AE 376 – Expression: To Roll With The Punches

Learn Australian English in this episode of The Aussie English Podcast where I teach you to use the expression ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES.

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AE 376 – Expression:

To Roll With The Punches

In summing up, it’s the Constitution, it’s Mabo, it’s justice, it’s law, it’s the vibe, and… No, that’s it. It’s the vibe. I rest my case.

That was sensational!

“It’s the vibe, guys. It’s the vibe. It’s Mabo. It’s the Constitution. It’s the vibe.”

So, g’day, guys. Welcome to The Aussie English Podcast, the number one podcast for anyone and everyone wanting to learn to understand Australian English or speak Australian English like a native.

So, that was a scene, a quick short segment, a scene, a few lines, out of the movie, the famous Aussie movie, called The Castle. The Castle. “It’s the vibe. It’s the Constitution. It’s Mabo. It’s the vibe.”

So, the movie’s about a man named Darryl Kerrigan and his family who face losing their homes to housing developers or to developers who are attempting to acquire his house through compulsory acquisition in order to expand the neighbouring airport. So, Darrel, obviously, not wanting this to happen, he doesn’t want to lose his house, he doesn’t want to lose his “castle”, hence the name of the film, he challenges the Government and the developers in court in order to try and save his home and the life that he and his family have built in this home, in this “castle”. So, Darryl’s a simple Aussie guy. He likes simple things. He loves his home, he loves his family, his dogs, buying and selling things second-hand from the newspaper, fishing. You’ll see when you watch the movie. It’s a great film. It’s full of Australian culture. It’s got a lot of actors in there that you might recognise if you’ve seen Australian movies, including Michael Caton, who’s the main character, and as well, Eric Bana, who we talked about in the previous episode. Eric Bana, in the movie Chopper, he was in that, but this was his first ever film. This was his debut film. So, go and check it out.

But anyway. A quick sum up of this scene, to give you a bit of context. This scene is where Darryl and his rather inept lawyer, his lawyer who’s pretty useless, are taking this case to court, and instead of using previous cases as evidence, the lawyer references Mabo, a famous Indigenous Australian, who campaigned for Indigenous land rights in Australia in the 90s, and we’ll talk about that in the Aussie fact. But he references Mabo, and then just says, it’s the vibe, it’s the vibe, which effectively means, it’s the feeling of this situation. So, he doesn’t use evidence, he just says it feels like this is wrong. It’s the vibe.

So, anyway. It’s a great film full of Aussie pop culture. And if you use this line anytime that you have no real reason or evidence for feeling a certain way or having a certain belief, if instead you just say, it’s the vibe, Aussies are going to instantly understand that you’re referencing the movie The Castle. Ok? So, go check it out. It’s great.


A few announcements before we get started, guys, as always. I’m working on The Aussie English Classroom. I’m expanding it. More and more people are signing up. So, thank you to you guys who’ve become students in The Aussie English Classroom, for giving it a shot, for taking your English to the next level. You guys have only given me great feedback so far. So, I appreciate that. Remember, guys, you can try that for a dollar. It’s how I make a crust, it’s how I make a living, and it’s how I support the creation of this podcast. So, go in there and give it a go. (It’s) one dollar for your first month.

On top of that, I’m still working on the Effortless Phrasal Verb course, which is a course specifically designed to teach you to use phrasal verbs, you know, to go up, to go out, to come in, all of those phrasal verbs, naturally and effortlessly like a native speaker. So, far there are 14 components up in the course. So, I’m still creating these each week. And they’re each between about half an hour and an hour long. So, there’s loads of content. When you get in there you get to watch lectures or the live classes that I give, but you also get to see pictures, example sentences, the phrasal verbs I’m saying, all of that. So, it should really really help you learn phrasal verbs effortlessly. Get in there and give that a go as well. There’ll be a link in the description here.

