© 2016 by KAYLEE RANDALL.​

USA vs Australia: It’s Called Autumn, Not Fall

March 12, 2019

The first of March marks the first day of fall here in Australia - oh, sorry, I mean autumn. Apparently it’s never called fall here, only autumn.





These are common conversations in my house as an American living with an Australian. But nonetheless, I survived my first (almost) six months as a foreign expat and I’ve learned a lot.


Like how to drive on the left side of the road, how to cook using Celsius temperatures and grams instead of Fahrenheit and ounces, and struggling to count cash efficiently, if at all. It’s definitely different.


To quell any common misconceptions -


Toilets don't seem to flush in the opposite direction, but there is much less water in the basin and I’ve never seen a lever used to flush a toilet - only buttons.


Plastic bags aren’t offered in any grocery store, but it forces you to always remember your reusable ones.


One cent and quarters don't exist, but a two-dollar coin does.


You pay for gas (ahem, petrol) after you pump it.


Tipping is not expected.


Air-conditioning is used sparingly.


The coffee is good enough everywhere that half and half isn’t a thing. Starbucks isn't much of a thing either. I've seen two in all of Brisbane so far.


Drying clothes on a clothesline is normal.


There are barely any late-night or twenty-four-hour businesses. 


The dates are written: day, month, year.


And most of our bills are paid weekly.


Also, you know when “All The Small Things” comes on when you're out and it gets to the part when everybody sings “WORK SUCKS” in unison? Ok, well here, they don’t sing the work sucks part, they sing the “I KNOW” part that comes after. So, yea - that's me yelling on my own.


In addition to these subtle yet mind-blowing differences (ok maybe not mind-blowing but let's just say I'm in focus mode a lot), Aussies are famous for their lingo which has managed to trip me up a time or two. Sometimes, I’m not sure we’re speaking the same language. 


So, with that, I thought I’d share some of the new Aussie terms I’ve learned side-by-side with what they’d mean in America. Some of them are downright hilarious and others make sense - they're just not what you'd say in the States.


I’m sure this list will grow and I’ll add to it when I remember. But for now, here’s my non-exhaustive list of common Australian lingo and what it means in American terms. Read until the end for my absolute favorite one.


Aircon – A/C or air conditioning

Aluminium – Aluminum (notice the extra “i” in the last syllable)

Ambo - Ambulance

Arvo – Afternoon

Avo - Avocado

Barbie - Barbeque

Bench – Countertop

Bin - Trashcan

Bottle-o – Liquor store

Bogan - Redneck

Bloody - Very or Really

Brekkie - Breakfast

Brissy - Brisbane (where I live)

Brolly – Umbrella

Bush - Countryside

Capsicum - Bell Pepper

Carpark - Parking Lot

Chips – Fries

Clucky - Baby Fever

Copper - Police Officer

Cross - Angry

Cuddle - Hug

Defo - Definitely

Devo - Devastated

Esky - Cooler

Far Out - Wow or No Way

Fairy Floss - Cotton Candy

Flanno - Flannel Shirt

Flat Out - Busy

Footpath - Sidewalk

Footy - Australian Football League-style football

Fortnightly – Biweekly

G’Day - Hello or Hey or Good Day

Good On Ya - Good Job

Heaps - A Lot

Hen's Night - Bachelorette Party

Holy Dooley! - Holy Moly!

Ice Block – Popsicle or Icicle

Icing sugar – Powdered sugar

It’s Ok - You’re Welcome

Keen – Interested

Knackered - Exhausted

Lie in – Sleep in

Lollies – Candy

Macca’s - McDonald’s

Mate - Friend/Buddy

No Worries/No Dramas - No Problem

Note ($)  - Bill

Oath - I Agree or Totally

Op Shop - Thrift Store

Oz - Australia

Petrol – Gas 

Pokies – Slot machines

Pram – Stroller

Prawns – Shrimp (hence why Shrimp on the Barbie is actually made up by Americans…)

Reckon - Think So

Rego - Registration

Rock Up - Arrive

Rocket - Arugula

Sanga – Sandwich

Salvos - Salvation Army

Servo – Gas Station or Service Station (7Eleven)

Snag - Sausage

Sultanas – Raisins

Suncream - Sunscreen

Sunnies - Sunglasses

Thongs - Flip Flops

Togs – Bathing suits

Toilets - Bathrooms

Tomato Sauce - Ketchup

Torch - Flashlight

Trolley – Shopping cart

Windscreen - Windshield

Ute - Pickup Truck

Uni - College or University


And finally - my personal favorite

Witch’s hats - Orange traffic cones

HAHAHAHA! Oh man, it doesn’t get better than that.


There’s also the “z” thing. First of all, here it’s pronounced “zed” instead of “zee” and it’s not used in lots of words that Americans would use it in. Here are some examples:


Specialise instead of specialize.

Realise instead of realize.

Organise instead of organize.



So, there you go! Some basic differences between the US and Oz, even though I surely missed some. Want more info about things you need to know before visiting Australia? Leave a comment with your questions!



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