In my previous job I heard many Australian speakers using aye like sorry and pardon to ask for repeating what other person said. I also heard one kiwi guy using aye in the same way. But, now I work somewhere else with people from different countries -- although they speak English. They mostly use huh instead of aye and don't understand aye, although most of them were born in Australia.

So, does aye really mean same sorry and pardon in Australia and New Zealand?

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    Are you "mistranscribing" what would normally be written as Eh? That's a sound made in speech, especially one used to express enquiry, where the "enquiry" often effectively amounts to I didn't hear that, Please repeat what you said, Pardon?, What [did you say]?. We Brits often say 'Ay is for 'orses, but in an Australian accent Eh? often rhymes with eye rather than hay. Apr 26, 2018 at 12:43
  • @FumbleFingers I reckon it sounds same as I. From your link, when I clicked on speaker button it sounds the same as people speak here. So I guess I am talking of Eh.
    – user31782
    Apr 26, 2018 at 13:01
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    In which case it's not really a "word" with any particularly clear / fixed meaning. Among other meanings, it might be "shorthand" for What did you say?, Do / Don't you agree? I agree / disagree. Or it might mean pretty much nothing at all - some Canadians, for example, seem to append it to many conversational utterances where it's nothing more than a meaningless "discourse marker". Apr 26, 2018 at 13:19
  • @FumbleFingers Actually, there is a definite meaning to the Canadian "Eh?" It's meant to seek agreement, consensus, or understanding and is a rough equivalent to "okay?" or "right?" So it's correct to say, "The store is closed, eh?" but it is incorrect and weird, even in Canada, to say, "Is the store open yet, eh?" Apr 26, 2018 at 21:10
  • @Canadian: Taking note of your handle, it seems unwise for me to argue over how Canadians use eh. But I would just say that in some British "colloquial speech" contexts, it can be perfectly natural to append it to a question. Particularly, I think, a threatening question - such as when you knock over a guy's drink in a pub, and he says/asks Are you gonna buy me another pint, eh? Apr 27, 2018 at 12:29

1 Answer 1


NZ has more of a scottish influence then Australia, but even as an Australian I would take aye to be the Scottish yes. Put with a question mark (written or intoned) then it could take on all possible meanings of "yes?" That's not something in my experience that would cover pardon/sorry, but I imagine there'd be groups out there that would use it as such. You can get an interjection to mean almost anything with the right intonation.

The other version is at the end of a sentence eg "that was sick as, aye". It's added in expectation of an affirmative response.

  • Right, aye is yes in Scottish. And the Scots use it all the time even when they export themselves.
    – Lambie
    Apr 26, 2018 at 15:14
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    It would be good to include that the "aye" you are talking about is "aye that sounds like eye". Just as there seems to be confusion around whether OP meant "aye like eye, or aye like A"
    – user68033
    Apr 26, 2018 at 16:27
  • aye like A is spelled "eh" for some reason and means "what?"
    – user253751
    Jun 29, 2020 at 13:01

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