South African slang; a comprehensive look.
I was about to try and compile a list of the extensive and mostly unintelligible slang used in South African “English”, but the good folks over at wavescape have done such a good job that I needn’t bother. I have included the list below and will add in the ones that I find missing.
Some might prove useful to travellers here, but more importantly, reading them will give you an insight into our complex dialect, and the reason we get portrayed as either villains or morons in American films.
Below is a passage of the most cryptic slang available, which you can use to test your South African-ness. You can then decode using the dictionary, which I will try to keep updated. Please feel free to send me any omissions/corrections that you find.
As with most slang, it loses a lot in translation, For instance “I will Donner (Daw-ner) you” politely translates as “I will hit you”, but that just doesn’t get across the true gravity of the threat.
Those offended by foul language may want to skip the rest of this post.
What’s vaaing ekse? This page makes me woes. You ous don’t have a span of words from Durban! A connection at graft dialled me into your website yesterday, and it made me lag. I am an expat from Durban, with a porsie in Sydney, Oz. It was keef to read this but made me mal that I couldn’t choon the ous at graft. Blind ekse.
So I chooned a connection from SA and we skeemed it would be cool to catch up and have a dop. Like all durban ou’s, we smaak to make a better, so I went for a trap and scored some kaartjies down the road. We hadn’t checked each other since that time so we got fully dronk, made a few tings, and ended up way west. We trapped down the road fully goofed, scored some munchies and scooped a keef chow (no bunnies here, so we had a kebab). The ou serving us schemed he was way to do, so we vloeked him and ducked.
Just in case, we roasted one more phat one and I went back to my porsie. My stukkie was woes, and charfed me that I had pulled a blind action.
How’s this bru, the surf’s been doening it. It’s been firing, off its pip. I know I’m chooning you what what, but we are going to klap a mission tomorrow. Pull in ekse. Let’s go grind some barrels. If not, hope you okes get a couple. We might end up blasting a few dead bees as well. You check, it’s the old story, you get numb and vaai surfing.
(Alone, solitary) “I was out there on my ace when someone shouted ‘shark!’.”
(Stupid or mean act) If you pull an action, you do something stupid or mean. A “goofed action” is doing something stupid because you’re stoned (goofed).
A multi-purpose word, pronounced like the ach in German. “Ag, no man” (sign of irritation). Can precede any sentence for various effects, such as the more neutral, “Ag, I don’t know.” Used by some people as a stand-alone expletive.
(Aggressive) Someone who brings bad karma into the water. From Aggro-Aussie, when Aussie surfers were the most aggressive.
(Greeting) “Ahoy!” Lank younger surfers use this old mariner’s greeting. Not sure why. Also aweh, howzit, yooit, hoesit, yo.
(No way, absolutely not). From indigenous Nguni language meaning “No”. Sometimes pronounced “Haikõna”
(Greeting) “Aita brah!” Originated in the townships among the youth, and still used. It’s common among politically correct (PC) people. Rabid racists in the past have miraculously become PC people.
(Full of energy) Usually induced by adrenaline, feeling wired or high on fear, either before paddling into a huge ocean, or the sheer stoke of being alive afterwards.
(Afternoon) The Australian equivalent is “arvo”.
As well (Accent on ‘as’)
(Also, Me too) A person who says, “Jees, I’m kished bru.” (Gee, I’m tired bro) might get this reply, “Ja, I am as well.”
(Abbreviation for Avocado)
(Greeting) “Aweh my bru” (Hello my friend) Also howzit, yooit, hoesit, yo.
(Incredible, very nice, top quality experience) Usually as another word for the sheer quality and size of a wave. “That wave at Supers was awesome, man!”
(Crushed, wiped out, whacked) “The lip of that big wave really axed me”. See also carrots, drilled.
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The hangover from hell, fondly called a “Barbie”. The Babalas is no mythical beast. But look at yourself in the mirror and you’ll wonder as you examine that furry tongue slithering in a mumbling, parched mouth, puffy eyelids scraping bloodshot eyeballs. Comes from the Zulu word ibhabhalazi.
(Sexist term for a woman)
The wad of tobacco and dagga pips at the bottom of the bottleneck pipe. The backstop prevents the marijuana from burning down to the gerrick (rolled up paper bent into circle to prevent the dope from falling out)
(Fart) “Sis John! Did you just baff?” (Yuck John! Did you just fart?)
We don’t call them board shorts or Bermudas or other naffy names. They are baggies. You wear them when the water is lekker warm.
Bakkie (Like “lucky”)
(Pickup truck in US, “Ute” in Australia) Many people own bakkies in South Africa, particularly in the rural areas. “That bokkie and her ballie parked off on the back of the bakkie.” (That pretty girl and her father sat on the back of the pickup truck)
Ballie (with the “ball” part with a “u”, as in “lull” – bâllee)
(Parents, your folks, old people) From Afrikaans. “Some weird old ballie lives in that cave.” or “My ballies won’t let me go to the jorl.”
(Marijuana) South Africa is a rich in marijuana. Like the Innuits have a lot of words for snow, so do South Africans for marijuana. Bane is another word for dope, or dagga. “Let’s make a bane.” Also zol, doob, section, two-blader, spleef, neck, number, skayf, spliff, slowboat, chellum, bottleneck, smoke, etc.
(Afrikaans – lit. “Scaredy pants”) “Don’t be a bangbroek. Let’s take our 6′ 6″s and surf 20′ Dungeons wearing baggies, no leashes and a decomposing seal on our heads.”
(Bank packet) The plastic packets that banks issue coins in are a common receptacle for a dagga stash. Bankies, kaartjies, stoppe are just a few of the standard packaging categories in the marijuana sub-culture of South Africa. “Me and my bokkie went with the bergies in the bakkie to score a bankie.” (Me and my girlfriend went with the hobos in the bakkie to buy a bank packet)
(Fight, punchup) “Bill and I had such a barnie after he slept with Bert.”
Bark the dog
(A literal description of the act of vomiting) In South Africa, you also kotch, park a tiger, blow chunks or make a technicoloured yawn.
(Tube) When you get tubed on a wave, you ride the barrel. You do this by “pulling in” and “getting slotted”.
(From Afrikaans – Wild, crazy, excellent) This is used two ways. “He went befok.” (He lost his cool, threw his toys out of the cot, went ballistic or totally crazy) or “That’s befuck!” (That’s great!)
(Alcoholic hobo who hangs out on the streets of Cape Town) The word Bergie comes from the Afrikaans “Berg” (Mountain) of Table Mountain, where they used to live. Some still do, in bushes or caves. Many stay in the city these days. You seem them huddled in corners at night, wrapped in a blanket, wrapped around a bottle of booze. They are a colourful people, with their own mores and subculture. Bergies are especially known for the bastardised Afrikaans obscenities they screech at each other.
(Hot dry wind that blows from the land to the sea. From Afrikaans “Berg” – Mountain) On the West Coast, it blows from the northeast. On the east coast it blows from the north or northwest. It is a sought after wind that often blows on the cusp of winter. There is nothing better than a deep, distant groundswell textured into glassy perfection by a light bergwind.
(Good, higher quality) Another synonym for “lekker” as if that word didn’t have enough uses. “We scored a betters section.” (We got a better quality thing)
Afrikaans – from original “bul tong” – bull’s tongue. Known as beef jerky in the US. This is specially prepared dried raw meat, made from beef, venison or Ostrich. Different farmers and hunters have different recipes and processes for their biltong. Their speciality might be Springbok, Blesbok or Eland. Ostrich is very tasty. The basic ingredient is salt, and often pepper corns. Good biltong is manna to your average boer, or other full-bodied “Surfrikans”.
(Cookie, twit) Yes, would you believe. Where else but in South Africa, where a word can mean a small crunchy cake leavened with baking powder or an insult aimed at a twit or a fool. In America, a biscuit is a scone with no sugar. In South Africa, a biscuit is actually a cookie. Some favourites are Marie, Romany Creams, Nuttikrust and Eet Sum Mor. “John, you biscuit!”
(Disapointed or sad. Possibly from Afrikaans “bleek”, meaning “pale”.) “Since Sarah axed Rick, the oke’s been lank bleak.”
Blik, blikkie (as in “twit”, “nit”, “sit”)
(Afrikaans – Tin, can) When you were a laaitie (youngster), you might have played “Skop die blik.” (Kick the can)
(Afrikaans – Strike, hit, punch) In Afrikaans, a “bliksemstraal” is a bolt of lightning. “I’m going to bliksem that doos!” (I am going to hit that c**t)
(Bummer, nasty) If you pull a blind action on your bru, you have done something nasty to your mate, either by betraying him or something quite horrible. “Bru, that’s a blind move. You scaled (stole) Jay’s Britney Spears poster.”
(Extreme inebriation) When an ou or a brah is on a rage, there is a strong chance he will get blotto. In other words, wasted or vrot to the point when reality is totally blotted out.
(Afrikaans – Blue balls) With the strain of containing all that come, a man’s tackle goes blue with the effort of holding back. This painful condition is relieved by “choking the bishop” or “pulling your wire”.
(Vomit, bark the dog, park the tiger, technicoloured yawn)
(Afrikaans – “Mistake”) “Oops, I made a blaps.”
