15 Jamaican Patois Slangs You Should Add to your Vocabulary

While Jamaicans are native English speakers, their heritage and history have molded Patois (the native language) into a unique form of expression. It’s fun, expressive, and integral to the Jamaican experience but can sometimes be puzzling for visitors, especially as it evolves with every generation. With this evolution of the language and the creation of new slangs, even with 20 years of Jamaican travel experience, you are bound to meet a Jamaican man or woman who uses slang words you’ve never heard before. As such, here are 15 modern Jamaican slangs you should add to your vocabulary.

15 Jamaican Patois Slangs You Should Add to your Vocabulary 1

  1. Bill: When a Jamaican says “bill” with palms up, it’s a friendly nudge to “chill out” or “take it easy,” usually in response to a misunderstanding.
  2. Liff Up/Lift Up: Literally means “Leave!” It is often expressed in anger or as a warning, the tone of voice is your guide.
  3. A Mi Fi Tell Yu!/I am the one to tell you: This translates to “I can relate” and shows agreement, commonly used among women sharing experiences.
  4. Mi Vex Till Mi Ben Up: A phrase expressing deep anger. When a Jamaican says this, they are truly “upset” or “angry.”
  5. Come Gwope: Another way to say “Leave!” or “Stop talking foolishness.” Often used humorously among friends to express disbelief.
  6. Cut: Simply means “Leave.” You might hear, “Mi ago cut now. Inna di marrows,” meaning “I’m leaving now. See you tomorrow.”
  7. Dat Shot: An exclamation of excitement, akin to “That was amazing!” Used to describe impressive feats or experiences.
  8. Deh Pon A Endz: Means “Gone out,” either for fun or on business.
  9. Deeven: A contraction of “Don’t even,” used to dismiss something outright or express disbelief.
  10. Do Road: This means to “Go on an outing,” typically for leisure purposes.
  11. A So Di Ting Set: Translates to “That’s the way it is” or “That’s the situation.” A phrase for accepting things as they are.
  12. A Weak: The Patois equivalent of “ROFL” (Rolling On the Floor Laughing). Used to emphasize a hearty laugh, especially when gasping for breath.
  13. A Yasso Nice!: An exclamation of enjoyment, meaning “It’s really nice here!” Perfect for expressing joy in the moment.
  14. Bait Up: Means “Set someone up for a downfall” or “Cause disappointment, embarrassment, or insult.” Used cautiously in sensitive situations. If someone asks “A bait yah bait mi up?” it’s time to step back and apologize.
  15. She/ Him A Gwan Wid Himself: Used when someone is doing exceptionally well, displaying confidence and charisma. Expect to hear this if you impress at a party.

Now that I have shared this treasure with you, remember, tone and context are key when using these Jamaican Patois slangs. So, while I’ve provided you with the phrases, the real art lies in their delivery. To ensure the best experience during your stay in Jamaica, I strongly recommend practising these slangs with your tour guides first. Listen closely to how they use these phrases in different situations before trying them out on your own in public. Then, make sure you gwan wid yuhself ah Jamaica!

Photo – Deposit Photos