Don't say this word if you're in Australia: 'I thought that was fine'

Navigating the cultural nuances of language can be a minefield, especially in a diverse and multicultural society like Australia.

In our interactions with others, it's not rare to unintentionally cause offence, whether through words, actions, or gestures. While intentions may be harmless, the impact of our behaviour can sometimes be misunderstood.

One expat recently discovered this the hard way when she used a seemingly innocent term that turned out to be offensive to Australians.

Emily Tollefson, an American expat living in Sydney for almost two years, was taken aback when she found out that the term 'champ' is considered offensive in Australia.

Her revelation came about during a conversation with her Australian best friend about words that are offensive in one country but not in the other.

‘She told me that the word "champ" is wildly offensive in Australia—and I thought she was taking the p***.’

She explained that in her mind, the term is a casual way to address people, similar to 'buddy', 'pal', or 'mate'.

However, in Australia, it carries a different connotation.

Selected photo.jpg
Emily Tollefson, an American expat living in Sydney, shared her story about how she unknowingly offended an Aussie man she was dating. Credits: Instagram / Emily Tollefson

The incident that sparked this discussion was a text message Emily sent to a man she was seeing.

‘He'd been out drinking the night before, so I sent him a message in the morning saying, "How are you feeling, champ?".’

His response was: 'Please don't call me that'.

Emily continued, ‘In my American brain, I thought that was fine. Some guys don't like to be called "champ", "mate", or "buddy" by girls they're seeing.’

'I told my best friend this story, and she told me that “champ” was very offensive in Australia—but that's not how I meant it.'

Several Australians chimed in on the matter.

One Australian man explained, 'Try being a bloke calling another bloke “champ” at a pub. It’s a term used for kids, and when you use it on another adult, you're undermining them.'

Another added, 'If you call a little kid “champ” it's fine. If you call an adult “champ”, you are being super patronising and picking a fight.'

‘“Champ”, “chief”, “captain”, “pal”, “sport”, and “tiger” are all seen as derogatory,’ one wrote.

However, not everyone agreed with this sentiment.

One man said, 'It's not offensive. Some people are just offended by everything. Toughen up, cupcake.'

Another added, 'I'm Aussie and today's year old, when I learn “champ” is an offensive word!! I've been living under a rock, it appears.'

The difference in connotation can lead to misunderstandings and even offence when people from different cultures interact.

Just like how one Canadian got confused about a very common phrase that Aussies say. You can read the full story here.

Key Takeaways
  • An American expat in Australia was surprised to learn that the term 'champ' can be considered offensive when used in certain contexts among Australians.
  • The word 'champ' was seen by some as patronising and can be interpreted as an insult, especially when used between adults.
  • The expat shared her story after mistakenly using the term 'champ' with the man she was dating, who was not pleased with the nickname.
  • While some Australians believed 'champ' to be derogatory and others were indifferent, the expat has learned it's best to understand local nuances when using certain terms.

Have you ever experienced a cultural misunderstanding due to language differences? Share your stories in the comments below.
For goodness sake. . . Get A Life! Some folk seem to make a career out of complaining and getting 'offended'. Stop it. Grow up. Do try to 'live' in our community. It's full of really nice people you know - even if they do call you champ in an endearing way.
  • Like
Reactions: Jo Piper3
All the f's and c's that stumble out of potty mouths and the choice is to be precious about being called Champ. He probably wouldn't have blinked if she had used these words ... "how the F... are you, silly Ba...ard". There are a lot of people who need a refresher course in conversation, Aussie or not.
What an absolute load of shit!! Tell my grandson he's a champ every time he gets a goal at Basketball, tell my other grandson that he's a cheeky little monkey and won't be changing my wording ever. Too many Snowflakes living in Australia now, all wishy washy wringers who need to grow the f^#k up and get over themselves or preferably do the world a favour and take a long walk off a short jetty.
  • Love
Reactions: Agave
“Champ”, “chief”, “captain”, “pal”, “sport”, and “tiger” are all seen as derogatory,’ one wrote - agree with the 100% consensus I would have thought that using the term 'Mate' would be a much worse term to use as I for one don't like the idea of mating with any of these tradespeople who obviously underhandedly like to invite me to mate with them.
But for real - Just GET REAL folks a word is just a word, I think the same when I hear people swearing and know that majority of times it's due largely to a lack of correct vocabulary - well that's what I like to think anyway (especially when it comes from my mouth) LOL
  • Like
Reactions: Jest
so if I call my golfing friend champ after he has won the competition, he will be mortified and hurt. OMG i have heard it all. who are these sooks? I could call them worse than that, precious wee males. This item makes me puke.
What is wrong with this country. Calling a grown man a champ. He sulks or gets angry.. Get over yourselves. Never heard anything so stupid or pathetic.
Hey, I’m 82 years, have never heard such B.S. what I’ve heard is mostly directed to very young people, who have done well in sport. I’ve Never heard that it’s offensive to Aussies, Had to be something that the P.C, brigade would cook up or the woke mob. It’s just crap! Can you imagine a group of sporting people who have won something like the recently World Cup in India, who are labelled, champs of the world, saying we are offended by being called ‘Champs’.
I wonder what would happen these days if you said a kid "oh you are a cheeky little monkey",,,,all in fun. Everyone used to have a laugh. Heaven help us.
a nrl player has had a conumption due to the name monkey. afl, nrl all sooks. grow up and take it on the chin, or just plain go and hide.
time for your best friend to get a life, grow up, or drop out. maybe better still get a best new friend. i have never heard of such dribble in my 84 years on this earth.
Definitely a load of rubbish. Never heard that that word was offensive. Next thing we'll be being told please and thank you will be considered offensive too. I think I should just keep my mouth shut 100% of the time..
Too many people who make too much unnecessary fuss over nothing. Unless someone is being deliberately derogatory in their language towards you, get over it and get on with your life. I’m sure a lot of these incidents are blown totally out of proportion by people who appear to have nothing better to do with their time than spend their lives thinking of ways to jump on the “woe is me” bandwagon. People need to take a chill pill and see the good in being an Aussie, embrace the “slang” it is part of the good ole Aussie way of life.
What a load of bullshit these idiots need to eat some concrete and toughen the f#ck up bloody sooks 🙄
I am 77 , and I am offended that someone is spreading this bullsh*t around . I have never heard so much crap in my life
Was born in Australia 72 years ago & this is a first for me. Am l behind the times with terminology?

Australians have a lingo all of their own which cannot be matched by any other country.
Are we a weird mob? Who cares? We love who we are.
  • Like
Reactions: jojo47

Join the conversation

News, deals, games, and bargains for Aussies over 60. From everyday expenses like groceries and eating out, to electronics, fashion and travel, the club is all about helping you make your money go further.

Seniors Discount Club

The SDC searches for the best deals, discounts, and bargains for Aussies over 60. From everyday expenses like groceries and eating out, to electronics, fashion and travel, the club is all about helping you make your money go further.
  1. New members
  2. Jokes & fun
  3. Photography
  4. Nostalgia / Yesterday's Australia
  5. Food and Lifestyle
  6. Money Saving Hacks
  7. Offtopic / Everything else
  • We believe that retirement should be a time to relax and enjoy life, not worry about money. That's why we're here to help our members make the most of their retirement years. If you're over 60 and looking for ways to save money, connect with others, and have a laugh, we’d love to have you aboard.
  • Advertise with us

User Menu

Enjoyed Reading our Story?

  • Share this forum to your loved ones.
Change Weather Postcode×
Change Petrol Postcode×