Macquarie Dictionary


No flies on you, mate

No flies on you is a complimentary phrase roughly translating to ‘you are clever’. This has been Aussie slang since the 1840s and is one Australianism that has even made its way to the US, rather than the other way around.

The meaning in Australia is:

an expression indicating that someone is shrewd, cunning, and alert to deception.

While in the US:

an expression indicating that someone is innovative and technologically skilled.


So while the nuance may change, the term itself remains the same, bringing up visions of fast-moving people who never settle down long enough for even a fly to alight on them. We’d love to know when you first or last heard it and whether you think it’s something we need to preserve in Australian English.

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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