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A Guide to Australian Workplace Slang

This article is sponsored by Campus Perth

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.

Ambo

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?”

Arvo

Afternoon

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.”

Bludger 

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.”

Choccy/bickies/choccy bickies

Chocolate/biscuits/chocolate biscuits

For example: “There’s some choccy in the kitchen to share with the office.”

Chock-a-block

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.”

COB/COP/EOB/EOD/EOP

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?”

Cuppa 

A cup of tea

For example: “Would you like a cuppa?”

Crook

Sick

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”

Deadset 

To be certain

For example: “I’m deadset asking for a raise.”

Doc

Doctor

For example: “I’m feeling sick, I might go to the doc to get checked out.”

Giving 110%

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.”

Jiffy 

A short amount of time

For example: “Tell Paul I’ll be there in a jiffy.”

Meds

Medication

For example: “I’ll be on meds for the rest of the week, but I’m fine to come to work!”

No-brainer 

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.”

No worries/wackas 

Don’t worry about it/it’s alright

For example: “I’ll pay for lunch today, no worries!”

Raincheck

Reschedule for a later date

For example: “I’m really busy today so can’t make our meeting – can we raincheck?”

Scoot over 

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.”

Slammed

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.”

Smoko 

A cigarette break

For example: “I’m just going outside for a smoko.”

Squiz

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.”

Stickybeak 

Someone nosy, or prying into someone else’s business

For example: “She’s such a stickybeak – she just wants to gossip.”

Ta 

Thank you

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.”

Touch base 

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.”

Win-win situation 

A situation where everyone is happy/has benefitted

For example: “Tom and the client both loved the presentation, it’s a win-win!”

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