List of South African slang words

List of South African slang words

South African slang reflects many different linguistic traditions.


This list of "Afrikanerisms" comprises slang words and phrases influenced by Afrikaans. Typical users include people with Afrikaans as their first language but who speak English as a second language; and people living in areas where the population speaks both English and Afrikaans. Many of these terms also occur widely amongst Durban Indians. Unless otherwise noted, these terms do not occur in formal South African English.

*"ag man" - oh man; "ag" as the Afrikaans cognate of "oh", "man" pronounced as in English
*"aweh"( pronounced AAAH-WHERE - (said in excitement, as in: "Aweh my boss said I can go home early today."). The word has many meanings or uses: "hello", "goodbye", "yes". Also associated with prison use. (Greeting) "Aweh my bru" (Hello my friend). Compare: howzit, yooit, hoesit, yo.
*"baas" - boss
*"babbelas" - hangover (originally from Zulu)
*"bakgat" - expression of appreciation for something very well accomplished; cool.
*"bakkie" - a utility truck, pick-up truck, now a mainstream word in South African English
*"bakvissie" - a giggly teenage girl
*"bal hang" - doing nothing
*"ballas" - balls, i.e. testicles (rude)."ballas bak" - roughly translates to "to bake your balls"; used to suggest relaxation or lying in the sun and doing nothing
*"befok" - really good, exciting, cool; as in "The rock-show was "befok." [Do not confuse with "gefok".] Paradoxically, also can mean "crazy" in a very strong sense, as in "Are you befok?" — definitely not a polite enquiry.
*"bek" - derogatory term for mouth (Afrikaans: an animal's mouth); "hou jou bek" - "shut up" (literally" "hold your [animal's] mouth"). This translates well into British English as "Shut your gob."
*"bergie" - from "berg", mountain, originally referring to vagrants who sheltered in the forests of Table Mountain; now a mainstream word for a particular subculture of vagrants in Cape Town. When used as slang refers to anyone down-and-out
*"bill" - used to ask for the cheque; as in: "Can I have the bill, please?"
*"biltong" - dried meat, similar to jerky (a mainstream word)
*"bioscope", "bio" - cinema, movie theatre (now dated), originally a international English word that became defunct elsewhere, it has survived longer in South Africa as a result of the influence of the Afrikaans cognate "bioskoop". Also related to the Dutch word "bioscoop", which means cinema and is still used as such in The Netherlands.
*"bliksem" - strike, hit, punch; also used as an expression of surprise/emphasis (rude; many consider the word a profanity). It derives from the Dutch word for "lightning", and often occurs in conjunction with "donner". Used as a curse in Afrikaans: "Jou bliksem!"
*"blou" - to be tired; also meaning "high" or "stoned" in American slang usage
*"blou hond se kont" - absolutely nothing. Phrase: "Jy weet 'n blou hond se kont daarvan af." English: "You know absolutely nothing about it." (rude)
*"boer" - literally “farmer” in Afrikaans. English-speaking people use the word to indicate an Afrikaans farmer, especially in a derogatory way, like “country bumpkin”; but Afrikaners use it with much more pride, indicating a person with a deep love of the soil of Africa, a provider of food.
*"boere"/ "gattas" - the police (plural of boer). Afrikaners (stereotyped as farmers, once dominated the police-force. This usage ties in with the derogatory meaning of 'boer', but Afrikaners use it with much more pride, indicating a person with a deep love of the soil of Africa, a provider of food.
*"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.
*"boknaai" - to "naai" one's "bokkie"; or — more usually — a stronger form of "bullshit"
*"bosberaad" - strategy meeting held outdoors, for example in a game reserve.
*"bossies or bosbefok" - crazy, whacko, mad. Also a term to describe one who has shell shock. Refers to the time of the South African Border War where soldiers spent time in the bush ("bos/bosse") and would return home suffering battle flash-backs.
*"bostarmers" - hoarders, addicts, obsessives
*"bot" - boring
*"broekie" - panties or ladies underwear. Originates from the Afrikaans word 'broek', meaning "trousers".
*"bru" - male friend (shortening of "broer" meaning brother, see also "bra" below); compare American English: "dude"
*"button" - mandrax tablet
*"braai" - a barbecue, to barbecue (from "braaivleis"), used a mainstream word in South African English
*"cherry" "meddie" - see "tjerrie"
*"china/chine" - a friend; as in the greeting "howzit china" (likely origin: Cockney rhyming slang "China plate" (meaning "my mate"); from early British immigrants.
*"chise" - to obtain, usually a girl.
*"chommie" - a friend (compare English "chum"); also refers to the perineum area between vagina and anus (helps one keep it in the right hole)
