Monday, June 13, 2011

South African Slang Words

In order for many of you to understand me when I return home, I thought it would be a good idea to list some of the commonly used slang words from South Africa.  A more comprehensive list can be found at, but the following are ones you will most likely hear me utter once or twice:

bakkie - a utility truck.pick-up truck, now a mainstream word in South African English. Can also refer to a small bowl.

biltong - dried meat, similar to jerky (a mainstream word)

boerewors - spicy sausage (Afrikaans) farmer-sausage, used as a mainstream word in South African English

bokkie - (diminutive of bok, literally meaning "goat" or "doe") a popular term of endearment, comparable to "sweetheart", "honey", etc.

braai - to barbecue (from braaivleis), used a mainstream word in South African English

china - a friend; as in the greeting howzit china (likely origin: Cockney rhyming slang "China plate" (meaning "my mate"); from early British immigrants.

lekker - nice, good, great (lit. tasty)

sies - expression of disgust, disappointment, annoyance, as in: ag, sies, man

eish! - an interjection expressing resignation

gogo - grandmother, elderly woman (from Zulu, ugogo

hhayibo! - wow! (from Zulu, 'definitely not')

laduma! - a popular cheer at soccer matches, "he scores!"

Mzansi - South Africa (uMzantsi in Xhosa means "south")

ubuntu - compassion or kindness, humanity

yebo - Zulu meaning yes

wena - Zulu meaning "you". Commonly used in a sentence "Haw wena!"

chop - idiot, doos

just now, sometime in the near future, not necessarily immediately. Expresses an intention to act soon, but not necessarily immediately. (as in 20–90 minutes time)

now now - an immediate but not literal declaration of impending action, may be past or future tense. From the Afrikaans expression "nou nou". (as in 5–60 minutes)

isit - (pronounced: \izit\) the words "is" and "it" put together. Short term for "Is that so?" (For example: John: "Bra, I just found out I have a million dollars!" Charles: "Isit?"; or: John: "Bru, you would not believe how amazing it felt to footskate in front of all those people." Charles: "Isit?") Also, it can mean "really?"

shebeen - illegal drinking-establishment

1 comment:

  1. Love it! Will send you some from my side :) :)