Jamaican slang words

Jamaican slang words DEFAULT

The Travelers' Guide To Essential Jamaican Sayings & Phrases

When planning a vacation in Jamaica, it’s a good idea to learn some of the phrases and sayings Jamaican people use in their daily conversations.

Ideally, you should do this whenever you’re traveling to a destination where the locals speak differently than you. Learning a few Jamaican sayings will help you interact with local people and have more positive experiences as you travel. Even if you learn the customary way to talk about simple things, like ordering from a menu, it can go a long way.

The idea is not to master the local language so you can speak it fluently. The effort you put into respecting the local way of speaking can come across as courteous to the local people you meet and interact with during your trip.

The fact that Jamaica’s official language is English means that English speaking visitors won’t have problems communicating with the local people entirely. However, learning a bit of the Jamaican Patois will help you interact with and relate to the locals.

These are the top Jamaican sayings and phrases to use when you visit Jamaica:

‘Weh Yuh Ah Seh’

The literal translation of this Jamaican saying is, “What are you saying?”. The English translation of the phrase is “How are you doing?” At times the phrase can be shortened to “weh yaw seh.”

over the water bungalows jamaica
Picture: Heart shaped Over-The-Water Bungalows at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay, Jamaica.


Boonoonoonoos is a Jamaican saying to express love. In plain English, it translates to "special person". When you have a loved one with you on vacation, you might want to refer to him or her as a "boonoonoonoos friend" to express your feelings. It is often used to refer to things or objects that are nice as well.

‘Small Up Yuhself’

When moving around and visiting different sites in Jamaica, you may need to board a bus or taxi. However, there are times when the buses and taxis are crowded and there’s inadequate space. This is where this Jamaican expression becomes useful. "Make room" is what the phrase means, and when you want to have some space so you can pass, it’s what you might want to say: “Small up yourself!”

‘Wah Gwaan’

If you listened to Former U.S.President Barack Obama’s speech when he visited Jamaica before the end of his second term, you may have heard him greet his audience using the expression. It’s a casual greeting which means “What’s up?” or “How are you?”


The Jamaican saying "irie" is often used to mean "everything is alright and fine." Note that Jamaica has numerous variations when it comes to greeting someone. When someone asks “How are you feeling?” or “How yuh stay?” an appropriate response would be, “Mi irie.”

‘Mi Deh Yah, Yuh Know’

If you’re going to use this phrase, you have to pronounce it properly and say it fast. That’s where the trick lies. You have to say it almost as one complete word. The expression is often used as a response to "wah gwaan, and it means "Everything is okay." It may also mean "I’m doing well."

jamaica color party sandals ochi
Picture: Color party at Sandals Ochi - a vibrant all-inclusive resort in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

'Weh Yuh Deh Pon'

Impress locals with this Jamaican expression that is often used when greeting a friend. “What are you up to?” is what the phrase means, and when you meet a local relaxing in the same all-inclusive resort you’re in, it’s what you might want to say.

‘Ya Mon’

"Mon" is a Jamaican word that’s particularly important to the locals and is often used when talking to anyone, whether it's a child or adult. The English translation for the Jamaican saying "ya mon" is “no problem” or “okay.” When someone offers you a rum runner, for example, it's what you might want to say: “Ya mon!”

‘Dead Wid Laugh’

During your vacation in Jamaica, you’re going to meet funny people who will make you laugh uncontrollably. Dying with laughter is what this Jamaican phrase means, and when you come across something funny, you’d want to say, mi dead wid laugh.

‘Inna Di Morrows’

This is what you should say every time you part with your local tour guide and you still have to see each other the next day. The Jamaican expression means see you tomorrow. Whenever you’re leaving, consider telling the other person, "Mi a leff, inna di morrows."

Picture: Guests can enjoy unlimited free drinks at the Over-The-Water Bar at Sandals South Coast in Jamaica.

‘Inner Luv’

After having a great time with the locals at the beach or any other place, it’s a good idea to appreciate them for their time. To appreciate is what the phrase "inner luv" means, and when you’re happy about a particular service or moment, saying, “mi have inner luv fi your time” will leave them impressed.

Add in some funny Jamaican sayings

While we're here, why not learn a few funny Jamaican phrases and sayings as well?

"Blabba mout" is an expression that’s often used to describe someone who talks too much. Chatterbox is the English translation of the phrase. “Talk and taste your tongue” is a funny Jamaica expression often used to mean “think before you speak.” “Every hoe have dem stik a bush” is the equivalent of “there’s someone out there for every person,” while “de olda de moon, de brighter it shines” is often used to mean “the older the person, the wise he or she is.”