*"daait/dait" - food (used by so-called coloured people)
*"dagga" - most common word for marijuana; pronounced with a bit of phlegm at the end
*"deurtrekker" - g-string. [Literally "pull-througher", from Afrikaans "deur" meaning "through", and "trek" meaning "pull". (It's laaik the underpant are pulling through your buttok.)]
*"dik tril" - "You think you are the man". (Literally: "thick penis".)
*"dik parra - a girl with a huge pussy
*"dinges" - thingamabob, a wotzit or a whatchamacallit
*"domkop" - idiot
*"donner" - to beat up. Used together with "bliksem". Derived from "donder" (thunder, related to Thor). Amounts to an ancient curse.
*"doos" - idiot (more likely an "asshole"; can also mean "female genitalia") (profanity). For example: "Rory Da Costa is the biggest doos to walk the planet!" From the Afrikaans word for "box" (rude).
*"dof" - stupid
*"dop" - alcohol, to drink alcohol, to fail. For example: "Come and drink a dop (a drink) with me" or "I'm gonna dop that test."
*"dorpie" - small town
*"doss, dossing" - Sleep, nap, taking life easy
*"Droë wors" - (Afrikaans) 'dry sausage', similar to biltong
*"draadtrek" - male masturbation (literally "pulling your wire")
*"dronkie" - drunkard
*"druk" - to embrace (not necessary sexually); tense person
*"eina!" - ouch! used as a mainstream word in South African English
*"ek sê" - you there (used to address a person who is not known), I say
*"etter" - pus
*"flaterwater"- Tipp-Ex [comes from "flater" (mistake) and "water" (water)]
*"floue" - an unfunny (weak) joke (used by Gauteng Indians, from the Afrikaans word for "weak")
*"fokol" - (profanity) "Ek voel fokol" ("I feel fuck all")
*"fyndraai" - at the brink of orgasm (Afrikaans — "at the fine end of the last turn"); also the perineum (the area between the anus and the vagina)
*"gam" - A name given to the coloured people in South Africa, particularly in Cape Town. Derived from the derogative "gammat", itself derived from the Islamic name " Achmat".
*"gatta" - a policeman
*"gat" - ass, rear-end, bum (Afrikaans for 'hole') - derogatory
*"gatvol" - fed up, had enough. (Afrikaans - hole-full).
*"gedoente" - to-do, hassle, mess
*"geelbek" - derogatory term for coloured person
*"gesuip" - very drunk, intoxicated, plastered. Original Afrikaans meaning for an animal drinking (water) - of course.
*"gomgat" - bumpkin, redneck (in US sense, not to be confused with "rooinek")
*"ge-urt" or "ge earth" - on a drug high
*"ge-goef" - smoked silly due to illegal substances
*"goof, goef" - swim, dip
*"gooi" - throw, chuck
*"ghoffel/goffel" - derogatory term for a Coloured person
*"groenboontjiesbottertoebroodjie" - peanut-butter and jelly sandwhich
*"groenewald"- Referring to a black person (racist)
*"gwar" - vagina
*"gwaai/pholish" - cigarette, to smoke
*"hoesit, hoezit", "howzit" - how’s it going? How are you?
*"hoer" - whore
*"hoerpoes - whore pussy
*"holnaai" - to have anal sex; as in "Would you like use your winky in holnaai?"
*"hond menstruasie asem" - dog period breath; as in: "I didn't like kissing her. she had hond menstruasie asem"
*"hotnot/hottie" - derogatory term for a Coloured person; as in: "Get the kaffir! oh no he's a hotnot!"
*"in sy moer" - badly damaged, destroyed (rude, often considered profanity due to 'moer')
*"iskor cleavage" - if someone's butt shows. English: plumber's cleavage
*"ja" - yes (ya)
*"jags", - horny, promiscuous (root word: "jag", to hunt). Also "jas".
*"jirre" - wow! (Afrikaans: 'Here', meaning 'Lord')
*"jintoe" - a whore
*"jislaaik!" - wow!
*"jisus" - wow! (from Afrikaans pronunciation of Jesus) (profanity)
*"jol" - to have fun, to party, can also refer to a disco or party, to commit adultery or even dating or courting
*"jollie patrollie" - to go for a joy ride
*"kaffir" - extremely offensive word for a black person; as in "Don't call me a kaffir". Equivalent in offensiveness to "Nigger", and means the same.
*"kak" - shit, crap, rubbish, nonsense (profanity), Very wide usage. Also used as a way of further expressing one's feeling in language, for example, instead of "that girl is pretty" one can say emphatically "that girl is kak pretty!"
*"kakstamper" - One who participates in anal sex (translated literally: "Shit pusher") (Example: "That moffie is such a kakstamper".)
*"khaki" - [from the colour worn by British troops] derogatory term for an English person
*"kêrels" - police (Original Afrikaans meaning: guys). In English pronounced as: Care-Rills. "The kêrels are coming, watch out!"
*"keballas" - somebody one thinks of as a friend
*"kiff, kif, kief" - (adjective) poisonous, wicked, cool, neat, great, wonderful. The word derives from the Afrikaans word for poison: "gif". Coastal pot-smokers used the term to describe Durban Poison: "Gifs" [locally-grown marijuana] . The word evolved into "kiff", an adjective for "cool", amongst English-speaking people on the east coast.
