Macquarie Dictionary


Not happy, Jan!

Sometimes an advertisement or other seemingly innocuous jingle worms its way not just into our ears but into our culture. Not happy, Jan is one such phrase. 

Originally popularised by an infamous and much parodied Yellow Pages TV commercial, not happy, Jan has remained an Australian catchphrase since first airing in 2000. In the advert, a manager realises that her staff member ‘Jan’ has neglected to place an ad in time, causing her to express her irritation by yelling not happy, Jan! out a window. Jan lives on even if we no longer flick through the Yellow Pages. 

Rewatching the advert inspired us to look for other words and phrases that express annoyance and irritation. After sieving through many, many swear words, we found two. 

Lemony means annoyed, as in, I got lemony at the kid. This piece of Aussie slang dates back to the 1940s. Formerly common, it is now scarce, perhaps because it left a bitter taste in the mouth (yes, I went there).

The second piece of slang is cheesed off, meaning irritated or annoyed. How good is cheesed off? It’s the perfect way for fed up people to express their displeasure without resorting to stronger language. 

To see which Aussie catchphrases have stood the test of time, check out our catchphrases and memes blog

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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