asked if I enjoyed it & I said yes & that we get the Flintstones cartoons at home. He then asked if we get it dubbed in our accent (Aussie). We dont by the way :-)

I was recently in Scotland & got pulled up on “footpath” (pavement), “takeaway” (carry out), “backpack” (carry all), “chips” (crisps), “lollies” (sweets), “dag” (numpty), “soccer” (football), “Nessie (apparently not real!!)……. ;-p

How about “cheering” Joe on?

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Hellen from Kinglake September 15, 2010 at 9:56 am

I was thinking of other euphanisms for ‘that thing grown ups do’ must admit my favourite is ‘goin the snog’ or ‘havin a shag’ other aussie favourites
‘as useless as tits on a bull’
‘do a harold holt’ (take off from coppers)
‘root rat’ (a sexually active person lol)
‘Strewth cop a perv of that spunk’ (gosh look at that goodlooking person)

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sally September 15, 2010 at 10:00 am

On the first day at my work in Australia, I asked for some office stationery including a piece of rubber. The request was met with raised eyebrows and someone kindly pointed out to me later on that it is called an eraser in Australia. “Rubber” is in fact “that thing grown-ups do”. I think I won the award for red faces that day.

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Hellen from Kinglake September 15, 2010 at 10:06 am

ohh forgot my favourite compliment of all time from a lovely country lad , ‘Geez luv you scrub up well’. I think it meant he thought I was good looking, still not sure. lol

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sally September 15, 2010 at 10:21 am

I meant to say in my email above – “Rubber” is in fact associated with “that thing grown-ups do”.

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Nav September 15, 2010 at 10:27 am

An English girl I work with finds it extremely hilarious how Aussie slang usually consists of shortening a word and whacking on a “o” at the end. eg:
Servo = Service station
Avo = Avocado
Arvo = afternoon
Wino = person who regularly drinks wine
Intello = intelligent
righty-o = allright then
good-o = good/ok then
derro = derelict person

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Kate September 15, 2010 at 11:22 am

You crack me up! Nav.. well done.

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Shannon September 15, 2010 at 11:23 am

Hi Craigy Harps

Travelling frequently as I do between here and the States I was asked by an american passenger if the aircraft was full, to which i replied “Chock-a-block” I’m afraid”. Needless to say i had to spend the next few minutes trying to translate something that really can’t be literally translated!!

The “would you like a “biccie”?” (cookie) always gets a good reaction too.

Shannon

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Tina Johnston September 15, 2010 at 11:24 am

Hey Craig !

My US friends are amused by:
brekkie, bikkie, pressie, goodie, baddie, littlie etc.
Oh, and a bikkie is really a cookie ‘cos a biscuit is a scone.

{{HUG}} Tina

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Fiona September 15, 2010 at 11:28 am

Nav you made me giggle – my English husband also loves how we add ‘o’ to the end of our shortened words.

He also loves:
“Hang a u-ey” (perform a u-turn while driving)
“Sticky beak” (busybody, nosy parker)
and “strewth” (wow) which he randomly peppers his sentences with :)

Sometimes I say the most every day word or phrase only to find him staring at me suspiciously and declaring ‘you made that up’.

When I lived in Canada my work mates were very confused by:
“Texta” (felt tip pen/marker pen)
“Going to the pictures” (seeing a movie at the cinema)
and taking “Jumpers” (sweaters) and “torches” (flashlights) on our camping trip.

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Erin September 15, 2010 at 11:56 am

Bloody Oath = of course!
She Be = she’ll be right / it’ll be ok

I recently had to explain to a Kiwi on another forum what I meant when I said I had ralphed lunch.

ralphed = chucked = chundered = spewed = vomited = drove the porcelain bus

Which then reminds me of:
Going to see a man about a dog = dropping the kids off at school = laying some cable = backing the brown bus into the driveway = Number 2′s

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Craig September 15, 2010 at 11:59 am

Sometimes I wonder why I opened this ‘door’. You guys are trashy, hilarious, amusing and interesting. I love that. Keep ‘em coming. xx

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Tina Johnston September 15, 2010 at 12:00 pm

@ Shannon… chock a block is sorta like…. full as a goog !

Tina

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Christina September 15, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Here in the States (the surfing coast of SoCal to be exact) a “woodie”…. is not today what it was when I was a teen. In the 50′s and 60′s it was a large, old car with wood paneled sides that surfers usually drove to and from the beach with surfboards hanging out of the back windows. Now… it presumably has something to do with um, well, that thing that grown-ups do (although I imagine there were more “woodies” in those old “woodies” than most of us realized at the time). Cheers.