(Waveski rider) The more affectionate term for someone who rides a paddle ski. See goatboat, windmill and eggbeater.
(Money) A bergie will ask for a few bob to invest in a bottle. Bob is based on the old monetary system in South Africa. Five bob was five shillings.
Malay dish, but has become “traditionally Afrikaans”. Made with spicy mince, raisins, spices and yellow rice. It is baked in the oven with a couple of eggs broken on top. Delicious. Try it some time.
Surfers who rides waves lying down on a spongelike board. See doormat, sponge, gutslider, speedbump. To their credit, bodyboarders usually rise above these insults.
Afrikaans – “farmer”. Used to refer to any (conservative) Afrikaans speaking person.
Slightly used word that refers to the police. Especially poignant in the dark days of Apartheid, when particularly racist and aggressive Afrikaans cops were the norm.
Farmstyle sausage or “wors”. (Literally, “Farmers Sausage”). It is a spicy sausage made from hundreds of secret recipes all over the Platteland and beyond. It is consumed in vast quantities on braais all over the country. Boerewors is even sold in places like Australia, Canada and New Zealand to homesick expats who have done the “chicken run”, ie, emigrated for fear of compromised lifestyle.
(The) Boerewors Curtain
Any Afrikaans speaking district, usually rural. See “Boerewors”. (Usually not the most flattering reference, although all South Africans love to eat Boerewors!
2. Penis. “I was at this braai with boerie on the fire, minding my own business, playing with my boerie, when suddenly …”
Bok (bôck, as in “jock”)
(Afrikaans – “buck”) To be keen. “Bok for the jol” (Keen to party). Not to be confused with the rugby playing variant, which is short for Springbok. The diminutive version is bokkie, referring to a girlfriend or girl.
(Bodyboarder) See doormat, sponge, gutslider, speedbump.
(Good wave) “I scored a bomb.” This term is used in Indo a lot.
(Afrikaans – “Tree”, “dope”) Difficult to explain the translation – it is not as in “doom” – the “oo” sound opens up towards the end, to form the “um” sound.
The direct translation in Afrikaans is a tree, but it has come to represent dope. “What’s in your bag bokkie?” “Just a bit of boom, Bernice.”
(Afrikaans – Bush) But also crazy or loopie or having a bush frenzy, named after South African soldiers who were psychologically damaged in the Angolan war. “Going bos” , “Going bossies” or being “bosbefok” (Going totally whacko, going bush crazy, doing something extreme)
The broken-off neck of a bottle, usually wine, soda or beer. This becomes the perfect orifice for making a lung-wrenching dagga pipe. See “Neck” for more detailed description.
(Diminutive of “boy”, having used the Afrikaans method to indicate “small”) Macho types or rugger buggers call their mates this, particularly if their friend is a man’s man. When a man’s team members are impressed, you will hear “What a boykie!”
Braai (as in “High”)
(Afrikaans – Barbecue (US) or Barbie (Aus))Probably the biggest semantic gift given to the world by South Africa. You make a braai with wood in a metal drum or between bricks. You cook your boerewors, steak, lamb chops and sosaties on it. With your meal you eat mielie pap, salads, rolls and other stuff. You drink a Castle beer, or maybe a spook and diesel. Sometimes, if you have got some kreef (crayfish), you will have a crayfish braai.
(Surf brother, associate, peer, colleague, friend in liquid solidarity) In fact, anyone on this planet. See bru, broer, bro, brahdeen.
(Posse, group of friends) Where’s my brasse?
(Beer) “Buy me a brew bru.” (Buy me a beer mate)
(Afrikaans – “brother.) Brother, friend, mate, china, buddy) See bru, brah, bro, brahdeen and more.
(Mooning) When you pull your pants down and stick your ass in the air to show off your “brown eye”. Students and drunk people usually do it. A South African way of saying it would be to “Drop your rods and flash your ring”.
Bru (‘Broo’), broer , brah, bro, bree, brahdeen
(Brother, friend, mate, china, buddy) This is another famous, popular South African word. Variations include brah, bru, broer, bror, bro, bra, brra and brah. It’s from the Afrikaans word for brother (broer), which is pronounced ‘broo’ with a roll of the rrr at the end. That’s why lazy English speakers adopted only the ‘broo’ sound. Variations in tone emanate from all over South Africa. It is now spelt bru by most SA surfers. In the Eastern Cape, a semantic hotbed of slang, it’s often pronounced ‘brorr’, ‘bree’, ‘bra’ (same as underwear) and ‘braaah’, with a drawn out vowel.
(Blue bottle jellyfish)
(Dope) Also used to refer to mildly leftwing goofball students in the Apartheid era. The “bungies” were ideologically opposed to the “rugger buggers”, macho beer-swilling beefcakes.
Indian or Malay curry inside a hollowed out loaf of white bread. Surfers from Durban grew up on this food. You get served the curry in the bread, with a square chunk taken from the inside, which you can use to dunk in the curry. Best when the bread is fresh. Bunny chow can also refer to “slap” (soft) chips in bread.
When you get caught. Another meaning is to “bust” a pipe, ie, be the first to smoke the pipe.
(Mandrax pill) A very nasty pill from the East that people crush into powder to mix with their tobacco and marijuana in their bottleneck pipes. A common term on the Cape Flats is to “Kap a button” or “Smoke a button”. Someone who smokes them too much, resulting in a sunken-eyed, listless look, is a “Buttonkop” (Button head).
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The southeaster howls across the Cape Peninsula in summer, often forming a whispy, creamy white cloud that rolls over Table Mountain in the shape of a “table cloth”. The name is self explanatory. Because it blows for up to a week or more at a time, often at gale-force strength, the wind blows all the pollution away. The air is beautifully clear and crisp in the wake of a southeaster.
(Screwed, broken, done over) “Greg wiped out in 15′ Dungeons. It was carrots for him.” (Greg took a heavy wipeout). “If you hit my dog again, I will give you carrots.” (I’ll beat you up)
When a hottie (good surfer) slices up a wave, he uses his surfboard as a carving knife. Another term for high-performance surfing.
Catch a Tan
(Go in the sun to get brown) People who catch tans go out to roast in the sun on purpose.
(Tease, joke, make fun of, flirt with) Charf also means “spadework”, or the attempt to “score” with a member of the opposite sex. “Axel was charfing that chick lank hey?” You also say “I was just charfing you.” (I was only joking)
(Car) That oke has a styling chariot.
(Indian person) Common in Durban. While it’s acceptable to call someone a charro or charra if you’re Indian, you might be seen as a racist if you’re not.
(Look, do you see?) “You check” (See what I mean? Do you follow? Are you with me?) or “Check this out” (Look at this) or “Are you checking me skeef?” (Are you looking at me crooked – do you want to fight me?)
(Woman) “Check that cherrie China.” (Did you see that woman over there friend?) Old word.
(A friend) And a colleague or acquaintance, or someone you don’t know at all. It can be used aggressively. “Are you tuning me kak China?” (Are you giving me shit, mate?)
1, Warning. “Look out!” Someone will yell it just before the lip at Cave Rock renders you senseless, the bouncer’s fist greets your jaw or the “boere come and bust you for smoking dagga” (the cops catch you smoking dope). If a school boy is smoking a cigarette in the toilet, his friend will “keep chips” for him. In other words, keep a lookout for the teacher.
2. French Fries (also referred to as “slap chips” (with “slap” as in “pup” – Afrikaans for “soft”, “not stiff”.
3. Potato Crisps
(Originally Afrikaans – Mate, friend, bru) Slightly old fashioned Afrikaans word that originates from the quaint Victorian word “Chum”. Not to be confused with chumming, when you throw gore into the water to attract sharks. That’s not a lekker way to treat your chinas, especially if they are surf “tjommies”.
(Talk, communicate with) It’s the correct way to pronounce tune! “I choon you bru, she digs me lank!” (I tell you what mate, she is really into me!)
(From Afrikaans “Tjoekie” – Jail) I was chucked in the chookie for chooning that chick who turned out to be a cop. (I was thrown in jail for messing with a woman who was actually a cop)
(Idiot, twit, dolt) “Yissus bru, you pulled a blind move dropping that bottle of Tassies. You are such a chop!”
A charming teenage term for a pimple or zit. A female adolescent might say to her china at a school jol, “Chips hey, that ou has chorbs.” This is outdated usage.
(Depart, leave, go, split, waai) “Let’s chuck.”
(Excessive vomiting) “After dopping (drinking) three bottles of Tassies (cheap wine brand), Tommie chundered all over my cabbie (car).”
(Excellent, perfect, incredible) This is one of many superlatives in South African surf lingo. It denotes the best extreme achieved in a number of activities, people and objects. “The waves are classic.” or “That girl is classic.” or “I had a classic time.” or “My car is classic.” (This doesn’t mean my car is a Model T Ford. It just means that it goes well, the boards never come off and the rust hasn’t worn the floor away yet)
When the wave breaks at the same time all the way down. “That wave closed out.”
(Taken out, get into trouble, die, fail) “Bru, if you look at my old lady like that again, you’re going to come short.” (Mate, if you look at my mum like that again, I might have to take you out)
Connection, conneko, kanoni
(Friend, buddy) “Jimmy’s my big connection bru. We surf together every day.”