Aussie Joke:

Anyway, let’s get in to today’s Aussie joke. So, today’s Aussie joke is: How do you know if you are a bogan? How do you know if you’re a bogan? And “a bogan” is someone of low social status. They tend to be rude and they tend to be uncouth, and do sort of…you know, drink in public and swear in public. Anyway. How do you know if you’re a bogan? The answer: You let your 15-year-old daughter smoke at the dinner table in front of her kids. So, that’s something a bogan would definitely do. They would allow their 15-year-old child to smoke. They would allow them to smoke at the dinner table. And the joke there is that the 15 year old daughter has children of her own. So, that is how you know you’re a bogan. You’re allowing your 15-year-old daughter to smoke at the dinner table in front of her kids.


Anyway, today’s expression, guys. Today’s expression is, “to roll with the punches”. “To roll with the punches”. This one was suggested by a Rocio, and it was voted on in the Facebook group for the Aussie English Virtual Classroom. You can get in there, every Monday we suggest new expressions, we then vote on them, and the one that gets to the top is the one that becomes this episode.

So, “to roll with the punches”. As usual, let’s go through and define the different words, the different verbs, the different nouns, everything in this expression, and then we’ll define the expression itself.


So, “to roll”. “To roll”. If you roll over or you roll, it’s that you move in a particular direction by turning over and over and over. So, you can roll. You can roll over. It means the same thing. We’re just turning into a phrasal verb. So, a dog rolls or a dog rolls over. You know, it’s lying on its stomach, and it rolls, and its stomach is now facing up, the dog’s rolled over. If you cut down a tree, you chop up the tree trunk into logs, you might have to roll the logs to move them on the ground. Or maybe you roll the logs over to see what’s underneath. “To roll”.

“To roll with something”. Ok. “To roll with something” is to adapt to a situation despite unexpected circumstances or challenges. To roll with something. We can also say, to go along with something, or just to go with something. So, you’ll often see this as an expression itself, where you’ll say just, “Roll with it”. So, he just rolled with it. He rolled with it. But we’ll get to that later on when we define the expression.

“A punch”. “A punch” is a strike with a closed fist. So, your fist is when you have a hand with the fingers closed. That is a fist. A closed fist. And “a punch” is when you strike something or someone with a closed fist. Ok? A punch. You know, fighters will punch. Boxers will punch.

Expression Definition:

The expression, let’s define the expression. So, this has a literal meaning and a figurative meaning. The literal meaning is for a boxer or a fighter to move his body away from an opponent’s blows or an opponent’s punches so as to lessen the impact, so they don’t hurt as much, so they don’t damage him as much. So, he moves his body in a way that lessens the impact of someone else’s punches. He rolls with the punches.

Figuratively though, this expression, “to roll with the punches”, is to adapt oneself to adverse circumstances. It’s to continue when things get hard. It’s to persevere when things get hard. So, when things get tough, roll with the punches. Ok? Keep going. Adapt yourself to these adverse circumstances.

Expression origin:

The origin of this expression was in the early 20th century, so the 1900s. And surprise, surprise, seeing as it’s talking about punches, it’s related to boxing. So, the American newspaper called the Boston Daily Globe used it in 1903, the year 1903, when summarising a sparring match or a boxing match. That was the earliest I could find for an example where this expression was used. So, the very very very early 20th century.

So, it’s pretty funny. We’ve done quite a few boxing expressions recently, right? We did, “throw in the towel”, which is to concede defeat, or at least we’ve mentioned that in previous episodes. And the last one was “throw your hat into the ring”, which meant to volunteer yourself for something, whether it was literally a boxing fight or something else.

So, this expression is literally instructing a boxer to step back, to step to the side, as he’s being hit by another boxer in order to lessen the impact, which is what we went over. So, he’s rolling his body, he’s moving his body, to avoid the punches that are coming in. So, this lessens the impact, obviously.

So, let’s go through some examples of how I would use this expression figuratively in day-to-day English.



