Ozzie in Oregon

Separated by a common language

Words, phrases and expressions

Last updated:    August 24, 2011 (PDT)

Sweet Factory

Are you done?

From the word go, I was prepared to go to the "bathroom" instead of the "toilet".  In fact, as soon as I arrived at LA I went to the airport restroom to check that the toilet bowls were full of water, just like in the movies! 

But since then I have been continually tripped up by the simplest of words and expressions, and after more than four years I am still coming across new ones.  For instance, I learnt, er, learned the other day that men's "braces" are called "suspenders" (sounds so intimate!), and today I find out that "suspenders" are called "garters"! Who'd have thought? (Or is it "Who knew?" these days?)

At a restaurant, the waiter, er, server would ask me, "Are you done?" Well, I could never say "I'm done", as my husband would. Instead I'd say, "I've finished." And my husband would think it sounded so final!

A whole new ballgame

Some turns of phrase come out of left field, and I have realised, er, realized that baseball is responsible for a few of them. After all, it's a whole new ballgame from cricket. It has goose eggs instead of ducks!

I'd already heard of ballpark figures, and even figures that weren't in the ballpark. And playing by the book. And getting to first base. But getting to second base? Gad, what happens when a boy gets to third base? Should I have locked up my daughter instead? I thought he was only touching bases with her and she was playing the field!

See this Wikipedia page for more baseball idioms that have taken a place in common speech.

Common words I now use

The following words are used so often that they have crept into my everyday speech.

Oz word American version
petrol gas
mobile phone cell phone
shop store
lollies candy
biscuits cookies
xx (degrees Centigrade) yy (degrees Fahrenheit)
ring someone (up) call someone
post (a letter, in the ...) mail (a letter, in the ...)
postman, postie mailman

Dictionary and translation guide

Below is a translation of just a few of the common words and phrases I've encountered.  See the following sites for much more comprehensive lists:

I know this is a huge topic, so I have broken it up into smaller tables for each category.

Around the house and yard
Food, cooking in the kitchen and eating out
In the car and on the road
Out and about, directions and shopping
Sports and entertainment
Clothing and hair
Animals, insects and plants
Time, quantity, in the office and on paper
Tools and construction

Aussie slang is another language altogether, and is not covered here except incidentally as I find an American equivalent of my own vernacular. See the following site for a more comprehensive list:

If you need an Aussie translation of American slang, check out this site.  (Warning: some of the words and phrases are a bit risqué...):


"Ta" is not used for thanks.
"Ta-ta!" is not used for "bye-bye!"
"M-bye" is a common way to end a conversation on a cell phone.

Oz phrase American version
Hi! G'day! Hello! Hey! Hi!
How are you going? How are you doing?
Pardon? What? Say what?
That'll be all, thanks That should do it
I've finished I'm done
Good on you! Well done! Good job!
You're ready to go, Bob's your uncle You're good to go, You're done
It was nice talking to/chatting with you It was nice visiting with you
No worries! You're welcome!
I'm off! I'm outta here!
Same to you You too
See ya! (Hooroo! Ta-ta! Cheerio!) Bye! (See you in a bit!)

Around the house and yard

An attic is the space between the ceiling and the roof.  As Amercian roofs are closed in with wood which is covered with shingles, tar strips, etc, attics are weatherproof, and are often used to store things such as camping gear, items no longer in general use, etc.
Oz phrase American version
lounge room living room
kitchen bench, benchtop kitchen counter, counter
bedside table nightstand
double bed full bed
bedhead headboard
wardrobe (built-in) closet
wardrobe (free-standing) armoire
chest of drawers dresser
dressing table, duchess vanity table
linen press linen closet
pillowslip pillowcase
doona, continental quilt comforter
electric blanket heated mattress pad (an electric blanket is really a blanket!!!)
curtains drapes
ensuite master bath
toilet (room with toilet and hand basin) half bathroom
toilet, loo (go to the ......) bathroom
bath bathtub
washbasin, vanity basin sink
tap faucet
jug pitcher
power point electrical outlet
power board power strip
light globe light bulb
skirting board base board
cornice crown molding
Gladwrap plastic wrap
teatowel dish towel
wash up, do the washing up do the dishes
washing up liquid dish soap, dishwashing liquid
do the washing do the laundry
washing powder laundry soap
clothes peg clothes pins
esky cooler
wet and dry vacuum cleaner shop vac
stubby cooler beer cozy
grog cabinet liquor cabinet
wireless, radio radio
telly, TV TV
bag (paper) sack (hence the term "sack lunch")
tissue Kleenex
cotton bud Q-Tip
methylated spirits rubbing alcohol
rubbish, rubbish bin garbage, trash, garbage can, trash can
torch flashlight
hessian burlap
pot plant potted plant
barbie barbecue, BBQ
have a (shower, bath, look) take a (shower, etc)
go for a (walk, stroll) take a (walk, etc)
mow the lawn cut the grass
whipper snipper weed whacker
workshop (as part of the garage) shop
garage sale garage sale, yard sale, estate sale