(Good surf) Nothing to do with preparing food. When the surf is cooking, it’s “going off its face”, “firing”, “pumping”, “cranking”, “going off its pip”, “kraaking”, “sick”, “rad”, “perfect”, “going ballistic”, etc. In other words, the surf is big, clean, has excellent shape and there are plenty of waves in a set. If someone “cooks”, they are not a chef, they are a good surfer.
Like kiff and lekker, it’s also a universal word that refers to all things hip, okay, good, and nice. He is cool because he wears funky shades (fashion). That’s cool (affirmation). We had such a cool time at Jay Bay (enjoyment). The latest variation is kewl, pronounced koo-el, which comes from Internet chat groups.
(A cooldrink) South Africans are too dof (stupid) to realise that racist terms (coolie is a derogatory term for someone from India) shouldn’t be used to describe other things.
(Go to sleep) “Do you want to crash at my porsie?” (Do you want sleep at my place?)
The unfortunate term used to describe a kneeboarder.
(Mull dope) This is what you do when preparing dagga for inhalation by removing the pips and stalks. It is achieved by rubbing the koppe against the palm of your other hand.
(Cousin, mate, friend) This is Durban slang, and another way of saying “bru”.
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(Marijuana, dope) South African word for dope. Originates from the Khoikhoi word dachab
(Flatten, punch) “I decked him after he dropped in on my wave.”
Dialled me in
(Got me interested) My china dialled me into your website and I had a lekker lag at all the kak you are tuning. (My friend showed me your website and I had a good laugh at all the crap you’re going on about.)
Dik (as in “dirk”)
(Afrikaans – Thick, beefy, big, full) A person can be dik or you can get dik after a big meal. “That rugby player is lank dik” (That rugby player is especially big)
(Afrikaans – Thingamabob, wotzit, whatchamacallit) In any rural town in South Africa, you might overhear the mechanic say to his colleague, “Johannes, pass me the dinges wot you screw on the top of the carburettor.”
(Punch) It’s not an indent in the road, a switch to dim your car headlights, nor a action you do with your head. Rather, it’s a way of describing a punch that decks your adversary, probably with the desired result in mind. “I dipped him at the bar after he told me he slept with my girfriend.”
(This thing?) “Ting” refers to a joint, but “dis ting” doesn’t always mean “this joint”. However, people who don’t smoke dagga don’t use it, so there is a connection. “Let’s do dis ting” can mean “Let’s go surfing,” but specific to dagga culture.
(Suspicious) “That oke is lank dodgy” (That guy is very suspicious). “His comments about being super hot are a bit dodge”.
(Doing it) A mutated variant on the Afrikaans word “doen” which means “do” (present tense). The past tense is “gedoen”, which means “done”. In Afrikaans, the word “doening” doesn’t exist. Another example of our mal (mad) hybrid culture. “The surf was doening it.”
(Afrikaans – “not bright”, “dull”) Stupid. Dunce. Someone who is dof, is not necessarily that way all the time. It is often used to describe a temporary loss of brain cells. “Don’t be dof, you stupid doos.” (Don’t be a complete moron, you stupid c**t). It can also be used as a noun. “You doffie.” (You stupid person)
(Dope, joint, spliff) “Let’s make a doobie.” The Doobie Brothers named their band after the word “Doobie”, a word for dope that originated in California in the 60s, maybe before. Joints were also called numbers (as in “one is the loneliest number you will ever do” by Three Dog Night in 1969). In those days, you bought “lids” and “cans” not grams or bankies like you do today.
(Bodyboarder) See doormat, sponge, gutslider, speedbump. Derogatory, but vaguely descriptive, term for a bodyboarder, who dislike “boogie boarder” more, for some reason. In Oz, there are a number of interesting variations, such as Esky Lid (Cool box lid) and toilet lid.
(Afrikaans – Female genitalia) “You are such a doos.” This means you are a complete idiot. Not to be confused with another Afrikaans word, dosie (box)
1. Booze, drink (Afrikaans) “One dop too many” (One drink too many). The word dop is used in its most common context when referring to drinking, the national pastime in South Africa next to soccer and rugby. In the bad days of Apartheid, many wine farmers used the Dop System, whereby labourers were paid in cheap wine. This created a generation of winos, of which the Bergie may well be a sad consequence, in part. “Dop” may have come from “doppie”, which is the cap of a screw-top bottle (one tot).
2. Fail, flunk (Afrikaans) – “I dopped 2 standards at school”
(Pimple, or a feeble person) “Don’t be such a dork Dick!” See naff.
(Afrikaans – small town) Don’t be confused when someone says, “Let’s go for a dop in that dorp.”
(Sleep) “I dossed on the beach until a cop chucked me in the chookie for trespassing.”
(Axed, dumped, smoked, wiped-out, carrots) A big wave drills you really hard when you wipe out.
Droogies, droëbek (Droo*gies, droo-beck)
(Afrikaans – Dry mouth) Normally associated with a cracked, parched mouth and thwollen tongue when you have thmocked too muth doobie.
When another surfer takes off in front of you on a wave. The person closer to the white water has right of way, so this is a no-no. At Jeffreys Bay, this has lead to many a fistfight on the beach. The offended surfer often “goes ballistic”, “throws his toys” and fumes on the beach for a couple of hours. Trouble is, his enemy is getting the best waves of his life. Now it’s too late for the offended one to save face. He feels too “skaam” (embarrassed) to paddle out again. He’s stuck on the beach.
(Left, departed) “As soon as I checked the boere pull in, I ducked.” (As soon as I saw the police arrive, I left.)
To duck under a broken wave by pushing the front of your surfboard under the water, then levering the back of the board with your knee or foot as the wave passes overhead. The desired result is to pop out the back perfectly, and then smirk when you realise the guy next to you has been washed 15 metres back.
(Wipeout) A closeout wave dumps you, or you go to the toilet to take a dump.
Smallish brown beer bottle. You drink your dop out of a dumpy. In rural areas, people build walls with empty dumpies, embedding them in cement.
The name awarded one of South Africa’s choice grade cannabis vintages. Grown in KwaZulu Natal, this dagga is minty, almost peppery, and “makes on”. (Makes you totally wasted)
(Durban) Affectionate name for the surf capital of KwaZulu Natal, home of bananas, sugar cane and classic beach breaks.
(Afrikaans – Dreamlike state, confused) This word describes that vacuous, blank state a person gets into sometimes, especially after sleep deprivation. “I have been in a dwaal today after downing that half-jack of whisky last night.”
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(Afrikaans – Ouch) Widely used. You can shout “Eina!” in sympathy when a shark haps your buddies’ buttocks while surfing in the Kei.
(Zulu expression) Surprise, bewilderment, shock. “Eish. Voetsek! I am not sleeping with you!”
(Paddle skier, waveskier) See also windmill, goatboat, boatie.
(Afrikaans – lit. a short distance) A cigarette or a joint, as in “Score me an entjie bru”
Ek sê (‘Eck sair’)
(Afrikaans – “I say”) “I tell you”. An affirmative phrase to add impact to what you are communicating. Used in a fascinating variety of contexts all over the country. “Let’s hit the jol ek sê.”
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(Lose strength, or power) When you back out of something, you fade. But a wave fades on the inside if the water gets deeper.
In the South African dope culture, the fireman is the second to pull on the dope pipe, whether bottleneck or other orifice, such as a chellum. The fireman lights two matches held together, scrapes off the sulphur and holds it to the pipe for the person “busting” it. For his troubles, the fireman gets the next hit.
(Cooking surf) Another superlative to describe good surf. “Hey brah, Super’s is firing on all cylinders, ek se.”
(Expletive) “Flip!” (Oh no! or Shit!). Probably a more acceptable substitute for “fuck!”
(Think, decide, work out) “I flash that it’s cooking there bru.” (I think there is good surf there mate)
(Coincidence, lucky break, by chance) If you never get barrelled, or tubed, but somehow get slotted by closing your eyes inside a closeout wave, and suddenly find yourself in the open air again, your friend could legitimately say: “That tube was a vloek”. Similarly, if you need a bullseye on the dart board to win, and you hurl the dart at the board without aiming, and it hits the bullseye, then it’s a fluke.
(Broken surf) Waves that have long broken and are washing sedately along the shoreline. Ideal for toddlers, little children and Vaalies.
(Parents) “My folks won’t let me go to the jorl.”
(When your pubes get stuck in your wetsuit and painfully pull at your skin but you can’t reach in to untangle them)
(Graphic description of someone who engages in anal sex)
(More genteel description of someone who engages in anal sex)
(Absolutely, right on, to the limit) This is affirmation or agreement, but also refers to an act or person that is extreme in some way. It could be used in this context: “That was a full-on drop-in.” (That was definitely a drop-in) or “That oke is full-on.”
This is also an affirmation. If this was the question: “Did you check Occy pull off that insane move at Boneyards?” this might be the answer: “Fully bru.”
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(Stoned) “Jissus, that joint made me so-o-o gaffed ek se.”
(Afrikaans – snatch) Take something “I gapsed a piece of bread.”
(Grahamstown) Affectionate name for this university town. Gat means hole in Afrikaans, Stad means town or city.
(Afrikaans – Fed up) Literally, “Hole full” (filled to the brim). “He was gatvol of the crowds at Jay Bay.”
