AE 537: 18 Confusing Words: Australian vs American English
G’day, guys! Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. I am Pete your host, and today I want to teach you 18 words that will confuse Americans, if you’re an Aussie in America, or will confuse Australians, if you’re an American in Australia. Let’s go.
Number one is “Barbie”, right. “A barbie”. I wonder if you guys know this word. See if in Australia you said to someone, I would love to have a barbie, they’re going to think you want to have a barbecue. Now, that could be the implement, or the machine itself, I guess, it’s not really a machine. The device. The device. That’s what I’m thinking. The device. We’re going to think device. Barbecue device in Australia. But in America, if you said, I want a barbie, they’re going to think you’re talking about that little doll that children play with. Although, to be honest in Australia, we still call those barbies as well.
Number two, and this is a good one, although in Australia, there are dozens of words I would say for this thing. “Bathers”. “Bathers”. If you said to someone in Australia, mate, have you seen my bathers? Have you seen my bathers? They’re going to think swim suit, right. It could be a woman’s bikini, it could be a one piece, it could be a man’s speedos or budgie smugglers. Just take it easy Tony Abbott. In America, ‘bathers” would refer to the people bathing. So, they would refer to it as… I don’t even know. I guess, they would say “swimsuit”, right, or “speedo”. And then when they put that on and jump in the water they are now bathers. Although, we would say in Australia, the bathers are wearing bathers.
Number three, guys. “Billy”. “Billy”. In Australia, “Billy” is what you use when camping to heat up the water. “A billy”, right. And some people may also refer to a bong, right, people who smoke bongs will also refer to that as “a billy” sometimes too. In America, they use this as a name for someone usually called William, which can be shortened to Bill or Billy. Billy.
Number four. “Blue”. “Blue”, “Blue”. In America, this is blue. In Australia, this is also “blue”. However, in Australia, you can have a blue with someone, which is to say you can have a fight with a person. So, me and my missus, we had a bit of a blue the other day, but it’s okay we kissed and made up. We’re on good terms now, but we had a bit of a blue. We’d also use the expression “to come out of the blue”, which is referring to the sky, meaning to come out of nowhere. Woah! Dude, you came out of the blue. I didn’t even see you there. “Blue”.
Number five. “Cactus”. “Cactus”. Now, if I told you guys, I went to the gym, I worked out really hard, but no I’m cactus, what would you think I meant? Maybe I was driving my car home from the gym, it broke down, and now the car is cactus. “Cactus” can mean tired. I’m cactus. Woah! I’m wrecked. I’m so tired. I’m cactus. But it can also mean broken or not working. The car broke down and it’s cactus. However, in America, this will only refer to the plant, a cactus, that you will find in the desert, right. So, the cactus over there is cactus.
Number six, guys. Number six. “Chewie”. “Chewie”. In Australia if you say to someone, mate, have you got any chewie? I really want to eat some chewie. You’re talking about chewing gum. Chewing gum. Have you got any chewie? You’ll see that in Australian English a lot. Barb-IE, right. We put a -IE or -Y on the ends of words. “Chewie”. Whereas, in America “Chewie” refers to a certain character from Star Wars. Chewie, right. Chewie. Chewbacca.
Number seven. Number seven, guys. “Doodle”, “doodle”. Now, this might get you in a bit of a bind in Australia, this might make you get a bit embarrassed if you come here and say, I’d love to do a bit of a doodle. Although, we would know what you meant, “doodle” is quite often used by young people in Australia, especially little kids, to refer to their penis. Okay, their “doodle”, right? “Doodle”. Whereas, in America, “doodle”, to do a doodle or to have a doodle or to doodle, is to draw, right, to draw something small and just play around with a blank piece of paper, then just doodle around. “Doodle”.
Number eight. Number eight, guys. “Hottie” or “Hottie” if you want to say like an Aussie. Use that T-flap. “Hottie”. “Hottie”. We often use this for hot water bottle, right, hot water bottle. So, if I’m cold, it’s winter, and I want to hit the sack, but I want to take my hot water bottle, I want my hottie. Have you seen my hottie anyway? Have you seen my hottie? Americans will use this to refer to someone who is incredibly attractive. That guy over there, he’s a bit of a hottie. And that girl, she’s a hottie as well. Australians, we use that as well, although, that is an American influence in Australia.
Number nine. Number nine, guys. “Knock”, right, in America, “to knock” is to do this. “To knock”. You knock on the door. We use that the same way in Australia. But if you knock something, although, that could mean that, you know, you’ve bumped into it, in Australia, it means to put something down, to say that something is horrible. Like, hopefully, you guys won’t knock this video. Hopefully, you don’t think this video is horrible. Hopefully, you won’t knock it in the comments down below. “To knock something”. To pay it out, to make fun of it, to say it’s horrible. “To knock it”.
