Slang, Vocabulary and Speech pattern of Trinidad & Tobago


A

  • ahse: ass, arse
  • air: ear
  • ah-yah-yai: an expression of anticipation or pain, etc.
  • A lime; to lime; liming: To hang around with friends and acquaintances, indulging in “ol’ talk” and giving “fatigue”, enjoying drinks and delicacies perhaps, for an indefinite period of time at a given location.
  • allyuh: all of you people
  • A fete: to fete; feting: Not to be confused with an informal “lime”, a fete is a full-blown party with copious amounts of food and drink. The more crowded the fete, the better. Music and dancing are essential elements.
  • ax: ask, to ask a question


B

  • bacchanal: rowdy, scandalous behaviour; good party, minding another's business and adding to, thereby causing confusion
  • back back: suggestive dance, the male dancers front rubbing against the females rear and vice versa
  • bad eye: a look of anger or reproach, especially when looking from the corner of the eye
  • badjohn: a bully, a dangerous man, a gangster, someone with a reputation for hurting people
  • Baigo: Tobago
  • bam-se lambay: attractive female buttocks
  • bam bam: backside, behind, arse, bottom, buttock
  • basa basa: argumentative, confrontational
  • bawlin: confused
  • Baygo: Tobago
  • beyganne biganne: aubegine, melongene, eggplant, solanum melongena
  • bobolee: a person who is habitually taken advantage of
  • bol-face: bold face, pushy, loud and wrong, unreasonable, demanding
  • bon: burnt
  • bongo: a funeral song and dance of African origin, often accompanied with hand-clapping and the percussion instrument the qua-qua
  • boo-boo -lups: fat, clumsy ungainly person
  • boof: to insult, castigate, yell at or argue with
  • boom-boom: backside, behind, arse, bottom, buttock
  • boomsie: backside, behind, arse, bottom, buttock
  • bottomside: the windward - the south-western side of Tobago
  • brought -up-sy: showing that a person was correctly brought up and has decorum
  • bubbo: a pestering young man who dosn't take no for an answer from the ladies
  • buh wait nah: but wait a minute, now hold on
  • buljol: a dish of shredded saltfish with onions and tomatoes, avocado, pepper and olive oil
  • bun: burnt
  • burrokeet: human donkey
  • buse: to talk agressively to; to abuse verbally
  • buss-up-shut: flaky bread served with curries; derives from 'burst-up-shirt' - refers to the torn-cloth appearance of the bread


C

  • callaloo: soup or stew of African origin made from dasheen leaves with okra, boiled with pumpkin, coconut, salt meat or crab
  • calypso: a musical and lyrical comment on any subject, profusely composed for, but not limited to the Carnival season
  • calypsonian: a singer of calypsos like Shadow Winston Bailey who was raised in the village of Les Coteaux
  • Canboulay: is a part of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival celebration. It arose as an alternative for slaves, who were banned from participating in Trinidad's Carnival. Canboulay has played an important role in the development of the music of Trinidad and Tobago, for it was the banning of percussion instruments in the 1880s that led to the development of steelpan music; Canboulay celebrations were also at the origin of calypso music.
  • Canboulay Riots: The Canboulay Riots were riots by the descendants of freed slaves in the cities of Trinidad and Tobago against attempts by the British police to crack down on aspects of the celebration of Carnival. The riots occurred in February 1881 in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and in the southern cities of San Fernando and Princes Town in February 1884 causing the loss of life. The riots are still commemorated today and canboulay music is an important part of the music of Trinidad and Tobago notably the use of steel pans which were the descendants of percussion instruments banned in the 1880s. The "chantwell" or chantuelle who was also an integral part of the celebrations was the forerunner of the calypsonian and later soca music.
  • carnival: was incorporated into the Catholic faith as a final binge before the fasting period of Lent. carne vale - farewell to flesh
  • channa: Indian word for chick-peas or split peas
  • cheups: a derogatory sound noise made by sucking your teeth, also indicates a negative or no response, probably origin is the Congo where it is still part of speech
  • chupid: stupid, foolish
  • coki-eye: cross-eyed
  • commesse: confusion, controversy associated with argument, gossip and slander
  • Congo Betsy Congo Brown Congo Ellis: supernatural being from African witchcraft and myth
  • coocoo: a cornmeal pudding with okra and vegetables; a slave dish which was cooked in a simple pot over coals
  • coo-nu-moonoo: idiot, foolish, stupid person
  • compere: male companion or friend
  • coskel: weird, strange
  • crapo, crapaud: frog
  • cunumunu: a stupid, foolish person
  • cut-eye: a look of anger or reproach, especially when looking from the corner of the eye
  • cyaa, cyah: can't, can not.