So, example number one. Imagine you’ve got a meeting at work and you’re driving in and your car starts to break down. So, something goes awry in the engine, something goes wrong, something breaks, the engine conks out, the engine goes kaput, you know, it breaks, it stops functioning, it stops working, and it comes to a stop. You’re not a mechanic and haven’t got the foggiest idea how to fix it. So, you’ve got no idea what to do to fix your car. But you’ve got no choice but to roll with the punches. Ok? So, you just have to make do with the circumstances that you are currently in. So, you call and Uber, you call a taxi, or maybe you even just walk the rest of the way to work. And even though you show up late, you roll with the punches.


Number two. You’re at work and you decide that it’s time for a smoko. So, a smoke break for about five minutes, “a smoko”. You go outside you light up your ciggie, a cigarette. You light it up. You start having a smoke on your smoko. A few other blokes and sheilas come out of work. So, there are some slang terms for “guys” and “girls”, or “guys” and “women”, blokes and sheilas, they come out, they join you, and it starts to rain. So, you don’t really want to get wet, but you want to finish your ciggies, you and everyone else there. So, you stick it out. You endure the rain even if it starts pissing down rain, even if it starts raining cats and dogs, you roll with the punches. You endure these bad circumstances. You finish your ciggie. And then, you go back into work.


Example Number three. Ok. Imagine you are a tradie, a tradesman, someone who works in a trade. You’re working on a job with a few other blokes, a few of your mates, a few other guys. Maybe you’re a chippie, which is a carpenter, someone who works with wood, or you could be a sparkie, an electrician, someone who works with electricity, or maybe or even a brickie, someone who works with bricks, and is a bricklayer. So, you’re a tradie, one of these jobs, whichever one it is. You’re doing this on a worksite where a house is being made and a storm rolls in. Ok? We often say that. A storm will “roll”, ’cause often the clouds look like they’re rolling. A storm starts to roll in during your day working, and it gets harder and harder to finish your job. Obviously, because it starts raining, maybe there’s thunder, there’s lightning. Maybe it starts pissing down so heavily and it’s cold, and it starts to hail, or maybe even it starts to snow. (That) probably wouldn’t happen here in Australia, but who knows. Imagine that’s happening though. All hell is breaking loose, and it’s getting harder and harder to finish your job. But you and your mates decide, “We’re just going to roll with the punches. We’re going to smash it out. This job needs to be done by the end of the day. It needs to be completed.” So, you might say, “Come on, you mob!”, meaning, “Come on, guys! Come on, you lot!”. “Come on, you mob! We just have to roll with the punches, put in a bit of extra hard Yakka, and get this job done.

So, that’s it guys hopefully by now you understand the expression “to roll with the punches”. Literally, it’s to move one’s body away from an opponent with whom you’re boxing so as to lessen the impact of his punches. But, figuratively, and this is where you’re going to hear it most commonly, it is to adapt yourself or adapt oneself to adverse circumstances, to continue, to persevere when things get tough.

So, let’s go through a listen then repeat exercise, guys, and then we’ll finish up with an Aussie fact. So, listen and repeat after me, guys, if you want to practice your Aussie accent, here is the time to do it.

Let’s go.

Listen & Repeat:

To roll
To roll with
To roll with the
To roll with the punches
To roll with the punches
To roll with the punches
To roll with the punches
To roll with the punches

I’ll roll with the punches
You’ll roll with the punches
He’ll roll with the punches
She’ll roll with the punches
We’ll roll with the punches
They’ll roll with the punches
It’ll roll with the punches

Great job there, guys. Great job.

There’s a really cool little thing happening there with the L’s in those expressions. You might have noticed that I’m using the Dark L. So, for example instead of saying “I’ll“, I’ll say “I’ll“. Instead of saying “roll“, I’ll say “roll”.

