8 Patois Terms You Don’t Want To Be Caught Dead Saying

The Jamaican language (patois), one of the most culturally influential in the world, is always evolving. And as it influences the world, the language is very much influenced by the local culture and particularly the music. However, as the language has rapidly evolved, many once popular words have disappeared from the vernacular as quickly as they came. Here are a few patois terms that have slowly disappeared from popular culture.

  1. Bashment – a dance or kind of entertainment. Bashment emerged in the early 90’s and grew in popularity as a slew of dancehall songs referenced it in their lyrics. In addition, ‘Bashment Riddim’ dominated the charts in the mid-90s with many hit songs by popular artists. The word made a brief resurgence in 2008 with the production of a roots play ‘Bashment Granny’, but its use has decreased significantly since.
  2. Sketel and Mantel – Another early 90’s phenomenon, sketel and mantel refer respectively to a woman and man who lives a frivolous lifestyle, often possessing little ambition or sense of self-worth.
  3. Booyaka!!! – As dancehall began to come into its own in the late 80’s, the word ‘booyaka’ sounded out in clubs and street parties. Though it’s meant to simulate the sound of gunfire, booyaka conveys applause or approval.
  4. Boonoonoonus – Made popular (and likely created) by Jamaican folklorist ‘Miss Lou’, boonoonoonus was used as a term of endearment for loved ones. At one time, boonoonoonus was as widely used as the word ‘bae’ is today.
  5. Blow Wow!  – This term may have emerged in the 80’s to express exclamation or surprise. At the time, it served as a safe and much tamer expression for shocking situations when a person didn’t want to use one of Jamaica’s famous curse words.
  6. Don Dadda – The word is most often associated with the late dancehall artist Super Cat, who popularized the term Don Dadda with his song of the same name. A Don Dadda is a man who’s in charge of his situation (be it home or business), usually financially successful, and dapper in appearance.
  7. Sheg Up – A relic of 80’s dancehall, ‘sheg up’ describes a messed-up feeling, perhaps a mix of sadness and disappointment over a situation.
  8. Boops  – One of the most popular words to emerge from 80’s dancehall, ‘boops’ speaks about a financial benefactor, usually male, who spends lavishly on women often with hopes of a serious relationship but it’s more likely that he is being taken for a ride.  The word’s popularity grew quickly and enormously as a series of songs mocking the ‘boops’ hit the airwaves.

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