How to speak Aussie Abbreviate Everything – Part 1

Over the last few days, a Youtube video has been circulating on social media, and one of my Facebook friends specifically drew my attention to it, called ‘How to speak Aussie Abbreviate Everything’. In it, two young men give 87 pairs of words, in standard form and ‘Aussie abbreviated’ form. (The technical term for this is hypocoristics (“endearing, as a pet name, diminutive, or euphemism“). There’s a lot more to be said about these, which will obviously take some time. They helpfully included all the words in subtitles, which raises questions about their spelling, particularly of the ‘Aussie abbreviated’ form and sometimes about the standard form. Some preliminary questions: Are some of these, in fact, abbreviations? (Mondy for Monday, Acacdaca for ACDC) How many of them are, in fact, Australian? Are Australians really more prone to this than other English speakers, or speakers of other languages? How are these words spelled (or how should they be)?

[1] Australia – Straya

[added 18 July] The Macquarie Dictionary Online (Macq) records ‘Straya’ as ‘noun Colloquial (humorous) (in representations of speech) Australia’. Its main entry, though, is ‘Aussie Also, Ozzie’. Either way, it is pronounced /ˈɒzi/, and not /ˈaʊsi/, which I’ve heard some Americans say. Google Ngrams shows many more occurrences of ‘Ozzie’, presumably  as a result of references to various people with that given name, nickname or surname, none of whom I had previously heard of. Ngrams shows no results at all for ‘Straya’, not surprisingly, as it is far more often spoken than written. (On our way to the shops earlier today I saw a tray-top with a variety of ultra-patriotic stickers on the back window, one of which was a flag and ‘Straya’.) ‘Strine’ has a longer history than ‘Straya’ (or the equivalent ‘Strayan’). The word ‘Strine’ may have existed before 1965, but it was certainly popularised then with the publication of Let Stalk Strine (that is, Let’s talk Australian) by Afferbeck Lauder (that is, Alphabetical Order), the pseudonym of the artist and writer Alistair Ardoch Morrison. His other claim to fame was that he was chairman of the committee which advised on the design of Australia’s decimal currency, introduced in 1966. My main online nickname is ‘astraya’, which I didn’t take directly from the name ‘Australia’. Some time ago I read the name in an encyclopaedia entry about the English writer Aphra Behn; she used it as one of her pen-names. I’ve never read anything of hers, and I probably never will, but it made a convenient online nickname. Checking on Wikipedia just now, it appears that the enclopaedia entry is not correct, or that I remembered it incorrectly: Wikipedia says ‘She wrote under the pastoral pseudonym Astrea.’ Either way, she seems to have taken the name from the Greek goddess of innocence and purity. Then there’s this. (Trust me!)

[2] Football – Footy

[added 18 July] The British term is (or was) footer, formed in the same way as rugger and soccer. Macq gives the spelling ‘footy’ first, then ‘Also, footie’. Google Ngrams’ results are skewed by the use of ‘footer’ as a typographical (as in ‘header and footer’) and nautical term (as in ‘18-footer boat’). Macq notes that in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, ‘football/footy/footie’ is ‘Chiefly Australian Rules football’, and in New South Wales and Queensland either ‘Rugby League’ or ‘either Rugby League or Rugby Union’. I have now lived longer in NSW and Qld combined than in Vic and SA combined, but for me ‘footy’ is definitely Australian football. The Football Federation of Australia is making a valiant attempt to persuade Australians that ‘football’ means ‘soccer’, but they hasn’t had much effect yet. For the record, the rules of association football were codified in 1863, those of Australian football in 1858 and those of rugby union in 1845 (although the term ‘union’ is anachronistic’; ‘rugby football’ didn’t become ‘rugby union’ until 1895).

[3] Tennis Ball – Tenno

They’ve served a double fault on this one. Neither Macq nor the Urban Dictionary records this one. records only the unconnected ‘the formal title of the Japanese emperor, esp when regarded as a divine religious leader’. Wikipedia starts with this definition and notes that the word may also refer to a municipality in Italy, a town in Japan,  a character in one video gams or characters in another. The only remotely relevant result of a Google search is the ‘Tunkuwallin Tennis & Sports Club (The Tenno)’ in Summerland Point on the Central Coast of New South Wales.

