How to swear like an Australian
Australia may be an English-speaking country, but there are plenty of differences when it comes to local parlance. Aside from laying claim to inventing the word “selfie”, Australians’ love of slang may be unrivaled anywhere else in the world.
For example, the C-word (it's not cookie) may be just as common as “mate” in Oz, and can range in connotations from insulting someone (“you useless c***”), to calling a friend cool (“he’s a sick c***”).
But for non-Aussies, it’s easy to get tangled up when it comes to the loose use of swear word lingo Down Under. To help you better understand (or impress) your token Aussie friend who slips back into native slang, here’s a brief list of swear words I’ve encountered, broken down by category:
Exclamatory phrasesBugger off/me
“Bugger” is common in both Aussie and British slang, and vaguely refers to someone or something that is annoying. Calling someone a bugger can be used affectionately or derogatorily. The general expletive can be used in any situation, and roughly means,“F*** off/me” or “Well, I’ll be damned!”
F*** me dead
Basically, this means, “Didn’t see that one coming!” or “Oh my!” As you may have realized, profanity is pretty universal in Oz, which is why this phrase is a common way of conveying surprise.
An Australian version of "Go f*** yourself", in acronym form. A universal phrase, indeed.
Fair suck of the sav
The word "sav" is short for saveloy, or a red, seasoned sausage -- this is what's called a metaphor in literary circles. Aussies typically use this phrase when they think someone is being unfair, roughly meaning "Give me a fair shot”. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd famously gained attention for muddling the phrase as “fair shake of the sauce bottle, mate.” We understand what you were getting at, Kev. Idioms are hard.
Like a firmer version of "Get lost", the phrase is an easy substitute for telling someone to “piss off”, or to shove it in a certain place.
Code for “F*** yeah!” or “Isn’t that the truth?", this phrase is often used to affirm something (often an understatement) or show intense support for something.
The term is used to convey surprise, and is said to be a contraction of “God’s truth". It roughly translates to "Holy sh**!” You might use it to express your inebriated state last night at the bar or how exhausted you are after a long day at work.
Phrases meaning "idiot"DADS
Here's another fun acronym. “DADS” is an abbreviated way of saying someone is as "dumb as dog [slang term for excrement]". If someone says, “you have DADS disease”, it’s likely because your joke didn’t land and you clearly just don't get it.
This term is fairly common around the world, but is probably used more regularly when calling someone an idiot in Australia. Use it, my friend. It’s liberating.
F***wit / F***stick
This expletive has the same connotation as its American counterpart, but maybe emphasizes that you’re extra annoying. The F-word functions as a universal prefix to say, "You are REALLY dumb".
A reference to the native, short-legged marsupial, wombat often refers to an overweight, lazy, or slow idiot. He’s probably your roommate, and eating Doritos on the couch right now.
Like “bugger”, wanker is a pretty commonly heard British and Aussie derogatory name for someone who masturbates. But also like bugger, it can be used universally as a lighthearted dig at a friend, or to scream while you’re flipping off that idiot who cut you off.
Other derogatory termsDerro
Like so much of Aussie lingo, derro is an abbreviation, this time for the word "derelict". Very highbrow, in terms of insults. Though it’s traditionally used to refer to bums or hobos, derro is also used to refer to someone who just can’t get their s*** together. And you know so many of those “types".
Leave your fanny pack at home when you visit Australia, or at least don’t refer to it as one without expecting giggles. The waist purse is called a bum bag in Oz, and that’s because fanny is another word for a woman’s reproductive organs.
This old-fashioned term may be less prevalent, but commonly refers to a dumb person, fool, or loser. The term was first coined for the 1920s Australian racehorse Drongo, who never won a race in his two-and-a-half year career. Poor guy.
You’re most likely to hear this pretty regularly in Oz or New Zealand, and the term is used liberally to refer to someone who is unsophisticated, unintelligent, or a bit “rough around the edges" -- the Down Under equivalent of a redneck.
The crass word is code for sex, which is why Aussies deride Americans for “rooting” for their favorite team. “Cop a root” is a common phrase for having sex. Based on that, “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” ends up sounding a lot like a track off a 2 Live Crew album.
A promiscuous man or woman. Hey, both men and women can be easy.
The act of giving manual sex. Because your wrist is attached to your hand. You get the idea.