(Shark) Also called a Johnny or a Man in a Grey Suit. This is an Eastern Cape term.
A piece of silver foil from a cigarette box, or the cardboard from the box, that is laid out square, rolled up and bent into a circle. This is then wedged in the bottom of the bottleneck so the dagga doesn’t fall out when you bust it or take a hit. If it’s too loose, expect a smouldering wad of tobacco, dagga, pitjies and gerrick to slam into the back of your throat.
(Afrikaans – Drunk). Humans “drink”, animals “suip” – to be gesuip is to be drunk to the point of aversion.
(Afrikaans – Poison, cool) Not a computer image. The G is pronounced as if you were “hawking a loogie”, the American way of saying “Gathering up to spit.” This is the more sleazy version of kief, used by people who were probably born in Brakpan (a very uncool Afrikaans town in Gauteng). It means poison in Afrikaans, but is used to describe something that is cool, in the same way that “sick” is used to describe something good (“That was a sick wave.”)
When the texture of the ocean is like glass. Smooth conditions because there is no wind.
(To look at intently) Used as “don’t globe me out, broer, or I’ll moer you up”.
A derogatory method of describing a paddle skier, the sort of person that goes out in the surf paddling on a canoe that looks like a half-sucked lozenge. The reason why standup surfers don’t like them much is because goatboats paddle faster. If in the wrong hands, they can also wreak havoc in the water.
With words like firing, smoking, barrel and going off, it’s a natural progression to ballistic. “It was going off. It was firing. The waves were smoking. Barrel after grinding barrel. Shit man, I tune you what, it was going fucking ballistic!”
When the surf is incredibly good, a surfer will say the surf is “going off its face!” See also cooking, firing, pumping, smoking and going ballistic.
(Swim) “Let’s go for a goof.”
(Dopehead) “Pete is such a goofball. He’s always pulling goofed actions.” (Pete is such a doped up guy he’s always doing stupid things.)
(Stoned) “That spliff made me so goofed.”
Got off with
(Get lucky with the opposite sex) “John got off with Jackie in the backseat.”
This onomatopoeic word (sounds like it means) is a perfect description of what it denotes. “During the film, my boyfriend and I graunched in the back row” (During the movie we french kissed, rubbed, fondled, squeezed, squashed up against each other, gyrated and did everything short of penetration.)
(Place of work) “Where do you graft?” “At my graft, I sit next to a sumo wrestler who sings in the choir.”
(To eat) There is a strong agricultural tradition in South Africa. This might explain this word, which means “to eat” as in “Let’s go and graze” or “What are you grazing?” or “What’s for graze mom?” But be warned, don’t mention sheep. That joke refers to another southern continent.
(Aggravation) Usually used in this context: “Don’t tune me grief.” (Don’t aggravate me, or talk irritating nonsense to me)
(Get it off for the first time) “John and I gripped last night.” See also graunch.
(Afrikaans – Green Roof) Lunatic asylum – on account of mental hospitals mostly have green corrugated iron roofs. You know, with thick sandstone walls and a verandah around them where the floor is polished red with Cobra floor polish.
(Young surfer of school-going age) Can be shortened to Grom. This almost affectionate, brotherly word rarely has negative connotations. However, when a grommet is pissing you off, or keeps dropping in on you, he automatically becomes a kook, or worse.
Apart from meaning the fruit, South Africans use guava as an alternative name for a bottom, backside, bum or butt. “His skateboard hit a rock and he fell on his guava.”
(Bodyboarder) See doormat, sponge, gutslider, speedbump.
(Stoned) See gaffed.
(From Zulu – Cigarette)
Gwarr, gwarry, gwat
(Female genitalia) “That woman in the sleazy bar gripped her gwat.”
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(Half-bottle of spirits) “Me and my chick scored a half-jack of Klippies and klapped it on the koppie.” (Me and my girlfriend bought a half-bottle of Klipdrift brandy and drank it on the hill.)
(Afrikaans – “Hook”) To pester, irritate. When you hak someone, you pester them.
Hang the brown bear in the porcelain cave
(Go to the toilet to defecate)
(Afrikaans – Bite) This Afrikaans word is commonly used by English speakers. “Do you want a hap of my biscuit?”
(Radical, extreme, over the top) “That footage of the oke frying on the electric chair was hectic bru.”
Used for emphasis. “So you’re a surfer, hey?” or on its own as a way of saying “excuse me?” or “pardon?”
This is not used in the mafia sense in South Africa, much. Apart from it’s other meanings (to give someone a smack), it is widely used to denote a take on a joint. “Give me a hit of that joint please.” Another way to ask would be to replace “hit” with the word “drag”.
(Stink) See hum. “Your feet hone bru”! (Common in the Eastern Cape.) “That ou has a serious lung hone bru.” (That guy’s breath stinks mate.)
(Laugh) “He was hosing himself when he fell in the pool.”
Someone who surfs really well. A surfer who is hot. Also a sexy member of the opposite sex, equivalent of the American “fox”.
How’s your mind?
(Are you mad?!) This question, often in exasperation or irritation, refers to the mental stability of the subject, who has probably done something stupid, idiotic or irritating.
The famous South African greeting. Short for “How is it?” Try and refrain from saying, “It’s fine, thanks”. This will only lead to a funny look. A suitable reply is: “No, fine”, which actually means “Yes, I am fine”. The word “no” is often taken to mean “yes”. A real Afrikaner might reply to a “Howzit”, with this bewildering response: “Ja, well, no fine”. This is merely a more emphatic but long-winded version of “No, fine”. Also ahoy, aweh, yooit, hoesit, yo.
There are three uses for this word.
1. Good. It’s another way of describing good surf.
2. Really busy. “Surfers’ Disco was humming last night.”
3. Stink. “He hums like a skunk.”
(Good, excellent, enjoyable) “Hey bru, I skeem the jorl was kiff. What do you skeem?” Answer: “Ja, bru, it was hundreds.”
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Also called the pit. It is where the waves break. At the Crayfish Factory on a 12′ day, you don’t really want to spend time there.
In the eyes
(Exposed, sticking out like sore thumb, vulnerable) People who smoke too much dope get paranoid. They start worrying about “Being in the eyes”. You would be too if your hair stood up like a fizzed furball and your eyes blazed like blinking red beacons.
(Absolute, excellent, superlative) You don’t get much better surf than when it’s “insane”.
(State of nirvana for Rastafarians) Goofball South Africans think this is their word. Has become a general word to indicate good vibes, agreement, and positive associations. “Good surf bru. Irie.”
This conversational word is used widely and in response to just about anything. Derived perhaps from the English way of saying “Is it really?” If you don’t feel like participating in a conversation with a dik ou at a braai, but don’t wish to appear rude, just say “Isit” at appropiate gaps in his description of how he decapitated a Kudu with his bare hands.
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(Rising swell, or organised person) “The surf is jacking up” (The surf is getting bigger). “Supers jacked up to 6′ in an hour.” But even, “that oke is jacked.” (That guy is really organised)
(Afrikaans – Horny) “Checking Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee on the Internet made me so jags.”
(Car) “You have a kief jammie, broer” (You have a nice car, brah)
Does this need explanation? Jeffreys Bay, the mecca of surfing in South Africa. The town is similar to Torquay in Australia, also home to big name surf brands, and near a world-class wave. The only difference is the consistency of Super Tubes, which ranks as one of the best five waves on Planet Earth.
(To leave) See also chuck, split and waai.
(Afrikaans exclamation) Gee whizz!
(Kiff, lekker, nice) “How was the surf? Jits bru, jits.”
(Shark) This is a slightly outdated term referring to the surfers’ nemesis: the shark. Also called the ‘man in the grey suit’ or even (if you’re from the Eastern Cape) a ‘gerbe’ (‘G*air-b-ear’)
Jol (‘Jawl’), jorl
The word jol, like the word kief, is a generic South African word. It refers to having a good time and is used in any context. “I am going on a jol (party).” “I am having a jol (good time).” “That spectacular wipeout at Super Tubes was a jol (rush).”
(In a little bit) Universally used in South Africa, it means that the action will get done “eventually”, but it might mean “never”. If someone says he will do it “just now”, be warned. It might be in 10 minutes, 10 hours or never. “I’ll clean my room just now, Ma.” If someone says “now now”, you’re making progress. It won’t be done immediately, or instantly, but probably less than 10 minutes, barring distractions that relegate it back to “just now”.
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(Afrikaans – In the nude) When you are caught running around your girlfriend’s house with no clothes on, you are kaalgat.
Kêffie, Kuif (‘Kayph’)
(Café) As you may gather, many South Africans don’t pronounce words properly. And when they do, they change it (Kuif)
(Afrikaans expletive – Shit) This is used in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways, in exactly the same way as the word “shit”. Hence, “Don’t talk kak” or “Don’t give me kak” or “You’re so full of kak” or “Having a kak day” or “He is in the kak” …
(Friend, buddy) “Hy my kanala, have’t checked you for a while.”
Kap (As in “cup”)
(Afrikaans – lit. to cut, fell, hit) Do it. “Let’s kap another dop.” (Let’s have another drink)
Kap it (‘Kup ut’)
(Make a pipe) Someone telling a friend to make, light and smoke a bottleneck will say, “Kap it bru.” (Light it up friend)
(Afrikaans – lit. tickets) Envelopes. In Durban, you score your dagga in kaartjies.