[4] Biscuit – Biccy

Macq has bickie as its main spelling, ‘Also, bikkie’. Google Ngrams has bickie, bicky, bikkie, bikky and biccy in that order. The phrase ‘big bickies’ is noted as being Australian. (For non-Australian readers, it means ‘a lot of money’, probably because housekeeping money or ill-gotten gains were proverbially kept in a biscuit tin. Note also that USEng ‘biscuit’ = AusEng ‘scone’, and AusEng ‘biscuit’ = USEng ‘cookie’ or ‘cracker’. See Wikipedia.)

[5] Chocolate – Choccy

Macq has chocky as its main spelling, ‘Also, choccy, chockie’. Google Ngrams has choccy, chocky and chockie in that order. I can’t believe that this abbreviation is especially Australian. (In the case of both bickie etc an choccy, the actual numbers are so small that these results have to be treated with great caution.) [added 20 July] Today in a convenience store I saw ‘HOT CHOCKEE’, which Ngrams doesn’t record at all.

[6] Chocolate Biscuit – Choccy Biccy

Putting the last two Ngrams results together, one would expect the phrase ‘choccy bickie’, but there’s no result for that. I’m not going to search for all 15 combinations of  choccy/chocky/chockie bickie/bicky/bikkie/bikky/biccy.

[7] McDonalds [sic] – Maccas [sic]

[added 20 July] First up, there’s an apostrophe in McDonald’s®, intriguingly before the s, even though there were originally two Mr McDonalds. Second up, yes, Macca’s® seems to be an Australian thing. An article in the UK Telegraph explains: ‘Australia is the only country in the world that refers to McDonald’s as Macca’s … Surveys have showed at least 50pc of Australians use the nickname … “Macca’s” is the second most recognized Australianism, just behind “footy” for Australian rules football … The restaurant has said the abbreviation reflects its place in the Australian community, which has a penchant for jocular nicknames.’ In January 2013, 13 McDonald’s® stores changed their signage to ‘Macca’s’® for a few weeks. I searched for ‘maccas‘ and got the unhelpful suggestion: ‘Do you mean macau?’ includes Macca’s twice – ‘mymacca’s®’ in the top right corner and ‘Find  a Macca’s® Restaurant’ in the bottom left. Third up, as should be obvious by now, Macca’s has an apostrophe too, and both names are registered tradmarks.

[8] Laptop – Lappy

[added 23 July] When I first posted this list, several people, on Facebook and here, singled this one out for particular scorn. Sorry – no less a source than Oxford Dictionaries Online records this, though (based on several major dictionaries) and Macq don’t. A Google search also reveals ‘Dr Lappy Australian Laptop Service Network’ in a suburb of Sydney.

[9] ACDC – Acadaca

‘Acadaca’ has the same number of sounds and takes just as long to say as ACDC, the only difference being that ‘Acadaca’ sounds like one word instead of four letters. One ‘c’ or two? (Or, alternatively, two ‘c’s or four?) ‘Accadacca’ gets 81,800 results on Google and ‘Acadaca’ gets 19,000, but the official ACDC site uses the latter. Accadacca, so spelled, is the name of a tribute band.

[PS 24 July: A hard-core ACDC fan said he’d style the nickname ACCA DACCA. (I’ve just realised that that could be made into a musical motif. My next composition: Missa ACCA DACCA.]

(To keep this from getting too long, I’ll split this into separate posts. Part 2 is here.)

