14 Words You’ll Only Hear in Straya

I have been in Australia for over a month now am quite proud of how well my “Australian” is coming along. Now I know what you might be thinking, they speak English in Australia right? My answer to that would be, in theory yes, but in practice, debatable.  To give you an example of what I mean I have complied a list of my top 14 favorite “Australian” words.




1. Arvo

This is arguably the most used word on the whole list and is short for afternoon.

My favorite story of foreigners getting confused with this word comes from a fellow American friend. She is currently studying abroad at the University of Sydney and on her first day of classes was told, “There would be a meeting in the arvo”. She then spent all morning wandering around campus trying in vain to find the “arvo” building. Needless to say she did not succeed.

2. Maccas


I think the picture says it all for this one. Even the McDonalds corporation has jumped on board and officially changed their signage and website to reflect the Australian ways.


3. Dirty Chicken 

KFC.  Seems fitting.

4. Tinny 

Also known as a can of beer. This one somewhat makes sense, but if someone were to say to you, “G’day mate how bout a tinny s’arvo?” would you have any idea what they were trying to ask of you? Thought so.

5. Bogan

Honestly, I don’t even know why I included this one on the list because even I am still unsure of what it actually means. Various definitions include:

  • Australian version of a redneck
  • A person who generally resides in the outer suburbs of larger cities, have teeth that haven’t had dental care due to cost, have an anti-authoritarian stance, jingoism, home-done tattoos, a love of classic rock and Peter Brock, hooning and drinking alcohol to excess
  • Depreciative term for an unfashionable, uncouth, or unsophisticated person, especially of low social status

Interestingly this word was added to the Oxford English dictionary in 2012 with the third definition listed.

6. Sangas


I asked my Aussie friend for help on this one and he replied, “sangas = snags = sausages”. A true Australian delicacy that can be found at almost any servo (see defintion #12) – it’s basically a sausage on white bread.

7. Chockers

Initially, I thought this word could mean chocolate, or crazy. However, I quickly realized that my attempts to decipher unfamiliar terms will always be in vain as they can honestly mean anything down here. Chockers is a perfect example of this as it means full. Or very full to be precise. “That glass is chockers full mate”

Yeah, I don’t get it either.

8. Sickie

Sickie, sick day, same same. Fun fact, if you fake a sick day and take off work it is called, “Chucking a sickie”.

9. Postie, Tradie, Cabbie, Firey

Mailman, tradesman, cab driver, firefighter. I’ll admit they are a little more fun to say when everything ends with an “ie”.

10. Chrissie


In case you were wondering what Christmas in Australia is like

Not to be confused with the name Chrissie…as this translates to Christmas. Personally, I don’t understand the need to shorten a two syllable word into a different more confusing two syllable word, but hey to each their own.

11. Footy

I know the rest of the world refers to our soccer as “football” so I figured football, footy, same thing, right? Nope. Next, I thought maybe they have American football down here and simply refer to it as footy down here. Wrong again.

This one is almost a trick question for foreigners because the Aussies have blended American football and rugby to create their own “Australian Rules Football” which is what the term footy refers to. However, to add to the confusion footy can also refer to tradition rugby.  I can’t even begin to tell you the rules to either of these games so for more information send inquiries to Google.

12. Servo

A servo is the Aussie way off referring to an American “gas station”. However, Aussies don’t use the word “gas” and refer to everything as petrol. Therefor a gas station, is really a service station (called so because of the other services offered there such as food, credit phone, and even pay bills in some), but for the Aussie’s ser-vice sta-tion is way too many syllables so they shorten it to just servo.

13. Barbie

This one stands for barbecue is also extremely common. It is the closest thing to true Australian cuisine if you ask me.

14. Straya


Even saying their own full country name is too much work down here.




With this dictionary in hand you should be able to (at least somewhat) survive should you decide to venture down here. That is, if the hundreds of deadly animals don’t get to you first.

Want more? Click the link HERE.


*Special thanks to my Aussie mates Rebecca and Harrison for their help in translating 🙂

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