AE 399 – Expression: Like A Stunned Mullet

Learn Australian English in this episode of the Aussie English Podcast where I teach you how to use LIKE A STUNNED MULLET like a native speaker.

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AE 399 – Expression: Like A Stunned Mullet

G’day, guys. How’s it going?

Welcome to this episode of Aussie English, the number one podcast that teaches you Australian English whether you want to understand it, speak it, use slang words, practice the Australian accent, Aussie English is the podcast for you.


And today, I am so happy to say it is Episode 399. 399, guys. That is absolutely insane. If you had told me two years ago when I started this podcast that I would be 400 episodes in within the short period of only two years, I wouldn’t have believed you. I wouldn’t have believed you. That’s insane. So, I guess, massive thanks to all of you guys who have made this possible. Every single person who has signed up to The Aussie English Classroom, who has sent me messages saying thank you, which have really touched me and encouraged me to keep doing what I am doing, everyone who has watched the videos on YouTube, liked the Facebook page and interacted with me, and everyone who has donated on Patreon as well. Thank you so much, guys. Thank you so much. And I’m saying thank you in this episode, because I’m sure there will be several episodes out before the next expression episode that would go over number 400. So, I probably wouldn’t have had the chance to say thanks before we ticked over episode number 400. So yeah, thanks, guys. And thank you dear listener. The person who is listening right now, I’m talking to you. Thank you so much for everything that you have done. Your ongoing support means the world. Thank you.

So, a few announcements before we get started, guys. The Aussie English Classroom is about to increase in price that is going to happen on Monday morning. I am going to change the price as of Monday morning. So, if it is… it should be Sunday when you’re listening to this. Hopefully, not too later on in the week, but hopefully if you hear this on Sunday, and if you wish to save 17 dollars a month when you sign up for the Aussie English Classroom, I suggest that you do so now, because the price is about to increase. And remember you can try it if you want to sign up and give it a go for a month, it’s a 30-day money back guarantee, and it is just one dollar to try it for the first 30 days. So, you’ve got nothing to lose guys and everything to gain.

Anyway, without any further ado, let’s get into today’s episode with an Aussie joke.

Aussie Joke:

So, today’s Aussie joke is, and it’s just a one-liner. It’s not a question.

I’m only friends with 25 letters of the alphabet. I don’t know “Y”.

Do you get it, guys? There’s 26 letters in the alphabet. I’m only friends with 25 of them, because I don’t know “Y”. The letter Y as well as the word W-H-Y. That’s the joke there, guys.

So remember, it’s your mission to go out there and tell someone today that English joke. Make it a point of conversation, start a conversation with it, but get out there and use that joke somewhere today. That is your mission.


Anyway, let’s get into today’s expression. Today’s expression is ‘like a stunned mullet’, ‘like a stunned mullet’. And this is an Australian expression. This is very common. I hear this all the time. My parents used to use this when I was a kid all the time. You’d hear it on TV. And I suggested today’s expression. This one was voted on by everyone, and shockingly everyone voted for mine. So, ‘like a stunned mullet’.


Before we get into what that means let’s go through the different words in the expression ‘like a stunned mullet’, and explain what those mean.

So, the words ‘like’, ‘like’. To be similar to something. If you are like something, you are similar to that thing. So, my car is like my sister’s car. They are similar. Okay? I look like my parents, because I’m related to them. I look like them. We’re similar in appearance.

‘A’. I’m sure you guys know what ‘a’ is. ‘A’. The article ‘A’ means one thing. A thing. it’s non-specific. A thing.

‘Stunned’. The word ‘stunned’. Okay so, if something is stunned, it is that it could have been knocked unconscious or into a semi-conscious state. So, if someone hit me in the head, I would be stunned. But it can also mean, if I am stunned talking about, I guess, more the emotional state, that is to be astonished or to be shocked by something temporarily, or to temporarily be unable to act or react to something. To be ‘stunned’.

‘A mullet’. Okay so, this is two things in English. ‘A mullet’ can be that weird hairdo, where men have this hairdo in Australia sometimes where they’ve shaved the sides and they’ve shaved the top, but they have long hair at the back. This was a very famous haircut, a very common haircut, back in the 80s and 90s. There was a footy player called Gary Ablett who is a famous footy player for Geelong, the footy team Geelong, and he used to have a mullet.

But in this case, ‘a mullet’ is a type of marine fish, or at least primarily marine fish. I used to catch this when I went fishing and they were called a yellow-eyed mullet. So, it’s a fish that you can catch to eat. But we’ll get on to that… I’ll talk a bit about that at the end.

Expression Definition:

So, the expression ‘to be like a stunned mallet’ is to be dazed, uncomprehending of something, to be stupefied, shocked or astonished. Those are all synonyms for ‘to be like a stunned mullet’. So typically, someone looks like a stun mullet as a result of suddenly being shocked or surprised, or it could just be that they are dazed, confused, they look like they don’t know what they’re doing. They look like a stunned mullet.

