Search Hotels

Check-in date


Check-out date

SA slang


Ag ('A*g') 

A multi-purpose word, pronounced like the ach in German. "Ag, no man" (sign of irritation). Can precede any sentence for various effects, such as the more neutral, "Ag, I don't know." Used by some people as a stand-alone expletive.  


(Greeting) "Ahoy!" Alot of younger surfers use this old mariner's greeting. Not sure why. Also aweh, howzit, yooit, hoesit, yo.  It is also to get someones attention.

Aikona (Aikõna) 

(No way, absolutely not). From indigenous Nguni language meaning “No”. Sometimes pronounced “Haikõna”  

Aita! ('Ay-tah')  

(Greeting) "Aita brah!" Originated in the townships among the youth, and still used. It's common among politically correct (PC) people. Rabid racists in the past have miraculously become PC people.  


(Abbreviation for Avocado)

Aweh ('Ah-wear')  

(Greeting) "Aweh my bru" (Hello my friend) Also howzit, yooit, hoesit, yo.  

Babalaas ('Bub-ba-lars')   

The hangover from hell, fondly called a "Barbie". The Babalas is no mythical beast. But look at yourself in the mirror and you'll wonder as you examine that furry tongue slithering in a mumbling, parched mouth, puffy eyelids scraping bloodshot eyeballs. Comes from the Zulu word ibhabhalazi.  

Bakkie (Like “lucky”) 

(Pickup truck in US, "Ute" in Australia) Many people own bakkies in South Africa, particularly in the rural areas. "That bokkie and her ballie parked off on the back of the bakkie." (That pretty girl and her father sat on the back of the pickup truck)  

Bergie (bêr*gee)   

(Alcoholic hobo who hangs out on the streets of Cape Town) The word Bergie comes from the Afrikaans “Berg” (Mountain) of Table Mountain, where they used to live. Some still do, in bushes or caves. Many stay in the city these days. You seem them huddled in corners at night, wrapped in a blanket, wrapped around a bottle of booze.  


Afrikaans – from original “bul tong” – bull’s tongue. Known as beef jerky in the US. This is specially prepared dried raw meat, made from beef, venison or Ostrich.  


(Cookie, twit) Only in South Africa, where a word can mean a small crunchy cake or an insult aimed at a twit or a fool. In America, a biscuit is a scone with no sugar. In South Africa, a biscuit is actually a cookie. Some favourites are Marie, Romany Creams and Eet Sum Mor. "John, you biscuit!"  

Blaps (Blups) 

(Afrikaans – “Mistake”) "Oops, I made a blaps."  


Malay dish, but has become “traditionally Afrikaans”. Made with spicy mince, raisins, spices and yellow rice.

It is baked in the oven with a couple of eggs broken on top. Delicious. Try it some time.  


Afrikaans – “farmer”. Used to refer to any (conservative) Afrikaans speaking person.  

Boerewors (vorse) 

Farmstyle sausage or "wors". (Literally, "Farmers Sausage"). It is a spicy sausage made from hundreds of secret recipes all over the Platteland and beyond. It is consumed in vast quantities on braais all over the country. Boerewors is even sold in places like Australia, Canada and New Zealand to homesick expats who have done the "chicken run", ie, emigrated for fear of compromised lifestyle.  

(The) Boerewors Curtain 

Any Afrikaans speaking district, usually rural. See “Boerewors”. (Usually not the most flattering reference, although all South Africans love to eat Boerewors! Benoni & Pretoria.   

Braai (as in “High”) 

(Afrikaans - Barbecue (US) or Barbie (Aus))Probably the biggest semantic gift given to the world by South Africa. You make a braai with wood in a metal drum or between bricks. You cook your boerewors, steak, lamb chops and sosaties on it. With your meal you eat mielie pap, salads, rolls and other stuff. You drink a beer & be "gesellig".  

Broekskeur Afrikaans for when money are tight. "Dit gaan maar Broekskeur"
Brollie Afrikaans slang for "sambreel" or the English Umbrella

Bunny Chow 

Indian or Malay curry inside a hollowed out loaf of white bread. Surfers from Durban grew up on this food. You get served the curry in the bread, with a square chunk taken from the inside, which you can use to dunk in the curry. Best when the bread is fresh. Bunny chow can also refer to "slap" (soft) chips in bread.  

Cape Doctor  

The southeaster howls across the Cape Peninsula in summer, often forming a wispy, creamy white cloud that rolls over Table Mountain in the shape of a "table cloth". The name is self explanatory. Because it blows for up to a week or more at a time, often at gale-force strength, the wind blows all the pollution away. The air is beautifully clear and crisp in the wake of a southeaster.   


