Eina – ay-na: Ouch Eish – aysh: General exclamation that can be used in positive and negative contexts. Can be used to refer to an actual hole, e.g., Watch out for the gat in the road. Can also refer to the buttocks and is used to denote misfortune, e.g., He saw his gat when he fell on the dance floor. Larny – larn-nee: Fancy pants, e.g., That restaurant is too larny for me, I’d rather go to Spur. Lus – lis: Craving for, e.g., I’m lus for some fish and slap chips. Also used for emphasis, e.g., that was a moer hard hike up Table Mountain. Nooit bru, I was having a jol knocking back shots with Sharlto Copley at Shimmy Beach Club at the Waterfront. It also means sometime soon, although sooner than just now, like within the next 30 to 60 minutes. It can also indicate feeling under the weather, especially when hung over, e.g., Bru, it must have been a hectic jol last night because you look roff.Gatvol – ghut-foll (pronounce the g in the back of your throat): Had enough, very angry. Lekker – lack-err (roll that r): Nice, delicious, fun – anything good, really. Muti – moo-ti: Medicine, usually traditional medicine from a sangoma, but can refer to anything from headache tablets to antibiotics. Sangoma – sun-gor-mah: Traditional healer Scale: Steal, e.g., Someone scaled my i Phone last night china. Scaly: Disreputable character, sleazy, e.g., I’ve never met a drug dealer who wasn’t scaly.
Only use it if you’re comfortable with the English equivalent – the c-word. Dorp (or dorpie): Small town, usually in the back of beyond. And, Jislaaik, don’t give me such a bliksems fright! Just now means sometime soon, roughly within the next 1 – 3 hours.
Dop: Alcoholic drink, usually a spirit of some kind. Doss: Sleep, e.g., Do you want to doss on my couch tonight? Jol – jo-rl: Can refer to a party, or to a general good time. Kaalgat Kak – kuck: Excrement, crap, usually used as an expletive, e.g., He’s talking kak! Kif (or kiff or kief): Cool, lekker, nice, e.g., That was a kif jol last night. Koeksister – cook-sister: Delicious, syrupy deep-fried dough plaited into knots. It’s the Afrikaans version of arsehole (asshole), e.g., Did you see that poephol cut me off in traffic?
South Africa, with its 11 official languages, is blessed with a rich slang culture that can be quite daunting for foreign visitors – heck, even some residents flounder when faced with some of the more obscure lingo.
To help out travellers from foreign climes (as well as the odd sheltered South African) here’s a directory of common, and not so common, South Africanisms.
Babelas – bubba-luss: Hangover, often the consequence of a really good braai.
Bakkie – buck-key: South African version of the pickup truck.
Given its origins (fok – English fuck), it’s not used in polite company.
Biltong: Spiced, cured and dehydrated meat, similar to (but much tastier than) beef jerky. A favourite TV snack, and almost essential for any rugby match.
Droëwors – droo-ah-vors: Dried sausage, similar to biltong. It can be used as an expression of agreement, e.g., It was nice to eat Indian food for a change, hey? Klap – klup: Slap, smack, e.g., I’ll klap you if you check me skeef. Pap – pup: Maize porridge, a staple for many South Africans it can be eaten as breakfast, lunch or supper. Right now: Third meaning for now, this one means immediately or at least within the next 5 – 10 minutes.