Patois Articles

Top 20 Jamaican Double-Up Words

Written by Denise Clarke

The Jamaican language has evolved over time but the way we use words to convey emphasis has remained pretty much unchanged. Take for example the tendency to double up with words like ‘chacka chacka’ or ‘nyami nyami’. To the outsider, the repetition may seem redundant, but for the Jamaican speaker there’s no better way to express the point being communicated. Here are the top 20 Jamaicans double-up words.

  1. Batta batta –Battered and bruised (Why di breadfruit so batta batta?)
  2. Bumpy-bumpy –Covered in bumps; can relate to the skin or a fruit with rough exterior such as soursop (Him look too bumpy bumpy.)
  3. Faas faas – Quickly; used to convey urgency (Come yah faas faas.)
  4. Chacka-chacka – Rough shod; not in good order; out of place (How it look so chacka chacka?)
  5. Labba labba – Talking too much (You too labba labba.)
  6. Dibby-dibby – Used to describe someone of little importance (You fren too dibby dibby.)
  7. Cass cass – Mix up; quarrel (Me nuh want you put me inna cass cass.)
  8. Ray ray – Quarrel; usually words thrown back and forth (What a piece a ray ray!)
  9. Deggeh deggeh – A single unit. (One deggeh deggeh mango you give me?)
  10. Nyami nyami – Describes someone who eats too much (You too nyami nyami!)
  11. So so – The bare minimum (So so rice you give me?)
  12. Deh deh – Will you be there? Reference to a place (You ago deh-deh?)
  13. Fenke fenke –An older colloquialism meaning not of good quality (It look too fenke-fenke)
  14. Pyah pyah –An older expression also meaning poor quality (Don’t come wid no pyah pyah ting enuh.)
  15. Deady-deady –Dull; describes someone who lacks vibes or an event that is boring (Dis dance too deady-deady.)
  16. Jah jah –Used mainly by Rastafarians as an expression to God (Jah-Jah see an know exactly what a gwaan.)
  17. Licky licky –Describes someone who eats too much. (How you one so licky-licky?)
  18. Nuff nuff –Refers to abundance. (Liquor dung deh nuff-nuff!)
  19. Watch watchy –Refers to a peeping Tom (Dem bwoi deh too watchy-watchy)
  20. Su su –Refers to gossip or someone who engages in endless gossip. (Why you love su-su so much?)

About the Author
Denise Clarke is a freelance journalist based in Kingston, Jamaica. She has written for print and online newspapers in Jamaica, Barbados, and the British Virgin Islands.

 

About the author

Denise Clarke