15 South African Slang Phrases Really Need To Know

If you are travelling to South Africa, or you are just interested in knowing a little more about the land of Mandela, it is important to acquaint yourself with some of the commonest slang terms and phrases the people of that great nation use in everyday conversations.

As such, this article highlights some 15 slang phrases you should know in South Africa, so you do not get embarrassed by misinterpreting a word or statement a South African habitually utters. Without a doubt, what we have here would help you intermingle easily with the people. Read on to discover what these slang phrases are.

See Also: Top 10 Most Popular And Must-Read South African Books

Shame

Shame’ is an appealing and widely used term in South Africa. South Africans use the term in almost all social situations. For instance, just shout “Ag shame” when in doubt and your feeling or reaction will be appreciated in a big way. Just look at the conversations below to see how the term shame is variously used in many settings:

A: “My boyfriend bought me a new puppy.”

B: “Shame.”

A: “She was injured in the accident and rushed to a hospital.”

B: “Shame.”

A: “My brother won the Music Award yesterday!”

B: “Shame.”

Ag/Oh man

A filler word pronounced as “Ach”, Ag is commonly used by South Africans in place of “Shame”, simply to mean “Oh man”. The moment a South African feels like he or she has overused Shame’ and it is becoming boring to keep repeating, they throw in a filler which is mostly Ag, to change things a little. South Africans are known for their love for filler words. For instance, you may say, “Ag, we went out partying senseless last Friday.”

Read Also: 50+ Great Birthday Wishes For Your Favorite Cousin

Izit? Or Sho?

South African say, “Izit?” Or “Sho?” to mean “Is that so? This slang is best used if you absolutely lack a clue about what someone is speaking about, but you are wary of looking stupid (dofkop, as they call it)

Example: A: “I have been to the most powerful nation on earth, the United States of America.”

B: “Izit?”/ “Sho?”

Ja, Nee

Meaning ‘yes, no’, these two words are often said successively when one is expressing confirmation as well as agreement. For instance, one would say, “Ja, nee I will come for dinner thanks.”

Jawelnofine

Jawelnonofine is another common phrase with the people of South Africa, used for expressing resignation. It means ‘yes-well-no-fine.’ This example captures how the term is used:

A: “College fee will be up by nearly 25% next year?”

B: “Jawelnofine.”

Just now

Funnily in South Africa, the phrase ‘just now’ is used differently from its conventional English usage. Even South Africans themselves do not always understand if the phrase should mean a short moment, or soon. As such, if a South African says to you “I’ll give it to you just now.” Or “I will come just now,” they do not mean anytime soon, they mean in an unknown amount of time.

READ
5 Notable Truths About Afrikaners

Related: 140 Uplifting Get Well Wishes That Can Make Anyone Feel Better

Just sommer

In South Africa, people would say “Just sommer” to mean ‘just because’, when they have no clear reason to offer for the things they’ve done. For instance, ask a South African why they are doing a certain thing, such as laughing, and the likely answer you will get is “Just sommer.”

Loskop

Here’s another common word with South Africans, Loskop, meaning loose-head. It is just a humorous excuse used to explain away some odd or forgetful behaviour. For example, one would say, “I am such a Loskop tonight. I forgot my pen in the car”.

Lekker

Meaning ‘good’, Lekker is a term used by South Africans when they are expressing satisfaction. For example, “That is a lekker presentation,” is what one would say if happy with the presentation.

Babelaas

Babelaas is another common term used by South Africans to mean hangover. For instance, after a night of partying you would hear many making calls and beginning with “Babelaas”

Jol

Any event that is fun-filled, such as a party or family get-together, is called jol’ in South Africa. For example, you can say, “What’s the music over there? Are they having a jol?”

Jislaaik, Jussie, Jo, Haibo, and Haw

They are terms used to express big surprise or some confusion. For instance: “Jislaaik, bru, that was a big following!” or “Haibo, you turned 30.”

Klap

As a term that refers to giving someone a smack, Klap is Afrikaan. This term can, however, get more serious. A ‘snotklap’ is snot-smack, used to paint the picture of someone who was hardly smacked that mucus sprays from their noses. Also, there’s ‘geklap’, which means getting overly drunk so somebody may as well have smacked your face.

See Also: 200 Best Anniversary Quotes Ever

Muti

Muti means medication. “She will do her muti just now,” means she will do her medication for an unknown time.

Robot

In South Africa, Robot is a name that refers to traffic lights. This is thought to be so because there are actual robots on the nation’s roads that control traffic flow.

These sentences would further help you understand the usage of some of the 15 slang phrases you should know in South Africa:

  • Juslaaik bru, you do not look very lekker?
  • Ag ja I got a little geklap the other day in a friend’s jol.
  • Shame man, you do not think some muti for that babelaas is good?
READ
10 Shaka Zulu Facts That Will Shock Your Knowledge of History

Was this article helpful?
Andile Smith
Andile Smith
Andile provides articles on anything from Politics, Sports, History and entertainment to funny, creepy and weird. His passion for writing allows him to take what is ordinary and transform it into a real masterpiece. He's a true storyteller with a passion for tech and literature
data-matched-content-rows-num="2" data-matched-content-columns-num="4" data-matched-content-ui-type="image_stacked" data-ad-format="autorelaxed">

Recommended

Understanding Gugu Gumede – The Real Life Mamlambo from Uzalo’s Name, Age and Personality

Gugu Gumede is a talented actress who garnered much recognition for playing the fictional character Mamlambo in the South African television show, Uzalo. Having...

Inside Patrice Motsepe’s Cape Town House and Luxury Cars worth Hundreds of Millions

Patrice Motsepe is not only one of the richest individuals in South Africa, but he is also one of the richest black men in...

Who is Shauwn Mkhize? She’s Was Married to Her Millionaire Husband S’bu for 15 years

No list of successful South African women would be complete without Shauwn Mkhize. She is an accomplished business executive famed for her business acumen...

Itumeleng Khune Is Married and Shares A 10-Year Age Gap With Wife Sphelele Makhunga – Meet His Family

Itumeleng Khune has covered the distance in both his professional life, as well as his love life. He is now very much of a...

Dawn Thandeka King – Insights into the Age, Husband and Family of MaNgcobo from Uzalo

Not every actor became successful through multiple roles. Dawn Thandeka King, like some actors, achieved fame and fortune with just one role. Although the...

Featured Today

Nkanyiso Makhanya Did Not Make His First Uzalo Audition – Meet The Real Life Njeza

Uzalo is, without a doubt, one of the most followed South African TV shows at the moment. Just as it has become popular, it...

Zodwa Wabantu Has A Son and Has Cancelled Wedding Twice – Meet The Boyfriends She’s Dated

Anyone who has ever heard of Zodwa Wabantu, which is possibly everyone not living in the caves, will attest that she is controversial on...

Sbahle Mpisane Didn’t Grow Up With Her Biological Mother – Meet Her Parents and Family

Sbahle Mpisane is a fitness expert, reality TV star, and social media influencer of South African origin. She rose to immense popularity after she...

Who is Sbu Mpisane? Biography of the Flamboyant Husband of Shauwn Mkhize

Sbu Mpisane was once just another police constable with hardly a name on the public space. However, he rose from being a metro police...

Who Is Gibson Makanda – Nelson’s Alternate in the Mandela Effect Conspiracy Theory?

When the name of Nelson Mandela is mentioned to the bigger part of the world, what comes to mind is a South African hero...
Was this article helpful?

Related Stories