Speak English Like an Australian: Australian Transport Terms

transportationIn Australia there are different names (and slang references) for cars, car parts, road rules and other terms related to transportation. This entry on Australian Transport Terms is intended to give you a brief overview of some of these terms and if you are thinking of taking a road trip in Australia. If so, pay close attention!

Key: Oz vs. US word

Motorbike vs. Motorcycle
In Australia, both terms are used interchangeably while in the US motorcycle is much more common (and powerful).

Truckies vs. Truckers
The two countries use these terms to refers to a truck driver, particularly one who drives long distances transporting freight in a semi-trailer.

Ute vs. Pickup truck
Ute is an Australian term, historically used to describe a two-door vehicle with a cargo tray in the rear.

Note: Examples of Utes include Holdens and Fords

Caravan vs. Trailer/Recreational vehicle (RV)
In Australia, a caravan is towed behind a car. It is a vehicle equipped for living in with amenities that may include beds, a kitchen sink and a bathroom. They are used on vacations and are popular in Australia. RVs in the US are similar to caravans, but they are vehicles made for living in (not towed) and are usually bigger in size and contain more amenities.

Bonnet vs. Hood
Refers to the hinged cover on a motor vehicle, which covers the engine. Bonnet is used most often in Australia and it is referred to as a protective cap or cover over a machine.

Boot vs. Trunk
Refers to the storage compartment located in the back of most standard cars.

Windscreen wipers vs. Windshield wipers
Refers to the device used to remove rain and other liquid fragments from the windscreen of a vehicle.

Note: It goes without saying that the front window itself has a different name in the two countries!

Indicators vs. Blinkers / Turn signals
Both terms are used interchangeably in Australia. Refers to the amber colour signal lights at the rear, side and front of vehicle, depending on the type of automobile. They are used to show what direction the vehicle is going (e.g., turning left or right).

Overtake vs. Pass
Refers to the action of going around another car on a highway or freeway by speeding up to overtake them.

Prang vs. Car crash
Prang is a British term for a motor vehicle crash or accident. This term is also often used in Australia.

  • I will be late for lunch. There was a bad prang on the highway and the traffic is banked up.

Servo vs. Gas station/Service station

  • Servo is an Aussie slang term for service station or gas/petrol station. Many are accompanied with shops and fast food outlets, particularly on Australian freeways and highways.

Bowser vs. Gas pump

  • Bowser is an Australian slang term for a petrol pump.

Note: Some Australians also refer to petrol/gasoline as juice (slang)

Yewy vs. U-turn
Ywey (pronounced U-ee) is a slang term for U-turn; the action of turning around the car and going back in the opposite direction.

  • We are going the wrong way mate! Quick, do a yewy here!

Don’t forget, there is always more practice at our Different Englishes page!


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