Variations of English





Australian English — American English

Ad or advertisement (ad break), TV — Commercial (commercial break)

Autumn — fall

Bag — sack

Barrack (for your team) — root (this one does give Australians a laugh. A warning for visiting Americans.)

Bathroom – restroom

Bedside cabinet, cupboard or table — nightstand

Beetle — bug

Biffo (aggro, fisticuffs, punch-up, argy-bargy, etc) – a bit of a fight

Biro (a brand) — ballpoint

Blackboard — chalkboard or blackboard

Blackboard duster — chalkboard or blackboard eraser

Bloke (or fella [fellow]) — guy

Bogan – trailer trash (closest translation; but bogan can also be used self-depractingly; usually less of an insult than ‘trailer trash’).

Booking — reservation

Bum (backside or bottom) — butt

Bushfire — forest fire, wildfire

Bushwalk/bushwalking — hike/hiking (NZ — tramping)

Bucket — pail

Caretaker — janitor

Carrybag — tote

CBD (Central Business District) — downtown. Australians will also say they are ‘going into town’ — meaning going into the centre of the town (the CBD).

Chemist shop — drug store

Chook shed or yard — chicken coop

Clever — neat (‘neat’ in Australia is only used to mean ‘tidy/well organised’)

Conference — congress

Curtains — drapes

Cyclone — hurricane

Dad — pop (‘pop’ in Australia means grandfather, but more commonly referred to as ‘grandad’)

Deb (debutante) ball (formal coming-of-age dance for girls [and boys] of a certain age; run by community organisations, such as a Masonic Lodge or Rotary — not specifically related to schools — with proceeds going to charity) — school prom (closest equivalent)

Diary or journal (for recording appointment times and/or the day’s details) — date book or (daily) planner

Dinner suit or ‘black tie’ or tails (coat with ‘tails’) — tux (tuxedo)

Dobber (to ‘dob in’) – snitch (school age term, meaning to tell on someone’s misbehaviour)

Doona — duvet

Door frame — door jam

Drawing pins — thumb tacks

Dummy — pacifier

Film (film star, film producer etc) — movie (movie star, movie producer etc)

Finish — quit

Flat or unit — apartment

Footpath, pavement — sidewalk

Footy — football (In Australia, what sort of football it is depends on where you are. In Tasmania, Victoria, southern NSW, SA, WA, & the NT it’ll probably be Aussie Rules [AFL]; in Qld and central & northern NSW it’ll be rugby (‘union’ or ‘league’), however soccer is also referred to as footy, and it’s increasingly played in primary schools, as well as professionally. Rugby has also sneaked into Victoria, but it only has a toe-hold.)

Fortnightly – biweekly

Freight (or postage) — shipping (in Australia, ‘shipping’ is only used when an actual ship is involved; postage is via the postal system, freight is via other carriers)

Friends or mates (usually a bloke’s friends) — buddies

Fringe — bangs

Gaol (usually also “jail” in Australia now) – jail

Greeting card — note card

Grid iron — American football

Ground floor (floor level with the ground) — first floor

Guillotine — paper cutter

Guinea pigs — hamsters

Handbag (bag large enough to carry a woman’s purse, hairbrush, phone, car keys etc while shopping) – pocketbook (less common term in some parts of USA)

Holiday — vacation

Hang around together — hang out together

Jokes — gags

Jug – pitcher

Lawyer/solicitor — attorney

Lift — elevator

Lucerne – alfalfa

Medicine — drugs (in Australia, when the general public talk about ‘drugs’ they’re referring to illegal drugs — only members of the medical profession refer to medicine as ‘drugs’)

Mozzy — mosquito

Newsagency — newsstand (In Australia, the person running the newsagency — the owner and/or manager — is called a newsagent. An Australian newsagency business primarily sells newspapers & magazines; and usually basic stationery, greeting cards, and often lottery tickets.)

Noticeboard — bulletin board

Pay tv — cable tv

Pegs — clothes pins

Pissed (considered slang) – drunk

Portaloo — portajohn (brands, but used as nouns)

Primary school — elementary school

Prime mover (semi-trailer) – tractor

Postcode — zipcode

Powerpoint — wall plug

Purse (women, only; just large enough to contain banknotes, coins and credit cards) – pocket book

Queue — line

Real estate agent — realtor

Reception (motel/hotel) — lobby

Resign — quit

Ride-on mower – ride-on tractor

Roadtrain — ‘trailer truck’ or ‘big rig’ etc

Rubber (for pencils) — eraser

Rubbish bin (& rubbish tip) — trash can or garbage can (& garbage dump)

Sacked — fired

Sandpit — sandbox

Semi-trailer (truck) – semi-trailer but also tractor-trailer

Sent — shipped

Shop — store

Shopping centre — shopping mall

Shopping trolley — shopping cart

Skip — dumpster

Star jumps – jumping jacks

Sunbake — sunbathe (U.S. & U.K.) (The difference is very appropriate if you think about it. Australia has the highest incidence of skincancer in the world — so ‘bake’ instead of ‘bathe’ is very appropriate.)

Survey — poll

Tap – spigot

Teatowel – dish towel

The pictures (as in let’s go to the pictures) — the movies

Tick (the box) — check (the box)

Toilet (also sometimes bathroom) – restroom

Track (eg Kokoda track is the Australian term) — trail (eg trail riding is a U.S. term)

Trolley (as in shopping trolley) — cart

Turf (turf farm) — sod (sod farm)

Send (sent) — ship (shipped)

Spa — jacuzzi

Tap — faucet

Torch — flashlight

Verandah (groundfloor; if it’s raised up, it’s a balcony) — porch

Wallet (usually DL sized, to fit banknotes & credit cards) – billfold (rare term in Aus)

Wardrobe — closet

Weatherboard (timber clad housing) — clap board

Whinge — complain

Whiteboard — dry erase board

For emergency services in Australia, you dial 000 (triple zero), whereas it is 911 in the U.S.

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