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Sue September 15, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Sue

Chuck a sickie – take the day off but ring in to say you are sick
kangaroo loose in the top paddock- crazy
Dead horse- tomato sauce ( ketchup)
snags or snaggers- sausages

And don’t forget our first Australians slang such as:
Deadly – great
Cheeky – angry/wild
humbug- muck around ( be silly)

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simone September 15, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Hi,
One that confused me when going to the U.S was on the menu it said Broiled Fish, when I asked what that meant they said you know cooked in a broiler, It sounded horrible to me, what the heck is a broiler?Sounded like a mix between boiled in a pot and whacked on a grill. Nope it was what we call Grilled and it was cooked under a griller.

My fave Aussie word would have to be Dunny or Loo = Toilet, Lavatory
You could take it further and cop a squat ! Not that I would do anything like that I’m a lady :)

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Pandora September 15, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Hey Fiona,
I’ve always known it as ‘chuck a u-ey” for making a u-turn.
Also ‘whacko!’ when something is really good.

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Suellen Hughes September 15, 2010 at 2:40 pm

This blog and comments have made me laugh out loud – lucky I work from home.

Not sure if this is said in the US or only the UK.

I was on a business trip in the UK with a male British colleague. As we finished dinner for the evening, he said to me “I’ll come and knock you up in the morning.” In Oz, that means something totally different…it’s sometimes the outcome of that thing that grown ups do.

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Meggy September 15, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Here are a few that I quite like !

chuck a u-bolt = do a u-turn
k-fer or dirty bird = KFC
chuck a wobbly = throw a tantrum
carn = abbreviation of ‘come on’ used mostly for cheering sporting teams (eg carn the )
laughing gear = your mouth
cop shop = police station
shonky = something of poor quality
spitting chips = describing how angry someone is
flat chat = full speed
troppo = crazy

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Romy September 15, 2010 at 3:49 pm

AUS: Lollie
US: Candy
UK: Sweet

But I think everyone is unanimous in our love of them! :P

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Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker September 15, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Well, growing up in northern Louisiana, U. S. A., I have a friend from Tucson, Arizona who makes fun of me when I forget my proper English and revert to my childhood English and say, “I am fixin’ to go to town.” or “I am fixin to cook dinner.” I try to remember to say, “I am going to town.” or “I am going to cook dinner.”

When giving directions as to where something is, I may say, “It is just over yonder.” That is a southern U. S. A. statement that you don’t here anyone from the North or West or East say. It means, “It is just over there.”

I grew up in northern Louisiana where everybody speaks English. In southern Louisiana a lot of the residents speak Cajun French which I don’t understand a word of.

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Anon N September 15, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Now I know I’ll never make it to the ‘Proficient Speaker’ level.
Not if I have to learn the meaning of each word on 3 continents.
THANK YOU, Craig

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Ekka September 15, 2010 at 5:29 pm

A few sheep short in the top paddock! (Crazy)
Better than a poke in the eye with a blunt stick – self explanatory
You may call a business ‘Dodgy Bothers’, dodgy meaning not quite right
Pluggers – another name for thongs of the flip flop kind
It’s going to be a stinker – meaning it’s going to be very hot
Northern Territory saying – a dog in a remote community might be called a ‘Cheeky Dog’, which actually means very nasty mean camp dog.
Humbug in the NT means to harrass someone
Then there’s the bush – forrest, woods

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Anon N September 15, 2010 at 5:31 pm

I sincerely hope that what I just said is not, most unexpectedly, evocative of any improper sentiment in any of the aforementioned languages.

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Shirley September 15, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Ha ha have enjoyed reading this. Many years ago on holiday I met some Americans and they said I know you are speaking English, just don’t have a clue what you are saying!

My English friend can’t believe that we call “crisps” chips and we call chips, well, they are chips too. And yes, we can work out the difference. As for calling an ice block an “iced lolly”, just doesn’t sound right at all.

Not the full quid = crazy

A sandwich short of a picnic = also crazy
My father used to always say that he was as full as a “festered fart”
gross, sorry!

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Mares September 15, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Just love the Aussie slang! Here a few of my favs
Figjam – F*ck I’m Good Just Ask Me!
Pig’s arse – don’t agree
Going home in the divvy van – police car
Cactus – no longer functioning
Budgie smugglers – mens bathing gear
Taking a bog! – having a poo
Blow in the bag – a breathalyser
Built like a brick shit house – big built
Cheers M

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Jo September 15, 2010 at 6:30 pm

My American husband who has lived In Oz for 5 years now, heard “pissed as a parrot” for the first time. It means to be really drunk and apparently came from Queensland where parrots sip on cut sugar cane and get really pissed from the fermented juices. Kevin sounds like a cocky (Cockatoo bird) now going around all the time -”pissed as a parrot, hic, pissed as a parrot hic!!” LoL

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Kate_as_is September 15, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Many years ago while backpacking in the UK I was living in a hostel with many other Aussies, a lot of South Africans and of course plenty of people from all over the world. One day three of the male South Africans stood up in the common area and announced to the room that they were “going upstairs for a root if anyone would like to join us” – all the Aussies in the room looked at each other in shock! After the initial confusion we managed to find out that in South Africa a root is a marijuana joint…

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Craig September 15, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Jo:

Australia: Pissed = Drunk
US: Pissed = Angry

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Holly September 15, 2010 at 9:15 pm

This post gave me a good chuckle!

