Copyright © 1996-2003 Sarah Henderson.
Last updated 14 October 2003

 



kiwi slang


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

This collection of New Zealand slang and colloquialisms was sourced partly from a project I did for 7th Form English, and the remainder from 'A Dictionary of Kiwi Slang' by David McGill. It is difficult to pin down exactly what phrases are of New Zealand origin and what aren't, especially due to the similarities between New Zealand and Australia. Depending on where you are from, you will most likely have heard at least some of these phrases, since between TV and travel, many of these words have now migrated offshore. Therefore some of these words will be known in the US, but not in Europe or vice versa. Most will probably be known to Australians, whose slang developed in close parallel with ours.

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ads:   TV commercials, adverts, these days you can boil the jug while the ads are on

afternoon tea:   short break (10-15mins) from work in afternoon

a into g:   get going, arse into gear, as in 'I've got to get my a into g'

anklebiter:   small child

arse over tit:   head over heels

Aotearoa:   Maori name for New Zealand, it means the land of the long white cloud

arse:   ass, rear end, butt, as in 'Get off your arse and do something'

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

banger:   sausage, often in bangers and mash, which is sausages with mashed potato

bach:   holiday home, pronounced batch

beaut, beauty:   splendid, terrific, as in 'Beaut car, where'd you get it?'

bit of a dag:   hard case, comedian

biscuit:   cookie, recipes for Afghans and Anzacs

bite your bum:   go away, get lost

bloke:   man, usually a stranger, as in 'that bloke down the road'

bludge:   to sponge off other people or the government, as in 'dole bludger'

bonnet:   car hood

boohai:   out of the way, remote or non existent place, often in 'up the boohai' to mean lost, or 'up the boohai shooting pukakas' meaning lost, possibly in the head.

boot:   car trunk

boy-racer:   young man who drives fast in a car with a loud stereo

brassed off:   disappointed, annoyed

bugger:   similar to 'damn', used in recent 1999 Toyota ad, and now has almost NZ icon status.

bugger all:   not much, as in 'I've got bugger all money left'

buggered:   tired, exhausted

bugger off:   go away, piss off

bum:   rear end, butt

bush:   a large dense area of small and large native trees and plants, forest

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

cardy, cardie:   woolen jersey that buttons up the front

carked it:   died

cheers:   goodbye, thanks or good luck

chemist:   pharmacy, drugstore

cheerio:   goodbye, also a name for a cocktail sausage

chilly bin:   polystyrene insulated box for keeping food and drinks cold, cooler, esky

chocka:   choc-a-block, full, overflowing

chocolate fish:   chocolate covered marshmallow fish, frequently given or offered as a reward.

chips:   fried potato slices, but much thicker than a McDonalds french fry

chippie:   potato chip

chrissy:   Christmas

chrissy pressies:   Chrismas presents

chunder:   vomit

cocky:   farmer, most commonly cow-cocky

college:   high school, not university

couldn't see the road to the dunny if it had red flags on it:   said of somebody blind drunk or slow witted

cow:   unpleasant, mean, ill-tempered person or uncooperative thing, as in 'a cow of a lawnmower'

cracker:   very good

crash hot:   excellent

crayfish:   lobster-like edible saltwater crustacean

creek:   small freshwater stream, the sort of place to fish for eels

crib:   Southland equivalent of bach

crikey dick:   expression of surprise

crook:   sick, poorly, also to go crook at, meaning to be angry with, or to put someone crook , meaning to give someone bad advice

cuppa:   cuppa tea, cuppa milo

cuz:   cousin

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dag:   humorous person, joker, comedian, hard case

dairy:   corner store, the only shop allowed to open 365 days a year, selling milk, bread, newspapers, groceries, etc on a small scale.

dear:   expensive, as in 'gosh, thats dear'

dole:   unemployment benefit

dodgy:   bad, unreliable

doodackie:   variant of thingummybob or doodad, for an object that you can't think of a name for

dreaded lurgy:   cold or flu

dressing gown:   bathrobe

drop in it:   get someone in trouble, as in 'you really dropped me in it with the wife'

drop your gear:   get undressed

dunny:   toilet, bathroom, lavatory

duvet:   quilt, doona

dux:   academically top student in final year of high school

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eh:   pronounced 'ay', often used to turn a statement into a question, 'That was a good movie, eh?', often used instead of what? or pardon?

Eketahuna:   the archetypal small country city lacking amenities and which no one is expected to know anything about, similar to "timbuktu". This town does exist.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

fair go:   appeal for fairness or reasonableness

fancy:   to like someone, as in 'he fancies her'

fart sack:   bed

fitter and turner:   a cook who fits food into pots and turns it into shit

fizzy drink:   soda pop

flat stick or flat tack:   full speed, as fast as possible, as in 'he was going flat stick when I saw him'

fortnight:   two consecutive weeks

fuckwit:   idiot

full tit:   as much power as possible, or very fast, as in 'I gave her full tit and we were still only doing 70'

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g'day:   universal kiwi greeting, also spelled gidday

get off the grass:   disbelief, similar to 'stop pulling my leg'

gimme:   give me ..

gizza:   give us a ..

going bush:   get away from it all, take a break, become reclusive

good on ya, mate!:   congratulations, well done

good as gold:   good job, well done, not a problem, yes

greasies:   fish and chips

ground floor:   first floor

gumboots, gummies:   rubber boots, wellingtons

guts for garters:   in big trouble, as in 'I'll have your guts for garters!'

