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South African slang

Learn to speak Truly South African Download PDF

Thanks to its melting pot of 11 official languages, South African’s tend to use a lot of slang or ‘South Africanisms’ drawn from the various languages. South African conversational English is littered with words and phrases from its seductive menu of official languages, so don’t be
shy to mix it up. As with any culture, new slang is popularised everyday. Here’s a few to help you on your way, but if you hear more, be sure to ask what they mean and drop us a line at and we’ll add them to the list.

Aikona - not on your life / never

Aita (Pronounced 'ai-tah') - a greeting

Akubekuhle (Pronounced 'aako-beck-hoole') - meaning cheers, to cheers a drink or thanks in Zulu

Arvie (Pronounced 'rve') - afternoon

Bobotie (Pronounced buh-boor-tea) - served with yellow rice and raisins, this is a spicy traditional Malay mince with an egg custard topping.

Babbelas (Pronounced 'bub-elaas')- South African Afrikaans for tender the morning after the night before, hangover

Bakgat - (Pronounced 'buck-ghat') - when something is done correctly

Bakkie - (Pronounced 'buck-key') - a utility / pick-up truck or Tupperware container

Biltong - dried, seasoned meat, similar to jerky

Bioskoop (Pronounced 'bio - skoowp') - means Cinema - We want to go to the bioskoop tonight

Biscuit – South African Afrikaans for cookie, used as a term of affection - Claudia, you biscuit!!

Bliksem - hi or punch

Bitter Koud (Pronounced 'bitterr coat') - South African Afrikaans for very cold

Boer - Afrikaans word for farmer

Boerewors (boerie) - spicy South African farmers' sausage

Boetie (Pronounced 'Boet - tea') - South African Afrikaans for little brother, this can also be used as a nickname.

Bokkie - a small buck, or affectionate name for a female (my bokkie)

Bra - Afrikaans word for male friend - "dude" in English

Bru - male friend

Braai - a BBQ braai

Cell phone - mobile phone, hey bru can I use your cell phone.

Choc - township slan for R20 note

Chommie (Pronounced - 'Ch-ooom-mi'/ china - my friend, my buddy - How are you my chommie?

Choon - South African Indian slang for telling someone something, could also be a song

Chow - means eat - this can also mean sex, so be careful how you use it

Cozzy (Pronounced cozzie) - swimming / bathing costume

Dik bek - sulking / pouting

Diski – South African township slang for football eg. Learn the Diski Dance for 2010

Doss - nap

Dorpie (Pronounced "door - pee") - a town small in size

Droë wors (Pronounce 'oë' as an 'ooa') - dried sausage, similar to biltong

Eina! (Pronounce 'ei' as an 'a') - ouch!

Eish! (Pronounced 'aysh') - a phrase of exclamation eg. Eish! I am so tired

Fundi - expert - 'umfundisi' meaning teacher or preacher

Gatvol - fed up, had enough

Gelukkige Verjaarsdag (Pronounced 'GGeluk' - 'kighe' 'Feryaarsdag') - South African Afrikaans for Happy Birthday

Gogga - bug in Khoikhoi xo-xon

Gooi (Pronounce 'g' as a rolling 'gggg' almost like a cat purring) - chuck or throw something

Highway - motorway / freeway

Howzit - how's it going? How are you?

Hundreds - excellent, good - Hi buddy how are you? I am hundreds

Indaba - from the Zulu language meaning 'a matter for discussion' or widely known in South African English as conference

Just now - interchangeable meanings which could be 'just now', 'tomorrow or perhaps 'never'

Kombi - a minivan

Kwaai (Pronounced "kw" - "eye") - a homonym meaning - cool, excellent or angry in South African Afrikaans

Monkey's wedding - a rain shower when the sun is out

Plaatjies (Pronounce 'tj' as an 'ck') - flip slop sandals (also see slip slops)

Laaitie (Pronounces as "lighty") - a young person, usually a young male such as a younger brother or son

Laduma! (Pronounced "Laaa" "doooo" "ma!") - it thunders in Zulu - used when a goal is scrored in South African soccer matches

Larney - fancy / designer

Lekker - great / tasty

Makarapa - a modified, decorated miners' helmet used by South African soccer fans

Mielie - corn on the cob mielies

Naartjie (Pronounce 'v' as an 'f') - tangerine, mandarin

Ou Ballie - South African Afrikaans for old man

Oke (Pronounced 'oak') - a guy / bloke

Padkos - food for the road / journey

Pap / mielie meal - ground maize

Pavement - sidewalk

Robot - traffic light

Rondavel - free-standing round building which usually has a thatched roof

Sangoma - South African traditional healer

Shongololo - millipede

Siff - Used in South African English to discribe disgusting, horrible or ugly - "This milkshake is siff!"

Skinner - gossip

Slap chips - French fries

Slip slops / slops - flip slop sandals

Spaza shop / cafe (Pronounced 'caffie'- convenience store

Stoep - verandah

Sosatie - a kebab on a stick

Swak (pronounced - "swuk") - South African Indian slang for bad or a lot on your shoulders

Tannie - Afrikaans for aunt

Tekkies - sneakers

Tokoloshe - evil spirit

Toyi-Toyi - South African Zulu for protesting and dancing in the street

Tsotsi (Pronounced 'Tzotzi') - a person who does no good, gangster, layabout

Tune - to give a person lip - Don't u tune me

Veld - bush / grassland

Veldskoens / vellies (Pronounce 'v' as an 'f') - traditional Afrikaans outdoors shoes made from hide

Voetsek (Pronounce 'v' as an 'f') - go away / buzz off

Vuvuzela (Pronounced 'Voo' - 'voo' - 'ze' - 'la' ) - Setswana for a stadium horn, used by football fans during matches in South Africa

Yebo (Pronounced 'Yeahbaw') - Yes in Zulu

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