(See kief or kiff)
(The Transkei) This former homeland of Apartheid days is part of the Eastern Cape. It remains rural and beautiful, with rolling green hills that fall into the sea as jagged cliffs. These punctuate white beaches, bays and river mouths. A famous dagga growing area and birthplace of our former president, Nelson Mandela, known as Madiba. The Kei is known by surfers for its dagga, great camping spots, excellent point breaks and sharks.
Kief (‘Keef’), keef, kiff
(Something that’s nice.) Like the all-encompassing “nice”, used by semi-literate English speakers the world over, it can be used in any context, and is a convenient way to express a limited vocabulary. “This chow is kief ek sê.” (This food is delicious I tell you). “I just had such a kief wave.” Can be spelled keef (drawing on the syllable emphatically) or kiff, a shorter, sharper version.
(Exhausted, tired) “Jissus, my broer, I am kished after that 6 hour session” (Gee, man, I am exhausted after that 6 hour surf) or “I am kished out.”
(Clothes, gear) “Jissus broer, you got lank marcha for the larney kittes ek se.” (Wow brah, you have a lot of money to buy fancy clothes hey?)
(Afrikaans – lit. to hit, slap) Slap, partake in, peform an act) “Ek sal jou a snotklap gee” (I will hit you hard enough to make the snot fly). But also, “let’s klap another klippies.” (Let’s have another brandy.)
Klippies and coke
(Brandy and Coke) Named after Klipdrift, a popular, cheap brandy.
(Afrikaans – lit. testicles) A man’s tackle, balls, gonads, marbles, albasters, braaipack.
(Idiot, dolt) “Don’t be a knob by dropping in on me bru.” Some dudes would say to each other that a Vaalie (Gauteng tourist at the sea) got the ‘knobber award’ for wearing a speedo on a lilo in the foamies (broken surf)
(Afrikaans – lit. to pinch) Shit off, bite the bullet. When your bladder is full, and you can’t go to the toilet, you “knyp”.
Vomit, park a tiger, bark the dog, spew, puke, make a technicoloured yawn.
Someone who can’t surf and gets in everyone’s way. A kook is not necessarily a grommet, although a grommet can be a kook. Kooks can be all ages. Grommets are schoolkids.
(Afrikaans – Heads) A “kop” is a person’s head. A “koppie” is a small hill. But koppe, while literally being the plural of several heads, also refers to “heads” of dope, the choice bit at the end of each branch of the dagga tree.
(Fountain of puke resembling a blanket when spraying out of your mouth)
(Port Alfred) Affectionate term for this sleepy Eastern Cape town. It’s the name of the river that runs through Port Alfred, home to the famous East Pier.
The Afrikaans, or Cape Malay, name for the Cape rock lobster. The kelpy nutrient-rich waters of the Cape are home to millions of these crustaceans. Poaching is a problem, but the bounty of the sea seems to continue providing. A tragic event a couple of years ago saw 700 tons of Kreef washed up along the West Coast of South Africa after the water became de-oxygenated from red tide. Make friends with a local and go kreef diving, or bait them with a lobster pot (the kreef, not the locals). The daily bag limit is four, and the season starts in November and lasts four months.
(Exhausted, tired) “Jissus, my broer, I am totally kussed” (Gee, man, I am exhausted) or “I am kished out.”
(Afrikaans – lit. angry, mean) Very angry, but also great, nice. Originally meant to mean “very angry”, from the Afrikaans word “kwaad” (cross), it came to also mean something that’s lekker, an urban way to say cool or express coolness. Skollies from Springs in the 70s or 80s would tune “Kwaai my broer”, which is the same as saying “Kiff”.
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That hot surfer rips, tears, carves and, of course, lacerates. In fact, all slashing, cutting, ripping motions can be applied to a surfer who is “going off” in “cooking waves”.
(Weak, feeble) “That was a lame excuse.”
(Chilling out, parking off, relax) “Let’s lammit at my spot.” (Let’s chill out at my place). Possibly from Afrikaans “lam” – to be paralysed.
(A lot, much, many) Originates from the Afrikaans word lank (‘lunk’), which means “long”. Now it’s used as an all-encompassing South African adjective to boost the size of things, whether objects, emotions, or whatever. “There are lank people in the water.”, “I dig her lank.” or “He’s lank horny.”
(Fancy, designer clothes, snob, friend) A number of variations on a word denoting someone who is well-dressed, or designer clothes, or a well-to-do function. The person can be larney. The clothes can be larney as in “Jees, you are wearing larney clothes.” or “Why are you dressed so larney?” or a high-class dinner do as in “We went to a larney party that had caviar for pudding.”
For coloured people in the Cape, it means “Friend”. “Hoesit my larnie!” (Hello there my friend!)
(Cancel, hard work) Two known meanings here. Two okes want to fight, but the girlfriend tunes the one oke, ‘Las it, Frikkie. He’s not worth losing your teeth over.’ From the Afrikaans word los, which means ‘lose’. Same thing, ‘los it’, ‘las it’. But it can also mean “a big mission”, “too much like hard work” or “too much PT (physical training)”. For instance, “getting ready for the fancy dress is such a las.”
(Afrikaans – Nice, pleasant, stoned, fun, lovely, good, pretty) It is used by all language groups to express approval, often to cover up a limited vocab. If you see someone of the opposite sex who is good-looking, you can exclaim: “Lekkerrr!” while drawing out the last syllable. Cars can be lekker. You can have a lekker time. You can feel lekker. Holidays are lekker. It’s lekker when the Springboks occasionally win a match. And of course, you can have a lekker boerie on the braai.
(Hero, good guy, classy oke) Down in the Eastern Cape, when the party is ripping, and everyone starts getting all soppy and sentimental, they might start calling each other “legends”. Also heard when someone pulls off a lank clever move. “Jono, you LEGEND!” his friends might say. Can be shortened to “lej”. “That session was lej, broer!”
(Youngster) “That lightey is a pretty good surfer, for a grommet.” (That boy surfs well, considering he belongs to a lower caste) Also laaitie
(Gross metaphor about a gay guy with the squirts)
(Afrikaans – clumsy) Lethargic. A descriptive word relating to a feeling of weakness, or lethargy. “He felt really lomp after that three-hour surf session.”
(Afrikaans: “Loose Head”) Absent minded, forgetful . Someone with plenty of space between the ears for the brain to rattle around in.
(Afrikaans – from “lam” paralysed, lame) Welt. A lammie is a particular kind of welt caused by hitting someone with the middle knuckle of your middle finger. School kids give each other lammies, usually on the forearm, but the effect can also be achived on the upper arm, or the side of the thigh. A proper lammie becomes a bump immediately.
Lusikisiki lime greens
A sought after variety of dope grown in the Lusikisiki area of Transkei. Renowned for a tangy, peppery taste, and a light green colour, this variety will knock your socks off. It “makes on”.
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The clan name for former President Mandela that has become universally used as an affectionate nickname. His full name is Nelson Rolihlahla (Roli-shla-shla) Mandela. His clan name is used widely, even by the press.
(Low grade dope) “This kak is majat broer.” (This crap is low grade brother)
(Makes you stoned) “Shewee bru, that spleef made me so on”. See “puts on”.
(Afrikaans – Mad) “That ou is mal”.
An earthy marijuana species grown in Malawi. Wrapped in a corn sheath and buried underground for months, the Malawi Cob brings an interesting dimension to the array of smoking possibilities in South Africa. It will make you “lekker goofed”.
Man in a Grey Suit
(shark) See also gerbe and Johnny.
(Money) “Jissus broer, you got lank marcha for the larney kittes ek se.” (Wow brah, you have a lot of money to buy fancy clothes hey?)
Australians have Vegemite, we have Marmite. Not to be confused with it’s poor Australian cousin,Marmite is a salty yeast and vegetable extract resembling crude oil, or burnt engine oil mixed with treacle.
It is a natural by-product from brewer’s yeast. The by-products of fermentation—yeast, barm, or leaven—had long since been known about, but it was not until Louis Pasteur’s time that the secrets of living yeast were unlocked. A German chemist named Liebig discovered that the waste of yeast used in brewing beer could be self-digested and made into a concentrate, resulting in a protien-rich paste (some would say “sludge”) with a more or less meaty flavor.
The Brits were the first to make it commercially viable.
Slightly outdated township name for yellow police vehicles. This term has been described as illustrating a South African tendency to give light-hearted names to things which can cause stress. A popular sight during the Apartheid struggle.
(Drug merchant) “I am chucking to my mert to score zol.” (I am going to my merchant to buy dope)
(Horrible, gross, yucky)
(a hassle, a schlep) “School is such a mission.” (School is too much like hard work.)
(Tobacco to dilute strong dope)
(Afrikaans – Hit, punch) Another Afrikaans word meaning to hit someone. “I will moer you if you take off on my wave.”
(Afrikaans – Gay, queer) A derogeratory term for a gay person.
(Female genitalia) ‘I had Mildred’s moose for desert.’
(Mosquito) “That mozzie is powered by a lawnmower engine.”
