Translations — Australian into other English, eg American

This page lists translations for some of the ordinary words used in Australia that differ from English spoken in other countries, in particular, America.

For other-language translations of Australian outback and agricultural words, refer to the rural pages, and for explanations of the meaning of Australian outback words (and a good laugh - many are very witty), refer to the photo captions in the books "Biggest Mobs - Longest Shadows", "Life as an Australian Horseman" & "A Million Acre Masterpiece".  The latter book also includes an 8 page glossary.

The basic words used in the countries that have English as a first language (in particular Australia, New Zealand, England, Canada and America) are mostly the same or similar enough not to impede understanding between these countries, however there are a vast number of words and expressions that are unique to each country. And some of these differences do cause misunderstandings. Just as there are also many differences between the Portuguese spoken in the original 'mother country' of Portugal, and Brazil; and many differences between the Castilian Spanish spoken in Spain and other Spanish (Castellano)- speaking countries such as Mexico, Argentina, Chile and other South American countries.

Australian English has more in common with British English, and New Zealand English, than American and Canadian English. Below are a few of the most common differences in words and expressions used in everyday language, along with spelling differences. Some may consider some of the Australian words below to be 'slang', however most are used commonly enough to be considered part of mainstream Australian English.

Bear in mind there are also regional and demographic language differences within Australia and the context and tone used when expressing a word, can change it's meaning. Australians are fond of laughing ourselves; whether a term is meant to be an insult or not is often determined by the context and tone used.  The Australian dry sense of humour is more like the English and New Zealand sense of humour, and can cause misunderstandings with other nationalities.

There are many words that are different, so I have concentrated on the most common words - and ones in Australia which are being replaced by American words, due to the advertising of American products here, film and television viewing, and social media. Words that have an agricultural connection are found on the other translation pages.

Why have I written a page of translations of ordinary Australian words? I've got sick of coming across websites containing the two common but misleading and inaccurate options. The first type is lists written by visiting uni-students, who only have contact with a very narrow sector of Australian society (i.e. other uni students - people of a certain age group, same education level and relatively homogeneous background). These lists tend to veer between whatever is the latest fashion, and corny slang Australian students have taught the visitors for a laugh.

The second commonly produced list of Australian-American translations is produced by other urban dwellers, usually academics, who have a view of Australian language that is also very narrow - based on a thorough understanding of language used in southern capital cities, amongst the people they know (i.e. people living in similar suburbs, with similar education levels and backgrounds, in similar occupations and income levels); but a very shallow knowledge or language used in regional and rural areas; in particular northern inland Australia. (And, I suspect, a very poor understanding of the everyday language used in less well off suburbs and by those in blue-collar type jobs.) These lists frequently note words and expressions as being no longer in common use, when in actual fact they are still used on a daily basis in other parts of Australia.

Ordinary words

Australian English — American English

Ad or advertisement (ad break), TV — Commercial (commercial break)

Autumn — fall

Bag — sack

Barrack (for your team) — root (this one does give Australians a laugh. A warning for visiting Americans.)

Bathroom - restroom

Bedside cabinet, cupboard or table — nightstand

Beetle — bug

Biffo (aggro, fisticuffs, punch-up, argy-bargy, etc) - a bit of a fight

Biro (a brand) — ballpoint

Blackboard — chalkboard or blackboard

Blackboard duster — chalkboard or blackboard eraser

Bloke (or fella [fellow]) — guy

Bogan - trailer trash (closest translation; but bogan can also be used self-depractingly; usually less of an insult than 'trailer trash').

Booking — reservation

Bum (backside or bottom) — butt

Bushfire — forest fire, wildfire

Bushwalk/bushwalking — hike/hiking (NZ — tramping)

Bucket — pail

Caretaker — janitor

Carrybag — tote

CBD (Central Business District) — downtown. Australians will also say they are 'going into town' — meaning going into the centre of the town (the CBD).

