Bajan Dialect

Plantation House Nestled Among Trees, Barbados Pocket Guide

About Bajan Dialect

Bajan dialect is a unique language of Barbados. Its origin dates back to the times when slaves were brought to Barbados and forced to speak English. This language then became a way of communication among enslaved Africans, much to the disadvantage of their slave masters who had difficulty understanding what was being communicated. Bajan dialect is one of the most prevalent attributes that connect the people of Barbados to their African and English heritage.

 

Click below to see our:
1. Bajan Dialect Dictionary
2. Bajan Terms & Phrases

 

The word ‘Bajan’ is a derivative of the word “Barbadian”. However due to stronger accents which once prevailed, the word sounded more like ‘Barbajan’ and eventually was shortened to Bajan. Bajan dialect has an intriguing factor associated with it as new words and expressions are constantly coming alive. Sometimes we tend to speak at a fast rate that combined with the accents heard makes it difficult to understand what is being said. Don't be afraid to ask a Bajan to slow down and they will be more than happy to slow it down.

 

Though English is the standard language spoken in Barbados, dialect is still very much a part of our culture. In Barbados, we tend to use dialect in informal settings and standard English in more formal settings. Therefore, it is not at all strange to hear a full conversation amongst friends out relaxing and walk away wondering what on earth was just said. Interestingly enough, these same folk have the greatest ability to seamlessly switch to proper English when in conversation with visitors to our island.

 

In an effort to help you understand a little more about the way in which the people of Barbados speak, below are a few words & phrases to get you on your way.

 

Dictionary of Bajan Dialect Words

ABC DEFGH •  IJKLM

 

NOPQ RSTUVWXYZ


 

A
above - Just beyond, next to
ackee - local fruit, hard green skin, orange flesh when ripe
afta - after
add-in - put in a little bit more
all de talk - with everything said
all-two - two things or both items / people
all-two a wunna - two persons in a group
all-a-wanna - everyone in a group
antiman - an offensive term for an effeminate or homosexual male
asked out - to invite someone out
at all - no way
away - overseas or abroad
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B
bad behave - to be poorly behaved
bad feels - any feeling right
back-back - to go backwards
backyard - enclosed land at the back of a house
bachannal - commotion, loud partying
backchat - a disrespectful reply (usually in the case of a child to a parent.)
back stab - to talk about a friend negatively
bariffle - a whole lot of something
bassa-bassa - a fight / disagrement
bashy - to be intriguing
bashment - a party
bawl-out - curse someone
bay rum - a lotion
below - usually used in directions meaning under
belly - stomach
bare - a lot of
before-time - once upon a time; formerly
behind God's back - out in the country side in very rural areas
big-up - kudos, accolades, salutation
big-rock - a stone the right size and weight for throwing at someone
Bim - a nickname for Barbados
black hat - person behaving unseemly and don't care
blaklead - a pencil
blam - an expression of sound
blista - to curse someone out
blista bline - to curse someone out  worst
bozzi - a person ;like not me bozzi
boar tru - to push through a crowd
bonie - very slim body
bossman - a salutation / an admired friend
Bowmanston Liqure - glass of water
bougeley - real ugly person
boxy or botsi - the buttocks
bram - a small dancing party
breeze - pass through quickly
brek-up - to fall or to feel really tired after a party or exercise
broughtupsy - proper upbringing, manners or class
bruggadown / brugga-lax / brax-lax - the sound of a fall, or something hitting something else hard
bubble up de gap - walk / move up the street
bubble a pot - to cook good tasting food
buck-pot - a cast iron pot used for cooking
buckra-johnny -  a poor Caucasian
bumpa / bumsi - the buttocks
bung-navel - protuberant navel
butt up pon - to meet by chance; to have met by chance
bush-tea - a tea made of plants and herbs
buss mout - when hit in the mouth and it is bleeding
busylickum - a busy body
buy-ice, and fry it - a waste of money
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C
carry way - take away
catspradle - like when something falls and disintegrates
chat-up - to talk up someone
cheese don bread - an expression or exclamation
chip - slowly marching down the street in time to music
choke-off - to shut off.
choppa - a machete
choppy - to be bumpy at sea
chossel - girlfriend / boyfriend
chune - a song
cock-back - shaking ones' buttocks while dancing
cock-up - to relax with one's limbs spread
collins - see cutlass
cook-up - mix everything together.
cool-out - to relax
come forward - to come out of a crowd
come'a - come here to me!
come back - to return [to return home]
common - to be low class
crappo - frog
cuh-dear - an exclamation showing empathy
cuff - to punch; a punch
cus - to insult, swear or use bad words
cutter -  a sandwich
cutlass - a machete
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D

