There’s nothing quite like an Aussie tradie.
They know the value of hard yakka, work in some pretty severe weather conditions, and do it with a smile on their faces and a good bit of banter.
While we’re all about safety policies here at OHS Compliance Solutions, we love to celebrate tradies and tradie culture, including their slang.
Aussie tradies are often the absolute epitome of Australian culture, and a lot of their slang leaks into the mainstream too.
Us Aussies are well known for having our own unique lingo.
Whether we’re popping up the road to grab some Maccas or running to the servo, the way we talk has become a dialect that confuses new arrivals and tourists alike.
It’s definitely English but mystifies anyone not in the know – even other English speakers.
Being a tradie adds an extra layer to the lingo since they tend to have their own slang that can confuse even native Australians.
A Guide to Tradie Slang
Here is a list of some of the terms you might find if you hang about on a construction site around Australia (don’t worry, there won’t be a test at the end!):
Tradie: A blanket term that refers to “tradesmen”. These are skilled workers that often have their own nicknames too (besides Gazza for Gary or Millsy for someone with the surname Mills!):
Chippy: Carpenter (because of the wood chips!)
Dunny Diver: Plumber (since a “dunny” is a toilet)
Bricky: Bricklayer/ Builder
Pestie: Pest Technician
Grease Monkey: Mechanic
Nowadays, there are also lady tradies. We covered this topic extensively last year (you can catch it here if you missed it!). In recent years, women have been entering the trades more and more, with females entering apprenticeships rising by 115% between 2010 and 2020.
Desk Diver or Shiny Bum: An office worker- the bums get shiny because they sit on them all day!
Garbo: A rubbish collector
Ute: Utility vehicle. Better known overseas as a pick-up truck, a ute is a must-have for tradies to haul their tools and equipment around.
U-ey: U-turn. You could chuck a u-ey in your ute (but make sure it’s safe and legal!).
Woop-Woop: Bloody far away! You’ll really rack up the kilometers on your ute if you have to go all the way out to Woop-Woop every day!
Esky: An insulated box to keep your sangas fresh! Scroll down to find out what a sanga is!
Grass-cutter: When the competition moves in on another tradie’s turf, he’s a grass-cutter!
Bludger: Aka ‘slacker’- someone who slacks on his work, so everyone else has to pick it up! A very unpopular guy, that’s for sure!
Smoko: Break time! Deriving from a term to take a smoke break, this is the tradie’s opportunity to grab a cuppa (cup of tea) or listen to Acca Dacca (AC/DC!).
Early mark: Finishing your day early is always a pleasure- and a great chance to spend the rest of the arvo (afternoon) in the pub having a cold one (beer)!
Chuck a sickie: Other countries might say pulling a sickie or taking a sick day, but here in Aus, we’re more likely to chuck a sickie when we’re not feeling up to a day of hard yakka.
Crook: When you’re feeling crook, this is going to be a good reason to chuck a sickie!
Hard yakka: Hard work. No one likes someone who doesn’t do the hard yakka!
Flat out like a lizard drinking: When you’ve been doing a lot of hard yakka, it’s totally acceptable to say that you’ve been flat out like a lizard drinking to describe how busy you’ve been.
Sangas: Sandwiches! A lunchtime staple, along with servo pies and other easy-to-eat-on-the-go food, our tradie heroes need their sustenance to keep going throughout the day.
Servo: A common Aussie word- servo is short for service station – the place you go to fill your ute with diesel or petrol and grab your pie and coke for lunch.
“Give it a burl, Shirl”: An excellent term for telling someone to “have a go” or “give it a try”.
“On ya”: Used to let someone know they’re doing a good job, “on ya” is short for “good on ya”- because us Aussies like to shorten everything, right?!
How many of these did you already know?
While a lot of these words and phrases can be used outside of the tradie world, you now have a mini guide to pass as a tradie on any* construction site in Australia to let them know you belong! Don’t forget your safety gear!
If you enjoyed this mini-guide, head over to our social media for more tips and tricks to keep you talking like a tradie (and keeping safe while you do it!).
*probably, but it takes a lot more than the lingo to be one of our beloved skilled workers!