Chemist shop — drug store

Chook shed or yard — chicken coop

Clever — neat ('neat' in Australia is only used to mean 'tidy/well organised')

Conference — congress

Curtains — drapes

Cyclone — hurricane

Dad — pop ('pop' in Australia means grandfather, but more commonly referred to as 'grandad')

Deb (debutante) ball (formal coming-of-age dance for girls [and boys] of a certain age; run by community organisations, such as a Masonic Lodge or Rotary — not specifically related to schools — with proceeds going to charity) — school prom (closest equivalent)

Diary or journal (for recording appointment times and/or the day's details) — date book or (daily) planner

Dinner suit or 'black tie' or tails (coat with 'tails') — tux (tuxedo)

Dobber (to 'dob in') - snitch (school age term, meaning to tell on someone's misbehaviour)

Doona — duvet

Door frame — door jam

Drawing pins — thumb tacks

Dummy — pacifier

Film (film star, film producer etc) — movie (movie star, movie producer etc)

Finish — quit

Flat or unit — apartment

Footpath, pavement — sidewalk

Footy — football (In Australia, what sort of football it is depends on where you are. In Tasmania, Victoria, southern NSW, SA, WA, & the NT it'll probably be Aussie Rules [AFL]; in Qld and central & northern NSW it'll be rugby ('union' or 'league'), however soccer is also referred to as footy, and it's increasingly played in primary schools, as well as professionally. Rugby has also sneaked into Victoria, but it only has a toe-hold.)

Fortnightly - biweekly (as in once every two weeks. Also used in some countries as meaning twice in one week)

Freight (or postage) — shipping (in Australia, 'shipping' is only used when an actual ship is involved; postage is via the postal system, freight is via other carriers)

Friends or mates (usually a bloke's friends) — buddies

Fringe — bangs

Gaol (usually also "jail" in Australia now) - jail

Greeting card — note card

Grid iron — American football

Ground floor (floor level with the ground) — first floor

Guillotine — paper cutter

Guinea pigs (common in Australia — hamsters (not the same animal as guinea pigs but very similar; and not common in Australia, but often discussed as if the same)

Handbag (bag large enough to carry a woman's purse, hairbrush, phone, car keys etc while shopping) - pocketbook (less common term in some parts of USA)

Holiday — vacation

Hang around together — hang out together

Jokes — gags

Jug - pitcher

Lawyer/solicitor — attorney

Lift — elevator

Lucerne - alfalfa

Medicine — drugs (in Australia, when the general public talk about 'drugs' they're referring to illegal drugs — only members of the medical profession refer to medicine as 'drugs')

Mozzy — mosquito

Newsagency — newsstand (In Australia, the person running the newsagency — the owner and/or manager — is called a newsagent. An Australian newsagency business primarily sells newspapers & magazines; and usually basic stationery, greeting cards, and often lottery tickets.)

Noticeboard — bulletin board

Pay tv — cable tv

Pegs — clothes pins

Pissed (considered slang) - drunk

Portaloo — portajohn (brands, but used as nouns)

Primary school — elementary school

Prime mover (semi-trailer) - tractor

Postcode — zipcode

Powerpoint — wall plug

Purse (women, only; just large enough to contain banknotes, coins and credit cards) - pocket book

Queue — line

Real estate agent — realtor

Reception (motel/hotel) — lobby

Resign — quit

Ride-on mower - ride-on tractor

Roadtrain — 'trailer truck' or 'big rig' etc

Rubber (for pencils) — eraser

Rubbish bin (& rubbish tip) — trash can or garbage can (& garbage dump)

Sacked — fired

Sandpit — sandbox

Semi-trailer (truck) - semi-trailer but also tractor-trailer

Sent — shipped

Shop — store

Shopping centre — shopping mall

Shopping trolley — shopping cart

Skip — dumpster

Star jumps - jumping jacks

Sunbake — sunbathe (U.S. & U.K.) (The difference is very appropriate if you think about it. Australia has the highest incidence of skincancer in the world — so 'bake' instead of 'bathe' is very appropriate.)