Food, cooking in the kitchen and eating out

Half and half (pronounced "haff and haff") is half milk and half cream.
A shallot (pronounced 'SHALL-OT) looks like a small brown onion or large clove of garlic, and has a mild onion flavor.

Oz phrase American version
tuna tunafish
crayfish lobster
mince ground beef, hamburger
frankfurt frankfurter, wiener
hamburger (fast food) burger
pie (meat) pot pie
capsicum bell pepper
chili, chilli pepper, chili pepper
chili con carne chili
brown onion yellow onion (and all onions are big over here!)
spring onion, scallion green onion
coriander cilantro
swede turnip rutabaga
pumpkin squash
beetroot beet
choko chayote
rockmelon, cantaloupe cantaloupe
kiwifruit kiwi
stonefruit fruit with a pit
punnet (of strawberries) box, basket (if made of cardboard)
sultana raisin
hundreds and thousands sprinkles
cornflour corn starch
bicarb soda, bicarbonate of soda baking soda
golden syrup cane syrup
treacle molasses
jam jelly
jelly Jell-O
icy pole, ice block popsicle
lollies, sweets candy
chocolate bar candy bar
slice bar cookie
biscuit cookie (sweet), cracker (savoury)
scone (often eaten with jam) biscuit (often eaten with gravy, but jam would be good too)
a sweet baked item, like a cake but more solid, usually triangular scone
crust (end slice of bread) heel
chip (deep-fried potato) French fries, fries
tomato sauce ketchup (slightly spicier and sweeter)
gherkin dill pickle
blue vein cheese blue cheese
fairy floss cotton candy
dagwood dog corn dog
porridge, rolled oats oatmeal
muesli granola
Rice Bubbles Rice Krispies
lemon squash (carbonated) lemonade (not carbonated)
white coffee coffee with cream
milk (for coffee) creamer
full cream milk whole milk
soft drink soda, pop, soda pop
lemonade (soft drink) Sprite, 7-Up
sarsaparilla root beer (different taste)
thickshake milkshake
spider (e.g. coke) loat (e.g. root beer)
sweet liqueur cordial
cordial (liquid concentrate) Kool-Aid (powder concentrate)
grog liquor
shout (someone a drink, meal, etc), my shout treat, my treat
morning tea, afternoon tea, smoko coffee/tea break
tea (evening meal) dinner
bring a plate potluck
cutlery silverware (cutlery refers to knives)
serviette napkin
entree appetizer
main course entree (confusing in restaurants!)
take-away take-out, to go
Maccas, Golden Arches McDonalds
Hungry Jacks Burger King (equivalent)
Have you finished?
(or circumspect check to see that cutlery is placed on the plate in the standard way to indicate that the customer has finished eating)
Are you done?
(there is no standard way of leaving the silverware, although the fork is commonly placed on the right at an angle)
The bill, thanks Check please

In the car and on the road

When giving directions, "Forward" is used instead of "Straight ahead" and "Back up" instead of "Reverse".

