AE 467 – Expression: Sink Your Teeth into It

Learn Australian English in this expression episode of the Aussie English Podcast where I teach you to use the expression SINK YOUR TEETH INTO IT like a native speaker.

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AE 467 – Expression: Sink Your Teeth into It

The opposition here lead by Tony… yeah, Tony. As I’ve said, you know, I don’t mind Tony, personally, I think he’s not a bad bloke, but as I said during the campaign, he’s as mad as a cut snake. And he is on this issue. He is on this issue. I mean, totally irresponsible.


G’day, you mob. How’s it going? And welcome to this episode of the Aussie English podcast.

It has been a long day. It has been a long day and it is only at 1pm. I tell you what, guys, I’ve been working on this video for the sounds /i:/ and /ɪ/, right, from sheep and ship or beach and bitch. I know this is a hard one. I’ve been working on this video for ages, and I’ve turned into a perfectionist. It’s just taking forever to finish, but I hope you guys enjoy it. It’ll be up hopefully tomorrow or this weekend. And I hope you guys aren’t getting sick of kangaroos, because I keep finding them around close to where I live at the moment and they’re just really fun to film. So, it’s nice to add them in to these videos. Anyway.

Welcome to the Aussie English Podcast, guys. This is the number one podcast for anyone and everyone wanting to learn Australian English, whether you want to learn English in general too, it’s all the same thing really. They’ll just be the odd slang word and slang expression in the Aussie English Podcast episodes. Anyway.

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Let’s get into today’s episode, guys. That intro clip was from a short video that I found online where our ex-prime minister Bob Hawke is talking to our also ex-Prime Minister Julia Gillard about another ex-Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and Bob Hawke calls Tony Abbott as mad as a cut snake, and we’ll get into what that means exactly at the end, but in today’s Aussie English Fact I’m going to talk about seven or so different Australian expressions that many people know in Australia, and some use them sometimes, they might use them as a joke, but they don’t often say them normally. Anyway.

The Aussie joke for today, guys. The Aussie joke for today. All right.

So, a bear walks into a bar and says, “Give me a scotch and…….. coke.”. And the bartender says, “Why the big pause?”, and the bear shrugs and says, “Oh, I’m not sure. I was just born with them.”.

“I’m not sure. I was just born with them.” Do you get it, guys? Okay, so the bear’s walked into the bar and he said, “Give me a scotch and coke.”. But he paused between the words “and…. coke”. He paused. He made a “….”, pause. That’s a pause like P A U S E. And the bartender says Why the long pause, P A U S E, as in, “Why did you stop talking?”, and the bear interprets this as paws, P A W S, to mean what the animal has as hands, right? The bear… the bear’s hands with claws aren’t hands, technically. They’re paws. P A W S. So, that’s the joke there, guys.

A bear walks into a bar and says, “Give me a scotch and….. coke”. The bartender says, “Why the big pause?”, and the bear shrugs and says, “I don’t know. I was just born with them.”.

So, today’s expression, guys, is to “sink your teeth into it” or to “sink your teeth into something”, and this one comes from Aykhan. He suggested this and he finally got it. In fact, it was a bit difficult Fatimah had actually won this one. Okay. So, props to you Fatimah. You did win this one with “a head like a dropped pie”, which we’ll get into at the end, if I remember correctly. But that one isn’t very commonly used and it’s a bit mean. It means that someone’s ugly. So, I thought, “I can’t really devote an entire episode to a rare expression that is not used very often and is just calling someone ugly even though it was funny.” Okay? So, I thought, “Alright. Aykhan he came second. To sink your teeth into something. That’s a good one. I’ve used that and I use that all the time. But to “have a head like a dropped pie”, I’ll mention at the end and talk about some other similar expressions.”.

Alright, to “sink your teeth into it” or to “sink your teeth into something”. Let’s go through the definitions of the words in this expression.

So, “to sink”, “to sink”, is to go down below the surface of something, especially a liquid. So, to become submerged. If you sink into something that is to go down into something, okay. So, for instance, a boat might sink, and if it sinks, it’s sinking into the ocean. And, for example, if you’re on the beach and you walk to the water, your feet might sink. And if you want to talk about what they’re sinking into, you could say they are sinking into the sand. They’re sinking in to the sand. So, to go below the surface of something.

“Your”. I’m sure you’ll know “your”. It’s the possessive pronoun for you indicating that something belongs to you. Your dog, your friend, your food, your Australian English podcast. “Your”.

