South Africanisms

A list of some more common South African slang words

A list of Slang words used in South Africa

AAP– a person who behaves similarly to an ape or an idiot

AIKONA– No not on your life

BABBELAS– A hangover

BILTONG– any person who behaves similarly to an ape or an idiot

BUNNY CHOW– A South African Indian food which is curry served in a hollowed-out half loaf of white bread

BAKKIE– A pick-up truck also a small bowl usually plastic

BLIKSEM- smack or punch sometimes used to express surprise, comes from Dutch for lightening.

BOER– Farmer in Afrikaans   “Boer maak ‘n plan” – farmer makes a plan used to refer to an often low-cost creative innovative solution.

BOEREWORS– Farmers sausage, a mixed meat spiced sausage

BOSSIES– Crazy. Refers to the bush war, Young men often returned shell-shocked

BRAK– Mongrel dog

BROEKIE– Panties or ladies’ underwear

BRAAI– Barbeque, comes from braaivleis (Grill meat) on an open fire

CHOMMIE– Friend as in English chum

CHOP-CHOP– Quickly

COCONUT- Sometimes racist, refers to a black person who behaves like a white person i.e.: black outside and white within.

COZZIE– Swimsuit, swimming costume

DOMKOP- Like German Dummkopf lit. Dumbhead anyone who appears to be stupid.

DAGGA– South Africanism for marijuana

DICE– Refers to amateur motor racing, often Illegal Street racing

DOF-Slow or stupid

DONGA– Ditch, from Zulu for“wall” Is now a mainstream word for this geographical feature.

DOP– Alcohol, or to drink alcohol

DOSS– a nap or sleep.

DROEWORS– Dried sausage, similar to bratwurst or mettwurst

EINA– ”Ouch” originally from Afrikaans

EISH– ”Wow” an expression of surprise from the Khoi language


GOGGO– Bug from Khoe xoxo creeping thing. The g is pronounced like the ch in Loch

GATVOL-extremely annoyed, and had enough. Lit; Full hole  The g is pronounced like the ch in Loch

HAYIBO– Zulu for definitely not

HAMBA KAHLE– Zulu. Go carefully.

HAIKONA– Aikona) Emphatic refusal No no.

HOWZIT– Hi how are you?

INDABA-Meeting of the community, from Nguni, (conference)

KLAP– smack

KOEKSISTER– A sweet fried plaited pastry that has been dipped in a sugary syrup.

KREEF– Crayfish

LEEKER-Afrikaans for sweet, used to describe anything good.

LOKSHIEN– From location, a black township

MAL– Crazy, from French

MIELIE-Corn on the cob

MOEGOE– Stupid, weak or cowardly

MOFFIE-Male homosexual (derogatory)

MOOLA– Money

MUTI-Typically traditional African medicine (from Nguni umuthi)

NOGAL- Afrikaans, And on top of all that

NOOIT– Afrikaans, never

OOM-lit Uncle in Afrikaans. To call an older man Oom is a sign of respect.


OUSIE-An older black woman, the way they refer to each other.

PADKOS– Food that you take with you to eat along the way. lit. Road food.

PAP– Porridge, usually maize meal


PLATTELAND– lit Flat land, usually outlying areas, and farmlands

POTJIEKOS– Stew made from meat and vegetables and cooked in a three legged pot over a fire.

ROBOT- South Africans call traffic lights robots.

ROOINEK– lit, Red neck. An Afrikaans derogatory name for an English man. From the 19thC. The British were not used to the harsh sun and were sunburned on their necks. Also, The British army uniform had red collars.

SARMIE– Sandwich

SHEBEEN-A bar where alcohol is sold, often an illegal establishment.


SIES-Expression of disgust

SKELM or SKEBENGA– Zulu for a crook, bad person.


SLAP CHIPS,  French fries, usually soft and fat-fried potato chips

SPAZA-Informal trading stall, usually found in townships

STOMPIE– Cigarette butt

SWAK– Afrikaans for weak

TAKKIES-Sports shoes

TSOTSIE-Gangster, no good person

UBUNTU-Kindness and compassion

UMLUNGU-White person

VELLIES–   Veld skoene. Traditional outdoor shoes made of hide

VOETSEK-impolite way to say get lost, go away, from Dutch voertsek. Voort se ek  “go I say”

VROT- Bad, putrid, rotting

YEBO– Zulu for Yes

ZEBRA CROSSING– Pedestrian crossing