So Your Having Trouble With Aussie "Strine!?"

Crocs are feared and respected in Australia.

The late Steve Irwin, a real Crocodile Dundee, with one of his beloved crocs shortly before his untimely death by sting ray venom.
The late Steve Irwin, a real Crocodile Dundee, with one of his beloved crocs shortly before his untimely death by sting ray venom.

Australian English ("Strine!") is very imaginative

North Americans - or Europeans using English for that matter - have people from many nationalities wandering amongst them as residents or tourists. But none using English (as they would insist they do) are more exotic or incomprehensible that those rare birds from the Antipodes, the Australians, who speak a in a nasal whine some call “Strine.” (‘Stralian)..

Even finding out where they are from can be difficult for the noviate, “Hi, mate,” one might open with. “I’m from “Stralia.”

Seeing your puzzled look, he might add, “Stralian, ya know?”

Most of what the average US citizen knows of Australia he usually gleaned from “Crocodile Dundee” reruns on the television…Brits are only slightly more enlightened by all the Aussie barkeepers here! He may even find his beliefs confirmed when he takes in the modern tourist from “Oz,” as they are generally topped with a hat a - la Croc Dundee, which may or may not have corks dangling from it to keep the Oz national bird - the fly - away at home…he may also be sporting “sunnies,” sunglasses; and “”thongs,” No, no up the bum girlie underwear, they are flip-flops in Oz. He may also have knee-length shorts and sandals with socks - dress used for business in Sydney and warmer parts of the home country.

Your conversation may drift to sports and you will ask which teams he “roots” for at home or in the country he visits. A look of alarm may spread across the sunburned visage as he explains a “root” is a f--k in ‘Stralia.

(It’s not hard to make mistakes like this…I once was asked by a secretary in a job I had after recently arriving in Sydney. “Got any Durex,” she smiled. I nearly fell off the chair…she had just asked me, a boss she had known for all of two day, if I had any condoms (Durex was the best known brand back then in the UK and used by one and all for any type of “rubbers.”). Dorothy (bless her) had merely been asking if I had any sticky tape, Durex was the Scotch Tape of Oz back then).

“Feel like a Cauldie,” you new acquaintance had merely asked you if you want a beer with him. (A coldie…cold beer). (But he won’t be able to get his familiar “schooner, or midi” in the UK or the US…they are glass sizes).

Just watch the US barman’s face if the Australian female asks him if he keeps “Goon,” wine, especially “Chateau de Cardboard” The Australians invented wine in a box many years ago now and it spread all over the world where it provides a cheaper alternative to bottled wine.

Your pal might ask you where “Maccas” is (McDonalds), A poor alternative to what he has at home, “Prawns (never shrimp) or beef on the Barbie.”

He will be walking on the “footpath” in New York or London, not the sidewalk (US) or the pavement (Brit), and he may be off to watch the local team play “footy,” any type of football. He may be dismayed you have never heard of “Aussie Rules,” a sort of cross between rugby and soccer (actually very good ) played in Oz.

He may immediately want to shorten your name as diminutives for many things, including names, are the norm “Down Under.”

Gibson becomes Gibbo, for example…I was always “Chal,” which I liked (Challen). He will have a “sani” or sandwich for tea “thisavo” this afternoon. Maybe he will go on a picnic with his “Esky,” cooler. His cookies will be “biscuits” (UK, too). He won’t have candies like N Americans, or sweets, like the Brits, but “Lollies.”

Rubes will come from the “Outback,” or “Back o the Black Stump” in Oz. In the large “properties” ranches back there you might find “Jackaroos, or Jillaroos, (cowgirls and boys). Visiting those places is know as “Going Bush.“

Those mentally encumbered he may call “Drongos, or Wombats (A large, torpid marsupial); those he really dislikes may be “Bludgers.” (Once a pimp in British English). Kangaroos are “roos” of course and his goodbye to you may be “hooroo.” (As his hello is “G’Day”)

He may tell you, mystifyingly, he drives a “Ute,” or pick-up truck - on the “wrong” side of the road for N Americans but same as the UK. By then, you will have gravitated to be known as mate, or “Cobber” by the open and friendly Australians. He will refer to you, or something he likes as “Ridgy-Didge, Dinkum, or Fair Dinkum.”

You will ask if he is married or has a girl at the moment, “Na, mate, but I love the “Sheilas,” he may reply, (collective noun for girls in Oz).

Seeing a friend on the other side of the street, this interesting apparition might yell, “Coooeeee!” Rather like the Swiss yodel, this is a penetrating salutation which can be heard for a long way.

He might describe his work as “Hard Yakker,” (obvious meaning). Limeys, (Brits) are called Pommies in Oz where they experience a love/hate relationship: Australians see them as complainers sometimes, (Whingeing), and they don‘t like hard yakker.

“Bloody” is the standard Australian (Aussie) swearword, “Bloody right, mate, or too bloody true,” are used to express emphatic agreement. Also, “It’s a Beauty” for something good.

“Bluey” is someone (strangely) with red hair.

Brickies, Sparkies and Chippies are bricklayers, electricians and carpenters in the same order.

Not only are there these and hundreds more colloquiums (slang) based around English and other tongues (Aboriginal words find their way in but I cannot recall them).

Although I got help to prompt my memory in writing this article online, I am familiar with all the terms and used them during my nearly 10 years all told living in marvelous Australia, a land I often miss as I live amongst the Whingeing bloody Poms!

There have been several book published on “Strine,” Amazon lists several.


The bloody pom!