So, when I looked up the origin of this expression it refers to, funnily enough, the fish, the google-eyed stare, and sometimes gaping mouth, of a fish that has been recently caught and stunned. It’s been made unconscious. And usually, that happens by the fishermen picking the fish up and hitting its head on the ground or perhaps using a hammer or some kind of tool to stun the fish by hitting the fish over the head. And when that happens it obviously looks like it is dazed, stupefied, shocked, surprised, I’m sure. But that is where it comes from and that’s what it alludes to.

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Expression Origin:

And this expression was first used in 1918. In 1918, it was in The Examiner newspaper, and there was an excerpt that I read here from the First World War, and it went like this.

“We finally dug into shell holes and that dark opposite the Boche trenches and waited there like stunned mullets for three hours with the Huns shelling us.”

So, in this case, ‘Boche’, B-O-C-H-E is a French word for German, a German person, and ‘Hun’ is an English word for German as well. And both of these I think are derogatory terms that English men, Australian men, American men, would have used for Germans in the First World War. Okay? And I had to look this up. I didn’t know this beforehand.

But so, these guys were sitting in the trenches in the dark, and they were obviously being shelled, so they were being bombed from above, and they were sitting there for three hours like stunned mullets, because they were obviously shocked, dazed, confused. They looked like stunned mullets.

So, as usual guys, let’s go through some examples, and then we’ll go through a listen and repeat exercise, and then I’ll go through an Aussie fact, and we’ll finish up.



So, example number one imagine you have renovated the house. So, you’re having a reno. You’re renovating your house. And you need to clean out your house. You need to clean out the garage. You want to get rid of all your old stuff. You want to sell it. So, you want to have a garage sale. And a garage sale is common in Australia where people will often use their garage, they’ll open their garage up, they’ll have all their stuff strewn about in the garage, and they’ll be selling it, and usually, without labelling it. They’ll just say it’s for sale. It’s a garage sale. You offer them something if you want something that’s at the garage sale, and they’ll… you know, you’ll barter with that person, and then hopefully buy the thing and go home. So, imagine you’re having a garage sale, maybe is selling your lawn mower, your whipper snipper, some old tools, and you want help from your daughter, but she’s not into it. She’s not keen to help. So, she’s just sitting around watching you whilst you organise everything for the garage sale, you might say, “Don’t just sit there like a stunned mullet! Can you help me?!” So, she’s just sitting around, she’s dazed, uncomprehending, unhelpful, you know, useless, you can say to her, “Don’t sit around like a stunned mullet! Come and help me with the garage sale.”


Example number two. So, it’s your first day on the job. It’s your first day at work. And we love to say ‘on the job’ in Australian English. So, you’re working as a paramedic. So, that’s someone who works resuscitating people, healing injured people. These are the ambulance drivers. So, we call them ‘ambos’ quite often. If they’re working in ambulances, they’re ‘ambos’. ‘Ambos’. So, imagine it’s your first day on the job. You get called to some horrific scene where there’s been a car accident, and you’ve got to act quickly to save some lives. So, you see dead bodies for the first time. There’s people that have obviously been killed in the accident, unfortunately. There’s body parts on the road. And you’re shocked, you’re astonished. You think it’s it looks like a scene out of a war movie. And your partner… if you’re just standing there shocked, your partner might yell out, “Don’t just stand there like a stunned mullet! Come and help me. You need to start saving lives, you need to start helping. Don’t stand there like a stunned mullet!”.


Example Number three. So, this time imagine you are a teacher at a school and you’re running an exam for a class. Maybe it’s a physics exam or a maths exam or a chemistry exam, something that was difficult and required quite a bit of study before the exam if students wanted to pass it and do well. So, imagine most students have studied really hard, they’re doing pretty well in the exam, they’re focusing, but there are a few students who look incredibly confused, and they’re not acting. They’re stupefied, they’re uncomprehending. So, you could say, they look like stunned mullets. So, you might walk up to them and say, “Why do you guys look like stunned mullets? Why are you sitting there like stunned mullets? Didn’t you guys study for this exam? You had plenty of time.”. So, that’s example number three.

And so, I hope you guys now know if you are like a stunned mullet, so you could be you could look like a stunned mullet, you could be sitting there like a stunned mullet, you could be standing there like a stunned mullet. It is to be shocked or astonished, or dazed and confused. So, it’s a good one. I recommend using it.

So, let’s go through a listen and repeat exercise, guys. So, just listen and repeat after me, guys. This is your chance to practice your pronunciation. So, go find somewhere quiet away from people where you can speak out loud, and try and say these words and sentences exactly as I do, and also focus on the connected speech. I love teaching you guys connected speech. So, focus on that aspect of this exercise. So, let’s go. Listen and repeat after me, guys.

