An Australian's guide to American lingo

TransferWise content team
3 minute read

Moved to the U.S.? You're in good company. There are over 84,000 Australians living in the U.S.

There's lots to learn about your adopted home. But surely the language isn't one of those things?

Well, if you’ve made the move you’ll likely know that there are some words and phrases that simply don't translate.

So, we’ve rounded up some of the most confusing words and phrases commonly used in America that are likely to get lost in translation.

Pints, Pitchers and Bottles


When you go to the bar in America, the first thing that you’ll ask for is a schooner, pot or stubby of beer.

But don’t be surprised when the bartender looks at you like you’re from another planet; there are no schooners, pots or stubbies here. Instead, we call them pints, pitchers or bottles of beer.

Drug Store

When your new American friend says that they “need to stop by the drug store quickly” before meeting you for dinner, don't worry.

Drug stores are equivalent to chemists back. They're likely picking up cold medicine, band aids, vitamins, etc.

Lay an Egg

If an American person says they laid an egg, they are probably not part of some strange science experiment or impersonating a hen.

Rather it means they were completely unsuccessful at something. A flop, if you will.


It pops up in the most random sentence, you have no idea what it means. Somehow, something is clutch.

All sports fans in the US know that clutch means getting "exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.”

Pony Up

Asking someone to “pony up” in America doesn’t mean that they’re about to go for a spontaneous bit of horse back riding. It simply means that you need to pay up or settle your account.


It’s common to call things by their popular or long-standing brand names in America, this being the place where Starbucks is now synonymous with coffee and Kraft Dinner with cheap box pasta after all.

So if you’re really hungover one morning and dying for some paracetamol, asking your colleague for Tylenol can avoid confusion and makes for the fastest way to ease your pain.


Australians who’ve just landed in the US and are searching on Craigslist for an apartment (not a flat!) may be intimidated by all the ad’s requesting roommates.

But unless you’re looking for accommodation in New York City, you needn’t fear the grim lack of personal space. In America, a roommate simply means “flatmate” and doesn’t mean someone that will physically live in the same room as you.

For the record, Craigslist in America is your Gum Tree in Australia and is widely used by everyone for everything.

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