10 English Colloquial Phrases or Words to Learn Before You Travel to Sydney

Aug 4, 2023 2:04:07 PM / by Julie Ritz

Every country has their own idioms that mean something totally different than what they first appear to. You might say to your friend, “Wow! That cost an arm and a leg.” If someone from another country heard you- well, let’s just hope they don’t take it literally or they may get worried! If you think about it, you can probably come up with quite a few other unique phrases you use in daily life.

This is a common phenomenon that you'll encounter no matter where you go. To help you out, we’ve rounded up 10 important English colloquial phrases to know in Sydney that will help you speak like the locals!


1. Ace! = awesome, excellent

This is a phrase you'll probably hear every day. It can be used in any context to describe something that you find cool or amazing.

2. Arvo = afternoon

This is a word used all the time in Australia to describe that time of day after morning and before evening. It’s just a shortened version of the beginning of “afternoon”. (Hint: many words in Australia are shortened like this- avo for avocado, ambo for ambulance, bizzo for business, etc.)

3. How ya goin’? = How are you?

This is how you might casually greet someone or be greeted like you would back home. See how someone's day is by asking!

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4. Good onya! = Good for you/ great job!

This is just another way of telling someone they’ve done something good. “Onya” comes from “on you”, which is just like “for you”!

5. Big bikkies = something is expensive

Bikkies itself actually means biscuits (cookies to Americans), so this phrase means expensive bisctuits, but is used to describe anything that costs a lot.

6. She’ll be apples = it’ll be alright

This phrase was based off “apples and spice”, where “spice” rhymes with “nice”- and then somehow the meaning transformed to “alright”.


7. Full as a centipede's sock drawer = to be extremely full after eating

If a centipede wore socks, it would wear 100 of them. That’s a lot of socks! If you just ate a really big meal, you might feel as full as their sock drawer would be.

8. Flat out like a lizard drinking = doing something as fast as possible

Have you seen how quickly lizard’s tongues move when they drink? Once you do, you’ll understand this phrase.


9. Go off like a frog in a sock = to be very energetic

Imagine trapping a frog in a sock and watching it wiggle around. That’s similar to how you might feel when you’re really amped up for something!

10. Up and down like a dunny seat = to change your opinion a lot

A dunny is a bathroom outside- so the dunny seat, or toilet seat, goes up and down all the time per who is using it, just like your opinion.

There's so much more to learn than 10 phrases to speak like a Sydneysider, so if you want to learn more, try going there and learning them yourself! 

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Topics: Sydney, Australia, Language

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