20 Most Common South African Slangs And Their Meanings

Slangs are words that are not considered part of the standard vocabulary of a language and that are used very informally in speech especially by a particular group of people. It is an informal nonstandard vocabulary composed typically of coinages, arbitrarily changed words, and extravagant, forced, or facetious figures of speech. South Africa is made up of eleven official languages. These are the Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Venda, Swazi, Xhosa, Tsonga and Tswana. These languages have led to the formation of slang words in the country which are used and are as equally accepted as some of the languages themselves.

Most Commonly Used South African Slangs

1. Bergie: This South African slang is from the berg mountain. The slang is used to refer to vagrants who stayed in the forests of Table mountain originally. Now the word is used to refer to a particular sub-culture of homeless people who are usually found in Cape Town.

2. Babbelas (bub – a – Lars): This slang means a bad hangover. It is derived from the modern isiZulu word for hangover known as isibhabhalazi.

3. Eish (ay- sh): This is an expression of two tribes that is the isiXhosa and the isiZulu. It is commonly used to express resignation, pleasant surprise and exasperation.

4. Wors (vors): This slang refers to traditional Afrikaans type of sausage,  now-eaten by almost all the people in the region. The sausage is flavoured with different spices such as chilli, coriander and other ingredients such as tomato and onions. The full name of the sausage is boerewors. The name boerewors translates directly to “farmers’ sausage”.

5. Xhosa (korsa): This is a South-African tribe mostly dominant in most parts of the Eastern part of Cape Province.

6. Bloutrein (blue – train):  This is another commonly used South Africa slang. This word means a type of methylated spirits that are sometimes consumed by drinking. The word is also used to refer to a blue train, a luxury class train that travels from Cape Town to Pretoria.

7. Isit (iz – it): This is an exclamation of surprise similar to English “is that true? So? Really?”

8. Leekker (lack-er):  This is a slang derived from the Afrikaans and means or acts as a sign of acceptance, approval, good or great.

9. Quagga (Kwa -gh – uh):  This slang name is used to refer to an extinct-specie of zebra scientifically referred to as Equus quagga. This species once used to live in Cape town but became extinct due to hunting in the 1800s

READ
The Venda People - Culture, Traditional Attire & Music

10. Skollie (skor – ly): Also referred to as skabenga (ska – beng –ga) and skelm (skeh – lim)

South African Slangs and Their Meanings
appshopper.com

11. Bakki. (bah – ki)): This slang is used to refer to a type of pick-up truck or a utility truck. It can also be used to mean a small container. Today the word bakki is now a part of the words in the South African English.

12. Ubuntu (oo – boon – to): This is a South African philosophy derived from the isiZulu’s word for goodness with the central tenet that a human being is a human being because of other human beings, a human being is not an island.

13. Bliksem: This is the South African slang word for punch or hit derived from the Afrikaans. The phrase is also used as an expression of surprise or rude. The Afrikaans uses it as a curse.

14. Bioscope: This word is used by South Africans to mean a dated movie theatre. Originally this word was an international English word. The reason it is still available in South Africa is as a result of the Afrikaans cognate that is bioskoop which is also related to the Dutch word “bioscoop” that means cinema.

15. Slap tjips (slup – chips): The word is similar to the thickly cut British chips that are usually oily and soaked in vinegar. In Afrikaans, slap means “limp”.

16. Cuiter: This slang word is used by South Africans to mean someone that one does not admire or like. This word is similar to the American English word “cunt”.

17. Kiff or Kief: This word is used to mean neat, wonderful,  great, cool or wicked in the English. The word is related to the Afrikaans word for poison “gif”. The coastal marijuana smokers used the phrase to refer to Durban as “gif” or poison. Also, the word may have come from the “kif”, an Arabic word that means marijuana or pleasure.

18. Panda: This slang was used to refer to white males. It was previously used to mean advantage but now means a disadvantage.

19. Baas: This phrase is used to refer to a boss.

20. Domkop: This word is similar to the German word “Dummkopf”. In South Africa, it is used to describe or refer to an idiot.

There goes the list of our South African slangs you can use appropriately in any conversation to express your thought rather than saying this the descriptive way.

READ
Understanding The Zulu Culture, Traditional Attire & Food

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

10 Most Expensive Cars in South Africa and the Celebrities Who Own Them

You cannot be said to have attained that celebrity status, for most people, until you start driving around in the best or, at least,...

Khosini Dlamini – A Look Back at the Life and Death of Minnie Dlamini Jones’ Brother

A sibling bond is a unique bond most people cherish more than any other thing. South African actress Minnie Dlamini-Jones once shared an amazing...

Truth about Hamilton Ndlovu The Gauteng Businessman Facing SARS For His High-End Car Collection

It is not unusual for people who have acquired new things most especially cars and houses to splash them across their social media for...

Unraveling DJ Tira’s Net Worth, The House and Cars He Spends His Money On

One of the most fantastic DJ's in South Africa and probably the biggest to make it out of KZN, DJ Tira’s net worth is...

Mandisa Meyiwa Met Her Late Husband When He Had Nothing – Meet Senzo Meyiwa’s Wife

It was since 2014 that South African goalie, Senzo Meyiwa, was killed in what was suspected to be a robbery case. Since then, his...

Featured Today

MacDonald Ndou – Demystifying the Real-life KK from Muvhango

MacDonald Ndou is a popular South African actor who is easily recognized for starring in the South African television soap opera, Muvhango. He has...

Jessica Nkosi Kept Her Romance with Baby Daddy T.K Dlamini Secret – A Look at Their Life Together

Somewhere in the minds of many South Africans, there was always the knack to find out the kind of man Jessica Nkosi was dating,...

Legacy Actors – Meet The Cast Members of M-Net’s Posh Telenovela

If you are a fan of family drama and also love watching television series that chronicles all shades of relatable family issues, then you...

Khosi Ngema – Inside the Life Of Fikile Bhele The Blood And Water TV Actress

Khosi Ngema may just be another South African teenager when she first started, but she is now more than that. The young actress has...

DJ Tira and His Wife Gugu Khathi Have Been Together for 2 Decades – Inside Their Relationship

DJ Tira and his wife, Gugu Khathi, are one of South Africa's most-beloved celebrity couples. They have been on each other's side for two...
Was this article helpful?

Related Stories