*"kind/kinnes" - girlfriend or pretty girls: "kom ons gaan chise daai mooi kinnes!"
*"klap" - to smack in the face. (From Afrikaans). "He got klapped in the bar". Like a [ "bitch-slap"] .
*"kleintjie" - small one, tiny thing, child, baby
*"kont-kop" - to say someone has a vagina for brains (profanity)
*"kokolol" - Referring to low-class workers/operators. Phrase: "Iskor kokolol" referring to common low-paid operator of Mittal Steel. Normally lives in towns called Orkney or Stilfontein.
*"kroon" - literally: "crown"; slang meaning: "money"
*"kwaai" - cool, excellent (Afrikaans: "angry". Compare the US slang word "phat".)
*"lag" - a laugh/funny. For example: "That movie was a lag."
*"laaik" - like. "Ek laaik dit stukkend" - "I'm enjoying it very much"
*"laaitie", "laitie" - a younger person, esp. a younger male such as a younger brother or son (or daughter nowadays)
*"lank" - lots/a lot
*"lekker" - nice, good, great (lit. sweet)
*"ma se poes" - "your mother's fanny", used so often it has virtually become traditional. Variation: "Jou ma se poes". Preferred insult by intoxicated Colored people, especially in the Western Cape.
*"mal" - mad, crazy
*"mallie" - mother
*"maats" - friends
*"meid" - derogatory term for a black or coloured woman (from Dutch, meaning girl, and in old(er) Dutch also used like the English "maid(servant)")
*"mielie" - millet corn (AmE) / maize (BrE), staple diet, penis. "Mielie rol": masturbation
*"muggie" - bug, especially a little flying gnat
*"moegoe" - stupid person, coward, or weakling
*"moer" - to assault (from Afrikaans 'moor' - to murder) (rude, often considered profanity). Also an animal's womb, used in the phrase "Gaan vlieg in jou moer!" as in "FUCK OFF!" (literally "Go fly in your womb!".)
*"moerse" - big, massive, impressive. "I had a moerse piece of meat at the braai". "He scored a moerse try."
*"moffie" - male homosexual (derogatory).
*"moer-toe" - stuffed up or destroyed (my car is moer-toe)
*"moltrein" - subway, derived from the Dutch words "mol" (mole) and "trein" (train)
*"mompie" - retard. ("Liesl, you are such a Mompie!")
*"mos" - (used at the end of a sentence, as in " know mos" — similar to the English word "then")
*"naai" - to have sex (literally 'to stitch') (profanity)
*"naartjie" (Citrus reticulata) (Afrikaans)- tangerine, mandarin; used as a mainstream word in South African English
*"N.A.A.F.I." - (pronounced NAAFI) acronym for: "No Ambition and Fuck-all Interest"; (originated from the (still existing) British military "Navy, Army and Air Force Institute") used to describe a lazy person. Used extensively during the days of National Service.
*"nê?" - do you know what I mean?, oh really?
*"nooit" - never, no way, unbelievable!
*"oom" - an older man of authority, commonly in reference to an older Afrikaans man (Afrikaans for uncle)
*"ou" (plural ouens) man, guy, bloke (also "oke") (Afrikaans = old)
*"ou ballie" - old man; as in: "shaft me ou ballie"
*"pap" - traditional maize porridge similar to grits; can also mean "deflated".
*"pap genaai" - Have intense sex to the point of exhaustion. Used to mean extremely tired "Ek is pap genaai."
*"Pappegaai Slaai" - Dagga
*"parra" - a vagina (from the Afrikaans word for 'froggie')
*"piel" - penis; as in "Suck my piel"
*"pielvreter - penis eater - a girl who loves to fuck*"piele!" - exclamation meaning "great" (rude)
*"plaas" - farm
*"plank" - derogatory term used by English-speaking people to refer to Afrikaners. Stems from people with a thick Afrikaans accent sounding 'as thick as two short planks' when speaking English
*"platteland" - rural area
*"pluk" - to masturbate (of men only). Literally: "to pluck"
*"poep" - fart. Also: "spuitpoep", literally a "squirt fart" (not used in polite company)
*"poes" - female genitalia (profanity) - equivalent to the English "cunt" used as an intensifier, see "poes-lekker". The term occurs as diversely as the English word "fuck".
*"poes-lekker" - a lesbian (cunt-lapper) (profanity); also a word for very "nice" ("lekker" is Afrikaans for "nice") in Afrikaans (rude)
*"poespas - Chaotiese deurmekaar spul - when something happens at a chaotic pace.
*"poeslip - pussylips*"pomp" - to have sex (from Afrikaans word for "pump") (rude)
*"pommie" - derogatory term for an English person (borrowed from Australia); as in: "I wish i was as rich as the pommies"
*"pram" - female breast - "Daai vrou het n lekker pram"
*"rokkie" - a little dress or skirt. (She raised her "rokkie" and showed me her "broekies"!)
*"rooinek" - ("red neck") derogatory term for English person. Almost the exact opposite to the American usage of "redneck".
*"rooipiel" - literally "red penis" - derogatory term for English person
*"sat" - dead - see 'vrek' below. (Pronounced as sut in English)
