Macquarie Dictionary


Crikey! Aussie slang overseas

For our first Word of the Week after an extended break, we thought we would step outside ourselves to profile Aussie slang that is popular overseas. The words selected often represent stereotypical, sometimes out of date versions of Australia. Others are timeless and infamous in equal measure. Brace yourself for the cultural cringe.  

Out first word is crikey. This euphemism for the blasphemous exclamation Christ! isn’t exclusively Australian but was taken on board by Aussie swearers with great gusto and could now be said to belong to Aussies. The vociferous late crocodile hunter Steve Irwin brought this oath to the attention of Americans who now think we all go around saying crikey! all day. The one place this is true is at the Irwin’s Australia Zoo, where crikey is plastered on every billboard and poster. 

What’s next, oh, how about we throw another shrimp on the barbie? Or not. Thanks to a 1980s advertising campaign by the Australian Tourist Commission that featured Paul Hogan, from whose lips the faux ocker phrase dropped, Americans incorrectly believe that Aussies call prawns shrimp and go around chucking them on the barbeque. 

G’day is another phrase that is well known overseas. Perhaps again due to Paul Hogan. After all, that famous advertisement was captioned ‘come and say g’day.’ 

At the risk of this blog becoming a miniature history of the Tourism Australia, we couldn’t leave without mentioning another famous advertisement and its associated catchphrase. So where the bloody hell are you! was the controversial centrepiece of a 2006 Tourism Australia advertising campaign. We’re here Lara!! The advert was apparently so offensive to the British that it was briefly banned on UK TV. Did you know the whole campaign was approved under the direction of no less a figure than Prime Minister Scott Morrison? 

Oh, and finally a note on Foster’s beer, the true blue Aussie beer that despite being promoted overseas with catchphrases such as ‘get some Australian in you,’ isn’t actually that popular in Australia. 

Each week, we have a look at a slang word from Australian English. You can see other Aussie Word of the Week posts from the Macquarie Dictionary here.

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