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Strewth, it's Strine online, mate

Published Jul 18, 2000


By Brian Williams

Sydney - With the approach of the Sydney Olympics setting off a rise in national fervour, Australians are once again up in arms about the threat to their own way of speaking the queen's English.

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Sydney newspapers have been full of letters from readers moaning how people now say "chicken" instead of "chook", threaten to beat people up with a baseball bat instead of a cricket bat and who have no idea what a "rat's coffin" is.

"The angst about American English is a common and cherished annoyance in Australia," said an article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

A letter to the Herald was even more direct.

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"Stuff the chicken, Long live the chook," wrote Bob Dalrymple.

For those about to head to Australia for the September 15 to October 1 Games, or the hundreds of millions of television viewers, the following is a brief guide to key Australian slang words and phrases.


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- Aussie - the term Australians and foreigners use to describe the people down under


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- back o'Bourke - meaning in the middle of nowhere

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- banana bender - term for residents of tropical Queensland which once had a reputation for backwardness. Supposedly the only skill of Queenslanders was to put the bend in a banana.

- bunyip - Australia's version of Bigfoot

- bush - anywhere away from the city in Australia's vast countryside


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- Captain Cook - popular rhyming slang connected with the English explorer who discovered Sydney. "Take a Captain Cook" means "take a look"

- chunder - vomit, or as it is also known in Australia, a technicolour yawn

- cooee - a bush signal that you are lost


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- dinkum, fair dinkum, dinky di - they all mean the same - honest, genuine, truthful, the real thing

- don't come the raw prawn - don't try to fool me

- drongo - an unintelligent and worthless person


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- earbash - to talk nonstop


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- fair go - give someone a break, a fair hearing

- fair crack of the whip - fair go


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- galah - a noisy parrot and used to describe someone who is noisy and makes no sense

- g'day - traditional Australian greeting


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- hoon - a hooligan


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- icy-pole - ice cream on a stick


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- journo - journalist


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- king hit - a punch delivered without warning


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- lair - a show-off

- larrikin - a ruffian

- lamington - sponge cake covered in chocolate icing and coconut


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- mate - the word you'll hear most in Australia. Can refer to men and women.

- Mexicans - term used by Queenslanders to describe other Australians who head north to take advantage in retirement of the state's all-year warm weather


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- never-never - the remotest part of the countryside


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- ocker - a boorish Australian

- one-eyed trouser snake - penis

- outback - remote part of the bush

- Oz - Term for Australia


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- point percy at the porcelain - urinate

- Pom - English person

- push - gang of larrikins or ruffians


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- Queenslander - style of tropical home


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- rat's coffin - a meat pie. Don't worry there is no rat meat in them


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- Sheila - Australian for woman

- strine - Australian slang


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- tucker - food

- two-pot screamer - someone unable to hold their drink

- two-up - Australian gambling game played with coins


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- ute - a bakkie


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- vegemite - sandwich spread similar to Marmite


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- walkabout - Aboriginal term meaning to wander


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- XXXX - Four X, a popular Australian beer


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- yakka - work

- yobbo - uncouth and aggressive person


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- zack - a five-cent coin - Reuters

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