In conclusion, it’s important to note that Jamaican sayings are mainly based on the English language. The only difference lies in the use of grammar and pronunciation.

Now that you’ve learned and know some of the more common Jamaican phrases, it’s time you started meeting and interacting with the locals. You’ll get to learn more from the locals themselves as you have first-hand conversations.

Read More Travel Guides

Sours: https://www.sandals.com/blog/jamaican-sayings-and-phrases/

Jamaican Patois

The Evolution of Jamaican Patois

In the 1960s, around the time Jamaicans were negotiating their independence from England, the local dialect was frowned upon by the upper classes as the language of the poor and uneducated folk. On the other end of the spectrum, reggae musicians used the language to express their identity, and songs filled with descriptions of poverty and political strife were mainstream at the time.

Poets and theater performers also embraced patois as their primary mode of communication. One such poet, the Honorable Louise Bennett-Coverly, used her popular radio show to help bring Patois across the airwaves to wider society. For over 20 years, Miss Lou, as she was affectionately called, performed her poetry locally and internationally, helping to cement patois as an established and commonplace language of our nation.

Today, speaking the language is a form of pride as it is easily recognized worldwide. This is thanks in part to the rise in popularity of our reggae music with legends like Bob Marley and later Shaggy taking our music to all corners of the world. Now patois has been formalized and is taught in linguistic programs at a handful of tertiary institutions.

Jamaican Culture

Patois is as Jamaican as our beaches, our sunshine, and our jerk chicken. Picking up a few words will help you get by in the streets as you immerse yourself in our culture and endear yourself to the people you interact with.

When strolling the markets, pick up an exotic fruit or vegetable and ask “a wah dis?” (what is this?) or point to something and ask “a wah dat?” (what is that?). When you’ve decided on what to purchase, you’ll need to know “a how much fi dis?” (what’s the price?) and you might get a little “brawta” (a little extra) if the vendor is in a good mood.

One way to begin your foray into patois is to start dropping the ‘r’ at the end of words like water, sugar, and driver, so they become “wata, suga, driva” with your emphasis on the last syllable—“wat-AH, sug-AH, driv-AH.”

Common greetings include the ever-popular “wah gwaan” as used by former President Barack Obama on his recent visit to Jamaica and “likkle more” which means “see you later.”

When you’re planning your next outing, you might ask your friend “wha time we a touch road?” meaning “what time are we heading out?” And if they tell you “mi soon come man” it means they are anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour or so away.

When you’re on the dance floor, if you hear a song you love, be sure to yell to the DJ to “pull up dat” meaning to replay the song.

Sours: https://www.visitjamaica.com/feel-the-vibe/patois/
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Jamaican Slang
Always changing, never ordinary!

To keep current with Jamaican slang, you need a teenager. So that's what I did for this page. I asked about ten teenagers to brainstorm (no, I didn't actually say "brainstorm") with their classmates to come up with the latest expressions.

So they gave me with a list, half of which I had to ask them to translate, or use in a sentence so I could understand their meanings! I used to think I was cool.

What especially fascinated me was that some of the phrases on the list of slang words had gone out of style long ago, and were now reappearing, fresh and revived.

Who knew words were like fashion?

Anyhow, here is a taste of Jamaican Slang, as compiled and explained by a very willing group of teenagers from St.Elizabeth, with additions by contacts in Kingston and all over.

