A quick guide to New Zealand slang for when you’re in America

Steven Adams
Steven Adams
Steven Adams

Steven Adams realized very quickly that some Kiwi colloquialisms can not be translated in the US. For example, the phrase “little monkeys”.



Cam McMillian, who is The NZ Herald’s digital sport editor, appreciated Adam’s step for realizing his faux pas and apologizing quickly. Actually it was clear he did not have any special intention to insult anyone, but he understood how it may have sounded that way.

Read  An honest version of New Zealand

There are many similar phrases which do not translate. The USA and New Zealand are two countries divided by a common language.

Here are some of the other phrases that may put a Kiwi in quite an awesome situation in the US:

Sweet as: The first time when I heard this, I thought it was a catcall. After learning what it meant, I was waiting for the rest of the phrase. Sweet as … and what? So that’s the complete phrase? Cool. Awesome. Sweet as.

Read  The 8 Best Maps Without New Zealand

All Blacks, All Whites, Tall Blacks: Americans who aren’t quite familiar with New Zealand sport may not guess the meaning at once when hearing these names for the first time. It’s not until they are explained, or you Google the teams and learn that these are their actual names, that they make sense.

Tramping in the bush: This sounds mysterious, like a bit of a sexcapade. In reality it means, “I’m looking forward to a tramp in the bush this weekend along the West Coast. Gonna bring my husband and some protective gear for it.

The colorful language spoken by Kiwi people is fun for others to try to learn and imitate. And, although a person  using Kiwi slang in unfamiliar, foreign surrounds can easily find themselves misunderstood and end up in an awkward situation, these things ultimately lead to new understanding between people, cultures, and countries.

Did we miss any? Let us know below or try our Kiwi Slang Quiz