“Teeth” is the plural of the word “tooth”. Again, I’m sure you guys know this one. And “a tooth” is a bony enamel-coated structure in your jaw that you use for biting things, for chewing things. Okay? “A tooth” and the plural is “teeth”. It’s another one of those words where it’s a… it’s an irregular plural word, okay, like “geese” and “goose”, “teeth” and “tooth” as opposed to “tooths”.

So, what does to “sink your teeth into something” mean? To “sink your teeth into something”. If you sink your teeth into something, obviously literally, that would be that you’re biting something, right. You’re sinking your teeth, your teeth are going below the surface of some food, you’re sinking your teeth into something. So, we can use to “sink your teeth into something” to mean to take a bite of something good to eat, to eat something. Sink your teeth into this food. Eat it.

But we can use it, figuratively, to mean to start doing something or to become involved in something, especially, if you do this with one’s utmost energy. So, to do this energetically or to do it with determination or enthusiasm, that is to sink your teeth into something, figuratively.

So, let’s go through three examples, guys, of how I would use the expression to “sink your teeth into it” or to “sink your teeth into something”.

So, okay, example number one. Imagine that you’re at a mate’s place. He’s asked you around for a barbie, a barbecue, he wants to have a cook up at his place. He wants you to bring your wife around so that she can hang out with his fiancée, wife, or partner, and everyone else’s as well while you guys are out on the deck sinking a few tinnies or sinking a few stubbies. So, that’s like to drink a few cans of something, to sink a few tinnies, or to drink a few bottles of something, to sink a few stubbies. That’s a very Australian thing to say. To sink a drink, okay, to sink something. So, you’re hanging out on the deck. It’s a potluck party where you’ve had to bring your own food, right. You’ve brought something to offer or to contribute to the barbie. You remember, when you were at home, you remember you had some kangaroo snags, some kangaroo sausages, that you really wanted to bring, but they were hidden away somewhere in one of your freezers or your fridges. So, you had to search through each one, you had to go through every nook and cranny, and finally you found them and you and your wife headed over to the party. So, you get cooking. You’re out on the deck shooting the shit with your mates, which is an informal way of saying “having a yarn”, “having a chat”, “talking with friends” on the deck cooking up all the snags and other food on the barbie whilst your missus, your wife, is inside laughing it up, having a good time, with her girlfriends. So, when the food’s finally ready, you might yell out to the girls, “Hey, girls! Grub’s up! Come out and sink your teeth into this. Come out and sink your teeth into this food.”. So, sink your teeth into the food start eating…. Start eating the food vigorously and enjoy it. Okay? That’s the literal use of the expression to “sink your teeth into it”, start eating.

Example number two. Okay. Carrying on from the previous example, so this is connected to that previous example, imagine that it is now late in the evening after this party. So, you’ve eaten a heap, you’ve drunk even more… more than your fair share of grog, you announce to everyone that it’s time for you and your wife to pull up stumps, to finish for the evening, and to head home, ’cause you’re wrecked, you’re tired, you need to sleep, you need to pack it in, you need to hit the sack, go to bed, because in the morning you’ve got a bunch of work waiting for you that you have to sink your teeth into. So, you have to start doing this work. You have to do it in a determined fashion, even though you might not be that enthused about doing this work, but you need to finish it. So, you might say, “Look, guys, we’ve got to pack it in, we’ve got to pull up stumps, and head home, because tomorrow morning I’ve got to get up at the crack of dawn, I have to get up at sparrow’s fart, [another informal expression there] I have to get up really early, and I have to sink my teeth into this work. I’ve got a lot of work to do. I’ve got a sink my teeth into it.”.

Example number three, guys. Example number three. So, now imagine you and your wife, you are real bookworms. So, you love to read books. You’re bookworms. You head out to Readings or to Dymocks, these are two different book stores in Australia or maybe you jump online on Amazon or on eBay, and you buy a couple of books to read there. You order them in the post. Okay. So, they’re coming to you in the post, you are really excited, they’re going to arrive in a week or two, and you can’t wait for the postie to ride up on his little motorbike and deliver these books. So, the day comes. You open the door, you hear the post riding up on his little motorbike. He shows up at the door, hands you the books, and says, “If I’m not wrong, these feel like books in this parcel.”, and you might say, “Yeah, that’s it and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into them. I can’t wait to start consuming them, to start reading them, I really can’t wait to sink my teeth into them.”. And he might reply, “Well, here you go! Have at them! [as in, begin doing what you want to do with them, have at them], go and sink your teeth into them. I won’t hold you. Enjoy!”. And you might head inside, rip the parcel open, pull out the first book, sit down in your couch and start sinking your teeth straight into the book.

