An Intro to Aussie Slang

G'day there. Welcome to my you beaut' guide to the rich and colourful language known as "Australian" (or "Strine" as we call it). Now we're not here to fuck spiders, so let's get on with it!

Lesson 1: At the pub

The pub is one place you can be guaranteed to find a speaker of Strine in their natural habitat. Here are a few words to get you served at the bar and start a conversation with an Australian.

  • Schooner = a medium glass of beer (425 ml or 15 oz). Standard beer size in most of Australia. Sometimes shortened to "schooey". 
  • Pint = a large glass of beer (570ml or 20 oz)
  • Middy = a small glass of beer (285 ml or 10 oz). Known as a "pot" in Melbourne.
  • Pony = a really small glass of beer (140 ml or 5 oz). Very rare to order on its own, but often used at breweries for tasting paddles.
  • Stubbie = a small glass bottle of beer (375 ml). See images below.
  • Tinnie = a small can of beer. Not to be confused with a "tinnie" which is a small metal boat used for fishing trips. Context should make this obvious - if someone asks you to throw them a tinnie, they are not asking you to throw them a small metal fishing boat.
  • VB = main beer in Melbourne and Victoria
  • Tooheys = main beer in Sydney and New South Wales (pronounced "too-ies")
  • XXXX = main beer in Brisbane and Queensland (pronounced "four ex")

australian beers

Note: Australians don't drink Fosters. Don't ask us where you can get this. Actually, this is a really good way to annoy an Australian.

Test 1: "My esky is chockers of tinnies"

This standard phrase is actually quite difficult, now that I think about it. Let's break it down:

  • Esky =  portable cooler or ice box. New Zealanders refer to them as a "chilly bin", silly kiwis. Esky is short for "eskimo" - I have no idea why we decided to shorten it or use this word to describe a cooler.
  • Chockers = full of
  • Tinnies = cans of beer

Lesson 2: A new rule

By now you may have noticed a few standard rules for Australian slang: shorten the word and add "ie" or "y" to the end. We also like to add "o" to the end of words, for example:

  • Servo = service station or petrol station
  • Bottle-o = bottleshop or liquor store
  • Arvo = afternoon
  • Blotto = really drunk

Okay, time for another test. This one is a bit trickier.

Test 2: "This arvo, we're going to go to the servo to get some durries, to the bottle-o to get some goon, and then we'll do a Maccas run"

Once again, let's break it down:

  • Arvo = afternoon
  • Servo = service station
  • Durries = cigarettes. I have no idea why, apparently there used to be a brand of loose tobacco used for roll-your-owns called "Bull Durham", so we shortened that to "durries". Makes sense!
  • Bottle-o = bottleshop
  • Goon = cask wine. Cheap and nasty. This is what backpackers and teenagers in parks drink. Also used in the fun backyard drinking game "Goon of Fortune".
  • Maccas = McDonald's

The most important phrase

"We're not here to fuck spiders"

This phrase can obviously not be taken literally, because who would be there to fuck spiders? Rather, it means the same as "Does a bear shit in the woods?" or "Is the Pope Catholic?", so basically, it means "of course!"

In context, if your mate and you were at the bar, and he turned to you and said "Would you like a beer?", you could reply "We're not here to fuck spiders". So, of course, I want a beer, that's why we are at the bar! 

Unfortunately, this particular phrase is dying out, although still well understood. So I encourage you to use it widely, spread it amongst your friends, colleagues and family, and watch their confusion as they try to work out, who would be there to fuck spiders...

Further education and videos

As you can see, Australian slang or "Strine" is a rich and colourful language, and this article is just the first step in your journey to discovering all the wonders it contains. For further watching and reading, I recommend the following resources.

The Betoota Advocate

Australia's version of "The Onion". They bill themselves as Australia's oldest and favourite newspaper, from the Queensland country town of Betoota, official population: 0. Often the best way to understand current affairs in Australia.

Old codgers having a schooner

My favourite Facebook page. User-submitted photos of old men at the pub, with the most accurate and Australian-slang-laden descriptions. The man behind this page is an absolute poet and Aussie legend, whoever they are.

Brown Cardigan

I can't guarantee you'll learn anything from this Instagram account, but say goodbye to at least the next 15 minutes of your life. Who knows, maybe it will teach you some deep insight into Australian culture...

Monty Python's "Bruce" skit

I grew up watching Monty Python and this skit set at the fictional "University of Wooloomooloo" has always been one of my favourites. Unfortunately, the video of the skit appears to have been removed from Youtube, so enjoy this audio!

"THE LIFE ORGANIC" by the Bondi Hipsters

Bondi is a great place to parody, full of hipsters, surfers, yoga chicks and beautiful people. This music clip by the "Bondi Hipsters" was so popular with my group of friends that we even organised a "Bondi Hipster"-themed house party back when we were in university.

The Funniest Moments of Nick Cummins The Honey Badger

"Tough as woodpecker lips", "Going off like a bull in a China shop" and "Sweating like a gypsy with a mortgage" were all phrases that Australian rugby union player Nick "Honey Badger" Cummins threw out in post-match interviews during his playing career. His sayings and use of Aussie slang were more often than not the highlights of the game (for me at least). 

Margot Robbie Teaches You Australian Slang

The very talented and beautiful Margot Robbie teaches Aussie slang while sitting on the beach. And she does a bloody ripper job! 

To learn more about Australian slang, come on our Sydney secret bar crawl, which contains an advanced lesson on slang, as well as the opportunity to test phrases out on real Australians and ask questions. Book your spot here!

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