Can You Translate These Australian Phrases?

By: Deborah Beckwin
Image: Richard Ransier / Corbis / VCG / yogysic / DigitalVision Vectors / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Any culture or country has its own way of saying things, and Australia is no different. 

Australia does not have an official language, but the de facto official language is English, which is spoken by over 75 percent of the population. 

But what makes Australian English unique?

Back in the 1960s, the term "Strine" (pronounced strain) was invented to describe how Australians talk. Strine itself is the way to say the word "Australian," but in a more clipped and phonetic form. 

So where Strine come from? Australia was formerly a penal colony, and this dialect came from two groups of people: London convicts who spoke cockney, a British dialect of English from those who lived on the East End, and Irish convicts. Then it became a cool, rebellious way to talk.

Strine itself mainly a lot of word shortening and abbreviations, like the word "Aussie," which is short for Australian. And "barbie" is shortened for barbeque. Some Strine words you may recognize, like "aggro" meaning aggressive and "deli" meaning delicatessen. 

Australian English also has Aboriginal words. You may recognize "moola," which means money. Kangaroo, dingo, and kookaburra are also Aboriginal words.
In Australia, English words may mean different things outside of the country. If you're going to have tea, you're actually going to have dinner. And a cuppa is a cup of tea (also a British term).

We hope you enjoy this deadly (awesome) quiz on Straya (Australia)! Good luck!


"This guy is trying to crack onto that Sheila who is not interested." So, what's going on?

In Australian English, to "crack onto someone" means you're coming on to or flirting with someone. And no matter what language or culture you're in, it takes some smooth moves to do this right. Bonus: Sheila is slang for a woman.

Translate this sentence: "Bazza, it's your shout!"

One Aussie slang rule is similar to how Brits create nicknames: take the "r" in a name and make it a double "z." So Barry becomes Bazza, Terry becomes Tezza, etc. And then "shouting" is to buy a round of drinks.

If you "chucked a sickie" to go surf, what did you just do?

"Chuck a sickie" or "to pull a sickie" means to call into work sick. "Sickie" itself means a sick day from work. And usually, if you're chucking a sickie, you're not really sick.

"This meal makes me want to chunder; I hate french onion soup!" This meal makes you want to do what?

Yes, chunder is probably a word you know from the Men at Work song, "Land Down Under." And if beer is flowing too much, you may want to vomit.

"Ah, stop whinging about how hot it is and get back to work!" You should stop what?

"Whinging" is not only an Aussie word, but it's a British word, too. And that's where Australians got the word from. The etymology of the word comes from an older German word that means "to groan."

You just told your Aussie friend that you got a promotion and at work and they responded, "Good on ya! You little ripper!" How are they feeling for you?

"Good on ya" means "good job" or "good work." And "you little ripper" means "that's awesome!" So, in the example sentence, your friend is excited and happy for you.

"Can you get those bags? They're in the back of the ute." What is a ute?

"Ute" is one of the 5,000 Australian English shortened words (the technical term is diminutive). Ute is short for "utility," but it's a pickup truck anywhere else, except New Zealand, which uses this term as well.

"Let me grab my togs and we'll head out to the beach." What is being grabbed?

For an island nation, grabbing your togs is probably second nature for Aussies. Other words for swimsuit are "cossie" and "bathers."

"My son is being such a ratbag right now. He's mocking me while I'm on the phone. I'll call you back." Do you know what a ratbag is?

In Australian slang, ratbag can mean that someone's being mischievous or sassy. It can also mean that someone is being stupid or idiotic.

You call your friend and you ask how they're doing. They respond: "I'm just having a glass of Cab Sav and a big sook." What's happening?

Sook can also be a noun, meaning that you're a crybaby or you're too sensitive. Sook can also mean that you're a coward, or it can mean that you're inoffensive. Also, we hope you got that Cab Sav = Cabernet Sauvignon, so the friend is having a glass of red wine.

You're trying to get into a nightclub and your friend says, "It's chockers in there! What do they mean?

Chockers usually means a place is packed full of people. But chockers (also chock a block) can also mean that you are stuffed with food.

Someone just called you a tosser. Do you know what they just called you?

Well, you've just been insulted. A tosser is a jerk or jerk off, so someone who is being obnoxious or rude.

"Wow, that grommet actually knows what he's doing on his board." Who or what is a grommet?

In Australian slang, a grommet is a young surfer. Another term for this person would be shark biscuit, and specifically they would be a new surfer (sometimes this is used dismissively).

"Wow, so he just spit the dummy when you tried to end the relationship?" What did he do?

When someone "spits the dummy," they have are having a tantrum, a fit of anger. This can also be seen as an overreaction to a situation. And a "dummy" is a pacifier in Australia.

A waiter brings you your food, and you say, "Ta!" How did you respond?

If you're familiar with the Winnie the Pooh character, you're probably think "ta" means goodbye (TTFN, ta ta for now!) But in Australia, "ta" is a shortened version of thanks.

You're at a bar, and you come back from the bathroom to see that your beer is gone. You look at your friend who quickly says, "There’s no flies on me, mate." What did he just say?

"There's no flies on me" is the Aussie way of saying "don't look at me, I didn't do it." It's also a way to say in a group situation, I'm not the missing or weak link here.

You tell your friend that you don't think your partner is cheating on you. She responds, "Ziff!" What is "ziff" slang for?

This is an example of Strine, where words run together. Ziff is like saying "as if" really quickly. So in the example sentence, your friend is incredulous to what you said about your partner's fidelity.