So, I want to teach you this stuff in the Aussie English Classroom. So, that’ll be today’s focus when we go through pronunciation and connected speech. Remember, if you want to get into these sort of nitty-gritty details to really perfect your Aussie accent make sure you sign up, become a member, enroll in the Aussie English Classroom, and we go through these sorts of exercises that are tied in with the listen and repeat exercise every week. So, it’s my goal to teach you guys to pronounce these words and to use connected speech just like an Aussie. So, get in there and give it a go, if you want to improve your Aussie accent.

Aussie Fact:

Anyway, let’s go through the Aussie fact today. So, you heard me talking about Mabo at the very start of this episode, and he was mentioned in that scene. “It’s the Constitution. It’s the vibe. It’s Mabo. It’s the vibe.”

Mabo was Eddie Koiki Sambo, who later changed his name to Mabo when he was adopted by his uncle Benny Mabo. So, Mabo was born on the island Mer, which is also known as Murray Island in the Torres Strait between Australia and Papua New Guinea. Ok? So, this is in Far North Queensland and it’s the islands right off the tip of Cape York between Papua New Guinea and Australia. Murray Island is there.

So, Mabo is an indigenous Australian, or at least he was before he died. He tragically passed away in the 90s. But in 1981 a land rights conference took place at James Cook University, which is a university in Townsville. And Mabo was there. He made a speech to the audience where he explained the land inheritance system on Murray Island. They had their own indigenous laws and customs that were different from the Australian law. And the significance of this in terms of Australian common law doctrine was taken note of by one of the attendees who was a lawyer, and afterwards he suggested that there was a potential case here that they could test to claim land rights through the Australian court system.

The case took 10 years to reach a decision. So, I think it started in 1982 and it went until 1992 when they finally got a decision. So, tragically though, Mabo died of cancer at the age of 55 on the 21st of January a mere five months, just five months, before the High Court of Australia announced its findings. So, tragically, he didn’t get to see the case come to a conclusion. He didn’t get to find out the results, but he made a big change by bringing this to the court system nonetheless.

So, it was an historic decision by the High Court of Australia as they overturned the legal doctrine of terra nullius. And, terra nullius is a Latin expression that means “nobody’s land”. So, this was a term that was used in international law to describe a territory, like a place, a country, whatever it is, that is found and it is effectively invoked to say the first nation to find this place has found it void of people. So, it is nobody’s land. So, it’s kind of like a ‘finders, keepers’ rule, meaning that if I find it I get to keep it. And that’s what the British did when they came to Australia. But remember indigenous people had lived in this land for 40-60,000 years, and the Europeans only came here in the year 1788 with the first settlers from Britain. That was when Europeans tried to settle Australia for the first time. They’d gotten here before, but they hadn’t tried to settle it. And so, in this period indigenous people all over the world were often not seen as equal to quote-unquote “civilised” Europeans. And so, the land was often acquired through terra nullius.

Anyway. So, they tested this in the High Court, and the High Court in Australia found in favour of Mabo. So, they agreed with Mabo in the case that is formerly known as “Mabo v Queensland No. 2”, which is now recognised for its landmark status. So, the High Court found that terra nullius shouldn’t have been applied to Australia, and the decision recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples had the right to their own lands, and that the rights existed before the British arrived. So, the Mabo decision was a turning point for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia as it acknowledged their unique connection to the land. The decision ultimately led to the Australian Parliament passing the Native Title Act in 1993, which formalised the High Court’s findings in favour of Mabo.

Anyway, that was a long Australian fact today, guys. I hope you enjoyed it. It’s a bit of culture though, and it ties in with the movie The Castle where he says, “It’s Mabo. It’s the Constitution. It’s the vibe.”

So, that’s it for today guys. I hope you enjoy this episode. Make sure you go check out Mabo. Look him up. He’s an interesting historical character in Australian history. And also, go watch The Castle, and enjoy checking out actors like Michael Caton and Eric Bana.

Anyway, guys, I’ll see you in the next episode, and I hope you have a killer week. Catch you guys.

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