Alright, guys, number ten. “Mate”. “Mate”. Now, most people will know what “mate” means. I’ve got a mate and his name is Billy. I’ll see you later, mate. This is what we used to either refer to someone who is a friend or as a pronoun to say friend, buddy, “mate”. In America, this will mainly be used, as far as I’m aware, to talk about reproduction. Two animals that have sex, they mate right. They may mate for life. They may just mate one time. “Mate”.
Number eleven. “Oldies”. “The oldies”. Now, in Australia, if I talk about “my oldies”, I’m talking about my folks, I’m talking about my parents. Have you met my oldies? “Oldies”. Whereas, in America, if I were to say that, it would mean the old music, right. Have you guys heard those oldies from the 70s and 80s? Are you a fan of the oldies? Do you like that kind of music? I loved the oldies.
Number twelve. Now, this will come as an obvious one. “Oz”. “Oz”. And Americans always say this incorrectly. They always say “Ossy” and not “Ozzy”. Okay. Aussie. Aussie or Oz. If you are from the land of Oz, you are from Australia. In American English, they think of the Wizard of Oz the film. The Wizard of Oz. That’s the film with Dorothy. She clicks her heels together. She gets lost in the tornado. I think she’s got a dog called Toto. That’s OZ. In Australia, Oz is almost AUS-tralia, okay.
Number thirteen. “Rage”. “Rage”. If you… if something is all the rage, it’s amazing, it’s awesome. This new band is all the rage. We may also use this verb to mean that we’re going to go party. We’re going to go to this band and we’re going to rage. But, we will also use this to mean to get incredibly angry. So, this guy, I raged at him. I lost my cool, I got really angry, and I raged at this guy. However, in America, “rage” is just the emotion frustration, anger, “rage”.
Number fourteen. Now, this is one’s a bit of a rude one. In America, if you were to say “root”, they’re talking about the part of a tree that is underground, right, or at least usually mostly underground. Sometimes you see them. “A root”, right. In Australia you said, I want a root, you’re talking about sex. I would like to have sex. I want a root. Or you could use this as a verb, I’m going to root someone. Okay. So, don’t confuse those. It does still mean the part of the plant, but it also means to have sex as slang in Australia.
Number fifteen. “Scratchie”. “Scratchie”. Now, we use this as a noun in Australia to mean a ticket that you can buy, that’s usually for gambling, right, like the lottery, and you scratch the ticket to see if you’ve won, right. You get a few things in a row. Oh! I won ten bucks! “A scratchie”. “A scratchie”. Whereas in American English this is just scratchy, right. I’ve got an itch and I’m a bit scratchy. Maybe I’ve got a sore throat and my throat is a bit scratchy.
Number sixteen is “stuffed”. “Stuffed”. Man, we have a lot of different ways of using this in Australia, right. So, if you get a chicken for Christmas, or turkey for Christmas, and you put stuffing inside that chicken or turkey, you have stuffed it. Americans would use it the same way. However, we will use “I am staffed” to mean I am tired. We can also use this for to be in a lot of trouble, right. Oh, man you are stuffed! You are stuffed! And we can also use it as a polite form of the word “fuck”. We can say, “Get stuffed!”, right. “Get stuffed!”. But in America, they’ll say, I am stuffed, to mean they are full. They have eaten a lot of food. Oh, I’m stuffed. “Stuffed.”.
Number seventeen. “Tea”. In Australia, now, “tea” can be the drink, right. “Tea”. The Brits drink tea, the Americans, I’m sure they drink tea, in Australia, we often drink tea, but in Australia, we may drink tea at tea. We use “tea” to talk about dinner. Do you guys want to come over for tea? I’m having some tea tonight. Did you want to come over and have some tea, and then after dinner we can have some tea. “Tea”. In America, this would just refer to the drink. “Tea”.
All right, number eighteen, and this is a pearler, this is a keeper, this is a funny one, this is a stereotypical one. “Thongs”, okay, “thongs”. In Australia, are flip flops. You put them on your feet, you go to the beach, maybe you go to a barbie, but thongs are the things that go on your feet. And they probably are called that because they look like what Americans call thongs, which we call G-strings, which is the kind of underwear that women wear that…. you know the on the underwear. “Thongs”. Okay, so there’s a point of difference here in Australia.
All right, guys, thanks for joining me. I hope you enjoyed that episode. I know you’re not going to use that on any kind of English exam or anything, but if I’m entertaining enough for you to watch me and listen to English, practice your English, good on you and I am happy to help.
If you would like to learn more advanced English, make sure you go to www.TheAussieEnglishPodcast.com where you can listen to my Australian English podcast. It’s for anyone learning Australian English, but also advanced English as well, guys.
And if you would like to get access to my 50 plus English courses, make sure that you go to www.TheAussieEnglishClassroom.com and start your trial today.
I’ll see you in class. Have a ripper of a day. Catch ya!
Here's what you get when you sign up!
- Read while you listen using the Premium Podcast player.
- Understand every word in every episode.
- Download all PDF transcripts and MP3s for 600+ episodes.
- Get access to bonus member-only episodes.