Fair dinkum, here are the deadset 10 best Aussie slang words

Olivia Lambert
·News Editor
·4-min read

From G'day to Fair Dinkum – Aussie slang is a defining part of our culture Down Under.

Now Australians have voted for the top 10 slang words used in the country, with results revealed in the ING Sense of Us report looking into what makes us tick as a nation.

Here is a list of our favourite colloquialisms, according to those who use them most.

1. Yeah Nah

Thirty-eight per cent of people voted yeah nah as their favourite Aussie phrase.

Meaning: For those not fully acquainted with the Aussie lingo, it's a phrase used when you want to let somebody know you understand what they're saying but you don't agree, according to the Macmillian Dictionary.

2. Arvo

You're probably not in Australia if you don't hear this expression on a daily basis, with 38 per cent of people also voting it their favourite part of the Aussie vernacular.

Meaning: Arvo is just a time-saving way of saying afternoon.

3. Old Mate

With old mate ranking in next with a vote of 29 per cent, according to the Sense of Us report, it's one of our favourite ways to refer to somebody without saying their name.

Meaning: According to Macquarie Dictionary, old mate is not gender restrictive and is often a term used when telling a story. It's also a handy substitute for when you don't remember somebody's name or just can't be bothered saying it.

An Esky is what Australians call a portable drinks cooler. Source: Getty
An Esky is what Australians call a portable drinks cooler. Source: Getty

4. Esky

Twenty-seven per cent of people voted Esky as their favourite word, another Aussie classic most likely heard on weekends and at backyard barbecues.

Meaning: Esky is the brand of portable coolers in Australia, so just as the US calls a vacuum a Hoover or tissue a Kleenex, we call our drinks cooler an Esky – it doesn't even matter if it's not the Esky brand.

5. Barbie

Raking in 25 per cent of votes was barbie, a term commonly heard alongside esky.

Meaning: As Aussies shorten every word possible, barbie is just a lazy way to say barbecue.

6. Whinge

We all must admit we've had a whinge on occasions, and 23 per cent have voted it their top word.

Meaning: Most think having a whinge is just complaining about something, but there's a little more to it than that.

While it does mean to complain, a whinge is when a person is doing it fretfully in a way that is annoying to others.

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, Whinge derived from the Old English verb "hwinsian", a word that means to wail or moan discontentedly.

7. Bottle-O

Twenty per cent of ING survey respondents claim Bottle-O is their favourite Aussie word and it is one that is used widely across the country.

The Bottle-O is actually a chain of liquor stores in Australia. Source: Google Maps
The Bottle-O is actually a chain of liquor stores in Australia. Source: Google Maps

Meaning: It may sound obvious, but a Bottle-O is just another way of saying bottle shop or liquor store. It's difficult to pinpoint exactly where the term originated, but it could be the simple fact Australians like tapping the letter 'O' onto many of their words – arvo, bowlo, Salvos, to name a few.

8. Sook

Another commonly used Aussie phrase that scored 20 per cent of votes is sook.

Meaning: A sook is basically what you would call somebody who is whinging. According to the Macquarie Dictionary, a sook is "a babyish person, usually crying or whining about the unfairness of life".

9. Deadset

Notching up 18 per cent of votes, deadset is a phrase that would confuse any international traveller with no prior knowledge of Aussie slang.

Meaning: Australians use the term deadset to confirm they are serious, or when firmly determined to do something.

Barbecues are often referred to as barbies in Australia. Source: Getty
Barbecues are often referred to as barbies in Australia. Source: Getty

10. Chock a Block

Seventeen per cent of people voted for chock a block as their favourite Aussie phrase.

Meaning: It's the Australian way to say you have eaten too much or something is full, like a street could be chock a block with cars.

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, chock a block actually started out as a nautical term.

"A block is a metal or wooden case with one or more pulleys inside. Sometimes, two or more blocks are used to provide a mechanical advantage," the dictionary says.

"When the rope is pulled as far as it will go, the blocks are tight together and are said to be 'chock a block'."

The word chock goes back to the Middle English word chokkefull, which means "full to the limit".

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