Plungers: They’re Not Just for Toilets!

We’ve learned some unique terminology, slang, and colloquialisms during our short time in New Zealand.  I know that you’re just dying to know some of them, so I’m going to share!  Doesn’t that make your day?!  No?  Well, maybe it’ll make your next 5 minutes 😉

There’s one word that has a bit of a funny story behind it.  You see, my husband loves his coffee and had brought some ground beans over from the US.  We lived in a hotel for the first few weeks that we were in New Zealand, and he noticed right away that there was no coffee pot.  He called Reception and asked them to send one up.  The conversation went a little something like this…

Chris – “Do you have a coffee machine that can be sent to our room?’

Front Desk – “You mean a plunger?”

Chris – “No, no… I don’t need a plunger.  Just a coffee machine.”

Front Desk – “Well, we don’t have a coffee machine, but I can send you a plunger.”

Chris – “Is that like a French Press?”

Front DeskSilence, then… “I don’t know what you mean by a French Press.  It’s a plunger.”

Chris – “Okay… send it up, I guess…”

So there we are, wondering if we’ll be getting one of these…

…and how the heck we’re supposed to use it to make coffee!  But don’t worry, what they actually sent was one of these…

Chris was happy.  Coffee was made.  New words were learned and our vocabulary was adjusted!  Now, I’m left wondering two things:

(1) What the receptionist thought we meant when we asked about a “French Press”.  Maybe he thought we were looking for a Parisienne laundry service, hee hee!

(2) What do they call toilet plungers?!

A Few Others We’ve Picked Up

  • Take a squiz – no, there’s nothing profane about what I just said!  To “take a squiz” is to take a quick look.
  • Brekkie – the shortened version of breakfast.  I actually think this one’s kinda cute, like something you’d say to a little kid 😉
  • Jandals – what I would call flip-flops or sandals.
  • Sweet as! – Our pastor told us that the first time he heard this was when someone said it to his wife.  He was like, “Really?  You’re telling my wife she has a sweet a** right in front of me?!”  Ha!  This is really just another way of saying “cool” or “niiiiice”.
  • One Off – this is like a one-time payment or one-time installation fee
  • Op Shop – charity shop
  • Car Park – they’re not garages over here!
  • Bach – a small vacation house, pronounced “batch”
  • Jabs – vaccinations or shots
  • Capsicum – bell pepper
  • Dairy – a convenience store or corner store
  • Chemist – pharmacy or pharmacist
  • Cot – a baby’s crib
  • Good on ya! – good job!
  • Good as gold – pretty self-explanatory, really
  • Gum Boots – rain boots or Wellingtons
  • Kiwi – a New Zealander
  • Kiwifruit – the fruit isn’t called “kiwi” over here – it’s definitely “kiwifruit”.  If you said you had some kiwi for lunch, that would be like saying you ate a New Zealander
  • Return ticket – round-trip ticket
  • Serviette – a paper napkin
  • She’ll be right, or You’ll be right – no problem, it’s OK, no big deal
  • WOF – a warrant of fitness for your vehicle

Sometimes I want to say, “I know we’re both speaking English, but I have no idea what you just said!”

Was there ever a time that you visited another {English-speaking} country and found that you had no idea what someone was talking about?  Or maybe you’ve been to places within your own country and found that the vocabulary varies a lot by region.  Example: the soda vs. pop vs. Coke controversy!  Do share!

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9 comments

  1. Kassie says:

    Oh my gosh I actually snorted at this post! These things are too funny. One thing that got me was that skipping school is called “bunking”. THAT sure confused me at school. 🙂 Also, they call zuccini something else but I can’t think of it right now. As for the plunger, I thought that’s what it was called here!

  2. exgf says:

    My british friend asked for “hundreds and thousands” on his ice cream once while he was visiting…. we all looked at him with a blank stare…. his reply “you know the little colored things you top on your ice cream?” – we all screamed SPRINKLES!!!

    So fun to see how different parts of the world say different things!

  3. Cindy @ Doc's office says:

    you don’t have to go out of the country to speak a different language. My brother in law was from WAAAAYYYY south and we had an interesting time learning his language. Poke=sack or bag at grocery. Public=telephone book. (we thought he meant bathroom) Buggy=shopping cart. bicky=cookie. bones=biscuits. Several more, but not appropriate for public posting. ):

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