In Gallivanting the Globe

Local Lingo: Utterly Acceptable Slang in Australia and New Zealand

Learning about languages, lifestyles and cultural differences can be a personal highlight of any travel adventure. After all, sameness is not what we’re after.

Case in point: Seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere and driving is on the left.

Our resident destination experts are here to lend some insights on the catchphrases and common sayings you’ll hear in Australia and New Zealand, where the local lingo includes a witty, dry sense of humor. These helpful hints will come in handy for Crystal Symphony’s voyages Down Under in 2017, beginning with a spectacular winter holiday cruise this December.

Crystal Symphony in Sydney's famous harbour
Crystal Symphony in Sydney’s famous harbour

Local lingo: It’s not in the least offensive to use the terms Aussie and Kiwi.

Togs and thongs

The sun is shining, everyone is friendly, the locals comprise people from many different backgrounds, local wine is delicious, fresh seafood, meat and produce is abundant. And it’s all topped off with some of the best beaches in the world…just grab your sunnies, togs and thongs. What’s not to love? Awesome!

Local lingo: Sunglasses are sunnies. Togs is a swimsuit and thongs are flip flops in Australia, called jandals in New Zealand. Everything, including the most practical and mundane, can be described as “awesome.”

The Basics: Thank You and You’re Welcome

Aussies say they’re not in a rush and that the daily pace is noticeably slower. Yet, they save plenty of time with a shortened version of thank you, typically expressed as “Ta.” In response, you’ll hear “No worries,” which means “You’re welcome.” In New Zealand, you may hear “All good,” instead of “No worries” as a response. Variations include “Cheers!” for either “thank you” or “you’re welcome,” and in New Zealand, “Chur!” means the same thing. Got that? Good on ‘ya.

Blokes are Mates and Bros

In Australia, everyone is your “mate,” and that includes people you don’t know. Therefore, “Ta, mate,” is a perfectly acceptable way to thank a taxi driver in Sydney.

In New Zealand, replace “mate” with “bro,” and you’re all set. Of course, you can always use “gov,” as they used to do frequently in the U.K., or even “cuz,” which is short for cousin and useful for addressing females.

Really, truly

A skyline view of Auckland's CBD, or Central Business District
A skyline view of Auckland’s CBD, or Central Business District

By the way, downtown – whether it’s Melbourne, Australia or Auckland, New Zealand – is known as the CBD for Central Business District.

Aussies and Kiwis will often put ‘as’ at the end of adjectives to give emphasis. Examples include “lazy as,” “lovely as,”  “fast as,” and “common as.” When you hear “ow” (it used to be “oy”) attached to the end of phrases, you’ve met a genuine Kiwi. Also, it doesn’t mean anything at all.

How to Say OK

“Sweet as” is perhaps the third most common phrase after “awesome” and “no worries.” It means OK. The following exchange could take place in either Australia or New Zealand:

  • Q: “Dinner at 8?”
  • A: “Sweet as.”

Mind you, if the answer is no, a Kiwi conversation could go like this:

  • Q: “You’ll lend me a fiver for a beer, eh bro?”
  • A: “Not even.”

Alternatively, a Kiwi could stall by just muttering “Yeah, nah bro,” which translates as “Umm.” The “yeah-nah” combo doesn’t mean yes or no, but more like, “I heard you.”

“She’ll be ‘right,” means “Everything will be OK!” The phrase neatly sums up a general relaxed attitude in this gorgeous part of the world. Encounter it generously whilst enjoying your holiday among Kiwis and kangaroos, coral reefs and rainforests.

Have you been to Australia and New Zealand? What other phrases did you hear that you weren’t used to? If you’re an Aussie or a Kiwi, what did we miss?


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Posted on September 13, 2016

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