A Travelers Guide to South African Slang

With eleven different languages being spoken all throughout South Africa; it can get pretty confusing when talking to the locals. Having a translation guide on hand will not only make it easier to understand what you’re hearing but will also make mingling with the locals a lot more fun. Here are a few useful words and phrases to help you along your journey when visiting South Africa.

Ag man! – Oh man!

Aikona – Not on your life

Babbelas – Hangover

Biltong – Dried, seasoned strips of meat

Bobotie – A spicy traditional Malay mince dish with an egg custard topping

Bliksem – To hit / punch

Bitter koud – Very cold

Boer – Farmer

Boerewors – Spicy South African sausage

Bokkie – A small buck or more commonly known as an affectionate name for a female

Bra / Bru – Male friend

Braai – A BBQ

Chow – To eat

Cozzy – Swimming costume

Chommie / China – My friend

Domkop – Idiot

Droewors – Dried sausage

Eina! – Ouch!

Eish! – A phrase of exclamation

Fundi – Expert or teacher

Gatvol – Fed up or had enough

Gooi – To throw something

Gogga – bug / insect

Hayibo! – Wow!

Heita – Hello / hi

Hoezit /Howzit – How is it going? How are you?

Indaba – A conference

Isit? – Is it? / Is that so?

Ja Nee – yes no

Jislaaik – an expression of surprise

Jol – to have fun; party

Kiff / Kief – cool, great

Laaitie – A young male

Laduma! – He scores! (used when a goal is scored in South African soccer)

Lekker – Great or tasty

Mzansi – South Africa

Now Now – it will be done immediately

Oke – A guy

Oom – Older man of authority / Uncle

Padkos – Food for the road/journey

Saamie – Sandwich

Shongololo – Millipede

Shebeen – An unlicensed bar

Sif – Disgusting, horrible, ugly

Skelm – A crook

Slap chips – French fries

Spaza – Poor quality

Ubuntu – Compassion, kindness, humanity

Voetsek! – Go away!

Yebo – Yes

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I'm Shalinee - a Geminian scientist who loves to travel, write, draw and eat chocolate. I've visited over twenty countries, published a Environmental Science encyclopaedia and somewhere along the way started a science communication company to help students and corporates translate that hard-to-read data generated in a lab. Other than that, I'm just searching for the magic still hidden in the world.

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