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Comments 17 comments

Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 4 years ago from Rural Arizona

Bob, this was both funny and interesting. I have always wanted to visit Australia, but most likely will not be able to do it. I spent too many years thinking about it and not enough doing it.

This hub drives home the point on how easy it is for international relations between countries to get confusing. Even countries that supposedly speak the same language apply different meaning to some words.

Even here in the US we have regional differences in the meaning of some words and phrases. People from the North have a heck of a time communicating with people from the South.

Texas is big enough to be a country of their own, and they have sayings that belong exclusively to them.

I truly enjoyed this read and envy the time you were able to spend in what sounds like an amazing place to live.

diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

HI OP: Yes, Oz is a great place and North Americans are welcomed there by the layed back Aussies. many similarities in both nations.

Nowhere is as bad as Britain for changes in regional languages...I lived in the US, too, and quite liked the southern are easier to understand - nationwide - than the Brits.


bac2basics profile image

bac2basics 4 years ago from Spain

Hi Bob. Relatives of my late husband live in Australia and he went over one time to visit them. I togged him out in summer wear for this and he left the UK wearing a pair of new canvas shoes which rubbed and made his feet bleed, when he arrived in Oz I got an email from Sheila ( yes it´s true) to tell me that my Hearty had arrived and she had bought him thongs to wear whilst his feet healed . As you can imagine I had no idea at all what the hell she was talking about, but all was revealed after Hearty had a good sleep and rang me. I was very relieved to learn that Thongs are flip flops. Great hub Bob, keep em coming you have been absent too long :)

diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

bac2basics: Thanks for kind and amusing comment. I shant really come back big time to HP as have plans which i hope will take me far from routine work on a laptop. But I have enjoyed the 3 years tremendously and might keep my hand in along the way.

Sorry you lost your "Hearty,"

All the best

Bob xo

PS I have toyed with moving to Spain, but Mexico has spoiled me a bit for that.

Bumpsysmum profile image

Bumpsysmum 4 years ago from Cambridgeshire

This was a great read, humorous and interesting. My daughter has Ozzy friends who stay with her here in UK often and she visited them last Christmas for 6 weeks. Some of the stories she told me were hilarious. She has a foot phobia and found the whole 'thong' issue almost too much to bear, especially when the scantily clad lads put their feet up on the table in the pub right under her nose. Great hub.

diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

Hi Bumpsymum: I have heard them called "Scuffs," too, but that might have been in the USA.

I have forgotten much of the idiom and it changes all the time.


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 4 years ago from Rural Arizona

Bob, please don't stray too far from the laptop, you would be missed. Whatever your future plans may be, I hope you find the place you are looking for.

bac2basics profile image

bac2basics 4 years ago from Spain

Hi Bob. What I didn´t tell you in my comment was that to hear another woman telling me she had bought what I thought was underwear for my husband , and dodge underwear at that, and he was happy to wear it only 72 hours after being in my loving arms almost sparked an international incident, so I was more than relieved to learn that thongs are footwear over there. :))

I just wanted also to let you know that Spain is a fantastic place to live, and now obviously with the financial crisis and lots of Brits having returned to the UK , it´s a great place for bargain villas too. If you do decide to come for a look see I can highly recommend Valencia.

diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

Anne - my great-grandma on mum's side was born in Valencia (Ethel Diaz). I have been there, but not for many years. Since, i have lived in Santander and barcelona for a couple of years (late 80's). I have been back to Andalucia (2006). I lived for many years in Mexico and it spoiled me for anywhere else! I have never found many Spaniards particularly friendly.

But Spain is near and tempting as the possibility of retiring in Mexico fades. Are you in the Valencia area?

Hasta luego


Un besito

diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

ubaid86 Thanks for visit..

diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

Old Poolman: I just want to go and lie on a bitch, er, beach...I'll get over it!


bac2basics profile image

bac2basics 4 years ago from Spain

Hola Roberto. Si , yo vivo en Valencia.

I actually live in the mountains but find the people in my village lovely, yes they were suspicious at first, but I made a very good friend here who just happened to be the mayors mum, well actually she adopted me, then so did her son the mayor, and it went on from there. Unlike a lot of Brits here I actually mingled with the locals and learned Spanish ( rather badly but I get by) and I find them very much the same as folk from Northern England where I was born, but as they were 30 years ago. Because I have lived here so long there isn´t one time when I go into the village when I don´t meet someone I know and they make a fuss of me.

Due to circumstances my villa is on the market and I may be forced to return to the UK, I really don´t want to go back, but advancing years and now being alone may force my hand. I do love my life in Spain very much.

As for you Roberto, maybe you should give valencia to the once over again, it is as you say much closer to the UK. I wish you well in your decision and future.

Un bessito para tu. Anne x

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

So Bob, I'm beginning to see why you haven't been around much lately. While I applaud any lucrative endeavors you might have, I hope you will continue to keep a finger in HP. Hubs like this are such a delight to read! You always add the right touch along with the right information.

Voted up, useful, funny, and interesting. Good job Mate.

diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

Hi Tilly...Thanks for warm comment

Bob x (Hug for hubby, too o)

stricktlydating profile image

stricktlydating 3 years ago from Australia

G'day Bob! You're doing it wrong! I'm from Straya mate! Straya! LOL! Nice to hear of your experiences in this country :)

diogenes profile image

diogenes 3 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

Hiya Strictly: Just a bloody pom trying tha knows.

Bob x

Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

Interesting, Bobby. I didn't know you'd been down under for such a long time. Now can I say I speak almost fluent Stralian? I have a few Stalian friends, but fortunately they speak English. ;) My English friends are another matter . . .

Glad you're still kickin'. xx

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