Latest Jamaican Slang

  • A dat wid you * That's how you are - used to comment on someone's (bad) habits
  • A mi fi tell yu! * That's right - used to show agreement with something you've been told
  • A who you man? * What are you up to? (literally means "who are you really?")
  • A so di ting set * That's the way it is, that's the situation
  • A weak* Equivalent to ROFL (literally "I'm weak" with laughter)
  • A yasso nice! * Expression used when one is having a good time 
  • Bait up * Set someone up for a downfall/ Cause disappointment or embarrassment
  • Beat dem bad * Surpass, be better than anyone or anything else
  • Ben * Upset, angry
  • Big man ting * Grown up business/Honestly
  • Big tings * Good things/Monetary success
  • Bill * Chill, take it easy
  • Breathe easy * Relax, calm down
  • Brogad* Brother/also used as a reference to Prime Minister Andrew Holness
  • Cheddar * Money
  • Chop/Y Chop * What's going on? 
  • Come Gwope* Get outta here! Stop talking foolishness!
  • Coil * Wad of money
  • Creng * Muscular, buff
  • Cut * Leave
  • Daadie * A term of address, used usually by males talking to each other (see "Paadie" below)
  • Dat shot * That's fantastic (used to describe something fabulous)
  • Deh pon a endz * Gone out (usually somewhere fun)
  • Deeven * Don't even 
  • Do road * Go on an outing
  • DWL * Dead with laugh (used in texting), similar to LOL
  • Do yu ting * Go ahead (do your thing)
  • Drop out * Die (Mi pops drop out - my father died)
  • Dun * (see "shell dun")
  • Dups/Doops * Friend
  • Farrid gad* Used to describe someone with a big forehead (Nose gad - someone with a big nose. Just add "gad" to the body part to indicate large size)
  • Fish * Male homosexual
  • Flassing * Spending big - buying drinks by the flask etc
  • Fluffy * Fat, plump
  • Frass * Frazzled/Tipsy
  • Fulljoy/Funjoy * Enjoy, enjoyment
  • Genna/Mi Genna/Mi G* Used to address a friend
  • Goodaz/Goodie/Goodz * Hot, sexy woman or girl
  • Good-good * Vagina (polite way of saying poom-poom)
  • Grung * OK
  • Gwope (see Come Gwope) * Get outta here! Stop talking foolishness!
  • Gyalis * A guy who loves women/has many women
  • Hataz * Hot, sexy woman or girl
  • Heng up * Stop talking, be quiet (literally, "Hang up")
  • Hol' a medz/medi * Meditate, relax
Hol' a medz, chill, relax

Latest Jamaican Slang cont'd

  • If a dirt, a dirt * It is what it is
  • Ig * Vexed, upset (Don't get mi ig)
  • Inna di morrows * See you tomorrow
  • Jiji * Jittery
  • KMT * Kiss mi teeth (used in texting), expresses annoyance
  • Knock mi * Call me/text me
  • Level * Calm down, relax
  • Liff up * Get outta here! (similar to Gwope)
  • Loud up di ting * Expose someone's business
  • Maad * Awesome
  • Memba mi tell yu * Listen up, take note                                           
  • Mi a forward * I'm coming                                       
  • Mi haffi deh deh pon mi eyelash* I'll be there no matter what
  • Militantly * Taking action and not backing down   
  • Mosquito net  * Female private parts
  • Naah mean? * Do you know what I mean?
  • Nah aks Chrise* Used to emphasise confidence in what one has just said (I'm not asking Christ, I already know)
  • One more time * A term used to indicate the extreme, for example "if I laugh one more time" would mean that something is hilarious. "If him cute one more time" would mean that the guy couldn't be any cuter.

  • Paadie * A term of address, used usually by males talking to each other (see "Daadie" above)
  • Parrie * Friend
  • Pree * Think about, examine, consider carefully
  • Puppy * Penis
  • Right desso* Used to express agreement with something that has just been said
  • Run road * To be in charge (A we run road)
  • Russian * A real bad guy
  • Scabby * Someone who does not take care of himself, does not have good hygiene                                                          
  • Screbe/screbs * An uncultured person
  • Seh one * Great, wonderful, fantastic
  • Sell off * Expression of approval (Di party sell off)
  • Shell dun/shell dung * Do something fantastic, take by storm. (Di DJ shell dun di place.) Derived from gun jargon - to shell down is literally to shoot down.
  • Shelly * Adjective derived from Shell dung (see above), meaning awesome. (Di concert did shelly)
  • Sick * Awesome (Da tune deh sick!)
  • Shots fired! * Comment made when someone has just been dissed
  • Sort out * Fix up, usually related to sex life (but anything can need sorting out - hair, clothes, complexion, finances)
  • Sowah * Response to a lame joke
  • Stinga * A guy that the girls love  
  • Talk truth* Used to express agreement with something that has just been said
  • Tuff* Amazing
  • Tun up/Tun ova * Wonderful, great
  • Up * Awesome
  • Warm * Unattractive
  • Yaa shub? * Are you coming/going?
  • Y Style?* What's happening?
  • Waste man * Useless person, a waste of time
  • Watch da style ya* Check this out
  • Yu done know * You understand
  • Zeen? * You understand me?(whereas "Oh, zeen" means "oh, yes")

To keep this list true to the idea of "Jamaican Slang", I'll update it every few months, dropping off words no longer in use, and adding new ones. Those words that look like they'll be lasting, I'll shift to my page on established Jamaican phrases and words.

