South African Slang

South African Slang

We have regrouped an interesting and fun collection of typical South African slang words and phrases. Included are some common terms that are not slang, but are typically South African (and may even be 'proper'). Please note that if any of these terms are offensive to some people, we apologize in advance! Most of them are so colorful that we could not leave them out! If you notice what you deem to be important omission, please send them to us! Finally, the spelling of these terms certainly vary depending on where one grew up, or simply how one sees it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!


Ag
Pronounced like the ach in German, but with a 'g' on the end. Roll that 'g'! "Ag, no man" - sign of irritation. Many purposes.
Aikona
Never, not on your life.
Aita! ('ai-tah')
A greeting: "Aita brah!" - Originated in the townships among the youth, and is still used.
Babbelas ('Bub-be-las')
A hangover. Normally a pretty damn bad hangover!
Baff
Fart
Baggies
Certainly not "swimming trunks" or even worse: "bathing suit!!", but means the same.
Bakkie ('Buk-ky')
Pickup truck
Ballas
Balls (ie: privates..)
Barnie
Fight, punch-up.
Befok, befuck
Wild, crazy, excellent, great! This is used two ways: "he went befok" (he
lost it completely!) or "that's befuck!" (that's awesome!)
Bergie
A hobo who hangs out on the streets of Cape Town. The term Bergie originates from the
Berg (Mountain), and has connotations, according to prejudice, that Bergies are members of
inbred hillbilly clans. This is not really so. It has more to do with alcoholism and
tragic social circumstances such as poverty and homelessness.
Biltong
Jerky in the US, only much better!. This is specially prepared dried raw meat, made from beef, venison or ostrich.
Biscuit
Cookie in the US. In America, a biscuit is a scone with no sugar. In South Africa,
it's a cookie. Some favourites are Marie Biscuits, Romany Creams, and Eet Sum Mor.
Bliksem
Strike, hit, punch: "I'm going to bliksem you!" Can also be used as follows: "Bliksem! (Damn!) That was a befokde game of rugby!"
Boere
Term that refers to the police - "Die foken boere se moer, man!".
Boerewors
Farmstyle sausage or "wors". (Literally, "Farmers Sausage"). It is consumed in vast
quantities on braais all over the country.
Bok
To be keen.
Bokkie
Used mostly in the Afrikaans circles - a young, pretty lady; or girlfriend.
Bos
The bush; a term that became especially popular during the period of "bush-warefare" during the Angolan war.
Bossies or Bosbefok
Going totally whacko, going bush crazy - "He went bossies after spending 3 months in Angola".
Boykie
Little boy, or can be used as in: "He's quite a boykie" - (he's quite the guy!)"
Braai
Barbecue (US) or Barbie (Aus). Extremely popular SA occupation. Men take great pride in preparing this
event; and is probably the only time the average South African does something around the house!
Brah
Buddy, associate, peer, colleague, friend, etc... Most often used amongst the "rookers" (pot-smokers) - "Hoesit, my brah!"
Catch a Tan
To suntan.
Check
Nothing to do with money! Look, do you see? - "You
check?" or "Check this, china!!" - Look at this, dude!.
Chick
Yet another typically South African sexist term for a woman!
China
A friend, buddy, mate. Very popular term, mostly in Cape Town area and Durban. Can also
be used aggressively, as in: "Are you tuning me kak, China? - are you giving me shit,
mate?".
Chips
Means 'look out!' A warning.
Chuck
Depart, leave, go
Crash
Go to sleep - "Do you want to crash out at my place? - Do you want sleep over at my place?"
Dagga ('Dag-gah')
Marijuana, dope - the South African word for dope.
Dankie
Thank you
Dinges ('Din-gus')
Thingamabob, a wotzit or a whatchamacallit.
Dit ruk
It's happening!.
Doff
Stupid, idiot. It can also be used as a
noun. "You doffie" - you stupid dumbass!
Dop
Alcohol, or to fail school.
Drol
Shit.
Duidelik
Means it's cool. Eg: Hoesit my brah. Naai, is duidelik!!!
Durban Poison
Dagga - marijuana - grown in
KwaZulu Natal - apparently of excellent vintage!
Dwaal
The blank, state a person gets into sometimes, walking around like a zombie.
Eina(aynah)
Ouch! Widely used. Derived from Afrikaans.
Flip
(Expletive) "Flip!" (Oh no! or Shit!)
Gatgabba
Moffie
Gesuip ('Ge-sayp')
Drunk
Graunch
Make out - "during the film, my boyfriend and I graunched in the back row" - during the movie we french kissed, rubbed, etc....
Graze
Unfortunately a pretty common word that means to "eat"!. "Let's go get something to graze".
Half-jack
A half-bottle of spirits.
Hap ('Hup')
A bite - this Afrikaans word is commonly used by English speakers. "Do you want a hap of my biscuit?".
Hey
