Why do Australians always say “mate”? (Explained)

Commonwealth of Australia is one of the three countries on the continent of Australia. The country is more often referred to as simply Australia and it is the sixth largest country in the world by total land area.

The land area spans the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and other smaller islands.

Although Canberra is the current capital of the country, most people are more familiar with Sydney which is the largest city in the country.Why Australia say mate

Australia is home to a lot of natural wonders and unique landscapes that are captivating and thrilling, especially to travellers. The country’s population of over 25 million have rich local culture and traditions.

And like most people, their culture follow them everywhere they go. One of the obvious culture of Australians is how often they tend to say the word “mate” in the course of a conversion.

This article will provide some insight into why Australians seem to always use that word and what it means.


Why do Australians always say “mate”?

The word “mate” is a unique aspect of the Australian vocabulary and culture. It is so versatile that not using it in a conversation is likely a difficult task for an Australian.

You see, an Australian can use the word as a form of greeting a complete stranger in order to get their attention.

That way, they can get the attention of someone they do not know in a way that is not off-putting.

However, amongst friends the term “mate” is often an endearing way of showing camaraderie. It is often used in a smooth, casual conversation between friends they are comfortable with and it also communicates the total acceptance of such person.

“Mate” can also be a way to show equality among friends. Australians use it to let you know that they consider a person as equal to them in all aspect when they refer to the person as “mate”.

Now, even though “mate” is mostly used by Australians in a friendly manner, it can also be used in a sarcastic or hostile way to address someone they do not like much.

For instance, a peeved Australian customer on a call with a customer care representative may say something like “Listen here, mate” and you can rest assured there is nothing friendly about that.

That said, the key reason “mate” is so often used by Australians is because it represents a key and common aspect of their everyday culture.

It is something they say in casual conversations that have grown into a reflex habit and they probably do not even notice it like outsiders do.

What does it mean when you call someone “mate”?

Although the term “mate” has multipurpose uses when it is wielded by Australians, it is most often used as a way of expressing fondness and amicability, especially among friends.

They use it to show that they actually respect the person and consider the person to be a friend. In that sense, “mate” communicates a sense of camaraderie and joviality.

However, you must understand that the word is quite dynamic. As such, it may be used to mean other things depending on the context of a conversation and with whom the conversation is taking place.

For instance, “mate” can also simply mean “an unknown person”. You see, an Australian meeting you for the first time might say “G’day, mate”

as a form of greeting you when they have no idea what your name is and they need to strike up a conversation.

Ultimately, the meaning of the term “mate” is often evident in the context of the conversation.

Is “mate” an Australian term?

The term “mate” is originally derived from Middle German before being adopted by Middle English.

Hence, the term is not a term developed by Australians. As a matter of fact, “mate” means a colleague, comrade or partner in most English speaking countries.

But, it is especially used to mean “friend” in Britain, New Zealand and Australia.

However, the frequent use of the term by Australians to mean various things has made the term much more identified with Australians than other people.

As such, most people often assume that the term originates from Australia. That is not the case. It is merely a prominent aspect of the colloquial vocabulary of Australians.

Is saying mate rude?

As stated earlier, “mate” is often used by Australians to communicate friendship and joviality or as a form of friendly greeting to a total stranger.

Hence, the term “mate” is ordinarily not a rude thing to say in a conversation. In fact, some Australians even address their local law enforcement agents, such as a Policeman, as a “mate”.

However, it is imperative to understand the fact that the term “mate” is multipurpose in use.

Hence, even though the term is generally used in a friendly manner in conversations with friends, it can also be used in a passive-aggressive manner.

Recall that “mate” can be used to refer to an “unknown person”, as such using the term “mate” sarcastically when it is obvious the speaker knows the person’s name may be an attempt by the speaker to emotionally distance himself from the person being addressed.

That said, know that calling someone “mate” is not rude in the same manner as calling someone “stupid”.

Can you call a girl mate?

Although the term “mate” as used by Australians often mean “friends on a platonic level”, it is also important to note that the term can also generally mean a sexual or breeding partner.

As such, most ladies find it improper, impolite and downright offensive when they are addressed as “mates”.

Perhaps in recognition of this, most Australians have an unwritten code of conduct that dictates that only men can refer to their fellow men as “mates”.

As a result, men can only call other men “mates” but rarely address women as “mates”. Neither do women call men or even other women “mates”.

This is so because the word “mate” is considered sensitive in intergender Dynamics and also to avoid giving unintended offence.

With the knowledge contained in this piece, you now have an improved understanding of the meaning, use and rightful applications of the term “mate” as it relates to Australians.

You can now comfortably follow conversations with your Australian friends with a perfect understanding of their use of the word “mate”.

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