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South African sayings and terminology.

Updated on May 17, 2015
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South Africanisms, from the mundane to the bizarre

South Africa is more than it’s racist history, abundance of diamonds and poverty induced crime. It is a melting pot of different cultures and languages that bleed into every day life without conscious thought. While the majority of South Africans speak English there are loads of phrases that are pretty unique and a little bizarre as you are about to see.


Ag— Oh, as in: Oh man. (Guttural sound)

Aikona— No way, not on your life.

Arb— Arbitrary, unnecessary.

Ayoba— Awesome

Babelas— Hangover.

Bakkie— Pick-up truck. Also a bowl in Afrikaans.

Befok— Exciting, wild, crazy.

Biltong— Dried meat, similar to jerky.

Blicksim—To punch or beat on someone.

Boerewors— Long, curled, spiced sausage.

Bokke— South African rugby team, shorter version of Springbokke.

Bokkie— Term of endearment.

Bosbefok— Insane (mentally).

Braai— Like a grill or a BBQ but with very specific social rules. Men around the fire and women doing the salads. With serious meat on the fire, not sausages and burgers.

Bru— Brother. Friend. Buddy. Applies to both sexes.

Bunny chow— A hollowed out loaf of bread with curry in it. Note: no bunnies are harmed.

Car guards— People hired to watch your cars and make sure that they are still there when you are ready to leave.

Check— Look or pay attention.

Cream soda— Green Soda.

Dikbek— Sulky.

Donner— Beat-up.

Doos— Derogatory for stupid person.

Dop— Alcoholic drink, libation

Dwaal— Day dreaming.

Eina— Ouch!

Eish!— Exclamation of disappointment.

Epic— Unforgettable

Gatvol— Reached the end of their tether.

Gees— enthusiasim.

Haaibo!— Exclamation of surprised disappointment.

Hectic— Crazy. Not as in mentally unstable.

Hotdog— Vienna in a roll with onions, tomato sauce and mustard.

Howzit— Hello. How is it going? How are you?

Izzit— Is that so?

Jaaa— Yes

Ja-no— Yes

Jol— Party

Juslaaik!— Exclamation of surprise or irritation.

Just Now— Further away in the future than now-now.

Kaalgat— Totally naked.

Kak— Pretty much the opposite of lekker: Horrible, yuck, boring.

Kif— Cool, this term is pretty old fashioned but if making a come back.

Larny— Posh or upper class.

Lekker— Nice. Tasty. Fun.

Load shedding—Scheduled power cuts to lighten the load on the over taxed power utility, Eskom.

Lus— Craving for anything, usually food or alcohol.

Meilie— Corn on the cob.

Naartjie— Tangerine.

Now-now— later. As in: We’ll have dinner now-now.

Off on a tangent— Off topic. See arbitrary.

Padkos— Food for long road trips.

Pavement— Sidewalk.

Pleasure— You’re welcome.

Random— Weird. Strange. Unusual.

Robot— Traffic lights.

Rock-up— Arrive at a location. Usually late.

Rusks— Hard dried biscuits that you dunk in tea or coffee.

Saffer— South African- usually in a different country.

Sangoma— Traditional healer. Think Mr Bones.

Shebeen— Township or underground pub.

Shame— Can be used to show empathy, as in: Oh shame, your broken leg must be painful. Also can be used to indicate that something is extremely cute, as in: Ag shame, how sweet is he?

Side— Team. As in: My side won the rugby match.

Skinner— Back garden gossip.

Skrik— A big fright.

So long—Right now, in the mean time.

Sosatie— Kebab.

Takkies— Tennis shoes/Trainers.

Tekkies— Computer wizards/geeks.

Veld— Rolling countryside, grasslands to semi-arid areas.

Yebo— Yes (isiZulu)

A Cape Town Sunset

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    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 2 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I like the "just now" and "now now" and "so long" phrases. That would take some getting used to!

    • Gwyn Buchanan profile image
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      Gwyn Buchanan 2 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks for popping in SusanDeppner, even us South Africans get confused by those. Time is pretty fluid here, the journey is what's important.

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