D

  • dasheen: leaves that are finely chopped with a special wooden 'dollie' which has ochroes added, boiled with pumpkin, coconut, salt meat or crab to make callaloo soup or stew that is of African origin made from
  • dingolay: to dance with joyful abandon, to flaunt, to tease playfully
  • doh, dough: don’t, do not
  • dong: down
  • doo doo, doux doux: sweetheart often used with darling, as in dodo dahling - the French doux means 'sweet'
  • doogla, dougla: a person of mixed race, usually African and East India
  • dotish, doughtish: stupid, foolish and dumb - probably from the English doltish
  • doubles: curried channa served between two pieces of fried bread
  • douens (dwenz): unsure of its translation but it refers to children who have died without being christened. This reflects the strong influence of Christianity especially Catholicism.. Their feet are turned backwards and they wear straw 'chinese-like' hats (they resemble an upside down splayed dome). They wear these hats to hide their featureless faces. They eat baby corn and lure children deep into the forest with sweet songs and games and then disappear as soon as the children are lost. They are supposed to be lost souls who are lonely and need to play with someone.
  • dress rong: move over, shift, I need a seat
  • drevait, dree vay: wayward person, to knock about


E

  • eh eh: an exclamation of surprise or indignation, often said with much emphasis for effect - Eh - What did you say? Eh eh - No, no way, oh no. Eh heh - Oh really? I understand. Yes
  • enless: plenty, endless.
  • ent: isn't it, is that not so, thats true


F

  • faddah: father
  • fairy maids: supernatural beings from African witchcraft and myth. They have one human leg and one cloven hoof. Sometimes they fall in love - particularly with smooth-skinned men, of whom they steal the shadow.
  • fall out: to stop speaking with someone or to terminate a friendship
  • fete, fet: a party, loud music, lots to eat and drink, dancing to wee hours of the morning
  • flim: film
  • founkie, foong-key: foul smelling, stink odour
  • free up: relax, let go
  • fresh-water yankee: a person who spends a short time in the USA and returns with a heavy American accent; originally, one who acquired a 'yankee' accent by simply visiting a US military base or the US Embassy


G

  • Gang Gang Sara: an African witch involved in legend where the mermaids came to play
  • go-bar: nonsense, foolishness
  • goinorf: someone who appears to be going out of their mind, acting strangely
  • gun talk: fighting words, to threaten verbally
  • gyul: girl


H

  • hair: here or hear
  • harden: disobedient
  • hops: crisp bread roll, often filled with ham
  • horn: to cheat on a spouse or lover
  • horner man: a guy who makes love to someones wife
  • hototo, hotoetoe: a very large amount, plenty
  • huggish: rude, crude, mean; the behavior of a thug or gangster
  • humbug: to pester, bother, molest
  • hut: hurt


I

  • in ting: to be involved in current activity.
  • is so?: is that so?


J

  • jabjab: a carnival clown-like devil character
  • jadoo: 'magic' used by a woman to charm a man
  • jamet: a 'sweetman' or kept lover
  • jamette: a prostitute
  • jook: to stab or punch at anything, a sudden forward hip motion
  • jouvert j'ouvert: British authorities decreed in 1843 that the festivities could not begin until Monday morning. Since no time was specified, the carnivalgoers began to celebrate on the stroke of midnight - the origin of the wild procession known as j'ouvert that begins Carnival today and culminates with the sound of steel bands, the participants covering themselves with mud and then proceeding to splatter all the bystanders with it - all in good fun.
  • jumbie: (v) to harass, to annoy ,to irritate
  • jumbie: (n) traditional characters or demons that can either be mild or very malignant
  • jus now: in a little while


K

  • kalenda: stickfighting which is thought to have originated in the use of bamboo sticks to fight fires in the cane fields
  • ketch: catch
  • Klim: a generic word for any brand of powdered milk
  • koskel: weird, strange


L

  • La Diablesse - la-ja-bles - 'Female Devil,' or 'She-Devil': She is a very pretty woman who wears pretty dresses with full petticoats. Late at night she lures men to her with her beauty. These men are usually coming home from the bars and are drunk. However, what the men don't know is that she has one good foot that she normally shows and one cloven calve's hoof that she hides. She lures men to cliffs where they can fall to their death.
  • langniappe, lang yap: a little extra, a bonus
  • las lap: last lap, last minute street partying on Carnival Tuesday just before the official end of Carnival at midnight
  • lef: left
  • lef dat: leave that
  • leh we: let go
  • leh go: foul smelling, stink odour
  • lick dong yo: hit someone or something, to topple over
  • licks: a beating, a physical punishment
  • like ting: to be somewhat mischievous
  • limbo: a funeral song and dance of African origin is performed each night of the week following a funeral, accompanied by hand clapping or stamping of bamboo sticks (tamboo-bamboo).
  • lime / liming: (v) hanging out, having fun, as 'Let's go down to the corner and lime.'
  • liming: (n) a wildcard word for any social event like cinema lime, pub lime, party lime
  • locho: a loafer, a lazy person, a parasite
  • long eye: envious of the possessions of others
  • look nuh: an expression of annoyance.
  • lowside: the windward - the south-western side of Tobago