*"sies" - expression of disgust, disappointment, annoyance, as in: "ag, sies, man".
*"skief" - to glare at someone (root: Afrikaans 'skeef', skew)
*"skaapfokker" - Derogatory term for Australian, means "sheep-fucker". Also used to describe South Africans who fled to Australia and who support the Australian economy.
*"skop, skiet en boom klim" - literally "kicking, shooting and climbing trees". A colloquial description of an action film, usually of the lighter, more humorous kind. (Think Jackie Chan.)
*"skop, skiet en donner" - literally "kicking, shooting and beating people up". A colloquial description of an action movie of the more violent kind. (Think Jean-Claude Van Damme.)
*"skelm" - crook
*"skinner, skinder" - gossip
*"skommel" - to masturbate (from Afrikaans word for "shuffle") (rude). Used by common people.
*"skop" - kick
*"skort" - watch out, be careful
*"skraal" - very hungry. (Durban region, from Afrikaans for "thin" or "emaciated".)
*"scrompie" - Slang for "hobo" or "bergie". (Liesl told her 7-year-old son, Karl, to walk away from the scrompie walking towards them.)
*"skrik" - fright
*"skyf" - cigarette, a puff, and also less commonly Marijuana or "dagga".
*"slaat" - to hit, to take (from Afrikaans "slaan" for "hit")
*"slet" -whore or slut.
*"Slymsloot - slimy hole - used to refer to a womans pussy when she is wet and horny*"smaak" - to like another person or thing
*"smaak stukkend" - to like very much or to love to pieces (literal meaning of stukkend). "I smaak you stukkend" = "I love you madly".
*"soek" - to look for trouble with someone/to antagonise/to stir up trouble = "you soeking with me?" - Afrikaans: "to look for".
*"sommer" - for no particular reason, just because
*"soutpiel", "soutie" - (Afrikaans 'salt penis') derogatory term for English-speaking white South African on account of his supposed divided loyalties: one foot in South Africa, the other in England, and genitals in the sea.
*"sosatie" - a kebab on a stick, used as mainstream word in South African English
*"spiesgooier" - literally "spear thrower": a derogatory term for a black person
*"steek" - stab, poke (with knife); have sex. "He/she steeked her/him" = "He/she poked her/him".
*"stukkie", "stekkie" - a woman (from the Afrikaans meaning "a piece")
*"stoep" - porch, verandah, like American English "stoop", but pronounced with a shorter vowel
*"stok styf stywe piele" - excited and ready to go (literally: "Rock-hard erect penis")
*"stukkend" - (Afrikaans) broken
*"swak" - broke. Original Afrikaans: weak. "I'm swak, ek sê". Also used to express disgust or derision (depending on tone and context), for example: "It's swak that I failed the test"
*"tannie" - an older female authority figure, used most often by Indians. Derived from the Afrikaans word for "aunty"
*"tatie" or "tati" - insane, crazy or eccentric
*"tattie"- referring to somebody one respects. English: "Father". (From Sotho.)
*"tekkies" - sneakers. (The Anglicised pronunciation "takkies" has become mainstream in South African English.)
*"tette" or "tiete" - a woman's breasts (Afrikaans)
*"tit"- nice cool great "That's very tit."
*"tjerrie" - pronounced 'cherry'. Term for one's girlfriend, one's "stukkie"
*"tjoen" - to insult, poke fun at (actually spelled as in the English word "tune" (as "don't tune me grief")
*"toet" - vagina
*"tollie-lekker" - a woman who gives oral sex to me (Afrikaans 'penis licker')
*"toppie" - father - see "ou ballie"
*"tos" - 1. n. An insult (e.g. "That oke are a tos"). 2. v. To masturbate ("Tonight I are going to has 'n lekker tos").
*"trek" - to move. (The word has become international with the meaning of "making a pioneering journey"; the slang usage more closely resembles the standard Afrikaans meaning.)
*"tril" - penis (derogatory)
*"vaalie" - mildly derogative term used by people on the coast to describe a tourist from inland (Root: Old Transvaal province)
*"veldskoen(s)" - traditional Afrikaans outdoors shoes made from hide
*"voël" - penis (literally meaning "bird")
*"voertsek" - get lost, buzz off, go away, run, scram (rude, often considered a profanity, or at least rather coarse)
*"vrek" - derogatory term for dead. (Original Afrikaans meaning for an animal dying).
*"vrot" - rotten, putrid, sometimes drunk.
*"vry" - to make out. (from Afrikaans word for "rub")
*"waai" - to go, to leave. (The Afrikaans word "waai" means "to wave". (Speakers of Afrikaans pronounce the spelling /w/ similarly to the way speakers of English pronounce the spelling /v/.)
*"wat nou se die bok vir die vrou" - "What will we do now?" or "What's up now?" (literally: "What now, said the buck to the woman?")
*"windgat" - highty-tighty; highty and mighty; snobbish; also refers to someone who likes to speed. (Afrikaans: "wind hole")
*"yare" same as 'jislaaik'
*"yoh" - an expression of surprise
*"zol" - a (likely marijuana-filled) joint