To prepare the dope before you smoke it. See Crush it for a detailed explanation.
Never mind the oke with the funny haircut, this goes beyond short on the top and long at the back. Neither does it refer to the fish used as bait. It’s someone who is crazy, or whacky, or weird, maybe someone a few beers short of a sixpack. “That ou is a mullet.” He doesn’t have to be insane, just eccentric or strange. He doesn’t have to have a mullet hairstyle either.
To be stoned or goofed. A mungberry is someone who smokes too much dope.
A really ugly person who does sif things.
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(Wimp) A naff is somebody lacking backbone, a complete wimp or wuss. The adjective is naffy, as in “Cecil is such a naffy name.”
(Afrikaans – lit to stitch, do needlework.)Pomp, bonk. “Ek wil jou naai.” (I want to bonk you.)
(No ambition and f ‘ all interest) “After we lost the World Cup, I felt naafi.”
Naught, naughtus (‘Naw-tiss’)
(No, Oh no!) Used like “nooit”. “Naught bru! Don’t drop in on me again or I’ll moer you with a pole.” (No mate! Don’t try and steal my wave or I will beat you with a pole.)
(Bottleneck) The orifice that is used to make a pipe through which dagga is smoked. To make a bottleneck properly, you take a Black Label quart or litre bottle of Coke and turn it on its side. Using a lighter or matches, you heat one area just above the shoulder. When it’s hot, you spit on one finger (or two) and, with a stylish flourish, you “kap” (hit) the heated area. If you’re good, the wetness hitting the heat will crack the bottle all the way round in a perfect circle. Now you can break it off to the admiring looks of your fellow “rookers” (smokers).
(Afrikaans – never) No way, oh no!)Another way of saying no, but also a sign of incredulous response. If you have just heard that a South African won the world surfing champs, you would say, “Nooit! Are you serious?”
(Asshole, ringpiece) Pronounced the same as naught, but completely different. “I fell on my nought.” or “I saw my nought.” (I fell on my ass, or I saw my bum). “It’s as cold as a polar bear’s nought.” (There’s a nip in the air)
(In a little while) “We’re going surfing now now.” (We’re about to go surfing. Exactly when? Well, that depends on how long we take to finish watching the video and putting on the roofracks). The good thing about Now Now is that it is probably going to happen quicker than the even more flexi-time “Just now.”
(Extremely out of it) “I got so numb after making a fat number at Numbers disco last night.” (I got so stoned after smoking a big joint at Numbers disco last night)
(Joint) “Let’s make a number.” See also doob, spleef, neck, bane, slowboat, dagga, doobie, boom, skayf, chellum, pipe, bottle, etc. May have originated in California from the line “one is the loneliest number you will ever do” by the band Three Dog Night (1969)
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Oke (‘Oak’), ou, o (as in “owe)
(Guy, chap, bloke) Despite being low on letters, oke or ou are huge words. This word, or its variant, is one of South Africa’s most common words for a male human. Probably comes from the Afrikaans “Ou pel” (Old mate), but the adjective became the noun after the “pel” was dropped. Only a male can be an “oke” or an “ou”, pronounced “Oh.” “That ou says he can paddle around Seal Island with one leg.”
(Stoned) “Busting that neck made me so on.” (Smoking that bottleneck pipe made me very stoned)
On a mission
(A quest to complete a task) When you’re determined to complete a task, you are “on a mission”. If you try and persuade your “bru” to “pull in” to the “jorl” with you, he might say, “Nooit bru, it’s exam time, I’m on a mission.”
(Nice one) You are lank cool if you say “One time”. You’re super cool if you say “One time, shoeshine”. Commonly used by young urban types.
(Utility adjective) It is not used to paint a picture of “uniqueness”, but rather as an extra adjective meaning “lank” or “kiff”. When you say “She was only charfing him!”, you are NOT saying “She was charfing only him”, or “Only she was charfing him.” You are actually saying “She was charfing him vigorously.”
Over the falls
The classic surf wipeout, when the lip of the wave sucks you over, followed by a double impact (wave and water) and several cycles in a salty washing machine.
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(Afrikaans – lit. “road food”) Food for the journey. Padkos is usually a few sarmies (sandwiches), some cooldrinks, chips, fruit and maybe a lekker stukkie biltong.
(The palace) Let’s chillout/parkoff in the pallas.
(Afrikaans – porridge) Boiled corn meal. It is the staple diet of many South Africans. Eaten mostly in the townships, it is often found at braais. It has the appearance of wet plaster or drying cement, but is delicious when scooped through gravy (known as “Pap-en-Sous”. Pap is versatile. It’s eaten as sweet porridge, or as part of a main course.
(Chill out) When you park off, you sit down and relax. “Shall we park off and watch the Rip Curl Search video for the 40th time?” It can also mean to sit down, as in, “Donovan, why don’t you park here?”
Park a tiger
(To vomit, puke, bark the dog, technicoloured yawn)
What Americans call a sidewalk, we call a pavement.
Port Elizabeth, a town along the east coast near Jeffrey’s Bay.
(Child) Derived from “picannin”, which appears to originate from Zimbabwe when it was called Rhodesia. Linguist Eric Rosenthal says the word comes from the Spanish “pequeño”. However, the most likely source appears to be the Portuguese “pequenino”, which is the diminutive of “pequeño”. Spaniards didn’t emigrate to Africa like Portuguese people did. Eastern Cape people often call black people “pekkies”. Not a nice word when used in this context, due to racist connotations.
(Head, pip) If you ding your pip, you hurt your head. If you get shacked off your pip, you get barrelled off your nut.
The orifice through which dagga (dope) is smoked. “Kap a neck my broer” (Make a bottleneck my brah) is a variation, just replace bottleneck with “pipe”.
This is where you don’t want to be when a huge set wave is breaking. It refers to the impact zone, the area where the waves break.
(Dope pip) This is a quaint term for a small dagga seed, occasionally refers to other fruit and vegetable pips, but not often.
(Afrikaans – lit. “flat land”) The sticks. The Platteland is where people milk cows and grow mielies (corn). Although it means literally “flat land”, it also applies to mountainous and hilly regions such as the wine-growing region near Cape Town.
(Afrikaans – origin uncertain.) While the literal Afrikaans meaning is “to stick” (with glue), this context refers to mindset. This is an interesting word. For instance, you say to someone who has just delivered obscure reasoning for doing something, “How’s your plak?” (Where are you coming from?) The variation to this is, “How’s your mind?” Plak refers to a distracted, even deranged, state of mind. “He was on a plak when he dived off the roof.” (He was on some kind of weird trip when he dived off the roof.)
(Afrikaans) C**t, nasty person. This word has a number of different meanings. It is a swear word, mostly used to berate someone. “You stupid poes”. Also used to describe a thoroughly nasty, unlikeable person; someone who has “pulled an action”, or ripped someone off perhaps. ‘That ou is a poes’.
(Afrikaans.) Idiot, twit, “poop hole”) Enough said. “Don’t be a poepol”.
(Afrikaans – lit. to pump) Bonk, have sex. The crude, but popular, description of the carnal act. Literal connatations with a variety of farm water pumps, windmills,
After chilling out in the Transkei (East Coast), you run the risk of contracting Pondoland fever. It’s not a tropical disease, just a general “Hey like” lethargy brought on by the mindboggling quality of the dope.
(House, spot, place) “Should we watch videos at your porsie?”. Maybe from “position”?
(Taking a drag) “Can I have a pull on that pipe bru.” (Can I have a hit, drag, toke on that pipe mate)
Pull an action
(Mean or uncool act) Someone who has done something very undesirable, such as driving over a friend’s surfboard or stealing his girl. A “goofed action” means doing something dof because you are so stoned.
To enter the barrel or the tube is to “pull in”. It is also used as an invitation. “Pull in to the jol tonight broer” (Come with us to the party tonight, bro). It can also mean “scoring” with a member of the opposite sex, as in “She pulled into him last night.” Another classic way to say this is “She got off with him last night.”
Pull my wire
Masturbate, have a wank.
Pumping, pump, pumpers
(Good surf) See also, cooking, firing, going off, going ballistic, smoking. “Supers is pumping bru! Let’s duck (go)!”
(Makes you stoned) A joint “puts on”. (makes a person gwaffed or goofed)
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Not to be confused with the emotional extreme associated with anger. However, the behaviour of someone having a rage, or on a rage, is not dissimilar. They also jerk around at high speed, emitting strangled sounds, while techno or heavy metal music pounds in their ears. To have a rage is to go on a serious party, to push the limits of social etiquette and subject the body to a variety of excessive stimulants and stimuli. This is the second biggest passion of many surfers.
Not to be confused with the furry creature with buck teeth, although youngsters who surf, many of them beginners, look similar and are viewed in the same way, if not worse. At least real rats don’t drop in on you.
The rave is similar to a Rage, but tends to be a little less intense. Having a rave suggests more of a good time. In other words, being able to remember what you did the night before. “I had such a rave with that girl I met on the beach.”
(Human sphincter) “I dropped my rods and flashed my ringpiece.” (I dropped my pants and exposed my rectal area.) Also used as a more general term for the human bottom. Instead of saying ‘Coming down the stairs, I slipped and fell on my bottom’, it’s more descriptive to say ‘Coming down the stairs, I saw my ring.’ This has a better ring to it.
