Some Characteristics of New Zealand English
This page is not intended to contain a complete list of New Zealand terms.
Thornley's "Kiwi Words" glossary for that.) On this page, I have simply
grouped some words into categories that I think are particularly notable.
(pun intended) Kiwis add the sound "ee" to the end of many words as
a cute kind of abbreviation. However, these words are not just used
by little children - you hear them all the time!
There are two variations on this theme. First is where the "ee" has no
significance at all, except to make it sound better (to a Kiwi's ears anyway).
- auntie (aunt) Used both as a noun (as in "my auntie") and as
a title (as in "Auntie Jill").
- Aussie (Australia) Pronounced Ozzie. Can also mean Australian (adjective or noun).
- barbie (barbeque) Summer-time favourite, but watch out for the mozzies!
- bickie (biscuit) In the states, bickies would be called cookies.
- breckie (breakfast)
- brolly (umbrella) It rains quite a lot in NZ, so remember to
take your brolly.
- cardie (cardigan) A button-up knitted jersey.
- chippies (chips) Called French fries in the States.
- chockies (chocolates) Usually a box of assorted chocolate candy.
- Chrissy (Christmas)
- comfy (comfortable)
- cornies (cornflakes)
- cushy (cushioned) Used in the sense of "easy", as in "cushy job".
- cuzzie (cousin) Use "cousin" to mean your real cousin. "Cuzzie"
is used by Maoris to address a member of their (often very) extended family.
- flattie (flat tyre) Otherwise known as a puncture.
- footie (football)
- granny (grandmother) Used both as a noun (as in "my granny") and as
a nick-name (as in "Let's visit Granny").
- gummies (gumboots) The name goes back to the gumdigging days. Nearly everyone has a pair of these rubber boots used to ward off the mud.
- hottie (hot water bottle)
- hubby (husband)
- kindy (kindergarten)
- mozzie (mosquito)
- nappy (napkin) In the States, this would be called a diaper.
The abbreviation "nappy" is so commonly used, even on packaging, that "napkin"
would probably not be understood.
- nightie (night dress)
- pozzie (position) Used especially to refer to a seat in a theatre
- prezzie (present) Birthday prezzies, etc.
- relly (relative) You invite your rellies over for Christmas.
- sammie (sandwich) In New Zealand, sandwich is often pronounced
"samwich", hence this abbreviation.
- sossie (sausage)
- telly (television)
- woollies (woollen clothes) In winter you "get out the winter
woollies" because many houses don't have central heating.
New Zealand-ese (2)
The second way an "ee" ending is commonly used is to mean "person". Come
to think of it, New Zealanders were way ahead of their time in finding
a politically correct alternative for the suffix "-man". Much better than
the modern "chairperson" or "chairwoman" nonsense!
- Aussie (A person from Oz) An Australian.
- bikie (bike rider) Someone who rides a motorcycle, especially
the type of person seen in gangs.
- brickie (brick layer) Not to be confused with "breckie", of course!
- oldie (old person) You know, the grey-haired, slow-moving variety.
- postie (postman) In the States, this person would be called a
- truckie (truck driver)
- wharfie (wharf worker) Stevedore.
- yachtie (yachtsman)
Kiwis have a grand repetoire of words they use when they are surprised,
startled, annoyed, etc. They tend to come in pairs: a short version, and
then a longer version for extra emphasis.
- Bother! Botheration!
- Caw! Blimey! Caw blimey! I believe it comes from "God blind me"
- Crikey! Crikey Dick!
- Damn! Damnation!
- Gee! Gee whiz!
- Geepers! Geepers creepers!
- Golly! Gosh! Golly gosh!
- Good grief!
- Goodness! Goodness gracious!
- Heavens! Heavens above!
- Heck! Blimin' Heck!
- Hell! Bloody hell!
- Hell's Bells!
- Jiminy Cricket!
Be careful, Kiwis!
Here are some words that Kiwis MUST NEVER USE when they travel to the States:
- rubber - If you are at school and you make a mistake while writing
in pencil, ask someone for an eraser not a rubber, otherwise you
will be laughed at for a week! A rubber is a condom. (Thanks to Dale
Winter, I was warned about this one before
I had a chance to fall into this trap.)
- speedo - The gauge in the car that tells you how fast you are
travelling is called a speedometer. NEVER use the Kiwi abbreviation
"speedo"! A speedo is the male equivalent of a bikini. (This one I wasn't
warned about, and I had the unfortunate experience of using the phrase
"watching my speedo" in my calculus class, in front of 30 students.
Needless to say, the lecture
stopped for a few minutes while we composed ourselves again!)
- pussy - If you happen to see a cat and want to call it over,
don't for goodness' sake say "Here, pussy!" Use "kitty" instead.
Be careful, Yankees!
If you are an American travelling to Aotearoa, you'd be well-advised not
to use the following words:
- napkin - Ask for a serviette at a meal, not a napkin.
"Napkin" is a rather formal word for a diaper.
- fanny - This is hopefully not a word you'd use very often anyway,
but if you find yourself about to use it, stop yourself and use bum
instead. Fanny = pussy.
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Last updated: 28 Sept 2000