Words from Xhosa, Zulu and the other Nguni Languages

The following lists slang borrowings from the Bantu languages. They typically occur in use in South Africa's townships, but some have become increasingly popular amongst white youth. Unless otherwise noted these words do not occur in formal South African English.

*"chana" - my mate (from Zulu, 'my nephew'); umshana
*"dagga" - marijuana (has become a mainstream word in South African English)
*"donga" - ditch of the type found in South African topography. (From Zulu, "wall"; this has become a mainstream word for such a feature.)
* "eish!" - an interjection expressing resignation
*"fundi" - expert (from Nguni 'umfundisi' meaning teacher or preacher) - used in mainstream South African English
*"gogga" - bug (from Khoikhoi "xo-xon", creeping things, here the "g" is pronounced like "ch" in Scottish "loch")
*"gogo" - grandmother, elderly woman (from Zulu, "ugogo")
*"haw!" - expression of disbelief
*"hhayibo!" - wow! (from Zulu, 'definitely not')
*"indaba" - conference (from Zulu, 'a matter for discussion'); has become a mainstream word in South African English
*"inyanga" - traditional herbalist and healer (compare with "sangoma")
*"jova" - injection, to inject (from Zulu)
*"laduma!" - a popular cheer at soccer matches, "he scores!" (literally: "it thunders", in Zulu)
*"lekgotla" - planning session, or strategy (used mostly in official government papers, but even in papers written in English)
*"muti" - medicine (from Zulu "umuthi") - typically traditional African
*"Mzansi" - South Africa ("uMzantsi" in Xhosa means "south")
*"sangoma" - traditional healer or diviner
*"shongololo" - millipede (from Zulu and Xhosa, "ukushonga", 'to roll up')
*"spaza" - an informal trading-post/convenience store found in townships and remote areas
*"toyi-toyi" - protest-dancing; used in mainstream South African English
*"tsotsi" - gangster, layabout, no gooder
*"ubuntu" - compassion or kindness, humanity
*"yebo" - yes
*"wena" - Zulu meaning "you". Commonly used in a sentence "Haw "wena"!"

Original South African English coinages

* "bonehead" - derogatory term for an Afrikaner
* "bra" - male friend (shortening of "brother", see also "bru" above)
* "bushcat" - derogatory terms for a black person
* "cherps" or "chips" - "Watch out!", as in "Chips chips everyone, here comes the teacher!" (distinct from the food or snack). Also often used when something gets thrown. Compare "heads up!".
* "chop" - idiot, "doos"
* "chot" - a very offensive term for a sexually active female
* "clutchplate" - see "bonehead"
* "connection" - a friend, mate, "chommie"
* "cozzie" - a swimsuit, short for "swimming costume"
* "crunchie" - see "bonehead", "rockspider"
* "giyn " - a homosexual male
* "higher grade" - a bit too complicated (from the South African matric division of exams into standard grade and higher grade. The system of dividing subjects into higher and standard grade will become non-existent as of 2008.)
* "hundreds" - good, fine. (As in 100 percent; for example: John: "Boet, How are you doing?" Dominic: "I am Hundreds boet.")
* "just now", sometime in the near future, not necessarily immediately. Expresses an intention to act soon, but not necessarily immediately.
* "now now" - an immediate but not literal declaration of impending action, may be past or future tense. From the Afrikaans expression "nou nou".
* "Dutchman" - derogatory term for an Afrikaner.
* "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?"
* "location" - a Bantu township
* "robot" - traffic-lightcite book |url= |title=A Dictionary of South African English|author=Jean Branford|isbn=0195701771 |publisher=Oxford University Press| date=1980|accessdate=2008-05-20]
* "rockspider" - see "bonehead"
* "rope" - derogatory term for an Afrikaner - as in thick, hairy and twisted
* "rop" - nice, radical. (e.g. "That was such a rop wave.")
* "scheme" - to think that (e.g. "I scheme we should go home now"; usage evolved from the hyperbole "What are you scheming?" asked of a person deep in thought.)
* "soapie" - a soap opera
* "tune" - to give someone lip ("Are you tuning me?")
* "zaamie" - a zaamie

Slang originating from other countries

The following slang words used in South African originated in other parts of the Commonwealth of Nations and subsequently came to South Africa.

* "buck" - the main unit of currency: in South Africa the rand
* "china" - friend, mate (from Cockney rhyming slang "china [plate] " = "mate")
* "chow" - to eat
* "coaster" - a state of affairs that surpasses cool
* "kaffir" - [racial slur for] a black person. 1790, from Arabic "kāfir" كَافِر, literally "one who does not admit the blessings of God", from "kafara" كَفَرَ "to cover up, conceal, deny". In a purely religious sense would refer to an atheist not believing in any creator or creative-force, but in Ottoman times it came to refer almost exclusively to "Christians". Used as a term of disdain refering to Dutch Colonists in Indonesia/Malaysia. Carried to the Cape of Good Hope by Dutch colonists who consequently used it to refer contemptously to the native population. Early English missionaries adopted it as an equivalent of "heathen" to refer to Bantus in South Africa (1792), from which use it came generally to mean "South African black" regardless of ethnicity, and became a term of abuse at least as early as 1934. (Usage now actionable on account of historical ties to Apartheid and incitement to racial hatred.)
* "pom, pommie" - a Brit (used also in Australian and New Zealand English)
* "shab" short for shebeen. In common usage.
* "shebeen" - illegal drinking-establishment (from Irish "sibín"), synonymous with "speakeasy". In South Africa it refers in particular to unlicensed bars in the townships, and has become a mainstream word. During the apartheid era laws prohibited non-whites from consuming any alcohol except traditional sorghum beer, and taverns selling 'hard-tack' became the centre of social activity.
* "tom" - money or cash, as in "I must earn some tom". From Cockney rhyming slang where "tom" comes from "tomfoolery" ("jewellery")
* "whenwe" - a nostalgic white migrant from other parts of Africa, especially Zimbabwe: "when we were in Rhodesia..."

