An Australia Day tribute to food-related Aussie-isms

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Morno — it’s my all-time favourite Aussie-ism and just so happens to be food-related. It’s the abbreviation of morning tea, armed with the suffix ‘o’ — which is an endearing Aussie trait. It’s often referred to in the plural —mornos — and is a word tossed about a lot in blue-collar industries, where workers down tools mid-morning to refuel. I love the word. It’s just so adorably Aussie, as is the practice of shortening a word then adding the suffix  ‘ie’ — think veggie (vegetable), cozzie (swimming costume), sickie (day off work, sick). Sometimes the ‘o’ and ‘ie’ are interchangeable — think  rellie/rello (relative).

As an Australian who grew up in England and returned to Oz in early adulthood, I find Aussie-isms — Australian slang or colloquial expressions — particularly beguiling. I especially love food-related ones. Here’s a few.

You wouldn’t have mornos in the arvo, but you would have it some time after brekkie. It comprises some light tucker: a couple of bickies, perhaps, crackers smeared with avo is a personal favourite, or a sanga with roast chook and a little mayo if you’re particularly hungry — and unless, of course, you’re a veggo.

Mornos shouldn’t be confused with a smoko, which refers more specifically to a cigarette break. And a barbie is in an altogether different league. There you’d have snags, for sure and you’d need to stop by the bottle-o first so you could BYO alcohol — perhaps a couple of stubbies,  tinnies, or coldies. If it’s a fair dinkum Aussie barbie, you might be asked to bring a plate, and there will almost certainly be a pav, but don’t carry on like a pork chop if there isn’t. If you’re not into grog, feel free to boil the billy.

Whatever the occasion, stick the grub in your cake hole and, fingers crossed, it’ll be grouse.

What’s your favourite food-related Aussie-ism?

Deciphering Aussie-isms
Arvo
: afternoon
Aussie: Australian
Avo: avocado
Barbie: barbecue
Bickie: biscuit
Boil the billy: put the kettle on
Bottle-o: bottle shop/liquor shop
Brekkie: breakfast
Bring a plate: bring a food contribution
BYO: Bring your own
Cake hole: mouth
Carry on like a pork chop: behave stupidly
Chook: a chicken
Coldie: a cold beer
Fair dinkum: true, genuine
Grog: alcohol
Grouse: very good
Grub: food
Mayo: mayonnaise
Morno/s: morning tea break
Pav: pavlova
Sanga: sandwich
Smoko: smoke or coffee break
Snag: sausage
Stubbie: 375ml bottle of beer
Tinnie: can of beer
Tucker: food
Veggo: vegetarian

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22 Comments

Filed under Reflections

22 responses to “An Australia Day tribute to food-related Aussie-isms

  1. I’ve only ever heard morno when I’m with ADF or DoD people. I like that I’m Gaz or Gazza as well as Gus when my birth certificate reads Gary :-)

  2. Liz Posmyk of Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things

    Great post, Rachel… lots of fun!

  3. Great stuff Rachel, very clever! There are so many Aussie food-isms when you think about it! I think my favourite is bickie…a bickie with cheese, no matter how simple is always delicious.

  4. Okay, morno is new to me. Over here it’s always called smoko even if there’s no smoking only eating. The rest I knew — as well as a sparkie, chippie and postie. The first time someone yelled, “Hey Mauzza!” I didn’t know they were talking to me.

  5. If I’m having a veggie meal, I like to add a goog to my caulie and cukes.

  6. Awesome, I’ve been in Australia long enough that I actually know most of those terms, though a few still escape me!

  7. I’ve never heard of morno … maybe I’ve been out of Australia for too long? Love this post, though. Will have to teach them to my 14 mth old who I hope will have an Aussie accent when he grows up :-)

  8. My favourite saying which I don’t use very often but makes me giggle is “as ugly as a bagful of a**holes!” :P Morno is new to me but the rest are so very familiar.

  9. Ha I remember being bemused at the constant bafflement on the faces of co-workers when I was working in the UK. Who didn’t know what a sanger was? Don’t forget googies for eggs, although you didn’t hear it that much these days. And the long neck!

  10. loving all of these! googy eggs are one of my faves, too. would love to know where that comes from.
    must admit never heard of ‘morno’ – my dad uses ‘smoko’ for morning tea and he doesn’t smoke.

    • Googy eggs and googies have cropped up a bit in comments on this post – have heard the term, but never used it. It would certainly be interesting to know of its origins. Thanks for dropping by.

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