ZAictionary - Understanding our South Africanisms

ZAictionary – Understanding our South Africanisms

We’re a quirky bunch us Saffers, and we have a lot of weird and wonderful words and phrases. Here is an ever-growing list of South African terms you may have seen me use in a few posts:


“Ag” – Pronounced “Uggg” with a real guttural emphasis on the “ggg” – like you would hacking up a good piece of phlegm. It’s use in a sentence: “Ag no man, the milk boiled over on the stove!”


“Bokkie” – Pronounced: “Bor-key” a short o (as in boy) not a long o (as in bow) – A word used to describe a well-groomed, pampered young lady synonyms: Coegal.

“Braai” – Pronounced: “Bry” – A South African BBQ – A braai is to South Africa what a cup of tea is to England. It usually consists of steak, lamb or pork chops, “boerewors” sausage, “pap” (traditional maize porridge), potato salad, “mielies (corn on the cob), tomato & onion salad and “melktert” (milk tart) for dessert.

“Boer” – pronounced: “Boo-r”- A farmer, typically of Dutch descent.

“Babalas” – Pronounced: “Ba-ba-lus” – A bad hangover.

“Bakkie” – Pronounced: “Ba-key” – A pick-up truck or a small plastic tub.

“Bergie” – Pronounced: “Ba-ggee” – A homeless person that lives on the street or in the mountains.

“Biltong” – Pronounced: “Bill-tong” – Dried, cured, raw meat – usually beef or wild game.

“Boerewors” – Pronounced: “Boo-ra-vors” – Directly translated it means “farmer sausage”.

“Bucks” – Slang for South African money.


“Circle” – Traffic round about.

“Cozzie” – swimming costume.


“Dop” – An adult drink with a kick, usually brandy.

“Dorp” – small town in the middle of nowhere.

“Doss” – Quick nap.

“Dutchman” – To fit this category you must like red meat, brandy and coke and drive a pick up truck (bakkie). It can be used in a derogatory sense, so don’t go around calling every Afrikaans man a “Dutchman” as he might take offense, but if you hear the term, this is what is meant by it.


“Ek se!” – Directly translated I say… But more accurately “can you believe it!”


“Foofie slide” – A pulley slide/swing going from one bank of the river to the other. You ideally would let go half way and land in the water.

“Fynbos” – Indigenous plants and shrubs – think proteas.





“Jas like it!” – Pronounced: “Yus-like-it” Exclamation eg: “Are you serious?” “Honestly!”

“Jolling” – going out for a night on the town/having fun.


“Klap” – Pronounced “Clup” – smack, slap, whack with gusto.

“Kak” – pronounced “kuk” – directly translated it means “sh1t” Used predominantly as an exclamation from someone who is disgruntled, describe something of inferior quality etc. Synonyms: cr@p, terrible, poor quality.


“Lekker” – Pronounced: “Lek-a” Good, enjoyable, nice.

“This steak is really lekker”.

“Lapa” – Pronounced: “Laar-pa” – An outdoor shelter made of wood/stone usually with a  reed roof.

“Larny” – someone or something that’s fancy or rich.


“Moeg” – Pronounced: “Mm-u- gg” dead tired.

“Mielie” – Pronounced: “Mee-lee” – corn or maize.

“Mozzie” – mosquito – probably the most unpopular thing on the planet.

“Muti” – Pronounced: “moo-tee” African traditional medicine.


“Now-now” – To do something or be somewhere in a little while/later on.

“Nogal” – Pronounced: “No-ggal” Exclamation “and even”.


“Papsak” – Pronounced: “Pup – suck” – Cheap box wine.

“Poep” – Pronounced: “Pooep” “scardy cat”.

“Poepal” – Pronounced: Poop-all” – silly person that does something stupid.

If someone cuts you off in traffic you could call them a “poepal” but it is offensive, as it basically means “poop hole”.

“Poppie” – Pronounced “Po-pee”- a word used to describe a young, naïve, innocent girl. See also “bokkie”.

“Plaas seun/meisie” – Farm boy/girl.

“Padkos”  – Pronounced: “put-course” – snacks/picnic to eat on a car journey – Directly translated: Road food.

“Plonk” – cheap wine – see papsak (box wine).

“Pozzie” – Pronounced: “Pa- zee” someone’s home, place to relax.


“Quagga” – Pronounced: “Qa-gga”- extinct relative of the zebra.


“Robot” – traffic light.

“Rondavel” – Pronounced: “Ron-da-ville” Round, thatched hut.


“Sho-Sho” – Pronounced: “Shoo-Shoo” – Very HOT weather! Usually too hot too work in.

“Shame” – sympathetic saying to empathise with someone or something.

“Skelm” – Pronounced: “Ske-lim” – trouble maker, someone up to no good.

“Shoh!” – Pronounced: “Shor” –  Exclamation – Wow, gosh, Oh my word! Really?

“Sangoma” – Pronounced: “Sun-gor-ma” African witch doctor that practices traditional medicine.

“Sarmie” – typical sandwich you got given as school lunches.

“Shebeen” – Pronounced: “Sha-been” township bottle store open 24 hours usually and on Sunday’s.

“Slap chips” – Hot, soggy fries, often served with battered fish.

“Spaza shop” – general supplies shop in townships/small towns.

“Stoep” – veranda, terrace, balcony.


“Tsotsi” – Pronounced: “Taw-t-see” Gangster, see skelm.

“Takkies” – trainers, sneakers, running shoes.

“Veld” – Pronounced: “Felt” – Bush, grass plains, natural vegetation.

“ZA”: Abbreviation for South Africa (like USA) seeing as SA was already taken by South America.

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