Used for emphasis. "So let's graunch, hey?"
Howzit (also hoesit")
The famous, and one of the most typical, South African greeting. Short for "How is it?"
How's your mind?
"Are you mad?!"
Hum
1) Busy - "The disco was humming, there were chicks everywhere, and they were lekker on their pluck!" - the disco was a blast; there were girls everywhere and they were pretty drunk!
2) Stink - "Damn, it hums in here! Who baffed?"
Isit? (Izzit?)
This conversational word is used widely and in response to just about anything. Used in place of "really??"
Jammie
A car
Jawl - Jorl
The word jawl is a generic South African - it refers to having a good time and can be used in any context. "I am going on a jawl (party) - I am having a
jawl (good time) ...".
Just now
A immense source of amusement for foreigners - it means "very soon", "eventually"; or "never". If someone says he will do something "just now" it could be in 10 minutes or tomorrow. Or maybe he won't do it at all.
Kak ('Kuk')
Shit... and used in the same way.... "Don't talk kak - Don't give me kak".
Kief
Cool, or something that's very nice.
Klap('klup')
Slap - "Give him a snot-klap if he gives you kak".
Kus
Exhausted or tired
Lank
A lot - "There are lank people at this jawl tonight, hey China??!!"
Larney
Fancy, designer clothes, snob - A number of variations on a word denoting someone who is well-dressed, or designer clothes, or a well-to-do function. The
person can be larney, or clothes.
Lekker
An Afrikaans word meaning nice, this word is used by all language groups to express approval.
Lightey
Youngster.
Lights out
Unconscious - "After being klapped for calling him a 'rock spider', little Johnny was completely lights out"
Lomp
Lethargic.
Lummie
A welt - A lummie is a particular kind of welt caused by hitting someone with the middle knuckle of your middle finger. School kids give each other lummies, usually on the forearm. A proper lummie becomes a bump immediately.
Mampara
A fool
Moffie
Wimp, pansie, naff, weakling
Nooit('Noy-t')
No way - Another way of saying no, but also a sign of incredulous response.
Nought
No - Used in similar situations to nooit.
Oke (ou)
Guy, chap, bloke.
Padkos
Food for a car, for a trip; on the road.
Park off
To chill out - sit down and relax - "Let's go park off at the beach tonight. Maybe we can graunch a little!"
Pavement
In South Africa this is the sidewalk.
Pikkie
A small child.
Pluck
Can only be explained in an example: "What's your pluck, china?? You looking for kak? Don't make be befok; I'll klap you hard!" - what's you problem...etc..
Robot
Yes, it's a traffic light!
Rock Up
To arrive - "What time should we rock up for the jawl? Should be bring any dop?"
Rock Spider
An english speaking South African term for an Afrikaner - Hey, you rock spider! Who you calling a 'soutpiel'? Come here and I'll klap your lights out!"
Rooineck
Afrikaner name for an Englishman, or an english speaking South African.
Snot-klap
To hit someone hard.
Soutpiel, or soutie
Another Afrikaner name for an english speaking South African - comes from the image of the "English" having one foot in South Africa, the other in England, with something hanging in the middle (in the water)! - "Hê soutie, who you calling a 'rock spider'? Come here and I'll skop your ballas in!'
Scale
To scale something is to steal it.
Shame
Very typical South African expression; also found amusing by foreigners. "Ag shame, look how cute that baby is!", or "Shame, stop making kak with the chick, man, she's lekker", and "Shame, that's really sad".
Sif
Description of a disgusting thing.
Skeef
Crooked; provocative. A classic saying heard in bars around South Africa is "Are you checking me skeef, China?" - Are you looking at me funny, brah?
Skelm
A crook or thief. A street-wise operator who deals in petty crime.
Skinner
Gossip.
Skolly - ('skaw-lly')
Ruffian. Can be used almost affectionately when talking about a roguish friend.
Skop
Kick.
Skrik
A fright.
Slap chips
When French Fries are thick and long and don't go crispy in the oil - they are soft and stodgy
Spook and diesel
Cane spirits and coke - A favorite mixture of a pale liquor and dark Coca-Cola.
Stoep
Verandah
Stroppy
Cheeky
Stukkie
Sexist term for a woman.
Takkies
Sneakers, trainers, running shoes.
Tokoloshe
Evil spirit
The moer in - (roll the r)

Very angry - "You make me the fokken moer in!".
Tune ('Choon')
To tell, to talk, to provoke - "Don't tune me grief, ou; or I'll (yes, again!!..) klap the kak out of you!"
Vasbyt
Hang in there, be tough - "Vasbyt, china; it kak will soon be over!"
Voetsek
Get lost, buzz off..."Voetsek, jou sleg moer!"
Vry
Similar to graunch - to kiss, pet, court..

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