It takes me back to our fabulous MBE weekend and one of our MBE’ers, our beautiful Uraguayan shiela Mon!

She now knows that “breaking wind” in Wilson’s Prom didn’t actually mean creating a wind break! We explained to her that in Australia, it is the more pleasant term for a rippa of a fart, bum burp, to tear a fork in your nightie, to let fluffy off the chain or just a simple little pop off.

Now that I think about it, we never discussed Mon’s thoughts on a fanny…..being at the back (American) or at the front (Australian)…..?

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Bek September 15, 2010 at 10:24 pm

The lovely American in my life from time to time comes out with the phrase “use – ta – could” – no idea about the spelling but it means “that is something I used to do that I cannot do any more”. e.g. “I use-ta-could play the guitar/do a marathon under 4 hours/get pissed as a parrot whenever I wanted”.

Strange hey?!

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Anon N September 16, 2010 at 12:00 am

“use – ta – could” is LOL

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Suzanne September 16, 2010 at 3:39 am

In England the word “homely” is used to describe a cozy house. In America homely means it’s ugly. I always love to hear Brits on the BBC say that a house is homely when actually it’s very pretty.

American: cut the cheese = fart

When I did my student teaching in the UK I had a good laugh over two things. We were told in advance that erasers there are called rubbers. A rubber in the US is slang for a condom. So when one of my little 2nd graders (7-8 yrs) came up to me and asked me for a rubber I had to stifle a laugh.

We were there in Novemebr which means we were there during our Thanksgiving time. Our group of teachers put on a silly skit about how Thanksgiving began. At one point in the skit the women who played the turkeys say “gobble gobble”. The audience would laugh quite loudly at this and we later learned that in the UK gobble means…uhmm….something women do to men….*blush*

I live now in The Netherlands and have had interesting conversations with my Dutch husband trying to explain words such as flabbergasted, hooligans and shenanigans.

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Lauren September 16, 2010 at 5:48 am

(Georgia, USA)

Frog Giggin’ (verb): the act of hunting frogs for meat.
“We’s frog giggin’ this weekend so we can have so fried frog legs.” (Tastes like chicken…)

Bless your heart (insult): person reference should be pitied for their ineptitude, weight gain, stupidity, etc.
“You didn’t know to not stick your finger in the light socket? Bless your heart.”

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Fiona September 16, 2010 at 9:17 am

I have to add one more… in Australia (and the UK I think) the word Randy means ummm ‘very keen to do that things grown ups do’. In the USA and Canada it is a quite common name.

I worked in a Canadian hospital were nobody quite knew why the UK and Australian staff got the giggles when they introduced the boss at our weekly meetings… yep his name was Randy!

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karnak September 16, 2010 at 12:05 pm

My favourite thing us Aussies do is take the language and then just massacre it to suit ourselves. A couple of my favourites are :

Yeah right – generally means the exact opposite but can mean what it says.
yeah nah – a now commonly used phrase that for the purposes of amicability initially suggest agreement with the other person before completely rejecting the idea.
see ya later – suggests that a later meeting has been planned but can be used for perfect strangers to whom there is no intent to ever see again.

New Australians – my heart goes out to them :)

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Anonymous September 16, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Good on ya! Can mean well done/congratulations, or thanks for nothing, depending on the inflection.

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Anonymous September 17, 2010 at 10:34 pm

good laugh outa this un… tah

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Anonymous September 18, 2010 at 9:05 am

There is an australian comedian who does a funny line about how when you ask Australians things about themselves they tell you what they are not.Eg, Q:How are you? Answer: Not Bad. Q: What have you been up to? Answer: Not much. I hadn’t realised until he pointed it out.

Also apparently its quite Australian to say “heaps” when referring to how much of something there is or was.

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sparkrunner September 18, 2010 at 11:12 am

OK… I’m alternating between utterly mortified and laughing my fanny off…
: P

So back to rooting. We use it to mean cheering. But also to mean “rummaging” or digging as in “I’m rooting around for my keys in my purse”. So it’s not unusual to hear someone say that they were rooting around in the garage or in their car.

But I’ll never say that again. Unless the car is a Woodie. I saw one of those just today!

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Stephen September 18, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Driving the porcelin bus = means you have been on your hands and knees being sick in the toilet bowl!
Hanging the snag = a man urinating
Cutting timber all night = snoring
shaking hands with the unemployed = a man urinating
cheese and kisses = your wife
tight arse = wont spend money
hoof’n it = to walk
treadaly = your bike
Rotten Ronnies = McDonalds!

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Jenny September 18, 2010 at 11:29 pm

How bout

feeling crook (feeling unwell)
bung (something broken or not working, even bodily parts)
I’ve got a bung eye means I’ve got a sore eye.

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