Devestated [sic] – Devo, Definitely – Defo!, Morning Tea – Mornos, Afternoon – Arvo, This afternoon – S’arvo, Dinner – Din-Dins, Breakfast – Brekky, Service Station – Servo, Petrol – Petty, Bottle Shop – Bottle-o, Tomorrow – Tomorra, Bowling Club – Bowlo, Garbage Man – Garbo, Postman – Postie, R.S.L. – Arrie or Rissole, Smoke Break – Smoko, [Car] Registration – Rego, Aggressive – Agro, Pregnant – Preggas, Woolongong [sic] – The Gong, Swimming Costume – Cozzie, Mosquito – Mozzie, Tracksuit Pants – Trackie Dacks, Monday – Mondy, Tuesday – Choosdee, Wednesday – Wensdee, Thursday – Thursdee, Friday – Fry-dee, Saturday – Sat-dee, Sunday – Sundee, Birthday – Birthdee, Musician – Muso, U-Turn – Uey, From out west – Westie, Facebook – Facey, Vegetarian – Veggo, Cab Driver – Cabbie, Lipstick – Lippy, Sunglasses – Sunnies, Present – Prezzie, Christmas – Chrissy, Christmas Present – Chrissy Prezzie, St Vincent De Paul – Vinnies, Salvation Army – Salvos, Cup of Tea – Cuppa, Avocado – Avo, Have an Avocado – Avanavo, Spagetti [sic] Bolognase [sic] – Spag Bog/Spag Bol, Underpants – Undies, Beverage – Bevvy, Chewing Gum – Chewy, Toasted Sandwich – Toastie, Methylated Spirits – Metho, Turpentine – Turps, Fellow – Fella, Poverty stricken Person – Povvo, Husband – Hubby, Give me – Gimme, Trying to – Tryna, Hectic – Heckers, Cigarette – Ciggie, Tin can of beer – Tinnie, Schnitzel – Schnitty, Ambulance – Ambo, Fireman – Firey, Cop – Coppa, Bricklayer – Brickie, Tradesman – Tradie, Umbrella – Brolly, Sick day (off work) – Sickie, Kangaroo – Roo, Champagne – Champers, Relatives – Relos, Expensive – Exxy, Brisbane – Brissy, Derelict – Dero, Cabernet Sauvignon – Cab-sav, Kindergarten – Kindy! (One of the young men reads a text message) After smoko I might do down the bowlo sarvo for a schnitty and bevvy with tommo / then I’ll head back to the missus for din dins with the fam and watch some soapies on the tele / hopefully on the way I don’t get pulled over by the coppers .. coz I don’t have me rego.

(h/t Josie Ryan)


6 thoughts on “How to speak Aussie Abbreviate Everything – Part 1

  1. Tenno? Lappy? Mornos? Bowlo? Petty? Arrie or Rissole? Facey? Povvo? Heckers? I have never heard of any of these ones before.

    Cozzie. – Regional. They’re bathers here. They’re togs in Queensland.

    Trackie Dacks – “Dacks” is dialect, not hypocoristic. “Trackie” I’ll concede to.

    Mundy-Sundy – the “dy” or “dee” thing is a common way of pronouncing it in many dialects, although not the Adelaide one! As for Choosdy, well…

    “Hubby” I’ve heard in other varieties of English. The same for “Fella”

    How often need one say “have an avocado”??!

    Some of these are sensible ones I’ve always heard – U-ey, cuppa, kindy, turps, copper, ambo, spag bol, postie, etc. Others I’ve become familiar with more recently, such as snitty, aggro, veggo., etc. Arvo I heard for the first time on ABC3, and since that station started, it’s gone from being something I’d never heard before to being in common usage (it might have been used in the eastern states before that). Some of these are kiddy-talk – you don’t often here two adults saying things like “din-dins” or “bickie” to each other, just to their children. Others I wouldn’t expect to hear from anyone under about 60 – brolly, for example. Yet others are the pronunciation but I’ve *never* seen written before – like “Choosdee” or “tryna”.

    It seems a pretty arbitrary and mixed-up list, to me. Also, I contest “dero” – here, anyway, that’s used to refer to bogan-types, and I’ve always connected it to “derogatory” rather than “derelict”.

    I do wonder sometimes how people choose what they want to classify as “Australian English” (or “Strine”, if you will, although even that should probably be called “Strayan” here in SA), I think it would be better – and far more interesting – to talk about words such as goog, dacks, chook, whinge and rack off – words which are either unique to Australian English or shared only by lesser-known English/Irish dialects.

    And here’s a random (if slightly rude) question about Australian English… What’s up with “shithouse”? Seriously! The first time I heard it was on Chaser (for example “shithouse gameshows”), and I assumed it was just a Chaser thing. But I hear it now on The Weekly, too, so I’m assuming it’s an eastern states thing. The meaning is clear, of course, but here in SA, no-one seems to bother with adding a second syllable!

    Also, it just occurred to me… Who says “copper”? The premise of the list is that things are shortened in Australian English… I’ve just heard them called “cops”!


  2. Pingback: How to speak Aussie Abbreviate Everything – Part 2 | Never Pure and Rarely Simple

  3. I am an elemetary and high school English teacher in Taiwan and proceeding my thesis about Australian hypocoristics. I’m quite interested. Is it possible for us share some details or information about that via emails or Facebook. Actually, I just started, not having too much materials. I would really appreciate your help.


    • Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry that I can’t help you beyond what I’ve got here. I didn’t even finish this planned series of posts. I remember accidentally finding a paper online from an academic at a university in Australia (?University of Tasmania), and also a paper by the professor of my university (University of New England, Armidale) – whether that is available online or he sent it to us as part of the course material. Best wishes – sorry I can’t help you.


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