An interesting thing I've noticed is that some Jamaican slang words take hold of the whole country, all at once, especially if they are used in songs.

Click here if you're interested in Jamaican proverbs.

Jamaican slang is only one aspect of our culture. There are many other interesting features that combine to make Jamaica unique:

Jamaican Lifestyle (captured in sound - one of my favourite pages)
Jamaican Phrases
Jamaican People
Jamaican Music
Christmas, Easter, Independence in Jamaica
Jamaican Customs and Beliefs
Birth and Death Practices
Jamaican Religion
Rastas and Rastafarianism
Jamaican Folk Tales - Duppy, Rolling Calf and more

Return from Jamaican Slang to Real Jamaica Vacations

Sours: https://www.real-jamaica-vacations.com/jamaican-slang.html

Do you know how to say “I will be right back” or “Well done” in Jamaican? Do you have a Jamaican friend you want to communicate with or are you traveling to Jamaica?  Jamaican patois (patwah) is another language.   Below is a list of 18 Jamaican Patois phrases translated to English.

  • I Will Be Right Back – Mi Soon Come
  • To Eat – Nyam
  • Jamaica – Jamrock, Jamdown, Yard
  • Jamaican – Yardie, Yard man
  • Friend – Bredren (male), Sistren (female)
  • Well Done – Big up, Respect
  • Excellent – Sell off, Tun up, Wicked
  • What’s up? – Wah gwaan, Whappen, Whe yu a seh?
  • Everything is good – Mi deh yah, Everyting criss
  • See you later – Likkle more, Walk good
  • I understand – Zeen
  • Over there – Ova deh
  • What Are You Up To – Wha Yuh Deh Pon
  • I Don’t Care – Mi Nuh Biznizz
  • Jealous – Badmind
  • Step up your game – Tun Up De Ting
  • The party was good! – De Party Tun Up
  • OMG – Jeezum Pees
  • Don’t mess with me – Nuh romp wid mi
  • Move Over – Small up yuhself
  • Mix Up – Pasa Pasa
  • Bonus: Take my picture – Tek Mi Picha



Sours: https://jamaicans.com/20-essential-jamaican-patois-phrases-translated-to-english/

Slang words jamaican


Rouchelle Fountain Traveller 4.jpeg

In an earlier post last year, I discussed 14 English Words & Phrases that Mean Something Totally Different in Jamaican Patois. This time, the patois lessons are about to get harder, as I share 50 words and phrases that — to the best of my knowledge — originated in Jamaica.

Some of these Jamaican Patois words and phrases are popular in some parts of the island, but not others. A few were used by our parents and grandparents, but are not frequently used by millennials. And others were invented in my lifetime, by fellow millennials, and continue to confuse our elders.

I divided the list into different parts of speech to make it easier for you to follow. As per usual, all patois words in the body of the article, will be written in italics. Now, let’s get started!

In Jamaican Patois, most of our language inventions are nouns. It helps that we have very colourful ways of describing people, places, and things we dislike — as you will see.


The word earthstrong is brought to us by a prominent religious and cultural group in Jamaica, the Rastafarians. It literally means “birthday”, and is especially used by men wishing their male friends or relatives a happy birthday. It is not as commonly said to women, or used by women.

Joe Grind (sometimes spelled as Joe Grine)

Joe Grind refers to the man on the side. He keeps a safe distance from the boyfriend or husband, but knows who they are. It may also be used to refer to a guy who has a reputation of being the man on the side, or who may be trying to Jim-Screechy (please see list of verbs) a woman away from her man.

Pretty Dunce

A pretty dunce is the Jamaican equivalent of a dumb blonde. She’s very attractive, but doesn’t know the difference between there and dear, and can’t find Germany on a map.


Pickney is commonly used to refer to a child, in the same way Americans use the word “kid”.


Owing to our British roots, proper etiquette is very important in Jamaica. That means little things like saying please and thank you, greeting people when you meet them, and understanding boundaries in a home. Since this behaviour tends to depend on how a pickney was brought up, we inevitably refer to this as broughtupsy.

Maa-Ma Man

Maa-ma Man is often used to describe a man who deliberately refuses to take care of his responsibilities, due to laziness and lack of ambition. Below is another common meaning supplied by a fellow Jamaican.