Slang terms originating from ethnic minorities

South African Coloured slang

The majority of Coloureds in South Africa speak Afrikaans. Those who speak English use the equivalent English words as slang. Many of the words used also occur in South African Indian speech.

*"befok" - "mad"; also possibly "super cool", as in "My broe daai kar is befok". Pronounced er fork.
*"betters" - used extensively in Kwa-Zulu Natal. "To replenish" or "refill". Example: "Ekse lets make a betters with the mineral"
*"guy" - similar to the American English word "dude"
*"bolt/one out" - used extensively in KZN. Means "by yourself" or "only one".
*"chop" - "sex" or penis- "don't be such a chop (wanker)" (KZN). Can also mean a tattoo: "cool chops man".
*"chow" - "eat". It can also refer to sex.
*"crown/kroon" - "money"; can also refer to virginity.
*"dowwel" - "devour"/"eat"
*"duidelik" - direct from Afrikaans, meaning "clear"; used to express clarity on something or excitement about something.
*"ekse" - from Afrikaans, translated it means "I say". Used in greeting i.e. "Whakind ekse" or in general speech.
*"gatsby" - large chip roll with meat and lekker sauces (Cape Town)
*"gully" - "area" or "corner" (KZN)
*"hard up" - "in love"
*"Hosh" - "Hello"; also used before combat. Example in combat: "Hosh, jy raak wys" ("Hello, show me what you made of"). This gang-related word occurs inside as well as outside of prison: use at own discretion.
*"jags/jaks" - "horny". The first form occurs in Cape Town; the second predominates on the east coast of South Africa. May also mean "crazy" or "mad". Examples: Person A: "I want to get robbed" Person B: "Are you jags?" or Persoon A: "Ek wil my werk verloor" Persoon B: "Is jy jags?".
*"lekker/lukka" - "nice" [from Afrikaans] . The first form occurs more commonly; the second predominates in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
*"maader" - "the best", "excellent"
*"meet up" - Used in the Kwa-Zulu Natal region, a term usually used when saying "goodbye". For example: "Lukka meet up ekse".
*"mineral" - pronounced 'min ral'; used by Indians as well. "Fizzy drink" such as Coke, Fanta, Sprite, etc (KZN)
*"naai" - "sex" (Western Cape) Also used as a noun "Jou ou naai" (literally "You fuck") and used in the plural: "naaie" (literally more than one "fuck"), meaning an undesirable person rather than the sexual act. Definitely not polite language.
*"oweh" - pronounced ow where, a way of saying "oh yes" or expressing delight.
*"posie/porzie" - "home". Afrikaans-speakers tend to use the first for; English-speakers the second.
*"press" - "sex", as in: "I want to press my young one tonight" (KZN)
*"shot" - "good" or "correct" or "thanks" (depending on context). Example for the meaning "good" - Person A: "What is 3+3?" Person B: "six" Person A: "shot". Example for the meaning "thanks": - Person: A "I have bought you a sweet" Person B: "Shot".
*"sannnie" - Initially an insult, but now used amongst friends as a greeting, as in: "Whakind son"huh?
*"Tannie" - "aunt", used by Afrikaans-speakers
*"tops" - "excellent", "the best"
*"Toppie" - "old man", used by Afrikaans-speakers
*"Whakind" - a greeting, usually used amongst guys only, and frowned upon when used in greeting women. This word can also express an enquiry about something, especially when used outside the Kwa-Zulu Natal region.
*"What say/What you say/Wat se jy" - alternative for "Whakind" in the greeting-sense. English-speakers use the first and second forms; Afrikaans-speakers the third.
*"Young one" - "girl" or possibly "girlfriend"

South African Greek slang

* "skollie" - a gangster, to steal (from Greek "skolios" "crooked", widely used in Cape Town, originally applied by Greek convenience-store owners to street-youths who shoplifted)
* "Mavros" plural "mavroi" - Black people [derogatory] literally: 'moors'.

South African Indian slang

Many of these terms occur in the Cape Town and Durban areas, and few in Indian areas in Gauteng.

