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A Guide to South African Slang

Here are some South African Slang words that are used today. Just a note: the words are derived from various languages. They are only used informally!

Ag Man = “Oh Man”

Aweh (pronounced: Ahh-Where) = “Oh Yeah” said in excitement. Also commonly used as a greeting.

Babbelaas = hangover. (“Eish I’m Babbelaas!”)

Bakkie = Truck

Bill = cheque when at a restaurant (can I have the bill please?)

Bliksem/Donner = to hit or punch (I’ll bliksem you!). It’s considered rude. You can also use it to curse in Afrikaans (Jou Bliksem!)

Boerewors – a spicey sausage, usually eaten braaid

Boet/bra/bru = to address a male friend. Equivalent to the American “dude”

Braai = barbeque (this word is used in everday speech, informal or formal, nobody ever calls it a “barbeque”)

Tjerrie (pronounced “Cherry”) = a girl

Chommie = a friend

Howzit/Watkind = informal greeting

China = friend . One can say “howzit my china?”

Domkop/Doos/Chop = idiot

Dop = alcohol/ to have a drink. (also can mean “fail” as in “I dopped that test”)

Doss = to sleep/nap (“I’m gonna catch a doss” will mean “I’m gonna take nap”)

Eina! = Ouch!

Ek Sê = I say!

Gatvol = fed up

Jislaik!= Wow!

Jol = party, to have fun

Kak = crap

Kêrels = the police

Kiff/Kwaai= cool, neat, wicked

Lightly = younger person. Usually refering to  a younger brother or son.

Lekker = nice

Mal = crazy

Mamparra! = idiot, stupid

Nê? = you know what I mean? You agree? Used at the end of a sentence (equivalent of the Spanish “no?”)

Sies = expression of disgust

Skelm = crook. Also can mean naughty

Skrik/Bung = fright

Smaak = to like something/ someone

Swak = bad, disgust. This one is difficult to describe. You can say “that’s so swak of you” which will translate to “thats so bad”/terrible of you.

Yoh! = element of surprise

Laduma (often said as “Laduuuuuuma!) = used at soccer matches, means “he scored!”

Shongalolo = a millipede

Wena = you. A commmon expression is “Haw Wena!”

Connection = friend, relative, someone you close to

Higher Grade = complicated, diffcult.

Hundreds = good

Isit? (is +it)= Really?

Scheme = think that (I scheme he’s unhappy)

Voetsêk! = impolite, “go away”

Chow = to eat

Maader = the best, excellent

Posie = home

Graaf = work

Shot = Good. Thanks

Stekkie = girl/ girlfriend

Tjoon (pronounced CHOON) = to talk, say


“Ja No” = Which literally translates to “Yes No.” And when used, it can mean either yes or no. You will have to hear it to understand it 🙂

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