M

  • maco: someone who minds other people's business to gossip
  • macommère: a female companion or friend
  • macocious, makocious: one who is prying, nosy
  • ma dogoma: one of the supernatural figures who aid mortals in getting into or out of this world
  • magga: very thin, skinny
  • makaforshet: left-overs; from the French 'ma ca fourchette' - 'food stuck between the fork'
  • make style: show off, tantalise
  • maljo, maljoe: bad eye, or evil eye
  • malkadee: blight, unhealthy, ill
  • mamaguy: trying to fool someone, or being fooled by someone, to falsely praise, eg. Your friend is wearing an ugly dress, but you tell her that it's beautiful
  • Mama d' Leau: - duh-low - 'Mother of the Waters'. She is Papa Bois' wife. She protects all things that live in the seas, rivers, lakes and oceans. If her environment becomes threatened she has the ability to taint all water sources that are essential to life.
  • mamapoule: hen-pecked husband; a derogatory term for a husband who seems to be controlled by his wife, a weakling, easily taken advantage of
  • mama yo: expression denoting shock and surprise
  • mas: masquerade, carnival
  • matter fix: everything is well organized, everything is OK
  • mauby, maubi: bark of the carob tree colubrina reclinata used to make a drink of the same name
  • mbiras: varing lengths of metal strips suspended over a gourd that acts as a sound board. Also known as a kalimba or marimba. Known throughout sub-Saharan Africa
  • melongene: eggplant or aubegine, solanum melongena
  • merasmie: un-healthy, sickly looking
  • moko jumbies: stilt dancers, an African tradition carried over into carnival - their costumes represent jumbies, or beings from the dead
  • mooma: mother
  • mouter: a boaster - to much mouth
  • mo vey lang: bad tongue, slanderous
  • much up: to pamper, to butter up
  • mud band: a j’ouvert mas band with revellers plastering their bodies in mud from head to toe


N

  • nah: no - negative
  • nanny: vagina
  • nastiness: an expression of disgust applied to a good-for-nothing person
  • neem: a culinary spice from a 'sacred' tree - used in some form on a daily basis - the twigs as a toothbrush, the oil for soap, and the leaves for medicine. Veppam, margosa. Azadirachta indica
  • ning ning: tired eyes
  • now fuh now: instantly, right now
  • no wherian: person of no fixed abode


O

  • obeah: traditional characters, practices and belief
  • ochro: okra or lady fingers
  • obzokee: awkward, out of place, misshapen
  • ogun: a god of a faith of African origin that takes significance from the elements and the force of nature
  • okra: lady fingers, vendakkai, benakaayilu
  • ol' talk: empty chatter, nonsense, eg. 'What you're saying is a bunch of ol' talk.'
  • old hag: traditional characters
  • one han cyaa clap: one hand can't clap - a bribe will grease the wheels, be good to me I’ll take care of you
  • one set ah: a lot of anything, plentiful
  • own way: stubborn person.
  • orisha: a faith of west African origin that takes significance from the elements and the force of nature


P

  • panyard: where steel bands reheass
  • Papa Bois: - bwa - translated from French-Patois 'Father of the Woods'. He is responsible for the lives of all of the animals in the forests and it is said that when hunters get too greedy, he takes revenge on them - either by damaging their guns so that they can no longer hunt or so they injure themselves, or by making the hunters get lost in the forests and other such stunts.
  • parang parran: people that sing at Christmas time about the birth of Christ in their parang songs. Parang is derived from the Venezuelan-Spanish word ‘paranda’ which means to go from house to house to fete. The colloquial term for ‘parran’ is the abbreviation
  • pastelles: seasoned mincemeat mixed with olives, capers and raisins in a cornmeal casing and wrapped in banana leaves; a culinary legacy of the Spanish settlement, traditionally served at Christmas
  • pelau: rice dish with peas and meat and flavoured with coconut and pepper - from India
  • peong: someone who seems to be addicted to or obsessed with something, eg. 'You're a TV peong,' - someone who watches too much television
  • pesh: money
  • pholouri: fritters made with split peas
  • pierott granade: local clown-like carnival character
  • pickers: thorns
  • pissenlet: a transvestite often seen at carnivals - literally 'wet-the-bed'
  • pissin tail: a person of no class or importance
  • planasse: to hit someone with the flat side of a cutlass
  • playin social: someone who pretends to be of a higher social strata than they are
  • pomme / cythere: the fruit golden apple
  • pommerac: a bright red fruit with velvety white interior; maybe from the patois for 'Maracas apple'
  • po po: very small child, a baby
  • poom-poom: vagina.
  • powder puff: vagina
  • pressure / preshah: intense circumstances, rough times
  • prim prim: disgustingly proper and formal