*"an' all" - (from 'and all'; like the English 'et cetera, et cetera').
*"boarded-off" - declared medically unfit to work, and in receipt of a disability pension, As in: 'My daddy was so lucky to have been BOARDED OFF by the corporation'
*"bra - a way of addressing a friend, as in 'Howzit my bra'.
*"bring and come" - an expression normally denoting some type of unspecified invitation to come and perform a particular task at a given location, i.e. 'I told dat TV repair balie to Bring and Come and fix da TV'
*"bung" - (from Afrikaans 'bang' — to be scared) to be afraid of someone.
*"bunny chow" - type of food, made with a loaf of bread filled with a curry stew.
*"cake" - idiot
*"cameway" - to go with someone, like come with me. Used in Durban.
*"Charou" - a person of Indian origin. From the word "curry" (or tea).
*"choon" - to tell someone something.
*"clips" - Money, used in Gauteng / Lenasia
*"coat" - meaning "quote", mis-pronounced, with a completely inaudible KW sound. as in "Hey, can you give me a coat to fix my car?"
*"cover" - an insurance policy; as in: "Hey laanie, can you organise me a cover for my grannie?"
*"crown" - money
*"guzzie" - friend (from the Zulu guz'lam)
*"hit a luck" - expression, to have met with good fortune. as in, 'hey my bru hit a luck, eee got graft at the Casino'. Also often noted in the form "hit such a luck".
*"Jaaver" - an Afrikaner person
*"kassam" - serious, not joking. From Urdu/Hindi meaning Oath.
*"kerel" - police man
*"laanie" - From the Afrikaans word meaning "fancy", but used by Indian people to mean "smart guy" ("Smart" as in "well-to-do") or, more frequently, "boss". Compare "larnie".
*"late" - A euphemism for dead/deceased; as in 'My daddy is 2 years late'. (Unconnected with the idea of tardiness.)
*"maader" - excellent, very good (used especially by Durban Indians)
*"min-rill" - from the English word "mineral", meaning mineral water; taken to mean any fizzy drink in a bottle, normally Coke, Fanta, etc
*"mooing" - to flirt. From the Afrikaans word "mooi" meaning "nice"/"pretty".
* "nana" - breast
*"onetime" - Meaning "of course", "without delay"; often used as a positive reply to a question
*"operate" - have sex with
*"ou" - A person, "homo sapiens"
** "Charr Ou" - An Indian person
** "Bruin Ou" - A Coloured person
** "Correct Ou" - A good guy
** "Gorra Ou" - A White person (insulting usage)
** "Pekkie Ou" - A Black African person (derogatory; from the Zulu word for "cook")
** "Porridge Ou" - A Tamil person
** "Raven Ou" - A Black African or, sometimes, Tamil person. From the Hindu deity RavenFact|date=June 2007, reputedly dark-skinned. (Insulting usage.)
** "Roti Ou / Bread Ou" Hindi person
** "Slum Ou" - A Muslim person
** "Wit Ou" - A White person
*"paining" - having pain
*"pano" - money, from the Tamil word for "money". Commonly used by all South African Indian linguistic groups as a euphemism for money
* "patla", "flouie" - usually used to describe poor (unfunny) jokes. "Patla" can also refer to any kind of damp squib. "Patla Patla" often refers obliquely to having sex; imitating the sound of two bodies meeting.
*"pehrer" - A fight. (Often heard as "Who's gunning a pehrer?" meaning "Who's looking for a fight?")
*"plot" - pursue romantically, courting
*"poke" - stab
*"pozzy" - House or home; place where one lives or hangs out.
*"right" - An affirmation, mostly used while giving traffic directions, as in "Go straight, Right. Turn Left, Right."
*"slaan" wear (as in clothes)
*"slaat" - action like hit. For example: "Don't choon me what what an' all, I slaat you one time laanie."
*"stekie" - girl/girlfriend
*"swaai" - to dance. (For example: "Lets vaai (go) swaai.")
*"swak" - bad
*"this thing" - watchamacallit
*"toppie" - an older male authority-figure. Often used by Indians but also by working-class whites. From an Indian word for "hat".
*"tannie" - female version of "toppie", from the Afrikaans word for "Aunty".
*"Vrou" - my wife, as in 'Ek sê, I must first ask my Vrou'; from the Afrikaans word for 'wife"/"woman".
*"tum-blahh" - from the English word "tumbler", meaning a heavy glass. As in: 'hey boy, run and get a Tum-blah for the larnie to have some Min-rill'
*"what kind" - Greeting, similar to "Howzit"
* "what what" - mostly used in arguments, meaning "this and that". Often heard as "what you say what what"