So, hopefully now, guys, you understand the expression to “sink your teeth into something”. This could be the literal meaning of this expression to take a bite of something or to start eating something, sort of ravenously or vigorously.

But it can also be used figuratively to mean start doing something or becoming involved with something with one’s utmost energy determination or enthusiasm.

So, as usual guys, now we’ll go through a little listen and repeat exercise, and this is your chance to practice your pronunciation. So, I leave a bit of space after each word or phrase that I say and this is where you should repeat this out loud or maybe, you know, if you’re around other people, you could do it quietly, but I would really suggest saying these words out loud and trying to mimic, trying to copy, my pronunciation. Okay? So, listen and repeat after me, guys.


To sink

To sink your

To sink your teeth

To sink your teeth into

To sink your teeth into it x 5

I sank my teeth into it.

You sank your teeth into it.

He sank his teeth into it.

She sank her teeth into it.

We sank our teeth into it.

They sink their teeth into it.

It sank its teeth into it.

Good job, guys. Good job. Remember, if you would like to work on your pronunciation, definitely sign up to the Aussie English Classroom and go through the pronunciation course specifically designed in there to help you reduce your accent and sound more like an Australian, and I’m adding videos to that course at the moment for all of the word pairs that I say, the minimal pairs. So, sort of like “ship” and “sheep”, “bitch” and “beach”, like the video that’s about to come out. And there are also tongue twisters that I’ve put in there. So, sentences with loads of these complicated words that have pronunciations very similar to one another that are difficult for a lot of ESL learners to pronounce. So, if you’d like to improve your pronunciation, get in there and give it a go.

Anyway, today’s Aussie Fact, guys. So, today’s Aussie fact is just going to be talking about seven different stereotypical Aussie expressions that I sort of found online or I knew myself. So, I want to show you a bit of Australian humour, our sense of humour, our love for a bit of vulgarity and informal language when we’re hanging out with mates and talking with friends. But I do want to warn you that these are informal and some are potentially rude.

So, it’s good that you learn these because it gives you a sense of our history, our culture, what we’re like as a people, but it also shows you how we use the language and when and where we would use this language. Okay? So, let’s just take that as a warning. Don’t use this in formal situations, if you’re in a job interview or something, but if you’re hanging out with mates, having a drink, having a good time, you could probably use these and people will enjoy it, they’ll have a bit of a laugh. Okay? So, it’s a good way of learning a bit more Australian culture. Anyway.

1. A Face Like a Dropped Pie

The first one here was from Fatimah. This was the one that she suggested in the Aussie English Facebook group, and it was “a face like a dropped pie”, “a face like a dropped pie”. So, you can imagine that if you have a meat pie in your hand, you know, you’re at the footy or something and you’re holding a meat pie, if you drop the pie, it tends to not look very appealing afterwards, and that would be the idea here that if someone has a face like a dropped pie, they’re very unattractive, they’re very ugly. It’s a very colourful way of describing someone as being unattractive, to “have a face like a dropped pie”. Obviously, if you were to say this to someone directly, they’re going to be upset, they’re going to be offended, but if you’re being silly, you’re joking around, maybe you’ve got a real blokey mate who’s your friend, and you’re like, “Ah, yeah he’s a bit of a… he’s a bit of an odd looker. He’s got a face like a dropped pie.”. That would be a situation where you might be able to use this.

2. A Face Like a Smashed Crab

Now this one made me remember number two here, “a face like a smashed crab”. So, this is sort of the same thing, someone who’s unattractive, who has an unattractive face. If they have a face like a smashed crab, that would be like the crustacean, a crab, thing with claws and, I think, 10 legs that lives in the ocean. If you were to get one of these crabs, whether you’re in a restaurant eating it or you’ve accidentally stepped on one on the beach or something, when it’s crushed, it looks very unappealing, right? There’s guts everywhere, there’s bits of cracked shell, so it’s very ugly, it’s very unappealing. So, if someone has a face like a smashed crab, they’re unattractive. Again, I’ve heard this, I’ve probably used it as a joke with very close friends at some point in the past, although, I probably wouldn’t use it today unless I was really just trying to be stupid or get someone to laugh at the fact that it’s sort of such a silly expression, which is the case with most of these. Alright.

