The husband and I met in 2001, in England. At that point, I’d never been to Australia, but had met enough Aussies on the road that I was somewhat familiar with Australian vernacular. Much of the time, Aussies align themselves with the Brits, so, many words in their collective vocabulary will be the same as their English counterparts.
For example, both Australians and Brits call a flashlight a torch, whereas in North America the word “torch” is exclusively used for some sort of flaming piece of wood that you might brandish if you were exploring a cave in the 1800s.
But you probably already knew that. Just as you are already aware that boot is another word for the trunk of a car and much of the rest of the world uses the succinct carpark instead of the clunkier American parking lot.
My partner has been living here on foreign Canadian shores since 2003, so he’s had to adjust to our way – some would say the correct way 😉 – of doing things. It took him a long time, and I mean at least a decade, but he finally started to say he’s going out to the store instead of the shop. He’s learned to say the word “burger” with a hard arrrr on the end of it so as not to lead to massive confusion whilst dining out.
Despite his learning to blend in to some extent, as a family, we still have our what-do-you-call-that? moments, which we reference by saying this catchphrase:
“That’s an odd name. I’d have called them chazzwazzers.”The Simpsons S06E16 Bart vs. Australia
Without further ado, here are 5 words for everyday items that you never knew were used in the land Down Under. (And often in Great Britain. And potentially the rest of the Commonwealth.)
What are they? Are they some kind of unit of measure? No, my friend. They are much more ordinary and extraordinary than that. They are sprinkles. Yes, the kind that you would ask for on your kid’s ice cream cone.
At an Aussie children’s birthday party, you can eat fairy bread, that is, buttered white bread covered in sprinkles, sorry, hundreds-and-thousands. In Canada and the US, we tend to say “sprinkles” for both the little round balls and the longer-type confection. Although the balls are technically nonpareil, and we supposedly speak French here in Canada, the word isn’t common. Click through for more on international sprinkle culture.
You’re in Australia and you’re wandering in a department store, and you see a sign pointing you to “Manchester.” Curious, you follow the signs, wondering what goods imported from the northern English city you are about to discover, only to find a section full of sheets and other bed-linens.
Yup, in Australia, Manchester became a catchall phrase for bedding, due to the fact that the city used to be a major producer of cotton products.
Incidentally, in the process of reading a bit about this, I discovered that “Manchester” is also the Swedish word for “corduroy.”
3. Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs
Apparently, caramel corn. Wow, what a mouthful. This package also depicts how caramel corn makes me feel.
I feel like this can’t be what caramel corn is called on a daily basis. (Australians, lemme know!) It’s just much more fun to say lolly gobble bliss bombs.
Definitely not a type of underwear. Thongs are flip-flops, shortened from the expression thong sandal, which apparently was abandoned in North America at some point since the 60’s in favour of the onomatopoeic flip-flop.
As an aside, while reading about thongs all over the Internet, I discovered the true story of how Sisqo was inspired to write “The Thong Song.” It’s a mini-documentary. You’re welcome.
We are firm flip-floppers in this household.
Okay, this is where things get confusing.
Squash can be a bunch of things. Internationally, it’s a raquet sport. Fine. Agreed.
We have a bunch of vegetables that we call squash in North America that are generally called pumpkin in Australia. Butternut squash is butternut pumpkin. I don’t know what they call the other squashes, like, is it acorn squash or acorn pumpkin? Lastly, we have a small squash that we usually call pattypans and they call those squash.
AND. One more thing. Once I was out at a pub with friends in Sydney, and I was driving. A friend was fetching drinks from the bar and taking orders, and as I was not drinking, asked me if I wanted a squash or something. ???
Turns out squash is a lemon-flavoured carbonated drink. There are a bunch of different brands.
It’s sort of like lemonade, but carbonated. Oh wait, in Australia, lemonade is what they call Sprite or 7-Up.