10 Australian Idioms that Confuse the World

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Written By Samuel Laurie

‘Straya, where the shorter your name the more someone loves ya, YouTube videos are always ‘not available in your country’, there’s a swimming pool named after a drowned prime minister and an episode of Peppa Pig was banned for showing spiders as friendly.

Australia and its people are confused by the rest of the world’s lack of understanding of our simple, everyday slang. At the end of this post you’ll confidently be able to chuck a u’ey (U-turn), head down to Maccas (McDonald’s) and have a yarn with your mates (conversation with your friends) this arvo (afternoon).

  1. Arvo


The earliest period most Aussies consider it acceptable to drink. Also denoted by the sun being “over the yard arm”.

  1. Barbie


Testimony to how much we Aussies say ‘barbie’ I had to ask the 11-year-old next to me how to spell barbeque. And no bloody shrimps on the barbie! Put some snags on there to go on your sanger (sandwich)!

  1. Bring a plate

Bring a plate of food to the social gathering: this gathering usually takes place in close proximity to a barbie. Bringing a plate is so popular that food websites dedicate sections to suitable food to bring on a plate.

  1. Cubby house

A play house or blanket fort marketed at children and loved by the young at heart and the very drunk. When a person (usually a husband) is in ‘the dog house’ they are much more likely to be in the cubby house as many Australian homes have cubby houses but far fewer have dog houses (kennels). And sometimes, serendipitously, the world of Macca’s and cubby houses collide.

  1. Trackies/TrackieDaks

Trackies = Tracksuit. An ensemble that is considered by Western Australians as acceptable wear for plane travel. Those from ‘the Eastern States’ can tell a sand-groper (person from WA) at a glance by a) the type of tracksuit and b) the event to which it is worn. Posh (upmarket) places specifically ban the wearing of tracksuits in WA.

TrackieDaks refer to the trouser component of the tracksuit. TrackieDaks, singlet and thongs (flip flops to non-Australians – unless you are a Kiwi and then they are jandles) is considered de rigueur wear by bogans (the great unwashed or uncouth persons).

  1. Dag

An uncool person. If you wear socks and sandals (at the same time) or Crocs you are a dag. Originally, it meant something messy and unpleasant about sheep but it’s strayed a long way from that in common usage.

  1. Eskies

Portable cooler or icebox. Esky started as a specific brand but the word has moved into common slang. Also known as “chilly bins” by our Kiwi cousins.

  1. Maccas

McDonald’s – a franchised fast food American restaurant. A rite of passage for Australian teens is a 3 am Maccas run (note the obligatory ‘uggies’ – ugg boots) when you get your ‘Ps’ (probationary licence or P-plates). Such a run has a dress code – pyjama shorts, ugg boots or similar slippers and T-shirt.

  1. Stubby/stubbies

A stubby is a beer; specifically a short-necked bottle of beer. A stubby holder is also known as a Koozie, beer sleeve, coldy holdy, and is the thing that keeps your beer cool and stops your hands from getting cold.

B Stubbies, on the other hand, are a very unattractive design of shorts worn by older Australian men and school boys. These shorts are responsible for plumber’s crack (known as builder’s crack in New Zealand – so much so, they even have a website)

Three Tom's wearing stubbies

  1. Yarn

To spin a yarn is to tell a story which is exaggerated. To have a yarn with someone is to have a conversation, most likely about nothing important.

Happy ‘Straya Day, mate!