What a good surfer does when riding a wave. “He rips it apart.” Also refers to rip currents in the sea. “He got caught in the rip.”
(Traffic light) Peculiar way of describing a traffic light. But then, we only got TV in the mid 1970s.
(To arrive) The more old fashioned way of saying “pull in”. You don’t tell anyone you’re on the way, you just rock up.
(Trousers) “I dropped my rods and flashed a brown eye.” (I dropped my pants and mooned)
(Red bush tea) This tannin-free herb tea comes mostly from the Clanwilliam area of the Western Cape. It is made from the Aspalathus linearis bush. Homesick South Africans buy it from gourmet stores around the world, even if they don’t like it.
Apparently used by a subset of the Eastern Cape crew. They say it’s borrowed from the Sepultura album title. Check out Hagen Engler, the cool PE author with lank to choon about coastal slang. Buy his books here.
(Nice, radical) “That was such a rop wave.”
A macho rugby playing beer-swilling beefcake, and the antithesis of a bungie, a leftie type often accused of not washing. These terms were coined at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape.
A spurt of adrenal thrill. “I got such a rush riding that 15’ barrel at the Crayfish Factory.”
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The classic South African reference to “being cool”. Pretty much outdated. A skollie would say, “Safe my mate” (Cool buddy)
Bits of marijuana sucked through the gerrick into one’s mouth. “Got a bit of salad there bru?”
(Deep-fried triangular curried pie) Made to a Malay recipe, samoosas can be found in cafes around the country. The best are in Cape Town, cultural home of the Malay community. This rich culture has had an enormous influence on the country’s culinary tradition.
An African food made from rough corn. It is starchy and is often eaten with haricot or red beans, dunked in gravy stew. Delicious.
(Sandwich) Kids sometimes take a sarmie to school in the morning.
To scale something is to steal it. A person who is “scaly” is a scumbag or sleazy type. See also skate.
(Hassle, hard work) “It’s such a schlep working for someone.”
(Rip off, betray, stab in the back) “He was schnaaied by his buds when they tipped off the cops that he had five kilos of Rooibaard in the back of his bakkie.”
(Cocaine) “Let’s score some schnarf.” (Let’s buy some cocaine) Onomatopoeic word that emulates the sucking sound as the powder slurps up the nostril.
When you go and buy something, usually drugs. “Hey bru, check this bankie I scored from my mert!” (Hey mate, take a look at this plastic packet of marijuana that I just bought from my dealer.” Or when you get something for nothing, as in “I scored a luck with Marie last night”, or “hey bru, score me a entjie (cigarette)”, or “My mom scored me R20 for condoms”.
(Part of a wave, part of a joint) When you hit a section called Impossibles at Jay Bay, you get pitted in an awesome barrel from which you will be lucky to emerge. When you hit the gooey rooibaard section of a six-blade slowboat in the Kei, you will also be lucky to emerge, with wits – and IQ – intact.
(Tubed) “Bru, I got shacked off my pip during that cyclone swell”
(Expression of sympathy) “These piles are lank sore.” “Ag shame man!”
(Bodyboarder) Term from Australia, but taking off in South Africa, so to speak.
(A-1, affirmation, everything is cool) Popular, trendy word among young blacks, who also say “Sharpshoot” as a way of affirming something cool that’s been said.
(Fast) That car was really shifting bru.
(Thanks, goodbye, yours sincerely) “Shot bru”, “Shot Dot”, “Shot”. You will end your letter, “Shot, Peter” You will say “shot bru” when you say goodbye to a friend. You will also say, “shot” when your bru (mate) buys you a brew (beer)
Waves that break right on the beach.
This pertains, once again, to those awesome carving, ripping, tearing moves being pulled off by, say, Kelly Slater.
(Excellent, radical, good) Another example of how humans mutate meaning. A “sick” wave is a really juicy, clean, hard-breaking wave, not a wave that resembles vomit.
(Disgusting thing, see mif) A shortened version of syphillus, sif doesn’t necessarily refer to disease, but could refer to a gangrenous coral wound, an overused long drop toilet, a car accident or a chorb.
(Yuck) “Sis, man, you just kotched on my wetsuit.” (Yuck, man, you just vomited on my wetsuit)
(Afrikaans expletive) “Sjoe broer, that wave was awesome.” Also shew and shewee.
(Afrikaans – Shame, embarassed) “Pieter pulled out his penis in a Pretoria petshop. That oke has no skaam.” (That guy has no shame) “When you fondle my ringpiece, I feel skaam (embarrassed, ashamed).”
(Unsavoury character) See skollie, skelm, skebanger.
(Watch out, chips) If a car is heading for you, and you haven’t noticed, you friend will shout “Skay!” See chips.
(Zulu – Gangster, crook, ruffian) “Skay Ray, that skebenga is checking out your skedonk.” (Watch out Ray, that crook is sizing up your car.)See skollie, skelm and skate.
(Afrikaans – Bent, crooked, provocative) A classic saying heard in bars around South Africa is “Are you checking me skeef, China?” (Are you looking at me funny, brah?) This often precedes a brawl or a “barnie”. “Bru, don’t you skeem this stringer is skeef?” (Mate, don’t you think this surfboard stringer is not straight?)
(Think, opinion) “You skeem?” (You think so?) “What do you skeem?” (What do you think?) “I’m skeeming we just pull another neck” (I think we should smoke another pipe) From “scheme”.
(Afrikaans) A crook or thief. A street-wise operator who deals in petty crime. See skollie, skate, skebenga.
(Afrikaans) Battered car. A really beaten up old jalopy is called a skedonk.
(Afrikaans – “skiner” – Gossip, news) The kind of gossip that goes on behind your back. Can mean news.
(New boy, fag) “The older school pupils had skivvies, who worked for them.”
The debris, or detritus, left at the bottom of the jar, or bank packet, after you used up the best of your stash. Skitsels are the stalks, pips and bits of leaves. You don’t really want to smoke them if you can help it, but if you have to …
(Sleazy ruffian) Also referred to as a “skommie”, “skate”, “skebenga” or “skelm”. Can be used almost affectionately when talking about a roguish friend. Choose carefully whom you call a skollie. Apparently, it is derived from “skoolverlater”, which is Afrikaans for “school leaver”. Also skate, skebenga and skelm.
(Afrikaans) Sleazy ruffian Also skollie, skate, skebenga, skelm.
(Afrikaans – Kick) Can also be used as in “My girlfriend skopped me out for surfing too much.”
(Afrikaans – A fright, frighteningly ugly) After being held down for 30 seconds in the kelp at Crayfish Factory, you might get a bit of a “skrik”. Or when your buddies try and give you a skrik as you walk past the cemetery. Alternatively, your lover might be called a ‘skrik’, but that’s not so lekker.
(Spliff, to smoke, a piece of something, a French Fry) “Let’s make a skyf” refers to the first.
(Afrikaans – slice) A piece of something, such as fruit.
Slap chips (‘Slup chips’)
When French Fries are thick and long and don’t go crispy in the oil. They are soft and stodgy, ideal for mixing in mounds of tomato sauce or vinegar, or both. Slap is Afrikaans for limp. This is another staple food for surfers.
(Piss, leak) “I’m taking a slash.” (I’m having a piss)
Mostly called “slops”, they are what Australians call thongs, or sandals. The proper slops are made from rubber and have a strap between your big toe and its partner.
A small amount of dope, usually wrapped in brown school book wrapping paper.
Another way of pulling into a tube. “Peter was perfectly slotted” (Peter rode the tube perfectly)
(Joint) As a reaction against all the ‘get high quick’ schemes, designer drugs, buttons, bottlenecks and nasty chemicals that go straight to your head, the purist head parks off, chills out and rolls a nice, slow burning doobie.
(Afrikaans, lit. “to swallow”) .
1. To swallow, to have a drink. Have a sluk of someone’s drink (sip).
2. To steal.
“I was slukking a dop when that oke caught a klap for slukking his zol.” (That guys will catch a punch for stealing my dope)
Affectionate nickname for East London, which is near some excellent surf, namely Nahoon Reef, Yellowsands and Queensberry Bay, to name only a few.
(Afrikaans – lit. “taste of”) Like, enjoy, have hots for. “I smaak Sam stukkend.” (I have the total hots for Sam.)
(Good surf) Also cooking, firing, going off, going ballistic, smoking.
Piece of snot stuck to one’s face after a duck dive.
(Sea pike) This is a fierce fish found in the sea off Cape Town. It has sharp teeth and is long and narrow like a barracuda. It is the staple diet and source of income for many Malay fisherman on the peninsula. It is pronounced “snook”, as in “look”. It tastes great when fresh. Dried, salted snoek can be eaten as is, or served in a stew called “smoor-vis”. It tastes better than it sounds.
(Afrikaans – Stingy) This is not a fish, but a noun or verb referring to extreme stinginess. Pronounced “snoop” (as in “look”) in the same way as snoek. “Solly is a snoop snoek.”
(Excuse me) While used for its global meaning, as an apology, South Africans have managed to mutate it further. “Sorry, can I just get past.” Perhaps it has psychotic roots in the Apartheid days, when travelling white South Africans were programmed to say sorry wherever they went.
