Speaking English in Australia

girl checking a map travel English expressions

Ever been to Australia and wondered what everyone was saying? You thought they spoke English in Australia, right? Well, they do, but it’s a special kind of English. Here are some helpful tips for talking to Australians.

Dead horse
When someone says, “Please pass the dead horse,” don’t worry, they’re not talking about the animal. It’s another word for ketchup. Australians usually pronounce it dead ‘orse.

Elbow grease
If you’re trying to open the tight lid of a jar of dead horse, your Australian friends might tell you, “Put some elbow grease into it.” Never fear! Your elbows aren’t greasy! What they’re really telling you to do is try harder.

Fair crack o’ the whip
Your boss tells you, “I’m going to give you a fair crack o’ the whip.” Don’t be afraid – you have nothing to worry about! It means he’s going to give you a fair chance.

You couldn’t dig a hole to save your life, so why do people keep calling out, “Hey digger!” when they see you? Take it as a compliment! This is another word for friend. Australians also use the words mate andcobber.

Spit the dummy
You’re in a really bad mood and want to be left alone. Your friends tell you, “Don’t spit the dummy.” This expression has nothing to do with spitting. It really means to sulk or feel sorry for yourself.

This is short for “is it the truth?” It’s a common expression used when you are really surprised about something. For example, if someone just won the lottery, their friends might say “Struth!” It’s like saying,“Oh my God!” Australians might also say strike a light or Hogan’s ghost.

Come the raw prawn
If you think your friend is playing a joke on you, you can say, “Don’t come the raw prawn with me!” This is used when you don’t believe what you’ve just been told. It means, don’t treat me like a fool!

Back of Bourke
You’re talking about a place you want to go to and your friend says, “It’s all the way out back of Bourke!”What are they talking about? This expression means that the place is in the middle of nowhere.

Give you what for
If somebody wants to give you what for beware! This is something parents often say to their children who don’t want to do what they’re told, and ask “what for?” If someone says, “I’ll give you what for,” they are basically saying “I’m in no mood to argue. Do what I ask or else!”

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