CapeTownMagazine.com

Your Guide to Cape Town Slang

Unwrapping Cape Town with you.
Also engage with our other channels
to find something you don't want to miss.
 
www.capetownmagazine.com/subscribe
CapeTownMag
CapeTownMagazine.com
capetownmag

Your Guide to Cape Town Slang

Awê, get the low-down on the Mother City’s colourful colloquialisms and sayings, ek sê...

Slang and colloquialisms are prolific in Cape Town; a fact that’s far from surprising in a nation that claims 11 official languages and in a city that’s home to an eclectic mix of cultures. That said, locals in the Mother City and in the surrounding Western Cape, more so than, arguably, other South African provinces, have their own unique way of talking smack and waxing lyrical.

Much of the credit for the area’s broad spectrum of slang and colloquialisms is owed to the coloured people from the Cape Flats, a population vibrant in every way, but most famously, for the in the way in which they communicate. Though, ultimately, words, sound bytes and sayings from all of the nation’s official languages inject themselves into casual conversations, potent road rage and cheesy pick-up lines.

So, if you’re planning a visit to Cape Town, if you’re new to the city or if you simply need to brush up on your bantering act, then look no farther; we’ve put together a beginner’s guide to Cape Town slang and colloquialisms, complete with our version of accented pronunciation.

Ag (ah-ch): An expression of irritation or resignation. “Ag no man!” “Ag, these things happen”

Awê (ah-weh): A greeting. “Awê, brother!”

Babbelas (bah-bah-luss): Derived from the isiZulu word, ‘i-babalazi’, meaning hangover; adopted into the Afrikaans language as a term for ‘hangover’. “I have a serious babbelas!”

Bakkie (bah-kee): 1. A bowl. “Put those leftovers in a bakkie.” 2. A pick-up truck.  “We all jumped on the back of my dad’s bakkie and went to the beach.”

Befok (buh-fawk): 1. Really good, amazing, cool. “The Symphonic Rocks concert is going to be befok!” 2. Crazy, mad, insane. “You tried to put your cat in the braai? Are you befok?”

Bergie (bear-ghee): Derived from berg, Afrikaans for ‘mountain’. Originally used to refer to vagrants living in the forests of Table Mountain, the word is now a mainstream term used to describe vagrants in Cape Town.

Bra (brah), bru (brew): Derived from broer, Afrikaans for ‘brother’; a term of affection for male friends; equivalent to dude. “Howzit my bru!” “Jislaaik bra, it’s been ages since I last saw you!”

Braai (br-eye): Barbeque (noun and verb). “Let’s throw a tjop on the braai.” “We’re going to braai at a friend’s house.”

Duidelik (day-duh-lik): Cool, awesome, amazing. “That bra’s car looks duidelik!”

Eish (ay-sh): isiZulu interjection; an exclamation meaning ‘oh my’, ‘wow’, ‘oh dear’, ‘good heavens’. A: “Did you hear? My brother got into a fight with a bergie!” B: “Eish! Is he hurt!”

Ek sê, Eksê (Eh-k-s-eh): Afrikaans for, ‘I say’. Used either at the beginning or end of a statement. “Ek sê my bru, let’s braai tomorrow.” “This party is duidelik, ek sê!”

Eina (Ay-nah): An exclamation used when pain is experienced, ‘ouch!’. “Eina! Don’t pinch me.”

Entjie (eh-n-chee): A cigarette. “Come smoke an entjie with me.”

Guardjie, gaatjie (gah-chee): The guard who calls for passengers and takes in the money on a minibus taxi.

hhayi-bo (isiZulu), hayibo (isiXhosa) (haai-boh): An interjection meaning ‘hey’; ‘no way’.“Hayibo wena, you can’t park there!”

Howzit (how-zit): A greeting meaning ‘hi’; shortened form of ‘how’s it going?’

Is it?: Used as acknowledgement of a statement, but not to ask a question – as one might assume. Most closely related to the English word ‘really’. A: “This guy mugged me and said I must take off my takkies!” B: “Is it?”

Ja (yaah): Afrikaans for ‘yes’. A: “Do you want to go to a dance club tonight?” B: “Ja, why not?”

Ja-nee (yah-near): Afrikaans for yes-no. Meaning ‘Sure!’ or ‘That’s a fact!’ Usually used in agreement with a statement. A: “These petrol price hikes are going to be the death of me.” B: “Ja-nee, I think I need to invest in a bicycle.”

Jol (jaw-l): (noun and verb) 1. A party or dance club. “We’re going to the jol.” “That party was an absolute jol!” 2. Used to describe the act of cheating. “I heard he was jolling with another girl.”

Jislaaik (yiss-like): An expression of astonishment. “Jislaaik, did you see that car go?”

Kak (kuh-k): 1. Afrikaans for ‘shit’.  Rubbish, nonsense, inferior, crap or useless. “What a kak phone.” “Your driving is kak.”  2. Extremely, very. “That girl is kak hot!”

Kwaai (kw-eye): Derived from the Afrikaans word for ‘angry’, ‘vicious’, ‘bad-tempered’.  Cool, awesome, great. “Those shoes are kwaai.”

Lekker (leh-kah): 1. Nice, delicious. “Local is lekker!” 2. Extremely, very. “South Africans are lekker sexy!”

Mielie (mee-lee): Afrikaans term for corn, corn-on-the-cob.

Nee (nee-ah): Afrikaans for ‘no’.

Naartjie (naah-chee): Afrikaans term for citrus unshiu, a seedless, easy peeling species of citrus also known as a ‘satsuma mandarin’.