Listen & Repeat:

Like a
Like a stunned
Like a stunned mullet x 5

I looked like a stunned mullet
You looked like a stunned mullet
He looked like a stunned mullet
She looked like a stunned mullet
We looked like a stunned mullet
They looked like a stunned mullet
It looked like a stunned mullet

Good job guys, good job. And remember, if you want to focus on pronunciation and you want to focus on connected speech so that you sound a lot more like an Australian English speaker, or just an English speaker in general, make sure you sign up to The Aussie English Classroom, guys. There are loads of exercises in there. And this week I have actually uploaded every single vowel in Australian English with 10 or more examples so that you can practice every single vowel, and there is also now every single consonant including the T-flap, including the dark L. So, I’m really trying to fill out the Aussie English Classroom with material for you to focus on your pronunciation. And then also, with every expression episode like this there will be a pronunciation or connected speech exercise.

So, if you want to get in there, remember, jump in there before tomorrow, before Monday, and you will save 17 dollars a month, and it is just one dollar for your first month, for your first 30 days. You can try it. There’s no risk. You can unsubscribe at any time. You can pause your subscription at any time. But definitely get in there, if you take your English seriously.

Anyway, guys. Let’s get into the Aussie fact before we finish up.

Aussie Fact:

So, today I didn’t really have a specific fact that I wanted to tell you. I more felt like talking about camping when I was a kid, and fishing when I was a kid, and what this was like. And the reason that I thought of this was because of the word ‘mullet’, the word ‘mullet’.

So, I used to go fishing when I was a kid down here in Ocean Grove at the river, and also my parents used to take me camping in summer to a place called Wilson’s Promontory, Wilson’s prom. And I’m sure that some of you guys listening, especially if you’re in Victoria and near Melbourne, have been to Wilson’s prom. It’s an absolutely beautiful place.

Anyway, when I went camping and fishing in these areas I used to catch mullet all the time. So, my dad and my entire family sometimes my grandparents and my uncle and auntie as well, we would go to Wilson’s Promontory, Wilson’s prom, we’d go camping down there. We each had four-wheel drives. Each one of the families would have a four-wheel drive, which is a kind of… a big car that you can drive on really difficult to drive along tracks. You can go up hills, down hills, if you get bogged in mud you tend to be able to get out of it. But that’s what a four-wheel drive is. Four-wheel drive. We’d take our tents. We’d have sleeping bags. We’d have blow-up mattresses and torches. Always a lot of insect repellent to get rid of the mozzies. The mozzies would always get you. And I used to have fishing gear. I would take that even though the rest of my family seemed to really dislike fishing. They just found it boring sitting there waiting for fish to bite the bait and get on the line. And I would also take things like Game Boys. I used to play Pokémon a lot. And we also take books. My sister used to love to read. So, I have an image in my head of her sitting up late under the covers in her sleeping bag in the tent with all of us and she would have her torch on whilst reading through one of her many books.

So, we used to go down there. We would pile out of the car, get all our stuff out, and I would help dad put the tent up. So, we would erect the tent. We’d get all that ready, and then usually, when we got to Wilson’s prom, it would be pretty close to a river, and the river’s called Tidal River, and I’d go fishing down there. So, I’d grab my rod, I’d grab my line, the sinkers, the hooks, the bait to put on the hook to try and catch the fish, or I’d have a lure, and so, all of my fishing tackle, and I’d run down to the river and start fishing.

And Tidal River at Wilson’s prom is a very interesting river, because it’s so close to the ocean, at least the part of the river that is near the camping ground, that when the tide goes out the river is able to flow downstream properly and you can see all of the brown tannins from the plant material in the water. And so, when the tide is out and the water’s flowing down the river, at the river mouth, it’s all brown. But then when the tide comes in the river changes colour and it goes blue or green, because now it’s all seawater that comes up the river. And that’s why it’s called Tidal River, because the tide goes in and it goes out, and it changes the colour. So, it was very cool. I used to love that river. And there was a huge rock nearby. This big granite rock that looked like a whale, and was funnily enough it was called ‘Whale’s rock’. So, I wonder if some of you guys have seen that rock if you’ve been to Wilson’s prom.

Anyway, I would go down there, I would cast my line out, and every now and then while I was fishing, I would catch fish like snapper, whiting, maybe some flathead, and often yellow-eyed mullet. So, the fish ‘the mullet.

Anyway guys, I just thought I would share that with you to give you an idea of what it was like as a kid to go fishing, to go camping. If any of you guys are living in Melbourne or in Victoria or are planning on traveling this way in Australia, definitely go and check out Wilson’s Prom. It is phenomenally beautiful. Okay?

So, that’s it for me today guys. Once again, massive thank you. I can’t believe we are almost past 400 episodes. That is absolutely amazing. That’s incredible. And I will chat to you in the next episode. Peace out, guys, and I hope you have an amazing Sunday.

See ya!

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