Keep on Whispering in my Ear

This post is a bit of an Aussiespeak: Part Deux.  The other day I realized it’s been about 10 months since I posted the last Aussiespeak entry.  Since then I have learned and heard hundreds of other funny words and expressions.  I’ll share some with you now, and coming soon I’ll be doing a short video with my friends for those really tough phrases we need a local to explain for true understanding.  For now, here’s a list of 15 funnies.

1. Feral: Exactly what it means, except the usage is different.

When I think “feral,” I think “rabid animal.”  Aussies use feral to describe people, places AND things.  “That place is feral” probably means that feral sorts of people hang out there, or that it’s really seedy.  “She’s quite feral” can mean that she’s a really disgusting girl. (This does not have any implications on her reputation with boys, if that’s what you’re thinking.)  They often use this sort of phrase to refer to people who are, what we’d call, white trash.  Also country folk and bogans.  Which leads me to…

2. Bogan: A redneck, a white trash individual, someone not necessarily from the country, but has no concept of culture or city life.

These are the people whom Minnesotans like to observe while people-watching at the State Fair.  They might have mullets, are often VERY pro-Australia (think confederate flags in the front yard), and are usually very loud sorts of people.  But I’m generalizing of course.  The most simple explanation is bogan=redneck.

3. Reckon: I reckon, ju reckon?

Much like our southern compatriots, Australians are constantly “reckoning.”  I reckon this and do you reckon that? This is probably the one that hurts my ears the most.  I absolutely HATE “I reckon.”  For me it’s that expression I’ve vowed never to say under any circumstances.  Aussies like to shorten things as much as possible.  So instead of “you think so?” they have “ju reckon?”  Never will they say “do you reckon” fully pronounced.  It’s always mashed together.  “What’dju reckon?”

4. Uni: University, college.

College means something different here, so any post-secondary school is “uni.” Americans are much more liberal with the word “school.”  We can say to a 20-year old, “Where do you do to school?” and it can mean “Where do you study?/Where do you go to college?”  Australians would NEVER say school in reference to anything after high school.  “Where do you go to uni?”  “I have uni today.” Aussies never go to “class,” they go to “lecture,”/”a lecture”/”a tute.” They also don’t take “finals” or “midterms,” they take “exams.”  (I just laughed a little on the inside imagining someone saying, “I have college today.” Yikes.)

5. No worries: No problem, not a problem, don’t worry about it.

Maybe this is just me, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard an American say “no worries.” (In Aus, this is often followed by “mate.”)  To my ear this sounds incredibly Australian.  I still never say it.  It’s a very common one in the restaurant world.  While I say “sure” and “of course” and “absolutely” to my guests, the others all just say “no worries.”  I don’t think I’ll pick up on that one, it sounds too weird if I try and say it.  (Much like back in Virginia when I used to use “y’all” to make my tables feel more comfortable, a low-point for tip-driven me.)

6. Ta!: Thanks, great! etc

This is another big one in the restaurants.  This and “reckon” are tied for the ones I hate most.  I think “ta” sounds really obnoxious.  As if people aren’t worth your time enough to say “thanks” or “thank you,” or even “have a nice day” on their way out.  “Ta” is also used instead of “you’re welcome” at the end of a conversation.  It’s hard to explain this one fully.  I might include it in my video next week.

7. Rug up: To dress in warm clothing. (“Everyone rugged up last night knowing it would be cold.”)

Aussies are constantly doing things “up.” Rock up, rug up…And they all sound the freaking same.  Urban Dictionary’s definition of “rug up” is this: ‘to put on lots of clothes in anticipation of going somewhere bloody freezing.’  Nowhere is ever “bloody freezing” in Australia, I can assure you.  It gets cold, but almost never are mittens and hats appropriate.  Last night I was outside for an hour or so with friends and they were all complaining about how freezing the 50 degree night was.  SERIOUSLY.  I really shouldn’t talk; I’m miserable in the heat along with all of my fellow ex-pats from the countries of the northern hemisphere.  Honestly it’s colder in people’s homes than outside in Australian winter.  I kid you not.

8. Up the Duff: Knocked up, pregnant.

Okay to be honest, I’ve probably heard this one once or twice.  I think now it’s only used in a very silly way.  It must have been a more popular expression a few decades ago (though I welcome anyone to correct me if I’m wrong).

9. Whinge: To complain, to whine.

Australians say this CONSTANTLY.  “They’re always whinging about something.” Hehe. But seriously, I don’t say “whinge.”  Some things are just too Aussie and it doesn’t sound right in my accent.  People around here never complain, they never b*tch, they always “whinge.”  I believe you can also say that someone is “whingey” as in “he was a bit whingey last night” meaning he was complaining a lot.  But maybe that’s just my friends taking liberties with English…as per usual.

10. Fit/Unfit: in shape, out of shape

This is a British thing as well.  Australians are never “out of shape,” they’re simply “unfit.”  As in, “ugh I’m sooooo unfit!”  This is common during whinging sessions.  People are always wanting to “get fit.”  You can also say a person is fit, meaning they’re hot and in good shape.  “She’s quite fit,” means she’s got a good body and is an attractive girl.

11. Sweet as/easy as etc.

“Sweet as, bra!” But seriously, this is always one you hear about.  In response to hearing something good or cool, Americans would just say “sweet!” or “aw sweet!” etc.  Aussies say “sweet as” and then never compare to anything.  I’ll elaborate when I have my friends to help me.  I seriously cannot wait to make this video!

12. Jumper: sweater OR sweatshirt

This is funny because I haven’t started saying jumper.  People want me to explain the difference between sweater and sweatshirt and while to me it’s incredibly simple, no one seems to understand.  Matt usually gets “what I’m on about” because he’s with me all the time.  Others are a bit slow on the uptake.  I explain and they think “oh, so a sweatshirt’s just a hoodie,” but I then have to say no, a sweatshirt doesn’t necessarily have a hood, and the madness continues.  Aussies and Americans use “cardigan” the same way, but people raise eyebrows when I say “button-up” or “button-up sweater.”  They also don’t say “zip-up” or “zip-up hoodie.”  Everything with a hood is just a “hoodie.”

13. Loo/toilet: instead of bathroom or restroom

“Where’s the loo?” and “Can I use your toilet?” are the appropriate things to say in Australia.  I think Americans don’t like that sort of imagery when conversing with others, so we use the ambiguous “bathroom.”  This annoys some Aussies because often their toilets are located in a separate room than the bath, sink or shower.

14. Muso: musician

As in “he’s a muso.”

15. Catch yous later!

Matt actually hates this one.  Most of the coaches and girls involved in my outdoor soccer club say “catch yous later” or “see yous later” all the time.

That’s it for the moment.  Like I said, I’ll be back next week with a video to explain some of the tougher ones, such as “drop kick,” “fair dinkum,” “far out” and many more!


Author: emma a.

I'm Emma, a Minnesota girl getting back in touch with my creative side. Since graduating university in 2008 (the first time), I've been traveling and living abroad. Seven years ago I settled in Australia with my husband. I love running, reading, writing, knitting and pilates. I'm also a physiotherapy student and soon-to-be mother of a baby boy.

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