Learning English is difficult! With its irregular verbs, tricky pronunciation and even harder spelling, lots of students struggle.

But that’s not the only challenge language learners face. There are 18 countries where the majority of the population are native English speakers (and many more where English is an official language) – and they all have their own vocabulary, expressions and idioms. So it’s no surprise that the English can give you a headache.

You may have seen on the blog that we recently spoke to Maria about her experiences moving to Australia, so today we thought we’d share with you some of her favourite Aussie expressions. You’ll find them below with their meanings and an example of them being used in context.

10 Essential Australian Expressions [Infographic] | Oxford House Barcelona

1. G’day mate

Possibly the most famous of all Australian expressions, there’s a good chance you’ll hear this from the moment you touch down in Australia. Used to welcome people it simply means ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’.

Interestingly, some people believe that the expression is on the way out as Australians start to adopt more of a standard national pronunciation.


2. Good on ya!

These words of encouragement can be used when someone has done something positive like passing an exam, getting a promotion at work, getting engaged or buying you a beer at the pub. Quite often people will add ‘mate’ at the end for extra emphasis.


3. A little ripper/beauty

Used in similar situations to the previous expression, a ‘ripper’ or ‘beauty’ is someone or something that’s very good, exciting or beautiful. You may hear it being shouted in the pub when a player scores the winning try in a rugby match.


4. Fair suck (of the sauce bottle)

A ‘fair suck’ or if you want the full expression – ‘a fair suck of the sauce bottle’ basically means you want to be treated fairly by others. It was first used by low-income Australian families who used to share the last drops of tomato sauce to flavour their meat. However, it wasn’t until former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd started using such slang to speak to the Australian electorate, that it became famous.

A similar expression you might hear in English speaking countries is ‘a fair crack of the whip’.


5. What’s the John Dory?

This Australian version of cockney rhyming slang simply means “what’s the story?” It’s used when people want to know the latest gossip or what’s happening in someone’s life.

For those who are wondering – a John Dory is actually a white fish which is found off the coast of Australia. It tastes lovely grilled with a bit of lemon and pepper!


6. A few stubbies short of a six-pack

Although most people think of a six pack as the ‘abs’ or abdominals of someone who works out a lot, in this saying it actually refers to a six-pack of beer (stubbies are small bottles of beer).

The expression is a little unkind and means that someone is not very intelligent or a little bit slow.
Another way to say this is – ‘a few sandwiches short of a picnic’.


7. Better than a kick in the backside

This expression is used to say that something is better than nothing. It encourages people to see the positive in a bad situation and think ‘it could be worse’.

It’s usually said by someone else when you are feeling disappointed to try and cheer you up.


8. Dog’s breakfast

This expression has nothing to do with dog food. In fact, something which is messy or untidy could be described as a dog’s breakfast.

This phrase shouldn’t be confused with a ‘dog’s dinner’ which has nearly the opposite meaning (to dress very smart).


9. Put a sock in it

This is an expression which is common throughout the English speaking world and is a (slightly) nicer way to say – ‘shut up’.

The idea behind the phrase is that if you put a sock in someone’s mouth it will hopefully stop them speaking. Let’s hope they are clean socks!


10. Throw a shrimp on the barbie

This last expression is also the most stereotypical. You are more likely to hear it being said by an enthusiastic British tourist (A.K.A a ‘Pom’) than an Australian. It’s commonly used in a social setting to suggest having a barbeque – or ‘barbie’ (not the plastic doll with long blonde hair) – in the garden on nice sunny day.

The funniest thing about this saying is that Australians generally refer to ‘shrimps’ as prawns.


What’s your favourite expression in English? Let us know in the comments below!

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