Survey — poll

Tap - spigot

Teatowel - dish towel

The pictures (as in let's go to the pictures) — the movies

Tick (the box) — check (the box)

Toilet (also sometimes bathroom) - restroom

Track (eg Kokoda track is the Australian term) — trail (eg trail riding is a U.S. term)

Trolley (as in shopping trolley) — cart

Turf (turf farm) — sod (sod farm)

Send (sent) — ship (shipped)

Spa — jacuzzi

Tap — faucet

Torch — flashlight

Verandah (groundfloor; if it's raised up, it's a balcony) — porch

Wallet (usually DL sized, to fit banknotes & credit cards) - billfold (rare term in Aus)

Wardrobe — closet

Weatherboard (timber clad housing) — clap board

Whinge — complain

Whiteboard — dry erase board

For emergency services in Australia, you dial 000 (triple zero), whereas it is 911 in the U.S.

Clothing-related words

Australian English — American English

Bum bag - fanny pack (sorry, but Australians are prone to laughing hysterically whenever they hear 'fanny pack'. You have been warned!)

Duds - clothes

G-string (bum floss) — thong

Jumper, pullover — sweater

Nappy - diaper

Sandshoes or gym shoes — trainers, track shoes or joggers (the latter terms are increasingly used in Aus)

Strides (not common) - slacks, long pants (trousers - English)

Stockings - nylons

Thongs — flip flops (jandals — New Zealand). Australian thongs are made of a rubber sole and a single v-shaped strap that connects at 3 points to the sole — between the big toe and neighbouring toe, and either side of the start of the heel. This simple but eminently practical design originated in traditional Japanese footwear (where you can even by warm socks especially designed for wearing with thongs). Thongs are not sandals! Thongs do not have a strap at the back tying them onto your feet! These are only worn by non-Aussies who grew up in cold climates, who didn't develop sufficient muscles in their toes to be able to keep thongs on. (It's probably this lot that insist on calling Australian thongs 'flip flops'.) Sandals are also worn by Aussies who are pretending they're dressed up. There are all sorts of sparkly colours available these days, so accurate colour co-ordination of outfits is possible. 'Double pluggers' is the nickname for thongs that have two plugs on either side of the foot connecting the strap to the sole — they're stronger than 'single pluggers'. ('Pluggers' for short; but this really is bogan-speak.) Dunlop commenced production in 1960 and they made the very best thongs, they took forever to wear out and were virtually bindi-proof, but unfortunately Dunlop stopped manufacturing these tough tropical gumboots a few years ago. Like many imported terms such as the U.S. equivalents for 'fringe', 'barrack' and 'bum bag', 'flip flops' doesn't conjure up pleasant mental pictures in the minds of most Aussies. They're perhaps mostly likely to think of a bloke jogging along a nudist beach or some equally undignified sight...

Tie — neck tie

'Togs' - the most common term for the gear you wear swimming, in most of Australia, except for in Sydney & surrounds, where they like to make complete goats of themselves by referring instead to 'cossies' (short for bathing 'costume'). Some Australians use the very mundane term of 'swimmers' or 'bathers', also. Togs is probably the one word that is used by most Australians to refer to swimming gear, but it has more regional variations than any other commony used term.

Tracksuit (trackie dacks etc) — sweat suit

Ugg (ug or ugh) boots — generic Australian terms, short for 'ugly' or 'ugh' (as in 'yuck, that's beauty-challenged footwear), used to refer to footwear made from 100% sheepskin (tanned sheepskin on the outside, sheeps wool on the inside).

Undies (underpants or pants) - panties, underwear (knickers - English)

Tucker (food) & drink related words

Australian English — American English

Alcohol — liquor

Bicarbonate of soda - baking soda

Biscuits (sweet) or biccies — cookies

Biscuits (savoury) — crackers (thin biscuits, usually plain or savoury)

Beef jerky — biltong (South Africa)

Beetroot - round beets

Bottleshop — liquor store

Cafe — diner

Capsicum - bell pepper

Chips (hot) — fries (Australians usually distinguish between hot & cold potato chips by how they are served. Eg when talking about thinly sliced, cold potato chips that come in packets we talk about a 'packet of chips'; whereas hot chips are usually referred to as a 'bucket of chips', 'scoop of chips', 'serve of chips', or if at home or in a pub, a 'plate of chips'.) In the U.K., cold chips (in a packet) are called 'crisps' (potato crisps).

