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Jamaican Patois & Other Colloquialisms Over The Years

Jamaican Patois & Other Colloquialisms Over The Years

Jamaicans are known for their patois and have very unique way of labeling people, places or things. Some of the slang words created over the years have been adopted and utilized by other cultures. sometimes inappropriately because non-Jamaicans are unaware of the correct meanings associated with the words. Below is a list of Jamaican words and phrases with their correct meanings.

Almshouse: A poor house or shabby surroundings.

Bhutu: An unpolished person who lacks proper etiquette and speaks improper English; a person lacking in good taste.

Boasie: Used to describe individuas who carry themselves in a dignified manner and avoid impropriety or idle gossip; someone who uses refined vocabulary and language.

Boops: A person who takes care of another individual financially. Applied to both sexes.

Chegg: Used to describe dealings that are undermined. For example, “Dem chegg up de business” means the dealings have been messed up.

Coof:  A slap, thump, or box.

Crisp: Refers to individuals, especially friends, who are worthy and formidable.

Dibi-Dibi: Typically used in reggae songs to describe women who have no self-esteem, integrity, or pride in themselves. They are usually available to the highest bidder and are considered loose.

Eye-Sore: Describes someone in a group or family who is envied or hated and talked about because of his or her endearing qualities.

Fallow-fashin-monkey: From the saying, “Fallow-fashin-monkey never drink good soup yet.” The phrase term is associated with individuals who tend to copy others or compete with them without seeking their own path. These people usually do not have a solid foundation, so they stand for everything and anything.

Fenky-Fenk: Shy or dull. As Miss Lou would say, “What kind of fenky-fenky singing is that?”

Haul N Pull-Up: A messed up situation. Can be applied to things or people.

Jing-Bang: Another name for “carouches,” things or to describe a crowd. For instance, “The lady moved her jing-bang dem into the house.”

Macca-Braccas: Rude and disorderly folks.

Madame Lashy: Used to describe a woman who is sassy and quick with rebuttals; someone good at cursing and arguing.

Mamparlour Man: Describes a man who is very inquisitive and who involves himself in feminine activities.

Mocomanian: Used to describe someone fresh from the country who uses broken English on a regular basis.

Mouth-a-massie: Describes a person who indulges in idle gossip or talks too much; someone who can’t keep a secret.

Not righted: If a person is called “not too righted,” he or she is said to be crazy or “off dem rockas.”

Ole Neygah: Although no longer politically correct, the term is still used in vicious gossip to people who don’t have proper heritage or upbringing, and whose taste in clothing and merchandise is often unsophisticated.

Poly: Used to describe someone who is acting sick and feeble.

Poppyshow: An avant-garde dresser; someone who calls attention to him/herself.

Quarshie: Describes individuals who are not accustomed to anything. Similar to a “country bumpkin,” Jamaicans may call someone a Quarshie if they don’t know how to dress or speak or are not acquainted with the “finer things in life.”

Ready or No Ready: If a person is said to be “Ready, it means they are right and suitable. If they are labeled “No Ready,” something is wrong with them and they are not suitable.

Red Eye: If someone is labeled “red eye,” it means that they are covetous and want what another person has.

Roonkus-poonkus: Strange goings-on.

Shine-yeye gal: A woman who wants everything that she sees; someone whose only goal in life is to “keep up with the Joneses.”

Speaky-spokie: Usually describes persons who try to “put on” various dialects or twangs; phony language imitators.

Stocious: Jamaican women are usually described as being “stocious” because they are very particular about the way they dress, the people they associate with, and the foods they eat. Their attire is usually pristine and well considered.

Tetes: Someone may be called a “clothes tetes,” “man tetes,” or “street tetes.” Describes people who are obsessed with clothes, men, or who prefer to run the streets without a cause; also means anything done in excess.

Trace: In Jamaica  if someone “trace” you, they are talking bad about you or arguing with you.

Yegge-Yegge: Loud, brash, uncouth individuals who are known for their outlandish behavior.

About the author

Stephanie Korney