Oz phrase American version
bonnet hood
boot trunk
bumper bar bumper (hence bumper cars at the fair)
mudguard fender
tow bar trailer hitch
aerial (radio) antenna
windscreen windshield
indicators, blinkers turn signals
high-beam brights
manual (transmission) stick shift
gearstick shift lever
accelerator gas pedal
handbrake parking brake
number plate license plate
traffic light stop light
amber (traffic light) yellow
footpath, pavement sidewalk
bitumen asphalt, pavement
sealed (road) paved
freeway turnpike (east coast)
pedestrian crossing, zebra crossing crosswalk
railway railroad
sleeper railroad tie
cyclist bicyclist
overtake pass
lookout view point
give someone a lift give someone a ride
car park parking lot, parking garage
park (place where you parked your car) parking space
petrol station, service station, servo, garage gas station
petrol bowser, petrol pump gas pump
Give Way Yield
No Through Road Dead End
No Overtaking No Passing
chuck a U-ey (U-ie) make a U-turn
ute, utility pickup, pickup truck
semi trailer semi, 18-wheeler
caravan trailer, 5th wheel
motor home RV
taxi cab
Beetle (VW) Bug
Kombi van (VW) Microbus
Fill 'er up! Fill it!
Don't flatten the battery! Don't run down the battery!
Darn it, the battery is flat! Dang it, the battery is dead!

Out and about, directions and shopping

There are no newsagents over here. Instead, their many services are provided by delivery routes by newspaper corporations, vending machines on street corners, cigar stores, grocery and convenience stores, card stores, book stores, office supply stores, and magazine subscriptions delivered by mail.

Oz phrase American version
diagonally opposite kittycorner, kitty-corner, kattycorner, catercorner
anti-clockwise counter-clockwise
queue line
push in (queue) cut, cut in (line)
queue-jumper line-cutter
return (ticket) round trip
reverse charge (telephone call) collect
chemist pharmacy, drug store, pharmacist
tablets pills, medications
script prescription
bottle shop liquor store
opportunity shop, op shop thrift store
St. Vinnies Saint Vincent de Paul
lay-by lay-away
supermarket, shop store
trolley cart
fruit and veg produce
scales scale
tin, tin can can
manchester linen
voucher coupon
docket receipt
checkout, checkout counter, register checkstand
checkout operator grocery clerk

Sports and entertainment

Oz phrase American version
oval sports field
match game
nil, nought (score) nothing, zip
duck (cricket) goose egg (baseball)
barrack (for a team) root
hockey field hockey
ice hockey hockey
lifesaver lifeguard
freestyle (swimming stroke) Australian crawl
bushwalking hiking
track trail
sandpit sandbox
merry-go-round carousel
slippery slide, slippery dip slide?
see-saw teeter-totter
monkey bars, climbing frame jungle gym
skipping rope jump rope
doll's house doll house
show (agricultural) fair
sideshow alley midway
dodgem cars bumper cars
busker street musician
flautist flutist
poker machines, pokies slot machines, slots
cinema movie theater
food and drink counter concession stand
holiday vacation
pack (of cards) deck
patience solitaire
noughts and crosses tic-tac-toe
draughts checkers
shanghai slingshot
ad (TV) commercial

Clothing and hair

Oz phrase American version
beanie stocking cap
balaclava ski mask
zip zipper
long pinafore jumper (worn over blouse)
jumper sweater
tracksuit top sweatshirt
tracksuit pants, trackie dackies sweatpants
tracksuit sweats
vest waistcoat
skivvy turtle neck sweater
singlet tank top
dressing gown bathrobe
braces suspenders (what a man wears to keep his pants up)
suspenders, suspender belt garters, garter belt (what a woman wears to keep her stocking up)
togs, cossie, bathers, swimmers, swimming  costume swimsuit
jocks, underdacks (men) shorts (in the style of boxer shorts or briefs)
undies, underpants, underdacks (women) panties
G-string thong
thongs flip-flops
court shoe pump
gym boots, joggers, runners sneakers, tennis shoes
gumboots rubber boots
handbag purse
bum bag fanny pack
nappy diaper
dummy pacifier, binky
throw up (babies) spit up
fringe bangs
plait (verb and noun) braid

Animals, insects and plants

Oz phrase American version
Friesian (breed of cow) Holstein
puss, pussy, pussycat kitty
bitser (bits of this, bits of that) mongrel (dog of mixed breed)
chook chicken
budgerigar, budgie parakeet
insect bug
ladybird ladybug
slater (woodlouse) potato bug, pill bug
antlion (larva) doodlebug
mozzie mosquito
silk tree mimosa

Time, quantity, in the office and on paper

Pencils over here are usually yellow with a rubber tip.
Pads of paper are yellow too. Try to find a white one!