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half pie:   half heatedly or poorly performed

hangi:   traditional Maori earth oven

hard case:   joker, comedian, witty person

hard yakka:   hard work

heaps:   a lot, as in 'heaps of work to do' or 'give it heaps'

home and hosed:   safe, completed successfully

hoodackie:   what you call someone when you cant think of their name, similar to doodackie, thingummy etc

hoon:   young adult with a fast car and loud stereo

hooray:   goodbye

hosing down:   raining heavily

hottie:   hot water bottle

how much would you charge to haunt a ten room house?:   rhetorical question to suggest a person is ugly

how's it going mate?:   quintessential kiwi greeting

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

ice block:   Popsicle

if your brains were barbed wire you couldn't fence a dunny:   you are stupid

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

jack up:   to organise, as in 'I'll see if I can jack something up'

jandal:   thongs, flip-flops

jersey:   sweater

jumper:   also sweater

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

kai:   food, from the Maori word for eating

Kiwi:   New Zealander

kiwi:   a flightless native bird, endangered

kiwifruit:   Zespri, formerly known as a chinese gooseberry

kick the bucket:   die

knackered:   stuffed, exhausted

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ladies a plate:   please bring a dish of food to share

laughing gear:   mouth, as in wrap your laughing gear around this said by Barry Crump in a 1987 TV ad

L&P:   fizzy soda water, Lemon & Paeroa (L&P); originally lemon flavoured spring water from the town of Paeroa, but this is no longer the case.

long drop:   outdoor toilet built over hole in ground

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Maori:   indigenous people of New Zealand

mate:   buddy, can be used even with strangers, as in 'how's it going mate?'

metal road:   a road with a gravel surface, usually a country road

morning tea:   short break (10-15mins) from work in the morning

mountain oysters:   lambs testicles

Mum:   Mom, Mam

my arse is a red cabbage:   expression of confidence, as in ' if he can do that, my arse is a red cabbage'

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

nana:   grandmother

nappy:   diaper

nick away:   to leave, usually quickly and surreptitiously, as in 'I'm going to nick away before the speeches, ok?'

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OE:   Overseas Experience, the young Kiwi's mandatory working holiday abroad.

Other Side:   Australia, the other side of the water

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

pack a sad:   become morose, ill-humoured, broken or dead, as in 'the washing machine packed a sad'

pakeha:   non-Maori person

pav:   pavlova, a national dessert topped with kiwifruit. The recipe.

piece-of-piss:   easy, as in 'that was a piece of piss'

pikelet:   small pancake often served with jam and whipped cream

piker:   slacker, a person who gives up when things get difficult

piss:   any alcohol

piss around:   waste time, procrastinate

piss awful:   very unpleasant

piss easy:   very easy

piss up large:   large scale drinking of alcohol

piss up:   party, social gathering

pissed:   drunk, inebriated

pissed off:   angry, upset

pissing down:   raining heavily, pouring down

prang:   minor car accident, as in 'he was in a prang yesterday'

puckeroo:   something that is buggered or broken

pudding:   dessert

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

quite nice:   something you say when you want to be polite but can't really think of anything to say, as in 'his tie is quite nice'

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

rattle your dags:   get a move on, hurry up

rellies:   relatives, family

root:   to have sex

rough as guts:   unpolished

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

sammy short of a picnic:   brick short of a load, a bit thick or crazy

savs and pavs:   saveloys and pavlova, traditional kiwi party food

scull:   drink beer quickly

she'll be right:   common attitude, meaning everything will be OK, it's not a problem

shark and taties:   fish and chips

shit a brick:   exclamation of surprise or annoyance

shit show:   no chance, as in 'he hasn't a shit show of winning'

shitheap:   utter mess, as in 'your bedroom is a shitheap'

sickie:   to take a day off, apparently sick

smoko:   break, rest period

snarky:   sarcastic and nasty

sook:   silly or a scaredy cat, as in 'just a big sook'

sparkie:   electrician

strapped for cash:   low on funds

stuffed:   tired, exhausted

sunnies:   sunglasses

super loo:   large automated public toilets

suss:   figure out, as in 'I've got it sussed'

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

ta:   thanks

tata:   goodbye

take-aways:   food purchase to be taken away and eaten, 'take-outs' or 'to go'

take the piss:   to ridicule

take a hike:   go away

tea:   dinner, evening meal

tiki tour:   scenic tour, roundabout way

tin-arse, tinbum:   lucky person

tinny:   lucky

tramping:   to walk through bush, hiking

togs:   swimsuit, bathing suit

two-thirds of five-eighths of fuck all:   very little

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

up shit creak in leaky gumboots:   in trouble, variant of up shit creek without a paddle

ute:   utility vehicle, small pickup truck

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

vegemite:   yeast based spread for toast or bread. Seems to be a taste acquired from childhood, but missed by many ex-pats

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Waikikamukau:   Mythical town that is so remote it makes Eketahuna look like a metropolis. The essence of hickdom. (pronounced "Why kick a moo cow").

were you born in a tent?:   sarcastic question asked of somebody who has left a door open and let draughts in

wharfie:   stevedore

what's that got to do with the price of fish?:   challenging the relevance of some remark

whinge:   complain

wobbly:   tantrum, as in 'he threw a wobbly when he heard that'

wop-wops:   out of the way location, backblocks

wouldn't know shit from clay:   naive or stupid person

wouldn't know them from a bar of soap:   I do not know this person, similar to I wouldn't know them from Adam.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

yonks:   a long time, ages, as in 'haven't seen him in yonks'

yack:   conversation between friends, natter

you ain't wrong:   you're right

you get that:   resigned acceptance, as in 'well with her sort, you get that'

you make a better door than a window:   said to somebody standing in the way, perhaps in front of the TV

you think you're a flowerpot because you've got a hole in your bum:   you love yourself

zambuck:   St John Ambulance officer.

zed:   Z



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