Blue Movie

Technically, Jamaicans can’t claim creative rights to this term, as it is the title of the first well-known porno flick in television history. However, in Jamaica, we use Blue Movie as a euphemism for pornographic movies. The term has been falling out of use, since most millennials now just say porn.


A sketel is a sexually promiscuous woman, usually with a reputation for loose morals, and often with gold-digging intentions. Her less commonly referred to male equivalent is a mantel.


A gyalis is the updated word millennials use in place of mantel. It refers to a guy who is smooth, and usually gets his way with the ladies. It doesn’t carry the negative connotation mantel does, but naturally, no respectable Jamaican woman is looking to settle down with a gyalis.


A butu is someone who lacks broughtupsy, and is stereotypically either from the ghetto or the countryside.According to Jamaican Patwah, a butu is:

A person who has little or no social graces or manners. Being a butu is completely independent of your social class. Professor Rex Nettleford once correctly said, “A butu in a Benz is still a butu.”

In college, many of us started to say butucrat for some ridiculous reason. As I explained back in 2013, to a follower who asked me about it:


Jamaicans refer to mildew and most other fungal growths — especially on cloth, floors, and walls — as junjo. One follower briefly explains below.


Growing up, I heard this word (pronounced one way or the other) used as a vague but serious insult you hurled at someone you seriously disliked.

As one Jamaican friend explained to me in a Facebook comment, “I usually use it to berate someone I believe to be uncouth or unbecoming”. He also specified that the term tends to be used more for men than women.


The same friend colourfully described batacrep for me in the following words:

To the uninitiated, ‘batacrep’ is in reference to [a] battered crep — ‘crep’ being the flat soled sneakers… The battered or ‘batta’ in that is referring to its state, [as] usually it is something people of that time would wear often until it was worn out, torn, and ripped, as they were expensive [to replace].

Naturally, being compared to a pair of worn out, dirty (once upon a time) white shoes is not a compliment.


A lot of foreign artistes use the term Bangarang in their music, and I’ve always wondered if they knew what it meant. Like its brother hataclaps,bangarang refers to a trouble or disturbance. This can either be a loud noise, or someone who is up to no good.

Hataclaps can be a bit more serious than a bangarang, and is more synonymous with a serious crisis. However, both words tend to be used interchangeably.


A mampy is a grossly obese person. While I’ve mostly heard it used to describe men, overweight women have had this term hurled at them as well.

Keep in mind that in Jamaican culture a woman with large breasts, wide hips, and a big butt is considered immensely attractive. So our standards of fat, overweight, and obese are a bit different.


Corouches usually refers to junk, but not always literally. For instance, a person travelling with a lot of bags may describe those bags as corouches. It can be an offensive way to refer to people’s things, so to keep the peace, it’s best used to jokingly refer to your own belongings.


As commonly happens, the word suss has made it into British slang, but they still use it much differently than we do. The British use it to mean realising or understanding something, but in Jamaica, suss refers to gossip and scandalous rumours.


This is one of those words that are so old and out of regular usage that my generation barely knows what it means. I have always heard it used to mean a loud commotion.

Due to a Jamaican song that carries the title, many people also claim it has an underlying sexual meaning.


While we’re on the topic of sex, I suppose now is as good a time as any to refer to male genitalia. Pengeleng refers to adult male genitalia, while teely usually refers to a small boy’s. If you want to insult a Jamaican man, ask him about his teely. These words are more often used by generations preceding millennials, and in rural areas.


A follower suggested this one with the hilarious tweet:

While it can mean stars, I’ve always thought it just meant tiny flashes of light — perfectly reasonable after you’ve been pimp-slapped by a parent for being out-of-order.


Growing up, chi-chi was initially used to refer to termites. Even the pile of dust they left behind after their foraging was called chi-chi dust.

But as I grew older, the word also became a derogatory term for homosexuals. This usage was made popular by the T.O.K. song Chi-Chi Man, encouraging locals to keep their distance from the LGBTQ community.


Brawta refers to getting something extra as a bonus. For instance, when I order a Boston Creme at Dunkin Donuts, and they toss an extra one in the bag for free, that’s my brawta!

Bunununus (sometimes spelled boonoonoonoos)

This is a word I heard often growing up, but wasn’t really sure what it meant. The confusion comes from the fact that my generation doesn’t use it very often.

According to the book, Rastafari and Other Caribbean Worldviews, “The word bunununus… which means nice, was often used to describe fat and attractive women.”

Dry Land Tourist

A Dry Land Tourist refers to a Jamaican who is stush and pretends to be a foreigner, by mimicking a foreign accent, especially around tourists. They have typically never left the island before, but want to be perceived as cultured and sophisticated.