Oz phrase American version
quarter past quarter after
quarter to quarter till
arvo afternoon
fortnight two weeks
Sunday week, etc a week from Sunday
autumn fall
one quarter one fourth
biro ballpoint pen
HB pencil number 2 pencil
clutch pencil, pacer mechanical pencil
rubber eraser
paper knife letter opener
sticky tape, Durex Scotch tape
guillotine paper cutter
drawing pin thumbtack
full stop period
exclamation mark exclamation point
brackets parentheses
curly brackets braces
inverted commas quotation marks, quotes
tick (a box on a form) check
hash sign, number sign (#) pound sign
lb (abbreviation for pound) lb, #
scrap paper (to write on) scratch paper
A4 (standard paper size) letter
foolscap (longer size) legal
note (currency) bill
cheque account checking account
rates (taxes) property tax
Christian name first name
surname last name, family name
postcode zip code
write to (someone) write

Tools and construction

Oz phrase American version
spanner wrench
shifting spanner crescent wrench
multi-grips adjustable pliers
Allen key Allen wrench, hex key
tomahawk hatchet
secateurs pruning shears
handcart (for lifting large boxes, furniture, etc) hand truck
allotment, block of land lot
flat, unit apartment
ground floor first floor
first floor, etc second floor, etc
lift elevator
display home model home
weatherboard clapboard
besser brick cinder block
Gyprock, plasterboard drywall, gypsum board
renovate remodel


Oz phrase American version
mate buddy
bloke guy
partner (usually unmarried of the opposite sex) significant other, main squeeze
flatmate roommate
acclimatised acclimated
whinge whine
cross (angry) mad
bludger freeloader
stirrer troublemaker
stickybeak busybody
seeing (in view of the fact) beings
shortly momentarily
gobsmacked flabbergasted
grotty dirty, unkempt, messy
look like a grot look dirty, unkempt, messy
chatty worn, dog-eared, weathered
fussy picky
Li-Lo (camping equipment) air mattress, air bed
half mast (flag) half staff
in good nick in good condition
pinch, nick steal
gaol, nick jail
pigs, fuzz (slightly derogatory) cops
chuck a wobbly throw a fit
chuck a sickie take a sick day
dodgy shady, dubious
dobber tattletale
exy (expensive) spendy
feel crook (unwell) feel sick
casualty (hospital) ER, Emergency Room
theatre (hospital) OR, Operating Room
electorate district (congressional)
shire county
rubbish tip, tip garbage dump, dump
door to door salesman solicitor
solicitor attorney
real estate agent realtor
bond (rental) deposit
pram baby carriage
creche nursery
primary school elementary school, grade school
university, uni college
pupil free day student release day
mark grade
Incy Wincy Spider Itsy Bitsy Spider
janitor custodian
turn up (at an event or party) show up
visitors (guests) company
chat with, have a yarn with visit with
street party block party
pay rise (increase in pay) raise
get sacked get fired
take a (redundancy) package, be made redundant, get retrenched get laid off
heaps (of things) loads
out in the bush out in the woods
bushfire wildfire
cotton reel spool of thread
splinter sliver
goose pimples goosebumps
piece of cake (easy) cakewalk
behind in back of
fiddle with fool with
cactus (non-functional) gone south
sick of, sick and tired of tired of
time and time again time and again
suit (someone) down to the ground suit (someone) perfectly
take the mickey out of (someone, something) make fun of, tease
Whoopee-doo! Whooptee-doo!

I stopped adding to this page after my 5th year here as I wanted to show the major words you are likely to encounter in your first year here.  Otherwise, this page would go on and on and on, and you would feel like you'd never be able to learn it all .....

If you've read this far, then you're probably an Ozzie who is feeling rather frustrated with all the new vocab you have to learn over here.  Take a break and enjoy this Ozwords competition, where one letter of an Ozzie word is changed and a humorous definition supplied. You've probably seen it before, but you'll still get a good laugh out of a few of them.  I particularly enjoyed "bludgie", the poor cat and the one about your mate's stuff strewn all over the floor of your flat.

Ozzie in Oregon