Kiwi-English Dictionary

Beginners Guide to Kiwi Slang

English is the official language of New Zealand, but New Zealanders have their own special brand of Kiwi English that can be hard for foreigners to interpret. These are some of the most popular Kiwi-isms.

Arvo: An abbreviation of ‘afternoon’
Bach: Holiday home, usually on the beach. An abbreviation of ‘bachelor pad’, although they are often owned by families.
Brekkie: An abbreviation of ‘breakfast’
Bring a plate: A pot luck gathering, where all invited contribute a plate of food
Cheers: Can mean ‘good bye’ or ‘thank you’
Chilly bin: Cooler
Choice: A very popular Kiwi expression meaning great, e.g. “That band was choice!”
Claytons … : Claytons is a brand of non-alcoholic beverages that use the advertising slogan, ‘The drink you have when you’re not having a drink.’ Kiwi’s have come to use ‘Claytons’ as an adjective for something’s that’s almost the real thing, but not quite. E.g. “Mary and I are just friends but I take her whenever I need to bring a date to something. She’s my Clayton’s girlfriend.”
Dairy: Convenience store
Dodgy: Suspicious or not entirely legitimate, e.g. “That used car salesman was pretty dodgy.”
Dole: Unemployment benefit
Flash: Impressive, expensive, e.g. a flash car.
Flat/flatting: Apartment/the act of renting out an apartment
Football: When Kiwi’s mention football (or footy), they are always referring to rugby union
Fortnight: Two weeks
Hoon/hooning: An irresponsible person/to act irresponsibly, usually in a car
Jandles: Thongs/flip flops
Kia Ora: Maori for hello
Lolly: Candy/sweets
A mission/mish: Something that is difficult to do or takes a long time, e.g. “Getting to that party out in the bush was a mish!”
Pike/piker: To give up easily/someone who gives up easily (often screamed at someone who leaves a party early)
Pub: Bar
Shout: To buy someone a drink, e.g. “It’s your shout, I got the last one.”
Skiting: Bragging
Smoke-o: A morning or afternoon break taken during work hours. You do not have to smoke to take smoke-o.
Whinge: To complain