If you think the nouns were colourful, the adjectives we come up with as Jamaicans could outdo a rainbow. Since many of our adjectives also double as nouns, you will find several more under the hybrid heading in this article.

From Mi Eye Deh a Mi Knee

This phrase literally translates in English to “since my eyes have been at my knees”. A more accurate translation would be, “since I was a young child”. This is similar to when an American says, “since I was yay high”.


If something is pyaaw-pyaaw, it’s weak and unappealing. Growing up, I heard this used to describe everything from porridge to people! 😂

Hot Like Wig

I never heard the term hot like wig, while living on the island. But one of my friends in Montego Bay told me the simile recently caught on. This one doesn’t require an explanation, does it?


Winjy is a form of measurement that typically means small, thin, or scanty. Jamaicans may use this to ask for a winjy piece of the muffin, or to describe the winjy little boy up the street. While this was commonly used as a child, I haven’t heard it as often, since adulthood.


Though winjy is falling out of use to describe petite body types, mawga is eternal. It comes from the word meagre, and is not a compliment. It is only used to refer to living things, and ranges from mawga dog to mawga gyal.

Mi Mout Nuh License Wid Church

One of my absolute favourites, you have to get to a certain age before you can say this in public and get away with it. You might want to get to adulthood before saying it within earshot of your parents, though.

It literally means, “My mouth is not licensed with a church”. This is a wonderful way to warn someone, that there is no limit to the atrocities that will come out of your mouth if they cross you, so they should tread lightly.


On Twitter, a feud almost broke out over which of these was the correct pronunciation.

A private account commented to say, “It’s ‘plakka plakka’ doe.” That sparked the debate over which one was correct.

If you’re a Jamaican and reading this post, I’d love to know which one of the pronunciations you’re familiar with. 🤔


A common feature of Jamaican Patois, is repetition to show emphasis. A classic example of this is the word foo-fool, because just saying someone is foolish once is simply not enough.


To be tallawah is to be brave and strong. However, the irony of this word is that you hear it most often when describing someone or something you wouldn’t expect to be strong.

For instance, a common phrase in Jamaica is mi likkle but mi tallawah, commonly said by people who are short, especially men. It means, I am small but I can accomplish big things. Don’t underestimate me. 💪


If something is chakka-chakka it is messy or disorganised. But, let me just say that the most common thing I ever heard described as chakka-chakka is people’s teeth. I know, I know. We’re terrible people. 😅


Similar to pyaaw-pyaaw, something that is fenke-fenke is weak. It can also refer to something that is winjy, since not everything little is tallawah.

Stush (sometimes spelled stoosh)

Someone described as stush, has an overwhelming amount of broughtupsy, and are no longer down-to-earth. They may perceive themselves as being above others, or may be unwilling to get their hands dirty, or work very hard. This is usually only used to refer to women. 💅

When it comes to verbs in Jamaican Patois, we are typically content to use the ones most Anglophones are familiar with, though we often change the meanings. However, there are still a few inventions we’ve made over the years.


To pree something is to watch it closely. It can also mean to reflect on something. For instance, a man might run into a Jamaican friend on the street who looks upset. When asked what’s wrong, the friend may reply that “him a pree” (he is contemplating) his situation.

Dash Weh

To dash weh something is to throw it away. This can also be used to refer to an abortion, as Jamaicans may say she dash we di belly.This literally translates to, “she threw the belly away”.

Kin puppa lick

Every time I hear this phrase, I burst into laughter. I also remember that time I fell down a rocky incline in my grandmother’s yard. The memory sticks because when she told my parents what happened, kin puppa lick was the colourful way she described my unpleasant journey down the rocks. I will never forget that! 🤣


Unlike Joe Grind,Jim-Screechy is not a type of person; it’s something untrustworthy people do. If Paul Jim-Screechy the baby’s candy, he stole it. If he took the mother while he was at it, he Jim-Screechy her too. A burglar may also be seen “a Jim-screechy” (sneaking, or lurking)behind the house, trying to break in.

Wash Belly

A wash belly typically refers to the youngest child, especially if that child is much younger than the rest of their siblings.

Exclamations tend to not have literal meanings, but as with any other language, the context in which they are used, may vary. Let’s look at some of these below.

