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.
What kind of workplace can I expect to hear/use these terms?
The short answer is, any! Whether you’re working in an office, in a café, a school, a hospital or on a worksite, the chances are you will hear or more of these slang terms used.
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
When would I use it? An ambulance should only be called in an emergency, so you probably won’t hear this term too often. However, it’s an important one to know.
For example: “John’s not looking too good – should we call an ambo?”
For example: “We have a meeting this arvo.”
At the end of the day
After taking everything into consideration
For example: “At the end of the day, I think Sarah deserved that promotion more than anyone.” OR “I’m not convinced John really understands the task, at the end of the day.”
A lazy person who avoids work
When would I use it? It’s not polite to call someone a bludger (unless it’s someone you know quite well and you are both comfortable testing one another) so use this term with caution.
For example: “Mike is such a bludger. He’s taking a day off which means I have to finish this report.”
For example: “There’s some choccy in the kitchen to share with the office.”
Full of something
For example: “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)
When would I use it? You don’t want to get caught chucking a sickie, so hopefully, you won’t be using this phrase too often!
For example: “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
When would I use it? When you need to set a deadline.
For example: “Can you get me that report by EOB?”
A cup of tea
For example: “Would you like a cuppa?”
When would I use it? When you actually are sick (versus using ‘chucking a sickie’).
For example: “I’m feeling really crook – I might head home early”
To be certain
For example: “I’m deadset asking for a raise.”
For example: “I’m feeling sick, I might go to the doc to get checked out.”
Putting extra effort into a task
For example: “I can tell you put 110% effort in, well done!” OR “Sarah needs me to make a client presentation by midday, so I’ll give it 110%.”
Hang on a tic
Hold on a moment
For example: “Hang on a tic, I just have to print this stuff.” OR “Please ask the customer to hold on a tic, I’m on the phone with head office.”
A short amount of time
For example: “Tell Paul I’ll be there in a jiffy.”
For example: “I’ll be on meds for the rest of the week, but I’m fine to come to work!”
Something that’s very obvious
For example: “It’s a no-brainer – I’ll organise the Christmas party.” OR “Kevin will be late, that’s a no-brainer.”
Don’t worry about it/it’s alright
For example: “I’ll pay for lunch today, no worries!”
Reschedule for a later date
For example: “I’m really busy today so can’t make our meeting – can we raincheck?”
Asking someone to move over
For example: “Could you scoot over? I need a little more room.” OR “Just scoot your laptop closer to the modem, that might help with the WiFi connection.”
Busy and at capacity
For example: “I’m totally slammed at the moment, I don’t think I’ll make our lunch date.” OR “I’ll need a longer deadline, I’ve been slammed with reports.”
A cigarette break
For example: “I’m just going outside for a smoko.”
To take a look at something
For example: “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
For example: “She’s such a stickybeak – she just wants to gossip.”
When would I use it? This is a very informal way of saying ‘thank you’, so make sure to only use it with people you are comfortable speaking with casually.
For example: “Ta for the coffee!” OR “Could you help the customer at the front desk for me? Ta.”
To catch up with someone
For example: “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
For example: “Sorry, I can’t take that on right now – I’m really under the pump.”
A situation where everyone is happy/has benefitted
For example: “Tom and the client both loved the presentation, it’s a win-win!”