I know every culture, speaking every language, has it’s own slang. But being that we’ve only been here 6+ weeks, we still find Kiwi slang funny, and sometimes confusing. For any of the rest of you who are curious, or who’ve been confounded by New Zealand words and phrases, I’ve compiled a little list of “Kiwi-isms”. This is by no means a complete list…. there’s so many that sometimes I think they just make words up. But the following are used frequently enough for me to understand and thus remember them:
|All photos from last weekend in Nelson|
Aye: Kind of like the Canadian “eh?”. This is said at the end of almost every Kiwi sentence. It’s kind of like they don’t want to offend or be too blunt, so at the end of every sentence they throw an “aye” on at the end to see if you agree. (Pronounced like you say the letter “A”)
Context: We should get a bottle of wine instead of beer, aye?
Bird: A hot girl.
Bloke: A guy, a dude, usually someone you don’t know. Our friend told us a bloke is usually a bachelor type.
Context: She went on a date with some bloke who didn’t even pay for her dinner.
Boy Racer: Teenagers and young men who drive super fast, have obnoxiously loud stereos and exhaust, and who are the culprits of doing street races and doughnuts in intersections.
Bush: The wilderness. (Not a presidential failure… here.)
Context: Sam and his family are on holiday at that house they have out in the bush.
Chilly Bin: A cooler (a great example of how Kiwis like to change an ordinary object’s name into something cute.)
Chips: French Fries. (And “chips” as we know then in the US, would be “crisps”.)
Cuppa: A cup of. Coffee or tea, specifically.
Context: I can’t function in the morning without my cuppa.
Dairy: A convenience store or corner store that sells essential food items and lotto tickets, like a 7-11.
Dodgy: Bad or unreliable. Scott says he hears this one every 30 seconds.
Context: I wouldn’t ride that bike, it looks dodgy to me.
Done and Dusted: All done. Finished. (This is one of my favorites, I don’t know why. It’s just fun to say!)
Context: I finished that report for you. Done and dusted.
Entree: NOT your dinner! In New Zealand, your entree is your appetizer!
Fit: to be attractive.
Context: Dude did you see that bird? She was sooo fit!
Gidday: Universal Kiwi greeting, ie: Hello!
Good as gold: Good to go.
Good on ya: Good job. Way to go.
Gumboots: Galoshes or rubber boots.
Heaps: Tons. And it doesn’t have to be something that can physically be in a heap or a pile.
Context: Did you see all his tattoos? He had heaps.
Holiday: A vacation, anywhere from one day to months.
Context: Dr. Smith won’t be here until March. He’s on holiday.
Jandals: Flip flops/sandals
Jersey: Sweater or shirt.
Kia Ora: Hello in Maori language. The favorite word of New Zealand tourism adverts.
Knackered: Super tired. Also “buggered” and “stuffed”. Every term cracks me up.
Context: After that bike race I could barely walk I was so knackered.
Long Drop: An outhouse. (HAHAHA)
Loo: the toilet. No one says “bathroom”, and they all kind of look at you funny if you do. I personally can’t bring myself to say “loo”, so I just say “toilet”.
Mad: Crazy. Nuts. Insane. (Used a lot in nursing. Nurses, just think about the 5150 and DT patients. They’re all “mad”.)
Context: That lady with all the cats is completely mad.
Mate: Friend. Scott says this all the time now, and it makes me giggle.
Context: Hey babe, I’m gonna go have a couple of beers with my mates. (I hope he continues this phase when we’re back in the US. I want to see the look on his mate’s faces… haha.)
Nappy: Diaper. So a diaper bag is a nappy sack. No one says diaper.
OTT: Spoken abbreviation for Over The Top. (Kind of like saying “TMI” instead of “Too Much Information.”)
Context: That patient’s stories are just OTT.
Partner: Boyfriend or Girlfriend, of the same or opposite sex. SO CONFUSING at first! I figured every person I met was gay… But unlike in the states, a person’s life partner is not identified as male or female during your first conversation with someone, and thus their sexual identity is theirs to reveal when they so choose. They don’t use the terms “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” here after high school age. The terms “husband” and “wife” are used the same as in the states.
Context: My partner and I bought our house when we graduated college.
Pie: A meat pie. Typically in a single serving size. They’re cute. (This is a source of national pride, Kiwis are known for their pies. For me, it was source of personal frustration, because I’m known for loving fruit pies. Several disappointments happened before I learned. If it’s an apple pie, they specify that it’s a fruit pie.)
Plaster: A band-aid, but also a plaster cast. Must be discerned by context.
Context: Can you go plaster his broken arm please?
Context: Can you put a plaster on his IV site please?
Puffed: Short of breath.
Context: I was way too puffed to run all the way up the hill.
Rubber: an eraser! A co-worker of mine told me a funny memory from her study-abroad in Illinois when she asked her hot professor if he had a rubber she could borrow!
Singlet: A tank top/sleeveless shirt for men or women. Not just gym-rat (guys) wear tank tops here. Everyone does… but they’re called singlets.
She’ll be right: It’s all good. Don’t worry about a thing. Re: Good as gold.
Suss: to figure something out.
Context: I’m not sure if he’s coming to work today, I’ll suss that up and get back to you.
Sweet As: A term used by every Kiwi, young and old. It basically means “cool” or “sweet”. Not to be confused with Sweet Ass… the Kiwis would never be so vulgar! It’s confusing to us expats because we’re thinking, Sweet as what? The funny thing about Sweet As, is the first word can be replaced with any word. Cold as. Expensive as. Lucky as. Basically any time Americans would say Such and such is soooooooo .
Context: “That new bike is sweet as.” or “It must be 40 degrees out! It’s hot as!”
Tea: We are not talking about the beverage folks. For some reason “tea” is slang for dinner. And no, it’s not because they drink tea with dinner. And it’s not in the afternoon at what I would have called “tea-time”.
Context: “Kristen, it’s 9pm, why don’t you take a break and have your tea?”
Uni: Short for University, which they say instead of “college”.
Context: Uni starts up again next week, so this weekend we gotta get drunk as.
Ute: A truck.
Wee: Little. They say this as often as “aye”, maybe more.
Context: We’re off to get a wee cuppa and go for a wee walk down on that wee beach by the ocean.
Zed: “Z”, as in the last letter of the alphabet.
Context: (a wee one learning the alphabet would say ” X, Y, Zed…”)
Funny Food Names:
Kumara: Sweet Potato
In addition to these terms, to fully understand Kiwi speak, you must understand 4-year old speak. Say what? Kiwi’s have this habit, which I haven’t decided if I like or not, of shortening every word and adding “ie” (or a “y”) to the end. As a result, you have a nation full of folks talking like toddlers:
Breakfast = Brekkie
Cousin = Cuzzie
Christmas = Chrissy
Kindergarten = Kindie
Mosquito = Mozzie
Present = Prezzie
Sandwich = Sammie
Sunglassess = Sunnies
Wellington (the capital of NZ) = Welly
“I hope my cuzzy likes the sunnies I got for her as a prezzie for Chrissy.” If you didn’t know better, you’d think this bloke was still in nappies!
|Obligatory duck picture. They say there’s more sheep than people in NZ… I reckon this also goes for ducks.|