(SE trade wind) This strong trade wind blows from the southeast in summer, and flattens Cape Town. See Cape Doctor.
(Kebab) Made from either chicken, lamb or beef, this is often interspersed with pieces of tomato, green pepper, onion and sometimes fruit, especially apricot.
(To court a member of the opposite sex) The verb is used in a number of ways, such as “Sheila was spading Bruce big time” or “Bruce spaded Sheila all night but didn’t score.” See charf.
(A lot, many, much, more) This is mostly a Durban word that is used as an adjective that amplifies things. “You guys at Wavescape have left out a span of words in your slang dictionary ekse!”
(Cantaloupe) A delicious orange coloured melon. Apparently, it is from the Old Dutch phrase meaning Spanish Melon.
The fortunate few who have been spat out of a tube with a burst of spray when compressed air caught in the swirling cylinder is suddenly released.
(Vomit) See kotch, puke, park a tiger, bark the dog, technicoloured yawn
(Bodyboarder) See doormat, sponge, gutslider, speedbump.
(Splif) South African variation of a joint. See doob, number, bane, neck, bane, slowboat.
Spook and diesel
(Cane spirits and coke) A favourite mixture of a pale liquor and dark coca-cola.
(Skew, crooked) Similar to skeef, which also means crooked.
Squirt, the squirts
Squirting the snozzle
(Blowing your nose)
(Dik, big, strong) “That prop forward is a staunch ou.” (That rugby player is built like a brick shithouse)
(Afrikaans – to push) Bonk. The word’s parochial cousin is self explanatory. “I stooted Elmarie in the barn.”
(Totally amped up, revved up, happy) “The oke was so stoked after making that wave.”
(Surf trip that ends with no surf) The amped excitement and stoke fades away after a lengthy drive reveals no surf.
Stop, Stoppe (‘Staw-pper’)
(A “section” of dope) If you buy a stop, or stoppe, you are scoring weed in a specific package, usually a sausage-shaped parcel wrapped in newspaper.
(I kid you not) “Strue’s Bob. He survived after falling 40 foot onto his head.”
(Cheeky) A stroppy person is difficult, cheeky and likely to back chat. A cheeky child is stroppy. A scrawny ou in the pub is stroppy in the seconds before a dik ou (big beefy guy) flattens him with a fist.
(Afrikaans – broken.) Broken, ruined, finished, wrecked, to the extreme. There are a number of variations, such as “I’m going to moer you stukkend if you do that again” (I am going to beat you senseless if you do that again”. “When she left me my heart was stukkend” (my heart was smashed tight with despair), “I was stukkend last night” (wrecked) or “I smaak you stukkend” (I dig you lank)
“Stukkend” usually implies that it is fixable. If not, use “fucked up”, which is not fixable.
(Afrikaans – Little piece) Sexist term for a woman, or man. This time derived from the Afrikaans word stuk, which means “piece”. A stukkie is a “little piece”.
When you’re styling, everything clicks into place and you find yourself surfing like Kelly Slater, Tom Curren and “insert-favourite-surfer-here” rolled into one.
(Afriikaans – Struggle, have difficulty with) “With the current so strong the surfers are sukkeling out there today.”
(Surf trip) “I went on a surfari to Indo.”
(Savvy) “Having a bit of suss”, is to be quite sharp, knowledgeable or street-wise. “I have sussed it out” (I have worked it out)
(Bad, nasty, downer) A disappointed surfer will choon, “Swak bru, the surf is flat.”
Another potent cannabis vintage, from Swaziland. It is dark red, with sticky furry hairs on the heads. A prime choice for connoisseurs.
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Take a dump
(Sneakers, trainers, running shoes) Often refers to the cheap, hip kind bought in a mass clothing chain called Pep Stores. This word is also used to describe car tires. If someone has “Fat takkies” they have a souped up car with wide-brim tyres.
A hot surfer in the process of ripping up the waves. Other synonyms are rip, carve, lacerate, cook, shred and style.
(puke, blow chunks, bark the dog, park the tiger)
(Nostalgic glimpse into the past) We hadn’t chooned each other since that time! (We haven’t spoken for years!)
The moer in (roll the r)
(Very angry) “Jissus, you make me the moer in!”
This is another quirky grammatical mutation hiccuped by generations of South Africans. It is because Afrikaners directly translate their idiom into English. Instead of “He threw a stone at me”, they say “Hy het my met ‘n klip gegooi” (He threw me with a stone). You can’t blame the mistake. Literally translated it means “He did me with a stone throw”.
Person with large ass (and thighs).
(Spleef, joint, number, doob, etc) “Lets make a ting, bru.” “Let’s do dis ting.”
(Another name for a dagga orifice.) Let’s kap a tjallie. See bottleneck.
The best cannabis vintage from Transkei. There are numerous grades and types that grow in this bounteous area. See Lusisikiki Lime Greens. You also get Rooibaard (Red Beard), Durban Poison, Swazi Gold and Malawi Cob. On the Rooibaard, the sticky heads have red hairs on them. This dope is so gooey, you have to use scissors.
(Afrikaans – lit. “step”) Walk. “My china and me went for a trap to choon about the kiff words we found on this website.” (My friend and I went for a walk to talk about the great words we found on this website.)
(To tell, to talk, to provoke) For instance, “Don’t tune me grief” (Don’t give me your bullshit) or “Are you tuning me kak?” (Are you giving me shit?). “Tune me the ages” (Tell me the time)
(To aggravate someone) Whatever you do, if a big oke in a bar begins to pester you with stories of how he tore off a kudu’s head with his bare hands, don’t show your irritation by saying “Are you tuning me grief?” Your relatives will be in grief, indeed. And you won’t be around to tune them anything.
(Afrikaans – tobacco) A cigarette. “Can I bum a twak?” (Can I have a cigarette)
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(Puke, blow chunks, bark the dog, park the tiger, technicoloured yawn)
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(Leave) See waai
Van Der Merwe
Like Paddy in Ireland, Van der Merwe is the butt of South African jokes. Lacking in the social graces, “Van” is usually a “plaas japie” (farm boy) from the platteland.
(Afrikaans – “to swear”) Swear at, intimidate. “I vloeked Harry and he vloeked me back.” (I swore at Harry and he swore back). Not to be confused with fluke, also pronounced “flook” by South Africans, meaning something happening by accident.
(Afrikaans) Bugger off, fuck off, go away!) “Voetsek!
(Afrikaans – Rotten, putrid) Used by all language groups to describe something highly undesirable, or smelly, or rotten. It can also mean drunk to the point of being completely paralytic. “I was vrot last night”
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(Afrikaans – lit. “wave” as in “wave goodbye”.) Go, or proceed. “Come, let’s waai back to my porsie (place).” See also Vai or Vaai.
(Paralytic drunk or totally high) “I was completely wasted at the party”
When there is a break near a wall, pier or jetty. The waves come in, rebound off the wall and travel sideways into the oncoming swell. This pushes up the wave in the middle, forming an A-framed wedge. If you take off on the wedgey part, you get loads of speed and can hit the lip with lots of force, getting lots of air.
West, way west
(Stoned, out of it, far gone) Perhaps a pun on the word “wasted” – “bru, we ended up way west after that spleef.”
(A drink, refreshment) “Hey brah, I’m lank thirsty, lets grab a wettie.”
(Aggressive action) “I gave him what for.” This could be by punching him, or yelling obscenities at him, or chastising him vigorously.
(Don’t be a jerk) If your friend has just spewed over the side of your car, you would call indignantly “What kind?”
(Yada yada, blah blah) “That oke tuned me ‘what what’.”
(Dope) See doob, zol, dagga, bane, whacky backy, number, spliff
(Name for a waveski rider) See goatboat and eggbeater.
(Panic attack, fit of rage, nervous breakdown) “Peter threw a wobbly after someone drove a Nissan Sani over his new 7’8″ custom surfboard.”
(Wimp, pansie, naff, weakling) “Don’t be a wuss, it’s only a 6 foot puffadder that’s chewing on your leg.”
(Afrikaans – vicious, wild) Wound up, aggressive, feeling strong. “Skay bru, that baboon looks woes.” (Watch out mate, that baboon looks like it’s going to attack.) This is the Afrikaans pronunciation of the word, which turns “W” into “V”.
(Very stoned or drunk) “I am s-o-o-o-o worse!”
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(What what, blah blah, waffle waffle) This New York bagel terms has spread to South Africa, and is used interchangeably with what what, blah blah and so on.
Yissus, yerre, yussus
(Expression of surprise) Originates from the Afrikaans “Liewe Jesus (‘J-ee-suss’).” The same as “My God!” or “My Lord”. Taking the Lord’s name in vain. Except now it’s mutated away and many use it without knowing where it comes from. It’s an expression of surprise, or fear, or shock.
Yooit (‘Yoiy-eet’), yo
(Expression) When a brah checks another brah across the street, he tunes: ‘Yooit!’ If you use this form of greeting, bru, you are la-a-a-ank cool. Also ahoy, aweh, howzit, hoesit, yo.
(See yissus or Jislaaik)
(Variation of Jissus)
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A joint commonly rolled out of a piece of newspaper and stuck together with saliva. Many township residents smoke tobacco this way.