South African Slang

related: language, slang, south africa, afrikaans
flickrgroup: Ecotourism Africa
slideshare: South Africa Slang (5,000+ views)
editing: South Africa

Here we translate South African English and a bit of Afrikaans to American English and Spanish.

Howzit, my China! Don't check me skeef

Ag Shame - I feel sorry for you (often sarcastically used); also: how sweet! (e.g. in reference to a child, or a young animal) - Lo siento por ti (usado frequentamente con sarcasmo)
Arvie - Afternoon - Tarde
Avo - Avocado - Aguacate
Ayoba - Great/awesome (especially 'lekker' in a South African way)
Bafana Bafana - South Africa national football team (literally: the boys) - Equipo de futbol sudafricano (literalmente: los jovenes / los muchachos)
Biltong - Beef jerky - Carne seca
Bliksem - To beat someone up as in 'I will bliksem you' - Golpear
Bobotie - Local food consisting of spiced minced meat baked with an egg-based topping - Comida local con carne horneada
Boep - A protruding or distended belly: see beer boep - Panzon
Bok - Keen, willing; also 'darling' (as in 'My bok.' Diminutive - 'My bokkie') - Listo, capaz
Bokke - the Springboks (the South African national Rugby Team: always spelled with capital R & T!)
Braai - Barbecue - Parrillada
Brinjal - Eggplant
Bru (or brah) - Mate, buddy - Cuate
Buskers - street performers
Cafe - convenience store (don't expect a hot cup of coffee here) - La tiendita de la esquina
Catch a tan - Get a suntan - Broncear
Catch a wake-up - get with the programme
Cool-cool - fine, good
Crash - to sleep (Can I crash at your pozzie tonight. bru?)
Donner - To beat up - Madrear
Dop - a drink (alcoholic drink) - Un tragito
Dorp - Town/village = Pueblo
Enkosi - Thank You (Xhosa)
Graze - To eat - Comer
Hola - what's up, cool, thanks
Hol rug gery - literally 'hollow back ridden' - when an issue has been overworked, or something has been done to death (as in - when a horse's back has become hollowed from being ridden too often) . That Lady Gaga song? Hol rug gery.
Howzit - Hello - Hola
I'm burning - ?
Indaba - Gathering - Encuentro
Izit - Is that so? = De veras? = No me digas
Ja-nee - Yes, no - Yes, I understand you/hear you, and no (often used as a vague confirmation of agreement) - Si y no (pero más si!)
Jol (have a jol) - A party or having a good time - Una gran fiesta
Jozi (pronounced: ‘Joe-zee’) - Johannesburg, also Jo'burg - Johannesburg
Just now - Soon (usually a bit later than now now) - Ahora (más o menos pronto)
Kief - Cool, awesome - Chido (That's a kief shirt bro)
Kuier - to visit. Pronounced kay-er (Nooit, brah, I can't come jolling, the toppies are kuiering)
Laduma (laduuuuuuuuuma) - Loud, long cheer when a goal is scored- Goooooooool
Lapa - Thatched outdoor shelter, usually for entertainment - Palapa
Lekker - Awesome, cool (local is lekker!) - Chido
Load shedding = Interruption of the electricity supply
Makoya - Authentic, the real McCoy - Autentico
Mzansi - South - Sur (Zulu)
Masihambeni! - Let's go! - Vamos! (Xhosa)
Mealies - Corn - Maíz
Meisie - missy or little girl - Chica
Nooit - Never. Pronounced noyt
Now now - Soon - Ahorita
Nyama - Beef or game meat
Oraait - All right - Esta bien
Outeniqua rust - everything takes longer when you're in the Outeniqua region (the Southern Cape - around Knysna and George. You know: the Garden Route). A little like the concept of mañana - although without quite the same sense of urgency.
Padkos = Road food
Plakkies (pronounced: ‘pluck-keys’) = Flip-flops or Thongs or Double Pluggers (Australia), Jandals (New Zealand) = Chanclas
Pozzie = Home
Robot = Traffic light = Semaforo
Rock up - To arrive, to turn up somewhere - Llegar
Saffa - South African - Sudafrikaner (audio cue:
Sawubona = Hello (Zulu)
Sharp - Cool, thanks, see you later (also 'sharp sharp') - Chido, todo bien
Skinner - to gossip (only more so)
Smaaklike ete - enjoy your meal (bon appetit) - Sabroso
Swak = weak
Tekkies = Sneakers - Zapatillas de deporte
Toppie (or old toppie) = father
Toppies (or old toppies) - parents
Ubuntu - Human kindness (wikipedia)
Vasbyt - Hang in there - Aguanta
Veld = Wide open rural spaces = Planicias o sabana
Voetsek - Go away (usually said to dogs) - Vete / largate
Vuvuzela - Stadium horn - Trompeta
Watertand lekker - Lip-smackingly good!
Yebo - yes (Zulu) - Si


Nya (said with wink)





(Xhosa) Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika
Maluphakanyisw' uphondo lwayo,
(Zulu) Yizwa imithandazo yethu,
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo.
God [Lord] bless Africa
May her glory be lifted high
Hear our petitions
God bless us, Your children
Dios [Señor] bendiga a África
Que su gloria sea levantado en alto
Escuche nuestras peticiones
Dios nos bendiga, tus hijos
(Sesotho) Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso,
O fedise dintwa le matshwenyeho,
O se boloke, O se boloke setjhaba sa heso, Setjhaba sa, South Afrika - South Afrika.
God we ask You to protect our nation
Intervene and end all conflicts
Protect us, protect our nation, our nation, South Africa - South Africa
Dios, te pedimos que protejas a nuestra nación
Intervengas y pongas fin a todos los conflictos
Protegenos, protege a nuestra nación, nuestra nación, Sudáfrica - Sudáfrica
external image cleardot.gif
(Afrikaans) Uit die blou van onse hemel,
Uit die diepte van ons see,
Oor ons ewige gebergtes,
Waar die kranse antwoord gee,
Ringing out from our blue heavens,
From our deep seas breaking round,
Over everlasting mountains,
Where the echoing crags resound,
De llamada desde nuestro cielo azul,
De nuestros mares profundos romper todo,
Sobre las montañas eternas,
Cuando de las peñas eco resuena,
(English) Sounds the call to come together,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom,
In South Africa our land.
Sounds the call to come together,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom,
In South Africa our land.
Suena la llamada para ir juntos,
Y unidos vamos a pie,
Vamos a vivir y luchar por la libertad,
En Sudáfrica nuestra tierra.

Elsewhere on the Web

South African slang; a comprehensive look


South Africanisms


Playlist of Cape Town Accents




National anthem
South African Slang
South Africa English


Grokking the kluge - ?
What a wally - what an idiot!
Much of a muchness - it makes no difference

Traveler Tip - If you are uncertain about a particular expression or word, just say, '...'

Oke - guy, bloke. We also say ‘ou’, pronounced ‘oh’. "That lightey (youngster) is a good ou."
outjie which literally means aprox a very young old guy

Words that are pronounced differently in South Africa and the USA

herb (it's got an 'H' at the beginning!)


South Africa

south africa slang (planeta wiki)

Buzzword Bingo: Yebo

Skinner: to gossip (only more so)