"When I got home, I was just flat to the boards." What does "flat to the boards" mean?

"Flat to the boards" means going to sleep quickly or instantly. "Flat" in Ozspeak is usually an emphasizing word. "Flat out like a lizard drinking" means that you're very busy.

"I have to get up at a sparrow's fart." When is this person getting up?

Aussie have a lot of colorful and off-color phrases. Sparrow fart is Aussie slang, but it's also British slang that comes from 19th century UK.

You ask your friend to help you unpack after your move, but she looks at her watch and says, "Sorry, I hate to just choof off here, but I've got to get back home." What does "choof off" mean?

Choof looks to be derivation of the verb chuff, which means to make loud breathing sounds, like a steam engine chugging along. So to choof off is to hurriedly move along.

You just took out an old painting from your attic and your Aussie friend looks at it and says, "Ah, looks to be in good nick." What does your friend mean?

"In good nick" is from 19th century Australian English, but the etymology is intriguing. It seems to be related to breeding racehorses, meaning the offspring of a crossbred horse would be a good nick.

You give your Aussie friend the address of where you're meeting up for dinner, and they say, " Where is this, out Woop Woop?" Well, where is Woop Woop?

Woop Woop (a desolate, out of the way place, like the bush or outback) has some interesting etymological origins including that Woop Woop was a mythical town in the outback. Another is that it's the name of an abandoned sawmill in Wilga, Western Australia. Other Aussie terms for the middle of nowhere are "Never-Never" and "Back O'Bourke."

"Well, it's time to hit the frog and toad!" What is this person hitting?

Aussie slang has a lot of rhyming words for the intended words. So time to hit the frog and toad is a rhyme for road. And it's a funny juxtaposed image that has nothing to do with "hitting the road."

Your Aussie friend introduces you to their friend and says, "I love this bloke! He is straight up and down." What does your friend mean?

In Aussie slang, the word has to do with the truth, e.g., the straight Griffin is the truth. Similarly, someone who is fair "plays it straight."

In what situation would you say "stone the crows!"?

'Stone the crows" can also be used as a phrase of annoyance (e.g., gosh darn it). The origin of this meaning would be more literal from a farming perspective because crows kill and eat newborn lambs. Otherwise, stone the crows as an exclamation of surprise is just as sensical as "I'll be a monkey's uncle."

If you see some mozzies, what are you looking at?

It's another diminutive Aussie term. Mozzies is a slang word short for mosquitoes, and as you can imagine with an island nation, with some parts more tropical than others, mosquitoes are plenteous in Australia. There are over 300 species of mosquitoes there!

You take a sharp turn in your car and your Aussie friend riding along with you exclaims, "Crikey! I need to hold on to your Jesus bars!" What's your friend wanting to hold onto?

There are other names for the grab handle or roof handle of your car, one we can't repeat here, but it's an exclamation. And this is the same idea calling them Jesus bars or Jesus Christ bars, with the name being an exclamation.

You tell your Aussie friend that you met a celebrity, and they say, "Fair dinkum?" What are they asking you?

"Fair dinkum" may have its roots in the 19th century UK word ding, meaning hard work. It's a way to say something genuine, honest and true. "Fair dinks" and "dinky-di" are versions of fair dinkum.

If you're giving an "Aussie salute," what are you doing?

The Aussie salute is also known as the Bush salute as well as the Barcoo salute, named for a river in Queensland. The disease-carrying Australian bush fly (Musca vetustissima) is why the Aussie salute exists. Because it's attracted to body fluids, the bush fly can fly into one's mouth or eyes.

"Strewth!" is what kind of saying?

Strewth is from East End cockney and is a slang word for Brits, Aussies, and Kiwis (New Zealanders). It's a mashed-up way of saying "God's truth." It's similar to saying, "I swear to God!" but it can also be like saying "whoa" or "shoot."

Which way is the word piss NOT used?

In Australia, the word "piss" can be used in many ways, such as "piss off" means to go away, scram, get lost. "Pissed off" means that your annoyed or angry (and you probably recognize that one if you're an American). A piss up is a party or get together, "piece of piss" means easy (e.g. easy as pie), "pissed" means to be drunk or inebriated and "to piss" means to urinate.

You're worried while waiting for some test results, and your Aussie friend says, "No dramas, mate. She'll be apples." What did your friend say?

"No dramas" means "no worries" or don't worry about it. "She'll be apples" means everything will be OK. "She'll be right" is another way to say it'll be alright.

"I didn't think our team would win and then they had an own goal. We deadset did a Bradbury." What does "did a Bradbury" mean here?

This Aussie phrase is a recent one, from the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, with Australia's short track speed skater, Steven Bradbury. An unlikely contender in his race, he had the luck of all the other competitors falling in the last corner of the gold medal race, where he crossed first. The winner of Australia's first gold medal at the Winter Games is now a phrase about pulling out an unlikely win.

If you're "living on the smell of an oily rag," how are you living?

This phrase is for Australians and New Zealanders. The origins seem to be a phrase to describe great fuel economy from a car, "run on the smell of an oily rag."

If someone tells you that you need to get "on ya bike," what are they telling you to do?

Another phrase with British origins, "on ya bike" is not a kind way to tell someone to get going. In fact, it's a pretty rude way to tell someone to leave. If someone is still trying to talk to you, you can follow it up with, "tell your story walkin'!"

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!

Explore More Quizzes