1. Warning. "Look out!" or "keep a look out" warning
2. French Fries (also referred to as “slap chips” (with “slap” as in “pup” – Afrikaans for “soft”, “not stiff”.
3. Potato Crisps  

Tjommie (“chômmy”) 

(Originally Afrikaans - Mate, friend, bru) Slightly old fashioned Afrikaans word that originates from the quaint Victorian word "Chum". Not to be confused with chumming, when you throw gore into the water to attract sharks. "tjommies" are great friends.  

Dik (as in “dirk”) 

(Afrikaans – Thick, beefy, big, full) A person can be dik or you can get dik after a big meal. "That rugby player is lank dik" (That rugby player is especially big)   You can also feel "dik" after a tasty meal

Dinges ('Ding-us') 

(Afrikaans - Thingamabob, wotzit, whatchamacallit) In any town in South Africa, you might overhear the mechanic say to his colleague, "Johannes, pass me the dinges to fix the pipe".

Dof ('Dorf')  

(Afrikaans – “not bright”, “dull”) Stupid. Dunce. Someone who is dof, is not necessarily that way all the time. It is often used to describe a temporary loss of brain cells.  

Dorp ('Dorrrp') 

(Afrikaans - small town) Don’t be confused when someone says, "Let’s go for a dop in that dorp."   

Dwaal ('Dwarl') 

(Afrikaans - Dreamlike state, confused) This word describes that vacuous, blank state a person gets into sometimes.  

Eina (Ay-nah)

(Afrikaans - Ouch) Widely used. You can shout "Eina!" when you see someone get hurt or when you get hurt yourself

Eish ('Aysh') 

(Zulu expression) Surprise, bewilderment, shock. "Eish. Voetsek! leave me alone "  "Eish! you gave me a fright"

Gesellig Afrikaans for being sociable with friends

Gesuip ('G*esayp') 

(Afrikaans - Drunk). Humans “drink”, animals “suip” – to be gesuip is to be drunk to the point of aversion.   


(Girlfriend, women) The Goose is also a reference to SA Pro Golfer Reief Goosen    

Hey Used for emphasis. "So you're a surfer, hey?" or on its own as a way of saying "excuse me?" or "pardon?"
Hose  (Laugh) "He was hosing himself when he fell in the pool." 
How's your mind?  (Are you mad?!) This question, often in exasperation or irritation, refers to the mental stability of the subject, who has probably done something stupid, idiotic or irritating. 
Howzit  The famous South African greeting. Short for "How is it?" Try and refrain from saying, "It's fine, thanks". This will only lead to a funny look. A suitable reply is: "No, fine", which actually means "Yes, I am fine". The word "no" is often taken to mean "yes". A real Afrikaner might reply to a "Howzit", with this bewildering response: "Ja, well, no fine". This is merely a more emphatic but long-winded version of "No, fine". Also ahoy, aweh, yooit, hoesit, yo.
Isit? (Izzit?)  This conversational word is used widely and in response to just about anything. Derived perhaps from the English way of saying "Is it really?" or the Afrikaans for "Is dit so" Can be used as a questioning "really?".
Jislaaik (Afrikaans exclamation) Gee whizz! 
Just now (In a little bit) Universally used in South Africa, it means that the action will get done "eventually", but it might mean "never". If someone says he will do it "just now", be warned. It might be in 10 minutes, 10 hours or never. "I'll clean my room just now, Ma." If someone says "now now", you're making progress. It won't be done immediately, or instantly, but probably less than 10 minutes, barring distractions that relegate it back to "just now".
Klippies and coke  (Brandy and Coke) Named after Klipdrift, a popular, cheap brandy. 

(Fancy, designer clothes, snob, friend) A number of variations on a word denoting someone who is well-dressed, or designer clothes, or a well-to-do function. 

Also a Cape Colored meaning "friend" "Hoesit my larnie!" (Hello there my friend!)

Lekker   (Afrikaans - Nice, pleasant, stoned, fun, lovely, good, pretty) It is used by all language groups to express approval, often to cover up a limited vocab. If you see someone of the opposite sex who is good-looking, you can exclaim: "Lekkerrr!" while drawing out the last syllable. Cars can be lekker. You can have a lekker time. You can feel lekker. Holidays are lekker. It's lekker when the Springboks win a match. And of course, you can have a lekker boerie on the braai.
Lightey ('laai-tie')  (Young Male) "That lightey is a pretty good surfer. (That boy surfs well. Also spelled laaitie
Loskop  (Afrikaans: "Loose Head") Absent minded, forgetful.
Madiba The name for former President Mandela that has become universally used as an affectionate nickname. His full name is Nelson Rolihlahla (Roli-shla-shla) Mandela. His clan name is used widely, even by the press.
Mal  (Afrikaans - Crazy/mad) "Daai ou is mal". When you do something really stupid, your friends will ask "Is jy Mal"

Marmite is a salty yeast and vegetable extract resembling crude oil.