Q

  • qualey: withered, dried up
  • qua-qua: a percussion instrument which, with hand-clapping often accompanies 'bongo' music.
  • querk: an irritating person


R

  • raff: to grab suddenly, to take away something from someone
  • ragadang: broken down, derelict
  • ram cram: packed to capacity
  • roti: a thinly cooked dough which is filled with a curry mixture which can contain beef, chicken, goat, shrimp, any meat or potatoes - from India
  • rude: nasty, sexually explicit


S

  • saga boy: a male or female who is boastful of his physical attributes, flashy dresser, dandy
  • sampat: an unfair attack, ambush
  • scizzors: poom-poom - vagina.
  • screw pan: an angry or determined look on a person's face; usually makes them look humorously ugly
  • shadow beni: a herb known an cilantro used for its distinctive seasoning flavour, added to cooking meats giving a distinctive taste
  • shif yuh / carcass: move over, get going.
  • shub, shove: move or cast aside.
  • skin up / yuh nose: turn up ones nose
  • skinnin yuh teet: grinning
  • sky-lark: to idle, waste time
  • sometimeish: moody
  • Soucoyant / sucuyant - soo-koo-yah: she is an old woman who lives by herself in an old rickety house. Late at night she peels off her skin, turning into a ball of fire that flies over the entire island. She stops intermittently and sucks the blood from sleeping individuals. She has to return to her home before sunrise or else she will die. She can also die, if, while out of her house, salt is sprinkled on her skin. When she returns to her skin she will shrivel up and die. It is believed that you can protect yourself by sprinkling salt around your bed before retiring for the night.

    The way you can tell if you've been bitten by a soucouyant is if you awaken and you're bruised. This is how some account for waking up with black and blue marks - which could have ocurred the night before or even the day before and to account for why old people tend to stay home alot.

  • souse: pork boiled and served cold in a salty sauce with lime, cucumber, pepper, and onion slices
  • steups: a derogatory sound noise made by sucking your teeth, also indicates a negative or no response, probably origin is the Congo where it is still part of speech
  • suck eye: too easy for words to describe
  • sweetie: confectionary, an attractive female.


T

  • tabanca: the feeling of hurt when a romantic relationship ends
  • tantie tante: from the French for Aunt
  • tamboo: variable lengths of bamboo knocked down to make a drum-like soung.
  • tarmbrin: tambourine
  • teef: thief
  • tent: Kaiso tent - a venue - a calypso or soca concert featuring several singers, music bands and comedians
  • tick: thick - overweight
  • tight: intoxicated, drunk, stoned
  • ting: thing
  • titty-vay: to titivate, to waste time or stir up trouble. toh-ty: toti, toto - male genitalia, penis.
  • toolum: one of the earliest candies from the slave days, made with molasses and grated coconut
  • too-nee: poom-poom, scizzors - vagina.
  • too tool bay/ toutoulday/ toutoulbay: a state of confusion, in a daze, also head over heels in love, a gullible person, a fool
  • topside: the leeward side - the north-eastern side of Tobago
  • toti, toto: male genitalia, penis
  • tot tots: female breasts


U - V

  • umpteen: plenty of anything, often
  • vampin: farting - producing anoffensive smell.
  • vaps: suddenly behave excitedly or strangely
  • vex: vexed, angry
  • vikiey vi: evasive, unreliable, indecisive.


W

  • wais: waist
  • wajang: roudy, uncouth person
  • warap: a very weak mixture.
  • well yes: expression of disbelief.
  • wha happenin dey?: what’s happening?
  • wha'ppen?: what's the matter with you? - How are things?
  • when cock geh teet: it will never happen
  • whey: where
  • whey yuh say?: what did you say?
  • wine winin: sexually suggestive dance using rthymic hip gyrations
  • wrong-side: the worst pieces of bad luck is for a fishermen is to go fishing with his clothes put on inside out.


Y - Z

  • yampee: mucus found in the corner of the eyes after sleep
  • yemanjah: a god of a faith of west African origin that takes significance from the elements and the force of nature
  • you an all: you too
  • you so: people like you
  • yuh faddah head: expression indicating disgust
  • yuh look fuh dat: it's your own fault
  • yuh makin joke: you can't be serious
  • zaboca: avocado
  • zug up: an uneven cutting