Choccy — chocolate

Chook (as in an adult — egg laying, or ready to eat) — chicken (In Australia, the word 'chicken' is used to refer to live, very young poultry, still with baby feathers — not something you'd ever consider eating, or that could lay eggs; whereas a chook is an adult. However once poultry is cooked, a roast chook is also commonly called a roast chicken, although it is an adult bird.)

Chookshed — chicken coop

Coriander - cilantro

Cornflour - corn starch

Crockery (plates, bowls etc)

Cutlery — flatware

Esky (insulated, portable ice chest/tucker box made of plastic, galvanised steel or styrofoam) — cooler, USA; chilly bin, New Zealand; cool box, UK.

Fairyfloss — cotton candy

Frying pan — frying pan, but also frypan or skillet

Full-cream milk - whole milk

Gherkin - pickle

Iced coffee — judging by the absolutely disgusting 'iced coffee' pretender that Starbucks handed me at Sydney airport once (overly strong coffee in water, a dash of milk and a huge amount of icecubes — the foulest, most watery, undrinkable drink I've ever had the displeasure of tasting), I gather there is no American equivalent to Australian iced coffee. In Australia, iced coffee is made in a tall glass, by dissolving coffee and usually a teaspoon or two of sugar in a tiny bit of hot water, sometimes with the addition of some vanilla essence. Then the glass is filled up with (full cream) milk. (I.e. it's milk-based coffee — or it ain't iced coffee!) A spoonful or two of vanilla icecream is then added to the top and sometimes cream is added as well. A good cafe will ask your preference for one or the other or both.  If the cafe is fancy, they'll sprinkle a bit of cocoa or chocolate powder on top, not really for taste, just to make it look prettier. Served with a long-handled teaspoon. Bewdiful — the best drink on a hot day when you're a bit hungry. Don't ever order iced coffee at Australian airports, because the franchises paying exorbitant rentals don't have the luxury of freezers, so they don't have icecream — and with fridge space at a premium, real cream is probably a scarce commodity also. (It took me many fruitless searches to finally figure that out.) Advice is to also order it with no ice — because the milk should be cold enough already and in Australia's hot climate the last thing you want is watered down milk. If you are taking so long to drink it that ice is required to keep it cool, then the ice will be melting and watering down the drink.

Icing — frosting (as on top of cakes)

Icy pole (Aus) & iceblock (Aus & NZ) — popsicle (U.S. & Canada) (ice lolly — U.K.)

Jam (on bread) — jelly

Jelly (with icecream) — jell-o

Lemonade (in Australia, a carbonated drink with no colour and virtually no flavour — just sugary, maybe with a hint of vanilla) — known in the U.S. by brand names.

Lemon squash (my absolute favourite drink on a hot day; a carbonated drink with a lemon flavour — sometimes referred to by brands such as 'pub squash', 'solo', 'lift' etc. Tastier versions can be made by adding lemon cordial to lemonade.) — known in the U.S. by brand names.

Lollies or sweets — candy

Mince — ground meat

Peanut butter — peanut paste or peanut butter (although 'peanut paste' is also commonly used in Qld, 'peanut butter' is the term used by most Australians elsewhere)

Plain flour - all purpose flour

Potato cakes — hash browns (not the same, but similar)

Prawns — shrimp

Rockmelon, cantaloupe (Victoria) - cantaloupe

Sauce (tomato sauce) — ketchup

Scones — biscuits (not the same, but similar)

Self raising flour - self rising flour

Smoko or morning tea — coffee (or tea) break

Soda water (water that has been aerated/carbonated)

Soft drinks - soda

Soya beans - soybeans

Spring onion or shallots - scallion

Takeaway — take out, to go

Wholemeal flour - whole-wheat flour

Transport & Motor Vehicle-related words

Australian English — American English

Aeroplane — airplane

Bitumen — asphalt (blacktop, paved road etc)

Bonnet — hood (of a car)

Boot — trunk (of a car)

Caravan (caravan park) — trailer (trailer park)

Car park — parking lot

Freeway — expressway

Four wheel drive (4WD) — Sports utility vehicle (SUV)

Glovebox — glove compartment

Motorbike — motorcycle

Mud guard — fender

Parkbrake or handbrake — emergency brake

Petrol (& petrol station, petrol bowser) — gasoline (& gas or filling station, gas pump)