The Brits were the first to make it commercially viable. 

Padkos ('put-koss')  (Afrikaans – lit. “road food”) Food to eat on a journey. Padkos is usually a few sarmies (sandwiches), some cooldrinks, chips, fruit and maybe a lekker stukkie biltong. Traditionally tea, home baked bread with meatballs "frikadelle" and cold chicken were packed
Pap ('Pup')  (Afrikaans – porridge) Boiled corn meal. It is the staple diet of many South Africans. Eaten mostly in the townships, it is often found at braai`s. It has the appearance of wet plaster or drying cement, but is delicious when scooped through gravy (known as “Pap-en-Sous”. Pap is versatile. It's eaten as sweet porridge, or as part of a main course. The consistency varies between cultural and regional backgrounds
Pavement What Americans call a sidewalk, we call a pavement. 
Platteland (Afrikaans – lit. “flat land”) The Platteland is rural South Africa. Although it means literally "flat land", it also applies to mountainous and hilly regions.
Robot  (Traffic light) Only in South Africa can a traffic light be called "robot" in all languages. But then, we only got TV in the mid 1970s.
Rooibos (Red bush tea) This tannin-free herb tea comes mostly from theWest Coast - Clanwilliam area of the Western Cape. It is made from the Aspalathus linearis bush. Homesick South Africans buy it from gourmet stores around the world, even if they don't like it. An aray of skin products is now also available.
Samoosa  (Deep-fried triangular curried pie) Made to a Malay recipe, samoosas can be found in cafes around the country. The best are in Cape Town, cultural home of the Malay community. This rich culture has had an enormous influence on the country's culinary tradition.
Samp  An African food made from rough corn. It is starchy and is often dunked in gravy stew.
Sarmie (Sandwich) Kids sometimes take a sarmie to school in the morning. Also known in Afrisaans as a "Toebie" - "toebroodjie"
Sis ('Sus') Expression of discust
Sjoe ('Shoe') (Afrikaans expletive) "Sjoe but now Im hungry." Also shew and shewee. 
Skaam (Afrikaans - Shy, embarassed) Breaking up with a girlfriend in fornt of friends "That guy has no skaam"
Skebenga (Zulu - Gangster, crook, ruffian) See skollie and skelm
Skinner  (Afrikaans – “skiner” - Gossip, news) The kind of gossip that goes on behind your back. Can mean news.
Skrik ('Skruk')  (Afrikaans - A fright) When someone kreeps up behind you, you might get a bit of a "skrik".
Slap chips ('Slup chips')  When French Fries are thick and long and don’t go crispy in the oil. They are soft and stodgy, ideal for mixing in mounds of tomato sauce or vinegar, or both. Slap is Afrikaans for limp. Perfect fish & chips
Slip Slops  Mostly called "slops", they are what Australians call thongs, or sandals. The proper slops are made from rubber and have a strap between your big toe and its partner. Also known in Afrikaans as "Plakkies"
Smaak  (Afrikaans – lit. “taste of”) "Smaak lekker" - tast great. Also Like, enjoy, have hots for. "I smaak john stukkend." (I have the total hots for John.)
Snoek  (Sea pike) This is a fierce fish found in the sea off Cape Town. It has sharp teeth and is long and narrow like a barracuda. It is the staple diet and source of income for many Malay fisherman on the west coast. It is pronounced "snook", as in "look". It tastes great when fresh. Smoked snoek can be eaten as is, or served in a stew called "smoor-vis". It tastes better than it sounds.
Sorry  Although used as an apology, it is also used as "Excuse me". South Africans have managed to mutate it further. "Sorry, can I just get past."
Southeaster (SE trade wind) This strong trade wind blows from the southeast in summer in Cape Town. Also known as the "Cape Doctor"  - clearing polutioned air
Sosatie Afrikaans (Kebab) Made from either chicken, lamb or beef, this is often interspersed with pieces of green pepper, onion and sometimes fruit, especially apricot.
Van Der Merwe  Like Paddy in Ireland, Van der Merwe is the butt of South African jokes. Lacking in the social graces, "Van" is usually a "plaas japie" (farm boy) or from a mining community.
Woes ('V-oos') (Afrikaans – vicious, wild) Wound up, aggressive, feeling strong. "Sy lyk woes vandag " (She looks upset today) This is the Afrikaans pronunciation of the word, which turns "W" into "V".


South African Slang | South Africa Blue Train | Pilanseberg National Park Day Safari Tours | Cape Garden Route Safari & Tours | Shark Cage Diving | Best of South Africa tours | Cape Town Self Catering accommodation | SA Holidays |


Bookings and Tailored SA Holidays, call us now (+27) 21 557 7047 or email us