Online - Click to chat

English Idioms from Australia and New Zealand. Selected Collection

Sydney Opera House

Before we move to the topic that has brought us together here, let me ask you a very simple question. Have you read “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by Lyman Frank Baum? (Probably, once you even chose it to write a book review for your English class…)

I hope that some of you can say yes now. Still, even if some of you haven’t read this fascinating book and written a review of it, you have definitely heard about or watched one of many movies adapted from it. In any case, you know that Oz is a magic land that exists somewhere in your fantasy.

But today I have some great news to tell you! Oz is a real country! It is a short name for absolutely real Australia. Though to those travelers who discovered it this land could definitely seem a new magic world, with all its koalas, kangaroos, and platypuses, to name but a few.

And now let’s think what we associate New Zealand with. Wool and honey? Alright, those count. What else? Of course, “The Lord of the Rings”, we can’t forget about this wonderful film trilogy!

I guess, the facts mentioned above are quite enough to fall in love with these two picturesque corners of our world. So, now I offer you to learn a few most popular and interesting phrases, originating from Australia and New Zealand, so you can easily find a common language with the locals. Whether it is your college professor, a budding local writer, or your new friend. (If in your case all these descriptions can be related to one person, I’m taking my hat off to him or her.)

Like a Shag on the Rock (Aus.)

It is another story how and why the name of this bird turned into a verb with the meaning I would refrain from providing on the educational and academic writing website. Still, a shag is a medium-sized bird that lives around Australian and New Zealand coasts. The locals often see shags standing lonely on rocks with their black wings outstretched. Clever birds dry their wings off after they dive for fish.

The idiom itself can describe an exposed and lonely person. So, if you are looking for the right metaphor when writing an essay about your workaholic and lonely friend, you can easily show up with something like this:

Aaron was actually a great person, but every time I saw him sitting by himself in our college canteen, he looked like a shag on a rock.

Hit the Frog and Toad (Aus.)

Australians, or Aussies, as you can call them, are well known for their rhyming slang. This idiom is one of its brightest and clearest examples. Let’s make out what’s so special about it.

The words “frog” and “toad” can be considered very close synonyms. So, when and why would an Aussie hit this creature? Turns out, the idiom has nothing to do with the violation of animal rights. It’s just an Australian-style rhyme to the more common phrase “hit the road”, which means “to leave” or “to depart”.

Can you hear that “Hit the Road Jack” in your head at the moment? Well, I can. And I do recommend you listening to this song, I bet you’ll recognize it at once. But promise me that you will do it after you finish writing your assignment for tomorrow class.

Although I do not advise you to use this idiom in your essay, as it’s really informal and quite authentic, let’s check whether it would suit your small talk with a new friend:

My brother and I decided to hit the frog and toad early in the morning, so we could be the first to meet the great surfer.

Man Knocking on Door

Knock Up (Aus.)

Don’t take your Australian friend or host family wrong when they say that they “will knock you up at 8 a.m.” Such punctuality just implies that at 8 a.m. they will come to your room and knock on its door to wake you up, or they will phone you. That’s all.

Probably, you’d better not use this verb anywhere outside Australia if you do not want the people whom you will wake up to misunderstand your intentions. However, if you stay at your friend’s place after an Australian-style party, you can safely ask him or her:

Please do not knock me up before 10 in the morning. (Or something like that.)

Mad as a Cut Snake (Aus.)

Did you know that all those cute koalas and funny platypuses peacefully coexist with the world’s most dangerous snakes? No wonder, Aussies came up with such comparison. If you can stand the picture of some snake in your head, try to imagine how it would behave if you cut it, just for the sake of self-defense. (Heaven forbid you face such situation somewhere in real Australian wilderness.)

I guess you’ve got the meaning of this idiom. And it will surely add some piquancy to your narrative or creative essay. Though I would still recommend you consulting with your professor about the appropriateness of using it in the paper you are assigned to write for his or her subject.

My auntie was mad as a cut snake after the doctor told her they could not rescue her cousin.

Stone the Crows (Aus.)

If someone tells you that this phrase comes from British English, tell them that both their History and English professors should have given them F for the courses. And then you can remind them the British legend which says that the great Tower of London will fall after the last crow leaves it.

In Australia, however, crows are very unwelcome guests on fields and at farms. They can even kill small lambs! Can you imagine farmer’s rage and astonishment when he or she sees such a picture? That is actually the reason why the idiom today serves as exclamation of either big annoyance or rather unpleasant disbelief. For example:

Stone the crows, my dad was right when he warned me not to touch our old Ford! It nearly exploded after I tried to start it!

More authentic Oz idioms can be found here. And now let’s see what a New Zealander can expect you to understand from their words!

Kiwi (NZ)

No, no, it isn’t that green juicy fruit with brown hairy rind unless you are at a market somewhere in New Zealand. It’s actually kiwifruit, just so you know. And it isn’t that cute small wingless bird unless your friend is pointing at a tiny brown creature behind the window in the zoo or wherever you are at the moment.

A Kiwi is a native New Zealander. And I think that’s a very melodic nickname for this nation. Just make sure you provide a good definition of this word in your college essay about your holidays in New Zealand:

My host mother appeared to be a very beautiful Kiwi, with short black curly hair and wise green eyes.

Two Girls Greeting Each Other

Kia Ora (NZ)

It’s a very versatile phrase. It comes from the Maori language and is used as an informal greeting. Actually, the Maori are the indigenous people of modern New Zealand. Their language and culture significantly influenced those of English speaking settlers.

Nowadays Kiwis widely use this phrase to greet, thank or say goodbye to each other. The original meaning of kia ora is very close to “take care”.

When professor saw me near the library, she exclaimed “Kia Ora!”, but I did not understand what she meant.

Get Your A into G (NZ)

If your seemingly angry friend shouts it to you when you both realize that you’ve got only 10 minutes to get to the railway station and you haven’t packed your bags yet, he or she does not mean that you must grasp a pen and a sheet of paper to somehow write the letter A into the letter G.

I would not like to show you the whole phrase here, as it is not that polite, but you should know that it means “HURRY UP!” My personal advice: use the letters instead of the words for which they stand in this idiom – you will still be able to express everything you think about your slow fellow.

I’m So Knackered (NZ)

That’s what you can say after you finish writing your thesis and overcome 2-3-hour euphoria. Literally, it would mean that you are so exhausted after all those sleepless days and nights. However, I would use this adjective in my descriptive essay if I wrote about a person who looked really tired:

He smiled to me very tenderly, but his eyes told me how knackered he actually was.

It Was Choice! (NZ)

Forget about all those things with which you may associate the word “choice”. I mean university, job, second half etc. In the Kiwi language it is a ubiquitous phrase which stands for something good or cool, something you accept and can agree with. For example, your Kiwi friend might once say to you:

It was choice! It was really nice of you to tell her the truth.

Hope you have found a lot of interesting info in this post. Follow us and become the true guru of the English language!

Rated 4.5 | 14 votes.

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published.

Place Your Order Now