3. As Mad As a Cut Snake

Number three. Number three is the one that you heard in the intro, guys, “as mad as a cut snake”, “as mad as a cut snake”. This means incredibly angry, to be incredibly angry or upset. It could also mean, as mad as a cut snake, as crazy as a cut snake. So, if someone’s crazy, insane, mad, you might use this too. So, our Prime Minister used it, and this is one that I hear more often, and it just means that someone is crazy, is mad. And you would imagine that if you cut a snake, you know, if you found a snake on the road, drove over it, and you accidentally cut its tail off, it would become incredibly enraged, incredibly angry, and it would be mad. Okay? As mad as a cut snake.

4. As Flash As a Rat With a Gold Tooth

Number four here. “As flash as a rat with a gold tooth”. “As flash as a rat with a gold tooth”. I must admit I’ve never said this, though I have heard it. “As flash as a rat with a gold tooth”. So, you can imagine here a rat, you know, a rodent, with a gold tooth, which is something we would associate with someone poor trying to appear rich, right, or trying to be flashy like, “I have money!”. And so, we can use “as flash as a rat with a gold tooth” to talk about someone who doesn’t usually get dressed up or is not the kind of person who looks good in a suit or in a very nice dress, and so if they’ve tried really hard to dress up, which is probably what I look like in a suit, to be honest, they’ve tried to wear some clothing that’s very expensive to make them look good, although, they don’t look like they are the kind of person who should be wearing that, they are as flash as a rat with a gold tooth. So, they are “the rat” and “the gold tooth” is the dress or the suit that they’re wearing.

5. Run Around Like a Headless Chook

Number five. To “run around like a headless chook”. To “run around like a headless chook”. Now this is what I hear from time to time, and I think a lot of the time it’ll be women that use these, generally people’s mothers, and they’ll say it to kids, if kids are going crazy, if they’re running around like nuts, they might say, “They’re running around like a headless chook!”. So, you can imagine when you chop the head off a chook, although, you know, not many of us do that now, but if you are on a farm and you behead a chook, you cut its head off, it flaps around, the body moves around quite a lot for a while. Okay? So, it runs around without its head. It runs around like a headless chook. And so, can mean to be very busy doing a lot of things, but it’s also in a way that’s not very effective, and in general it could be that you’re just running around like crazy, you know, a kid who’s drunk too much red cordial or even too many lollies.

6. Up Shit Creek Without a Paddle

Number six here, and I’ve done this before, to “be up shit creek without a paddle”, to “be up shit creek without a paddle”. This means to be in a lot of trouble. If you are obviously in a creek, which is like a very small river, and instead of water it’s shit, which is a rude word for “poo”, you’re obviously in trouble, and if you don’t have a paddle, you can’t maneuver the canoe that you’re in, you’re obviously in even more trouble. So, “up shit creek without a paddle” is to be in trouble. Again, (it’s) very informal, but I would use this with mates. If I was saying, “Yeah, that guy’s in trouble, man. He’s up shit creek without a paddle.”.

7. Go Off Like a Frog in a Sock

The very last one here, guys, before we finish up is to “go off like a frog in a sock”, to “go off like a frog in a sock”. “A frog” is that animal that goes *ribbit, ribbit, ribbit, ribbit*, and if you were to put that in a sock, if you caught a frog in a pond or a stream or a creek, hopefully not “a shit creek”, if you put that frog in a sock, you would imagine he wouldn’t be very happy and he would be hopping around, he’d be trying to escape, he’d be moving around like crazy in that sock. So, that would be him going off, he’s getting angry, he is getting upset, he’s moving, he’s going off. So, if you go off like a frog in a sock… in fact, it wouldn’t be you. It would usually be something like a party or an event. It’s going off like a frog in a sock. It means for that event to be in full swing, to be really loud, for everyone to be having a great time, for it to be in full swing, that would be like, “Oh, yeah, this party is going off. It’s going off like a frog in a sock.”.

So, there you go, guys. There are seven stereotypical Aussie expressions. Remember, these are very informal. I would use them with friends. I would not use these in any kind of formal situation at work. I would not use them in job interviews. I would probably not use these with people I haven’t met or don’t know properly. Okay? So, when you first meet someone, don’t use these. But they’re worth knowing, they’re worth understanding, because the more you become accustomed with Australian English, with Australian culture, and you realise when and where you can use these correctly, they will make a lot of people laugh and make you seem a lot more like you’re part of the Australian culture. So, that’s why I think it’s important to teach these.

Anyway, guys. thank you so much for joining me. It’s been a long episode. I hope you have a ripper of a week and I’ll chat to you soon. All the best, guys. See ya!

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