Roadhouse — diner

Truckies - truckers

Underground railway (UK, also) — subway

Ute (utility vehicle) — pickup (pickup truck)

Windscreen — windshield

Windscreen wipers — windshield wipers

Australian — New Zealand

Bushwalking — tramping

Australian — British Translations

Binoculars — field glasses

Bottleshop — off-licence

Crutching - crotching

Gumboots — wellies (short for wellington boots), galoshes, rain boots or rubber boots

Laundry — utility room

Pantry — larder

Ram - tup (male sheep [entire])

Station wagon (Aus, NZ, Canada, USA) — estate car (or just 'estate'. Of course, I picked this up from Top Gear.)

Stove — cooker

Truck (& truck drivers) — lorry (& lorry drivers)

Raincoat — mac (short for macintosh; strictly speaking, made of rubberised material, as invented by Charles Macintosh in the early 1800s) and anorak

Pocket knife — pen knife

I'll pay more attention when I'm watching English television programmes such as 'Escape to the Country' etc, so I can add to this ...but I can tell you that there is no Australian term for 'chip buttee', because real Aussies don't eat this kind of tucker.

Specific Queensland Translations

In Queensland there are a few words that are traditionally very different to what is used in the rest of Australia; in particular:

Port (short for 'portmanteau') — suitcase (very relevant at primary schools, especially in north Queensland, as the kids put their schoolbags onto 'port racks')

Duchess — dressing table

Metric & Imperial Measurements

Australia began the lengthy process of officially switching from Imperial to Metric measurements in 1970, with the formation of the Metric Conversion Board. I was one of the children who had the rather joyless task of trying to master the complications of ounces and pounds, and measuring with a 12 inch ruler divided into tiny fractions of inches — then ditching all that and learning a completely new system of measurement. Overnight, in 1972, the old foot-long rulers vanished, replaced by 30cm long models, and we began getting our heads around grams and kilometres, though our parents spoke in pounds and miles. Knowing we'd have trouble weaning ourselves off the old system of measurement onto the brand new, for a long time it was illegal to use the old Imperial measurement system, eg rulers with inches on them were no longer manufactured or on sale (until being allowed again relatively recently). Some Imperial measurements are still used in conjunction with metric measurements, such as acres, and feet and inches to describe a person's height. Describing someone as 6 foot tall is so much more convenient than having to figure it out in centimetres or fractions of metres. However Metric measurements are standard throughout Australia now — and millimetres are certainly infinitely more practical when measuring small distances, rather than fractions of inches.

Below are the relevant equivalents (although not exactly equal in length, area, weight or volume):

Australian measurements — closest equivalent American measurements

Centimetres (spelt 'centimeters' in the U.S.) — inches

Metres (spelt 'meters' in the U.S.) — yards

Kilometres (spelt 'kilometers' in the U.S.) — miles

Hectares — acres

Grams & kilogrammes — ounces, pounds & stones

Tonnes (metric tonnes) — tons

Millilitres & litres (spelt 'liters' in the U.S.) — fluid ounces, pints, quarts, gallons

Celsius (temperature measurement) — Fahrenheit

A billion — in Australia, one billion used to mean one million million (to the power of 12 — 12 zeros). This is what was taught in Australian schools until the mid 1970s. It also makes logical sense — introducing a new number when you need it, and not before. However in more recent years the US meaning of 'billion' has crept slowly and steadily into common Australian usage, so that one billion is now usually taken as meaning one thousand million (to the power of 9 — 9 zeros). The US economy presumably began with the British system of measurement (which originally used 'billion' to refer to 'a million million') and some suggest that reducing the value of 'billion' (down to one thousand million instead of one million million) was media, government and/or business driven, because it increased the number of 'billionaires' in the US to an even larger number, useful for impressing competitors or foes.