South African Jewish slang

* "chattis" (plural "chatteisim". Yiddish: "a sinner"): approximately equivalent to "white trash". The word refers particularly to poor, white, Afrikaans-speaking communities with endemic social problems. Sometimes used as an ethnic slur against Afrikaners in general.
* "kugel": an overly groomed, materialistic woman (from the Yiddish word for a plain pudding garnished as a delicacy). Older-generation Jews coined this usage as a derogatory label for Jewish women who aspired to become part of the privileged English-speaking white community. Current usage, often humorously intended, applies the word to any "nouveau riche" women in South African society who appear overly groomed and materialistic. "Bagel" and "bagel-boy" occur as labels for the male counterpart of the kugel. — Compare the American-English term "Jewish-American princess" which has subtly differing connotations.)
* "Peruvian": a low-class, unmannered and unsophisticated person regardless of wealth, usually Jewish. The term originated from poor Jewish refugees from Russia who arrived in Cape Town on the SS "Peruvian" in the 19th century. The more assimilated and established Jews from Germany and England looked down on this group, and their descendants remain stigmatised.
* "Schwarzer": Yiddish / German for "black" — a black person
* "shiksa": as in other Jewish communities, this means "non-Jewish girl". Traditionally "slave-girl", from the Yiddish version of the Hebrew word for "dirty, unclean, loathsome" (compare [ "Semitic roots"] in "The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language": Fourth Edition. 2000.). Originally a servant available for sexual use. In South Africa, however, it has the additional meaning of a "female domestic worker".
* "weisser": Yiddish for "white" - a white person

South African Lebanese slang

* "ghey", a tinted-windows, lots-of-jewellery kinda guy (pronounced like "gay" but with a guttural /g/, like the /ch/ in Scottish "loch")
* "gara" : shit.
* "stiffle" : so what: "if you don't like it stiffle!"

Special-use slang

South African surfing slang — Surfafrikan

See the Wavescape website:

Kasi / township slang

* "411" - giving someone the latest news and gossip.

* "6 no 9" – "same difference". Like "potato, potatoe".

* "ayoba" - "hello"

* "bokgata" or " Bo 4" - "the police"

* "chalk" - R20 note

* "chommie" - More likely to be used by young girls than guys, the word refers to a friend. A [ music artist] goes by this name.

* "dankie san" - [Origin: Rap Music] "Thanks, Dude". Soweto rapper [ Pro Kid] has used it for his new fashion-label, bringing it into the commercial space.

* "doing a bafana" - demanding more "smeka" (money) for being mediocre

* "doing a benni" - [Origin: the saying comes from the formerly much-lauded Bafana Bafana striker Benni McCarthy's "uncharitable habit of turning his back on his country" [cite news
title = Benni and the boot
url =
work = The Sowetan
publisher =
location =
date = 2008-06-03
accessdate = 2008-07-12
quote = Only 31.55% of the SMS poll respondents said McCarthy should not be booted out for doing the Benni, his uncharitable habit of turning his back on his country.
] following many instances of failing to turn up to play for South Africa's national football squad.] Meaning "showing disloyalty / being irresponsible".

* "eish" - [compare Bantu usage above] (pronounced like /aysh/ but also, less often, as /ish/) - Used to express everything ranging from frustration to surprise to disapproval, but also just everyday acknowledgement of things you can't change like "Eish, the traffic is bad today". Heard frequently each and every day! Also used to indicate displeasure. For example: 'At the time I was the only black guy and I used to ask myself "Eish [] , what am I doing here?"'

* "fong kong" - cheap and fake products that one can buy from vendors on the streets. [] .

* "juish" (pronounced /Joowish/) - refers to nice and flashy clothes that someone has on.

*"kwaito" - popular [ genre of music] , a mixture of South African disco, hip hop, R&B, ragga, and a heavy dose of house-music beats.

* "moegoe" - a fool, idiot or simpleton. For example: "moegoe of the week" [cite news
title = Moegoe of the week
url =
work = Sunday World
publisher = Avusa Media
location = Johannesburg
date = 2008-06-22
accessdate = 2008-07-12
quote = Babble-bek ANCYL president Julius Malema is our moegoe of the week – and hot favourite for the moegoe of the year crown.

* "mzansi" - [from the Zulu word, Mzansi Afrika] [] .) A common term which means South Africa.

* "pulling a jabu pule" - performing a disappearing act. For example: "Are you pulling a Jabu Pule [] on me?" (Are you performing a disappearing act on me?); or: "I will never pull a Jabu Pule on you" (I will never disappear or go awol).

* "pulling an mbeki" - keeping mum because you have nothing intelligent to say, so others will call it quiet diplomacy because at least "diplomacy" sounds like an intellectual word.Fact|date=July 2008

* "starter pack" - (Origins: Terminology first used by mobile-phone companies but quickly adapted by car thieves and car hijackers.) Refers to entry-level cars [] , especially vehicle-makes occurring commonly on the road and therefore less easy to spot as stolen. Thieves can "chop up" the parts at an illegal "chop shop" and used them for repairs on more expensive vehicles.

* umlungu - white South Africa or Boss (Bass) of the company

* "vinegar" - [Origin: Port Elizabeth] Denoting insecurity; especially used of people who behave nastily to others because of their own complexes. "He's full of vinegar" - meaning he's got so many chips on his shoulder.

* "yebo" - a Zulu word which means "yes".

* "Z3" - refers to HIV and AIDS, because of its speed.

See also

* List of lexical differences in South African English
* List of colloquial South African place names
* South African English


External links

* [ SA English is lekker, bru!] ,
* [ South African slang] ,
* [ Zimbabwean Slang Dictionary]

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