Lick her in the front, poke her in the back! That’s ‘liquor in the front, poker in the back’ to all those out there clutching their pearls. And it’s a sign that’s been hung up at a pub in Kings Cross in Sydney for many years, demonstrating their ice cold beers on offer along with slots machines for the punters to play along with it.

The Aussies and the Kiwis have a way with words. Sure, it’s not quite as convoluted as some of the English people’s love of language trickery, in particular, the Pom’s love of cockney rhyming slang – to have a bubble is a laugh, because bubble bath rhymes with a laugh. However, the folks from Down Under and The Land of the Long White Cloud have their unique -isms – and pokies is one of them.

“And I wish I knew the right words to blow up the pokies and drag them away”

The word ‘pokies’ is so prevalent in Australia that The Whitlams, Australian indie-rock royalty, wrote a whole song about it. Tim Freedman sings very passionately on ‘Blow Up the Pokies,’ an ode to bass player Andy Lewis and his gambling troubles.

Elsewhere in Aus and NZ, you’ll have people dropping into the RSL to have a go on the pokies. That’s The Returned & Services League of Australia, the services and support network in Australia for returned veterans. While the League itself is a group, they run establishments all over the country serving discount meals, drinks, sometimes entertainment, and in some states, poker machines. These establishments are known to everyone as the local RSL, and the pokies themselves are a huge source of income for the league, who is one of the only groups apart from casinos that are able to run the machines in many places.

They’re beloved by many and hated by many at the same time. Tim was obviously concerned for his good friend’s addiction, but there are plenty of people who just like to pop down to the RSL and play for a little while after they’ve filled up on their parma (that’s chicken parmigiana).

And if you love pokies as much as we do (and we’re guessing you do!) you’d be ecstatic to find out that at you have so many titles to choose from. Not only that, there’s an entire selection of free ones to play – no deposits, no commitments – just pure and simple fun, all the way!

But where did the word ‘pokies’ originate?

The etymology (that’s the history of a word) of the word ‘pokies’ is pretty easy to see, and, like we mentioned, not as convoluted as the rhyming slang of the old country. The word pokies originates from poker machines. So while people in other places of the word call them slots, because you pop that coin into the slot to play, the Aussies are a little more basic.

Just like the chicken parmigiana became the parma, so too did the poker machines become the pokies. You should note that it’s always pokies, plural. The singular in both of these countries surprisingly is not pokie but poker machine.

Shortening words is very, very Australian, and certainly leads to some interesting inquisitiveness when traveling to the country as a foreigner. Here is a list of some of the more popular words and their Aussie translations:

  • Avo = Avocado
  • Arvo = Afternoon
  • Mozzie = Mosquito
  • Bevvie = Beverage (typically alcohol)
  • Ciggie = Cigarette
  • G’day = Good Day
  • Footy = Football
  • Maccas = McDonalds
  • Aggressive = Agro

Basically, if you are traveling to Australia or encounter one in the wild and can’t understand them just ponder to yourself “How could I elongate this word to make sense?” If you can get that bit right then you should be able to understand them. There are plenty of amusing guides online that can help you out such as How to Speak Australian.

And what about the Kiwis

The Kiwis share a similar vernacular to Aussies but without quite so much of the shortening of words, although they too have adopted many Aussie isms. Instead, their language is typified by the use of lots of slang, much of it originating from Maori and Pacific Islanders. If you’re wondering what a Kiwi is saying here is a quick guide.

  • Chur = Thank You
  • Jandals = Flip Flops
  • Chilly Bin = Ice Box
  • Yeah Nah = No
  • Mean As = Awesome
  • Batch = Holiday House
  • Cuzzie Bro = Friend
  • Piss = Alcohol
  • Kia Ora = Hello / Be Well
  • Hard Out = I Agree

We hope that you’ve enjoyed our guide to some of our down south neighbors’ language, what’s up with their slot machines, and more! And if you thought it was mean, then stick around to read some other enlightening bits and bobs.