Some common grammatical & expression differences

Australian English — American English

Coat of paint — lick of paint

Doing well — doing good

Got — gotten (some Australians do use the term 'gotten', these days, however it's still generally considered to be very poor grammar, or an American expression rather than Australian)

Grown up (children) — grown children

I'm fine — I'm good

I'm finished — I'm done

Lonely — lonesome

Maths — math

Monday to Friday — Monday through Friday

Spelt — spelled (A rare instance of an Australian/British term being briefer than the American equivalent)

Write to me — write me (Australians always include a 'to' between write & me)

Some words & expressions that are not used in Australia at all (so there is no equivalent expression here)

Many college-related terms, such as 'Freshman' and 'Sophomore'. Australian colleges are completely different to those in the U.S.

The commercial parting comment 'You're welcome'

Some Spelling differences for common words

Australian word spellings are almost identical to what is used in Britain. Which is often very different to what is used in the U.S., where many standard spellings are abbreviated or simplified versions. For example:

Australian English — American English

Aeroplane — airplane

Alright (altogether, almost, already, etc) — all right (A rare instance in which English/Australian terms are shorter than American equivalents)

Aluminium — aluminum (pronounced quite differently, also)

Axe — ax

Cheque — check

Chilli - chili

Dough nut — donut

Draught (as in a cold breeze coming through a house, the game, and a drink) — draft (U.S.) (Australians also use 'draft' to specifically mean an initial, working version of a document.)

Enquire & inquire — inquire only

Grey — gray

Gauge - gage

Highway — hiway

Jewellery — jewelry

Matt — matte

Misspelt (misspelled, less common) — misspelled (Another rare instance in which English/Australian terms are shorter than American equivalents)

Moulded — molded

Moustache - mustache

Mum — mom

Omlette - omlet

Plough (ploughing) — plow (plowed)

Pyjamas — pajamas

Sceptic (sceptical) - skeptic (skeptical); ('c' used instead of 'k')

Tyre — tire

Plus the spelling differences that apply to a number of words with similar combinations of letters:

Burnt - burned (adding 'ed' instead of a 't'.  Applies to a number of words: dreamt, smelt, spilt, spoilt. Usually in Australia (and UK) the 't' is added when the word is used as an adjective [burnt toast] and 'ed' used when the word is used as a verb [he burned the toast]. This spelling does vary, probably based on whether people were raised to say 'smelt' or 'smelled' etc.)

Ageing - aging (dropping the 'e' is usually done in Australia when 'ing' is added; but not always. It is more commonly done in USA. Applies to other words, such as judgement/judgment)

Cancelled - canceled (single instead of double 'L' is also used in channelled, dueller, refuelling, traveller, woollen etc)


Defence - defense ('s' is used instead of 'c'. Applies to other words too, such as licence, practice)

Realise - realize ('s' used instead of 'z' in apologise, analyse, capitalise, civilise, cosy, emphasise, fertilise, maximise, minimise, organise, paralyse, penalise, specialise, subsidise etc)

Sulphur - sulfur ('f' used instead of 'ph')


Catalogue - catalog ('ue' dropped off the endings of certain words, such as analogue, dialogue, epilogue, monologue etc)

Programme - program (the 'me' is dropped off the end of particular words, eg diagramme)

Kilometre - kilometer ('er' is used instead of 're' in a lot of other words also, such as calibre, centre, fibre, louvre, lustre, ochre, sombre, theatre as well as other measurement terms such as centimetre, metre, litre etc)


Archaeology — archeology (dropping the 'a' out of 'ae' vowel combinations. Also in a lot of other words, such as anaemia, anaesthetic, aesthetic, encyclopaedia, mediaeval etc)

Favour — favor (dropping the 'u' out of 'ou' letter combinations. This applies to many words, such as: armour, behaviour, colour, endeavour, honour, humour, labour, neighbour, rumour, saviour, vigour, etc, also. The Australian Labor party has used American spelling.  Another good reason not to vote for them.)

Oestrogen - estrogen (dropping the 'o' out of 'oe' letter combinations. Eg coeliac (Australian spelling) becomes celiac [American spelling]; amoeba becomes ameba, manoeuvre becomes maneuvre etc)


Many Australians are increasingly confused about what standard Australian spellings and terms are, due to the increasing frequency of American words and spellings appearing in media stories, editorials and advertising; and via technology such as computers and smart phones. American computer and phone programme spellcheckers drive Australians nuts, because truckloads of words come up as misspelt when they're actually correct. Many Australian place names are aboriginal names, and spellcheckers come up with some ridiculous alternative suggestions. A surprising number of Australian words in common usage, don't even rate a mention on American spellcheckers at all — for example 'whinge'. I presume there's an equivalent word used in the U.S., but I don't know what it is.  Other words, such as 'wether', don't appear in phone dictionaries even although they're very old, standard terms.

