Common words and phrases in Australia

A local community event in Sydney.

After spending a fortnight in Australia, you may have started to recurringly hear phrases that do not make sense in any other country.

We’re hear to explain the meaning behind these Aussie phrases and help you understand how to use them.

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“Chockers”, or “choc-a-bloc”, means very crowded or filled.

  • Did you go to the Australia versus Japan soccer game? It was chockers, I could barely move out of my seat!
  • It was choc-a-bloc at the supermarket during the day before Christmas. Everyone was rushing to buy gifts!


People who are familiar with each other will shorten the word “afternoon”.

  • I am free tomorrow arvo for a coffee and I would love for you to join me!


This word is often used before an adjective.

  • Did you finish yesterday’s chemistry exam? Gosh, it was bloody difficult.
  • Did you see that tall, blonde girl at the volleyball game yesterday? She had a bloody good jump.


Australians have a reputation for being friendly. Although “mate” means “friend”, Australians will use it for people they’ve met for the first time. For example, when you are served coffee by the barista, you can reply to him “Thanks mate”.

  • It has been so long since I last saw you! How have you been, mate?
  • Apologies mate, I didn’t see you coming and I bumped into you!

"Have a yarn"

This phrase is also popular in New Zealand.

  • I recently caught up with John over a few beers and we were having a yarn about high school. Those were the days!
  • The shopkeeper in my local bakery is always keen for a yarn. His customers love him and buy a lot of bread.


McDonald’s has its own colloquial name.

  • I’m looking forward to going to Maccas tomorrow, I’m craving a Happy Meal and a soft serve ice-cream.


Are you starting to notice that Australians love to shorten words to two syllables?

  • My heart started beating very fast when my crush asked me to go to brekkie with him. I got nervous and started speaking a different language.

"Good onya"

This is an affectionate way of exclaiming “Good on you!” .

  • After Sarah finished her first session at the gym, she proudly told her mum. She smiled and replied “Good onya, Sarah!”

"Killed it"

Don’t understand this phrase literally, nothing has died.

  • “You killed it!”, Nancy’s father happily said as she finished her guitar performance and returned to her seat.
  • Nathan thought that he had killed it during his Mathematics exam, but he was shocked when he saw the poor results.

"Doing my head in"

Someone might use this phrase when they are frustrated about a situation and complaining about it to a friend.

  •  I just moved into my new apartment. The interior is very nice, but my neighbour is doing my head in with all the noise he is making.
  • Why can’t you remember my name? It’s really doing my head in that we’ve been dating for a month and you still don’t care about me.

"Chuck a sickie"

A phrase usually used by younger people who don’t want to go to work (or school) during a certain time.

  •  The party won’t finish until 3am and I want to make the most of the time with my friends. I’ll probably chuck a sickie the morning after.
  •  When Alan told his mum that he had chucked a sickie because he wanted to go to Blackpink’s music concert instead, she was furious because she preferred Taylor Swift.