Aussie tradies are unlike any tradie you'll find in the world. From working in sweltering heat to knowing how to put the hard yakka into every job — our tradies are one of a kind. And so it's only fitting that a language specific to only them has been passed down through the generations.
While it's important to know how to keep tradies safe on the job, getting to know some tradie slang is a bit of fun too.
We've found out first-hand the word on the street (site) and have made an A-Z list in honour of our tradies. So sit down, take smoko and froth over this list...
Term: As useful as…
- An ashtray on a motorbike
- A box full of broken hammers
- A solar powered torch
Meaning: Used to describe a pointless object or person on a worksite.
Sentence: Old mate is as useful as a box full of broken hammers.
Term: Blow the froth off a few
Meaning: Having a beer or three after a hard days work.
Sentence: Why don’t we go blow the froth off a few after we finish up?
Term: Chuckin’ a sickie
Meaning: To take a day off work when you may or may not be actually sick. Most likely a Monday or a Friday.
Sentence: I reckon I can get away with chuckin’ a sickie next week.
Term: Do your best, silicone the rest (Ryan Cook - Facebook)
Meaning: Close enough is good enough and we can cover up the rest. Interchangeable for different fixes depending on the trade, e.g. do your best, grout the rest.
Sentence: What’s taking so long on that bathroom, just do your best, silicone the rest.
Term: Ease up
Meaning: When your apprentice is too keen on the tools and you need them to calm down.
Sentence: Ease up on the jackhammer mate, we’re not trying to get to China.
Term: Flat out like a lizard drinking
Meaning: To be extremely busy to the point of being ‘flat out’.
Sentence: We’re flat out like a lizard drinking trying to get this driveway poured.
Term: Gee’ up
Meaning: To organise a time for a delivery or to describe playing a practical joke on the site supervisor.
Sentence: Gee’ up that concrete delivery for next Tuesday.
Term: Harold Holt
Meaning: Someone making a rapid departure from work or an event, doing a Harold Holt.
Sentence: He’s trying to pull a Harold Holt and we haven’t even finished the roof.
Term: I’m not here to f@#k spiders
Meaning: To hurry up or to disparage wasting time.
Sentence: Get over here for the toolbox, I’m not her to f&#k spiders!
Term: Jimmy open
Meaning: To force something open.
Sentence: Jimmy open those paint tins and get started on the fence.
Term: Ken oath
Meaning: Slang shortening of “f#@king oath”.
Sentence: Ken oath, it’s a hot one today!
Term: Look at this muppet
Meaning: To draw attention to someone acting foolish.
Sentence: Look at this muppet up on the ladder, he's got no idea.
Term: Mates rates
Meaning: A dreaded term meaning the transfer of tradesperson’s services for a discounted rate, goods such as a six pack, or even as little as an “onya mate”.
Sentence: Is that your best price, how about doing it for mates rates?
Term: No wukkas
Meaning: Used to express agreement, slang for “No worries” possibly from a tradie that likes to skate or surf in their spare time.
Sentence: No wukkas, brah!
Meaning: Shortening of “good on you”, to express gratitude or appreciation.
Sentence: Onya’ mate, thanks for coming in on a Saturday to get the cladding done.
Term: Pay peanuts and you’ll get monkeys (via @talk.about.tiling Instagram)
Meaning: Expression describing sacrificing quality over expense, commonly told to customers trying to negotiate a quote.
Sentence: They might have given you a cheaper price, but when you pay peanuts, you’ll get monkeys.
Term: Quit muckin’ around
Meaning: Normally expressed to the clown on site who is playing pranks on people more then they’re working.
Sentence: Quit muckin’ around on that Bobcat and get that pile cleaned up.
Meaning: The real deal. Used to describe authentic building tools, parts, or people.
Sentence: You need to get the ridgey-didge circuit breakers, not those cheap knock-offs.
Term: She’ll be right (Tom. N – Facebook)
Meaning: Relaxed way to convince someone that it'll be okay.
Sentence: Just get the timber strapped down, she’ll be right.
Term: Taking the piss
Meaning: Joking around or trying to deceive.
Sentence: They’re taking the piss if they think they can get brickwork finished before the end of the day.
Meaning: A U-turn.
Sentence: Just chuck a U-ey at the next set of lights, I left my tools on site.
Meaning: Meaning: A classic Australian car most often found in the Ford or Holden utility vehicle (ute) variety, beloved by tradesmen of all ilks.
Sentence: Make sure you don't scratch me' V8 when you're loading that gear up.
Term: Wouldn’t notice it going past on a galloping horse
Meaning: Used to dismiss a minor flaw or imperfection on a job.
Sentence: Well that door frame is a little off, but you wouldn’t notice it going past on a galloping horse.
Term: X amount
Meaning: An unspecified amount.
Sentence: We’ll need say, X amount for a job this size and double that for the other.
Meaning: Form of measurement. Usually paired with hands gesturing the roundabout size.
Sentence: It’s about yay high, by yay wide.
Meaning: Means nothing, zero, zip.
Sentence: Marty got the sack, turned out he knew zilch about scaffolding.
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