Unfortunately while supposedly simple, in reality it is often very difficult to change computer default American English spell checkers to Australian English dictionaries, and to add custom dictionaries. There is little interest on the part of software creators to make it easy for customers outside the U.S. Many Australians are so used to using an American spellchecker, and reading newspaper articles written by journalists who have used American spelling, plus tweets, blogs and facebook posts using American spelling and terms, there is increasing adoption of imports.

News Ltd even has a policy of using many American spellings. News Ltd began in Australia and is owned by an ex-Australian (now U.S. citizen), Rupert Murdoch, but because News Ltd owns American newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal and U.S. newspaper articles are now syndicated into Murdoch-owned Australian newspapers, Australian journalists are told to use many American spellings in Australian newspaper articles. Top of the list are probably words that are abbreviated by Americans, such as programme/program, because it suits newspaper proprietors to abbreviate as many words as possible so they can jam more type onto smaller spaces (thus leaving plenty of space for paid advertising). (Thanks Rupert for your contribution to the undermining of Australian-specific words and spellings.)

Australia's official dictionary, the Macquarie Dictionary, is the very best source to check for precise Australian spellings. The Macquarie Dictionary has an excellent website.

Pronunciation differences

There are a number of words that Australians (and the British) pronounce very differently to Americans (it's not just a case of differing accents; it's actually different sounds & emphasis on different letters and syllables). Described in layman's pronunciation terms rather than phonetic expert specialist language (I can never follow those weird pronunciation marks in dictionaries), below are some of the most common differences.

Australian English — American English

Address — Australians pronounce it as one long word without pause or emphasis on any particular syllable, whereas in the U.S., emphasis is given to the first syllable, thus it's pronounced "add-ress".

Defence/Offence — similar pronunciation to address; "de-fence" and "o-ffence"

Dynasty - Australians pronounce it 'din-asty' whereas the U.S. pronunciation is 'dine-asty' with more emphasis on the first syllable (similar to 'address')

Exit — Australians pronounce it 'Ecks-it' whereas in the U.S. it is pronounced 'eggzit'

Australians pronounce the letter 'Z' as 'zed' — U.S. 'Z' is pronounced as 'zee' (this was the single most obvious language difference apparent when 'Sesame Street' appeared on Australian television in the early 1970s, driving Australian parents mad with a tsunami of mispronunciations)

Tomato — Australians pronounce it 'tomarhto' whereas in the U.S. it is 'tomayto'

Vase — Australians use the English pronunciation 'varz' whereas in the U.S. it is 'vayce' (rhyming with 'ace')

For a healthy dose of authentic Australian English, refer to the best-selling books 'Biggest Mobs - Longest Shadows', 'Life as an Australian Horseman' & 'A Million Acre Masterpiece'.  (Please note that the glossary in the book 'A Million Acre Masterpiece' runs to eight pages, and it is not included on this website.)

The above list first appeared online not long after this website was created, in 2003, and it has been added to and adjusted many times. I used to invite additions & correction comments. However after one too many frothy rants from someone who hasn't ventured further than their own backyard - now - I say resist the urge to sally forth armed with sticks or stones, as your carry-on will fall on deaf ears. Language is a fluid thing and as mentioned above, there are many regional and demographic differences. And I don't have the time or energy to deal with pedantic crazies. This is a guide, only, not a tome set in stone.  Don't like my list? Get busy & collate your own.

And please note: the text on these translation pages is protected by copyright laws, like the rest of the website.

Many hours of work over a number of years has been spent compiling these pages of translations, cross checking as much as possible, to ensure accuracy. But because I am not a linguistics expert all words and meanings translated here should be cross checked with other sources before being quoted, because I am not able to guarantee there are no errors; plus - regional differences & demographic variations must be borne in mind.

© Copyright Fiona Lake

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