Australians love their slang. It’s one of the first things you’ll notice once you arrive here, and it may present a unique language challenge that you may not have expected. You’ll soon get used to Aussie slang in informal settings, like chatting to your friends, but you’ll also find it used in more formal environments, like the workplace.
Whether you’re taking on a part-time job, completing an internship or starting your career in Australia, here’s our guide to Australian slang in the workplace.
How should I use slang in the workplace?
Workplaces in Australia are more casual compared to other countries, with relatively relaxed dress codes, laid-back atmospheres, and slang to match. It’s important to understand the kind of language used in the workplace, but to also know when and where it is appropriate to use it.
In short, follow the lead of your colleagues and your manager. If they chat to each other informally, you can probably use a few slang words. In saying that, if it’s a formal meeting or an interaction with a client, customer or patient (if you’re working in healthcare), you might be better off avoiding casual speech. Forward-facing interactions (that is, any time you chat to someone outside the company) often demand a more formal and professional approach.
Australian words and phrases you might encounter in the workplace
Let’s run through some of the common Australian slang, phrases and idioms you might hear around the workplace.
A paramedic or ambulance
“John’s not looking too good – should we call an ambo?”
“We have a meeting this arvo.”
At the end of the day
After taking everything into consideration
“At the end of the day, I think Sarah deserved that promotion more than anyone.”
A lazy person who avoids work
“Mike is such a bludger. He’s taking a day off which means I have to finish this report.”
“There’s some choccy in the kitchen to share with the office.”
Full of something
“My in-tray is chock-a-block with invoices to pay.”
Chuck a sickie
To call in sick for work (usually when you’re not really sick)
“I might just chuck a sickie – I don’t want to be at that meeting.”
Close of business/close of play/end of business/end of day/end of play – these all mean the end of the day
“Can you get me that report by EOB?”
A cup of tea
“Would you like a cuppa?”
“I’m feeling really crook – I might head home early”
To be certain
“I’m deadset asking for a raise.”
“I’m feeling sick, I might go to the doc to get checked out.”
Putting extra effort into a task
“Sarah needs me to make a client presentation by midday, so I’ll give it 110%.”
Hang on a tic
Hold on a moment
“Hang on a tic, I just have to print this stuff.”
A short amount of time
“Tell Paul I’ll be there in a jiffy.”
“I’ll be on meds for the rest of the week, but I’m fine to come to work!”
Something that’s very obvious
“It’s a no-brainer – I’ll organise the Christmas party.”
Don’t worry about it/it’s alright
“I’ll pay for lunch today, no worries!”
Reschedule for a later date
“I’m really busy today so can’t make our meeting – can we raincheck?”
Asking someone to move over
“Could you scoot over? I need a little more room.”
Busy and at capacity
“I’m totally slammed at the moment, I don’t think I’ll make our lunch date.”
A cigarette break
“I’m just going outside for a smoko.”
To take a look at something
“Hey, could you take a squiz at this email? I don’t understand what I’m being asked.”
Someone nosy, or prying into someone else’s business
“She’s such a stickybeak – she just wants to gossip.”
“Ta for the coffee!”
To catch up with someone
“I’d like to touch base with our web team, I need an update on how my computer repair is going.”
Under the pump
Under pressure to get something done
“Sorry, I can’t take that on right now – I’m really under the pump.”
A situation where everyone is happy/has benefitted
“Tom and the client both loved the presentation, it’s a win-win!”
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