Raatid (sometimes spelled rhaatid)

Sometimes synonymous with “My God!”, raatidis often said by someone who is surprised, impressed, or even frustrated. It can also be used to describe the size of thing. For instance, upon seeing a mansion, a Jamaican may describe it as a “raatid house”, meaning it’s really big.


This literally translates to “Do you see me?” Its more accurate meaning is, “Do you understand me?” It’s not a literal question, or a question at all for that matter. Men especially use it to punctuate long monologues with their friends, or to prompt some feedback from them in the affirmative.


This is most popular with millennials in their later 20s, like myself. I don’t hear it as much now, but from highschool into college it was commonly used, and often abbreviated as “Zn”, when texting.

It literally translates to Seen, a common phrase we all had written in our books when teachers looked at our assignments. It’s used to acknowledge that you have heard someone, or understand them. It does not necessarily mean you agree.

As a god!

If you haven’t noticed yet, Jamaicans are pretty confident people. There’s a reason the animal most associated with our culture is the lion. Naturally then, when we swear on the truth of something, rather than swear on God’s word, we swear as gods ourselves. As a god! is the ultimate informal oath that someone is telling the truth. Some super-religious Jamaicans consider it blasphemy.

Jamaican Patois is fluid, always changing, and words may have multiple meanings based on the context. As you will see below, some words may also be used as multiple parts of speech.


The word risto comes from the word aristocrat. A risto is someone who is stush, and perceives themselves as too good for certain people, activities, or things. This word is a hybrid because I could say the person isa risto (noun), or is being risto (adjective). Unlike stush, we use this to refer to both men and women.


Someone who is speakey-spokey may speak with a false twang, or tends to use proper English even in informal settings. This is a hybrid because I could use it to explain her actions as speakey-spokey (verb) or to describe the person as speakey-spokey (adjective).

Wanga Gut

As an adjective, wanga gut is synonymous with being greedy, or as we would say, craven. As a noun, we use wanga gut to refer to a big belly, especially one that swings and bounces, and is the result of gluttonous tendencies.

Genal (sometimes spelled ginnal)

The word genal can be used to describe someone who is dishonest, or can be used to refer to that dishonest person.

Hurry-come-up (sometimes spelled horry cumup)

A hurry-come-up is similar to what other English speakers may refer to as an upstart. In Jamaica, this is someone who is climbing the ranks, or trying to, and behaves in an arrogant way towards others. As one follower explained it:

The phrase is a hybrid, because you may also refer to the action of the person as they work to climb the ranks, as hurry-come-up.

While Shakespeare’s sodden-witted, three-inch fool, and poisonous bunch-backed toad are notorious, you just can’t beat batacrep face, big ol’ mampy,wanga gut — and other such atrocities that come from mouths unlicensed with the church.

Sorry, Shakespeare. We win.

If you’re fascinated by Jamaican Patois and would love to learn more about our language and culture, check out:

AC Sign 2_0


Thank you to the more than 3 dozen Jamaicans who contributed to this list. I started with a list of 10, and in less than 24 hours of requesting help on Twitter and Facebook, I had a list of 50. 😵

I try to do at least one Jamaican post per month, so if you would like to be a part of these queries, follow me on Twitter at@alexischateau_. I’m also always on the lookout for pictures of Jamaicans to use in these posts, so follow me on IG as@alexischateau_ to suggest your pictures to me.

Rouchelle Fountain Traveller 2

For this post, I requested and received permission yet again from Jamaican world-traveller, Rouchelle Fountain. You can find her on Instagram as @[email protected], and be just as jealous as I am of her adventures!


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Sours: https://alexischateau.com/2018/01/26/10-awesome-words-phrases-invented-by-jamaicans-well-maybe/
Jamaican Phrases Part 1

Do you know how to say “Look at that” or “Wow” or “Take My Picture” in Jamaican? Do you have a Jamaican friend you want to communicate with or are you traveling to Jamaica? There is a heated debate amongst Jamaicans on whether “patois” (patwah) is a language or an English “dialect”.  If you don’t know Jamaican patois (patwah) it definitely sounds like another language.  Below is a list of 20 Essential Jamaican Patois phrases translated to English.

Feel free to download and share the above poster with  “20 Essential Jamaican Patois Phrases Translated to English”.

