An etiquette lesson on using the term mate in Australia and the meaning of each expression.
In Australia, the term mate is used a lot. There is a code of ethics in using it correctly, however. These are some guidelines to assist you:
- Men use mate, women NEVER do
- Men should NEVER EVER say mate to a woman, or you are likely to get slapped down or hated forever after.
- Men can shake hands with an old friend and say, “How are you going mate, long time no see” or whatever. “How are you mate”? All good and totally accepted and expected.
- They can use mate if pulled over by the police; “mate I wasn’t over the limit” really.
- “No worries mate” is a very common usage for lots of situations. Generally if someone apologizes for something and you are not peeved about it, you say this.
- Using ‘mate’ is highly convenient for men if they forget a man’s name.
- If they forget a woman’s name and are by themselves, they are screwed.
- If I am there, I will bail Gordon out by jumping in, with “Hi, I’m Paula, sorry I didn’t get your name”, then, I promptly forget it anyhow.
- For women who forget someone’s name, it will depend on your age on how you handle it.
- I get away with saying sweetheart or honey, to younger people.
- For older people, I just crap on with so much that they forget that I have forgotten their name if by myself.
- Gordon is also trained to recognize the signs of me having forgotten and jumps in. If it is a man, he will say, “Hi mate, I’m Gordon. If it is a woman, he says, “Hi, I’m Gordon”. Either way, hopefully, they volunteer their name for both of our sakes
- Mate is really common at any sporting events from commentator to spectators while avoiding number 2 and not calling a sheila, mate!
BTW, we don’t use Sheila so ignore any soaps you may have seen.
Hope this helps you all out when you are in Australia or talking to an Australian. Remember if you want to come and work here or visit us for a long time, you will ready need to learn how to us the term …. and don’t forget knowing how to swear also helps .
If I can’t remember a woman friends name, I just say “what’s goin on kiddo”?
I might be around your age Paula Luv.😁
hmm, sort of works 🙂
As an Aussie woman all I can is- fuck off, mate.
The term is gender neutral.
English is my second language which I learnt in Cambridge. From that time until couple of weeks ago I had never been called “mate” however a colleague in my new job called me “mate”. Understanding that “colloquial language is quite dynamic” I said nothing but I believe that the majority of ladies out there would prefer not to be called “mate”, I don’t believe it is as friendly as you want to say when applied to a “lady or girl”it may sound OK when it is used for a conversation between “boys = mates” (smile)
I don’t like to be called ‘mate’ ever. It’s a boy type thing cause they can’t remember anyone’s name
this is so bullshit.
I use mate a lot.
i’m a kiwi but.
Great to have your own opinion. I’m still not calling you mate.
You can get away with calling a women mate in north Queensland and the territory, as long as it is friendly:)
I have heard this from friends in Queensland too. I am from NSW (smiley face)
I went through a phase of not using mate but I’ve got to say, since I got to London it’s made a resurgence!
Lol great wrap up and I totally agree. It is interesting how their isn’t a generic term for women like mate that everyone can get away with. I have never thought about that before.
I have been listening for years to find out how men in particular go; they just squirm and look into space when talking to a woman
I was just thinking about this the other day…so there is no friendly way to address women?
It is really difficult, particularly for a man. Can’t call you sweetie or honey because that is not on. Older men tend to ‘just’ get away with luv. I will listen out and tell you what people say but it is hard.
I hadn’t thought about the lack of a generally applicable greeting for male to female before but I think that’s an accurate observation. Guys have to use the womans name or no greeting at all, eg the greeting might simply be “Hi” or “Hi I’m fred”. Interesting.
It is one of those small things that can make a big difference.
Love this so much! Can’t wait to (not) put mate into action – thank you! -Veronica
If someone really annoys you badly, a man, stand with hands on hips and say “listen mate” :))
Nice!! I also call my sons by ‘mate’ or ‘matey’ sometimes. Apart from that I think you have done a good job of explaining this unique Australian slang!
Thank you. Somoene sent to me that they still call women shells. Could have wacked him one.