Potjie, potjiekos (poi-kee-kaws): Afrikaans term for pot food/stew comprised of meat, chicken, vegetables or seafood slow-cooked over low coals in a three-legged cast iron pot.

Shame: A term of endearment and sympathy (not condescending). “Ag shame, sorry to hear about your cat.” “Oh shame! Look how cute your baby is!”

Shisa Nyama (shee-seen-yah-mah): isiZulu origin – while shisa means ‘burn’ or to be hot and nyama means ‘meat’, used together the term means ‘braai’ or ‘barbeque’. “Come on, let’s go to Mzoli’s for a lekker shisa nyama!”

Sisi (see-see): Derived from both isiXhosa and isiZulu words for sister, usisi and osisi (plural). “Hayibo sisi, you must stop smoking so many entjies!”

Sosatie (soo-saah-tees): Kebabs, skewered meat. “Let’s throw a few sosaties on the braai.”

Takkies (tack-kees): Trainers, sneakers, running shoes. “I want to start running, again but I need a new pair of takkies.”

Tjommie, chommie (choh-mee): Afrikaans slang for ‘friend’. “Hey tjommie, when are we going to the beach again?”

Vrot (frawt): Rotten; most often used to describe food that’s gone off or a state of being sick. “Those tomatoes are vrot.” “Champagne makes me feel vrot!”

Voetsek (foot-sek): Afrikaans for ‘get lost’, much like the British expression, ‘bog off’. “Hey voetsek man!”

Wena (weh-nah): isiXhosa and isiZulu for ‘you’. “Hey wena, where’s the R20 you owe me?”

Wys (vay-ss): Show, tell, describe. “Don’t wys me, I know where I’m going.”

So, whether you’re asking for directions, engaging with the locals or just eavesdropping in a taxi, let’s hope this guide will give you some insight into what’s being said. And keep in mind, if anyone says “Joe Mah Sah...” just know, it’s not a compliment. 

---

by Meagan Hamman

---
Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, join our Google+ circle and check out our Pinterest boards for updates.

Cape Town Events Calendar
August 2019
SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT
1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Ash_EvansBecome A Video Star

Learn how to handle yourself on camera

blowfish_new_7R99 Calamari and Prawns Combo Every ...

And drink in the view of Table Mountain across the bay

cape_quarter_01Catch These Weekly Deals at Cape Quarter

From R18 coffee to half-price burgers

rotterdam_restaurantFarm Stay Special: Romantic Weekend Away

Idyllic Swellendam farm accommodation with a special game drive and picnic amongst the ...

Jedi Tedi 3Drink Rosé & Find Inner Peace

Yoga, meditation and rosé on tap at this Women’s Day brunch in Milnerton

sounding_the_voidDiscover the Art of Listening At A ...

A free audio exhibition exploring fantasy islands, suits that give you a different ...

durbanville_childrens_homeIt’s A Treasure Hunt At A R2 Book Sale

Find old gems, childhood classics, best sellers and out-of-print books.

Kinky BootsSmash-Hit Kinky Boots Extended To 2020 ...

With music by Cyndi Lauper, several Tonys and a Laurence Olivier Award

teambuildingTeambuilding Activities You’ll ...

14 teambuilding activities and why they work

fpl_5Get Moving in Functional Training Class

Improve your fitness, strength and overall functionality with the Functional Performance ...

ac_marriott_musicHappy Hour and Live Music Every ...

Get a discount on drinks and tapas before local musicians step up to entertain you

aroundaboutnew1Get a Free Stay in Scarborough With ...

Just use the promo code when booking a 4X4 and camping equipment

sundoo2019_4South-Indian Tapas and Thalis For a ...

Vegan options, halaal-friendly, casual but beautifully decorated: Sundoo South Indian ...

the41_music3Romantic Beach Vibe and Live Music At ...

Live Thursdays: Come in your slops to this chic Camps Bay spot for great food and live ...

OX Seals 04Smile: You Get 10% Off Seal Snorkelling ...

Up close with wild Cape fur seals in small, intimate excursions that are super special, ...

sgtpepper152-for-1 Burger or Pizza Deal At Sgt ...

A reason to eat out: Get a free pizza on Tuesdays and a free burger on Thursdays at this ...

cartelcafe6Lunch Sorted: A Midweek Buffet At The ...

Fill up your plate and tuck into a tasty lunch spread every Wednesday and Thursday: From ...

coco_safar_lunchOn The House: Try A Rooibos Cold Brew ...

Satisfy your cravings for South African flavours such as bobotie or hit the spot with ...

Barrs7Common Summer Ailments And Their ...

What most people ask about sunscreen, hay fever, runny tummy, malaria meds and ...

house of h2 For 1 New Corona Cocktails on the ...

All-new whiskey-Corona mixes, Corona mojitos for after-work drinks during two-hour ...

Coco Safar Dinner NEW 2Indulge In Dinner and Dessert At Coco ...

And now they have added couture alcoholic cocktails to the menu at this all-day cafe

Nasty Womxn - 4But What If Medusa Had Won?

A sketch art exhibition retelling stories of Greek mythology from a women’s perspective

Waterworld Strand Waterpark Cape TownFree Putt-Putt Special at Waterworld ...

False Bay’s finest family fun zone is offering a complimentary game of mini golf with ...

Vergenoegd_duckrun1Cheer On The Ducks At Vergenoegd Löw

Bring the kids along to experience the Duck Parade

WeatherGiveawaysTravel Tips

Curious to make exciting discoveries in Cape Town every day? "LIKE" us for a daily hidden gem.