  • Don’t bother me – Nuh Badda Mi
  • It is mine – A Fi Mi
  • Good Looking Girl – Criss Ting
  • Just a little – Jus a toops
  • Con Artist – Ginnal
  • Look at that – Coo Deh
  • Can you please – A Beg Yuh
  • Leave me Alone – Lef Mi
  • Oh My Gosh – Jessum Peace
  • Excuse Me – Jus a word
  • Can I pass – Beg yuh pass
  • Take Care – Walk Good
  • Hey there – Pssst
  • Turn there – tun deh so
  • Thank You – tanks
  • Girlfriend – Dawta
  • Fantastic – Irie
  • Children – Pickney
  • Father – Fahda
  • Mother – Madda
  • Right here – yahso
  • I am okay – ya man
  • Serve you just right – ah good
  • Wow – Blouse an skirt

Bonus: Take my picture – “Tek Mi Picha”

20 Essential Jamaican Phrases Translated to English

Photo Source: Deposit Photos

Sours: https://jamaicans.com/20-jamaican-phrases-to-learn/

You will also be interested:

15 Jamaican Patois Phrases To Know

Local musicians playing traditional music, St. Anne, Jamaica | © Yevgen Belich/Shutterstock

Local musicians playing traditional music, St. Anne, Jamaica | © Yevgen Belich/Shutterstock

Jamaican Patois, is expressive, colourful and, to a non-Jamaican, often confusing. The Jamaican language is largely a derivative of Spanish, English and African influences on the country through its colonial history. Although the official language of Jamaica is English, many Jamaicans speak Patois in casual everyday conversation. Here are 15 Jamaican Patois phrases to know and use on your next visit to Jamaica.

A useful expression to know when using crowded buses or taxis; Small up yuhself quite literally means to make some room.

Jamaican people waiting for the bus | © Gabi Luka/Shutterstock

This Jamaican expression means literally: I’ll be right there. However if you’re told mi soon come, don’t be fooled. Island time is much slower than the rest of the world and this expression should be interpreted as meaning anything from a few hours to a few days.

Literally translated as ‘what are you saying’, but actually meaning ‘how are you doing’. For example: Weh yuh a seh? Mi deh try call yuh means, ‘How are you doing? I’ve been trying to call you.’

Jamaican man | © Craig F Scott/Shutterstock

Used when saying goodbye. The literal translation would be ‘In the tomorrows’, meaning ‘see you later’.

Bob Marley sang about them in Duppy Conqueror and Ian Fleming mentions them in Live and Let Die. In a land where superstition reigns by day and duppies (spirits) haunt by night, religion is more than just saying your prayers before you go to bed in Jamaica. This expression implies a fearless person overcoming obstacles and difficulties. The literal translation is ‘ghost conqueror’.

Colonial church in Jamaica | © KKulikov/Shutterstock

This phrase means damage or destroy. For example, Mi mash up mi fone means ‘I’ve broken my phone’. This is a popular expression and even road-signs will advise drivers to mash up yuh brakes. Meaning slow down.

Religion peppers all aspects of Jamaican life and wishing people a good day is often done by using the expression bless up. Blessings can also be used.

This is probably the most well known Jamaican greeting and was even used by US President Barack Obama during his inaugural visit to Jamaica. Wah Gwaan is a casual greeting to enquire how somebody is or what’s up.

Impress locals with this handy phrase which is often used in response to Wah Gwaan. The secret is in the pronunciation and the trick is to say it fast – almost as one word. While the literal translation is ‘I am here’, the implied meaning is ‘everything is ok’, or ‘I’m doing well’.

Guzumba means Obeah, which is similar to Haiti’s Voodoo and is the practise of black magic. Obeah-men can still be found practising this outlawed craft in Jamaica. An Obeah-man can cast or break a spell, go into a shamanic trance or, it is said, even bring someone back from the dead.

Street performers in Falmouth, Jamaica | © Ozphotoguy/Shutterstock

Meaning see ‘you later’ or ‘goodbye’. For example, mi see yuh likkle more den – I’ll see you later then.

Jamaican woman in St Ann, Jamaica | © Yevgen Belich/Shutterstock

John-crow is a Jamaican bird, known commonly across North America as the turkey buzzard. The expression yuh waan flap a wing, no doubt familiar to dancehall aficionados, is a term used to ask a girl to dance.

If something is chaka-chaka it means poor quality, disorganized and messy.

This is a term used to describe a streetwise, tough guy. It’s also a type of music usually abbreviated as ragga and is a subgenre of dancehall music and reggae.

To Kick up rumpus means to have a riotous good time. It was also the title of a hit 1985 song by Colourman and Jackie Knockshot.

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Sours: https://theculturetrip.com/caribbean/jamaica/articles/15-jamaican-patois-phrases-to-know/

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