Don’t Confuse These Five Australian and American English Words!

Language may be a window into culture, but it’s easy to fall into the intercultural trap of believing that shared language equals shared meaning, similar cultural values, or even a high level of professional competency.

The nuances of English to English translations can be amusing at best and offensive at worst. Here are five of our favorite confusions between speakers of Australian English and American English:

Australia: The entrée is the appetizer
US: The entrée is the main course
An Australian in the US could be quite offended by the waiter’s suggestion that she order the entrée size Fettuccine Alfredo instead!

To root
Australia: (vulgar) slang meaning to have sex
US: to cheer
To support a team in Australia, you’d be best advised to barrack for them, rather than root for them!

Australia: 12pm
US: A time in the middle of the day, usually between 12pm and 2pm
When making plans, be sure to specify which “midday” time you mean to avoid scheduling issues.

14 days
Australia: Fortnight or fortnightly
US: Two weeks or biweekly
The term fortnight, which comes from the old English fourteen nights (fēowertyne niht), is not typically used in American English. Even the term biweekly, can cause confusion in American English as it can mean twice per week or every two weeks.

Electrical sockets
Australia: Power point
US: outlet
If your Australian colleagues are looking for a power point, they may just need to plug in their laptops rather than review a presentation file!

Remember that Australian English shortens lots of words too so breakfast becomes brekkie, sunglasses become sunnies, and afternoon becomes arvo.

And with that we will say hooroo, which is very old fashioned Australian slang for goodbye so you’d probably only hear it from the older generations or someone living in the Australian countryside. 😉 


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