Before You Watch NCIS: Sydney, a Handy Glossary of Aussie/UK Slang and Terms

TV’s fifth NCIS series is the first one with an international setting. Let’s see if we can’t help you proactively navigate the “language” barrier, before NCIS: Sydney arrives this Tuesday, Nov. 14 on CBS.

Olivia Swann (Legends of Tomorrow) and Todd Lasance (Spartacus: War of the Damned) lead the Australia-based series as, respectively, NCIS Special Agent Michelle Mackey and her 2IC AFP counterpart, Sergeant Jim “JD” Dempsey. Rounding out the ensemble are Sean Sagar (Fate: The Winx Saga) as NCIS Special Agent DeShawn Jackson, Tuuli Narkle (Bad Behaviour) as AFP liaison officer Constable Evie Cooper, Mavournee Hazel (Neighbours) as AFP forensic scientist Bluebird “Blue” Gleeson, and William McInnes (Blue Heelers) as AFP forensic pathologist Dr. Roy Penrose.

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Having screened the first four episodes (of eight), TVLine has compiled the “glossary” below of British and Australian terms that you will hear on the series, and could benefit from being familiar with ahead of time.


This comes up in the series premiere.

Created in September 2021, AUKUS is a trilateral partnership between Australia, the UK and the U.S., intended to strengthen the ability of each government to support security and defense interests. The original initiative was a commitment to support Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered subs for its Royal Australian Navy. A second initiative focused on cyber capabilities, A.I., quantum technologies and undersea capabilities. Since March of this year, AUKUS has sought “an optimal pathway” to produce nuclear-powered submarine capability in Australia while ensuring that all three partners maintain the highest non-proliferation standards.

HMAS Kuttabul / Fleet Base East

The Royal Australian Navy maintains a “two-ocean navy” (Pacific and Indian) capable of responding quickly to tasking from either seaboard. The two fleet bases are known as Fleet Base West (HMAS Stirling) and Fleet Base East (HMAS Kuttabul) — the latter of which serves as the administrative hub for a precinct that includes the Garden Island dockyard and adjacent wharf facilities.

HMAS Watson

Located at Sydney’s South Head (and figuring into a midseason episode), Watson is the Royal Australian Navy’s premiere maritime warfare training establishment.


I know, I know, we’re all quite familiar with this term. But AFP forensic pathologist Dr. Roy Penrose (played by William McInnes) uses it a lot, so…. Bloke as slang originated in early 19th-Century England, and means “fella.”

“Telling porky pies”

Another British expression, it means to lie about something. (Personally, I think that all of us Stateside should start using this one. It’s fun!)

“Scissors, Paper, Rock”

Just like our game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” but phrased differently. (Sometimes “paper” will come first, and at least one AFP team member insists there’s also a “taser” option.)

“Taking the piss”

Another British expression, it means to tease someone. For example, AFP Sergeant “JD” Dempsey at one point assures NCIS Special Agent Michelle Mackey, after some good-natured teasing, that he’s just “taking the piss.” Yeah, I quickly Googled that one!


A jovial way to call someone daft, as AFP forensic scientist Bluebird “Blue” Gleeson (played by Mavournee Hazel) does — to herself! — in an early episode.

Wagga Wagga

As explained to me by a dear friend/Australia native, to ask someone, “Are you from Wagga Wagga?” can be almost sarcastic, as the city in New South Wales is perhaps not the most desirable place to call home…? (See also: Gobbagombalin, a suburb of Wagga Wagga.)

Triple Zero

0-0-0, Australia’s emergency phone number à la 9-1-1.

Lastly, filed under Great Minds Think Alike, CBS itself put out a primer led by NCIS: Sydney stars Tuuli Narkle (who is Australian) and Sean Sagar (British) — though between you, me and the dead petty officer at the base of that lamppost, none of the terms they cover come up in the early episodes.

Want non-etymological scoop on NCIS: Sydney, or for any other TV show ? Email, and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line!

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