dat - that
daa fuh lick yuh - that's what you get
de-belly - the stomach
dead house - mortuary
dearheart - sweetheart
dem - them
dingolay - dance
disgusting - person having their own way
do-fa-do - A saying ("What goes around, comes around" / tit-for-tat)
dooflicky - a celebration
dottish - forgetful / stupid / foolish
down de bottom - over on the other end (used to give directions
down de line - straight down the road
drawing-up - pulling up to something
dress-up - wearing your best clothes
drop-down - to faint; pass out; or flop down onto something
dropsy - getting tired  / sleepy
dumpsy / duncey - to be stupid
duppy - a ghost or spirit
dust bin - waste bin
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E
ecky-becky - a poor Caucasian
effin - a variant of "if"
enuff - to have had enough of something
evah - every
evahsince - a long time ago (from five minutes to five years ago)
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F
fa / fah / fuh - for
fall away - lose weight rapidly
fall out - stop being friends
faddah - father
fah real - to agree with something said
friten - Afraid of everything, easily scared
face-basin - sink
fete - a party
fingasmit - a thief
finny - handicapped; physically challenged
flim - film / a movie
fling dah chune - play that song
flounce-up - usually means to stamp one's foot in a display; showing a readiness to fight.
follow-pattern / follow-fashion - a copycat
fortyleg - centipedede
fowl-cock - a chicken
fret - to bother
frig-em-up - to mess up someone
front-house - the living room.
frowsy - to be smelly or musty
fuh - "for" as in for life!
fuh-lie?- "you are telling a lie
fuh-true? - "for truth?"; for real; absolutely no exaggeration.
funny-up - weird looking
fuzz-out- to be exhausted from strenuous activity
fussy - very particular
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G
gap - a street or road
gate-door - the entrance to the house
gettin-on - misbehaving, treat bad.
gear - used to describe expensive name brand clothing
gift hamper - collection of goodies
gipsy - overly inquisitive
gimme - to give something
gine - to be going / going to..
gittima - an item given to someone
go-across - go over by / go over to... (ex. "I gine go across by JBs)
godhorse - a stick insect
go-so / guh so - move that way...
go-round - "move over".
gorillafunt - big and ugly
government juice - water
goathead - an idiot
golliwog:- an insulting term
great-kind-kubba - a bigshot
groun - a garden
gully-boar - one who has no class
gutaperk - a sling shot.
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H
hag - to bother
hagga-maid - over worked in cleaning
haffi - have to
ham - a homosexual male
hard-ears - you don't listen
hard-head / hard'n - you don't learn anything
hard mout cow - old (stupid) woman
hard mout goat - old (stupid) man
has-in - contains
hay - here
hell'em - to over work something
highfalutant - person who thinks they are better than you
hobby class - to be free of cost
hold-down - stoop down low
hold 'em joe - stay in control; wait a minute
horn / horning - cheat on a lover
horsestylish - arrogant, unmannerly behavior
humbug - to bother or annoy
humfree - to be free of cost
hurting up my head - forced to think about something confusing far too much.
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I
in-true / in-troot - "in truth?" for real; no exaggeration
in-a-short-short - just a moment, in a little while.
in-two-twos - it happend really-- fast.
irie - all right, everything is cool (from Jamaica)
igrant - ignorant
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J
Jah - God
jackspaniard - a wild bee
jar - to stare at, notice, realise, vise (see 'vise') or to ponder while looking,
Jauntin - to be going fast ; to be in a hurry
jenkins - mental hospital
jill - one pint of something
jilt - to treat (esp. a woman) unfavorably
jipsy - to be inquisitive
joe'heath mare - ran / running very fast
johnny - an idiot
Ju-C - ("Juicey") a soft-drink historically made in Barbados
juck - to poke, stab or push
jump-up - to dance (Usually stated "Take a Jump-up")
just-now - a few moments ago
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K
katspraddle - to fall hard/make fall hard
kafuffle - to confuse; commotion
kawblema! - oh my goodness! / God blind me if it ent true
keep quiet - be silent, stop moving around and sit still, or stop whatever you're doing because it's annoying.
kernel - an enlarged gland in the groin [also waxing kernal]
kimboes - hips
koshflicket - damn!
kunou-monou  - a so-called bewitching powder dropped into soups or stews.
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L
leff - leave / the direction known as left.
landship - a friendly society who frequently holds parades, with its members dressed in naval uniform
lemme - let me
leff he - to leave someone alone / do not trouble him
less-noise - be silent.
let loan - to leave alone
liard - a liar
lick - hit
lick-down / lick-dung - hit by a car...
lick-mout - "Talk too much"
lickrish - to be greedy for food
lime / liming - to hang-out, chill, or relax somewhere with others.
like peas-  lots of something / being together [like peas in a pod]
lil bit - for a little while
lillit tongue - the clitoris
line - a clothes line
lining cold - a cold caught by a mother just after child birth
long-side - next to
lose out - some scheme did not work out as planed
load - denotes a great deal of something
lookuh - look
lower-down that - to turn down, usually the volume or the fire on the stove.
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M
mamaguy -  to fool someone
merr / murr - mother
mashup - to break, deconstruct or destroy.
malicious - mischievous
main guard - central police station
make out - to fare (eg how do you make out in the test)
marl hole - a quarry
maulsprigging - a severe lashing
mek sport- to joke/kid around / (you) mekin' sport
melts - a delicacy, the roe or spawn of the male fish
mek - make
meeting turn - a historical form of "banking" that Barbadians did. It works like an office lottery that rotates to a different person every week. [also known as su-su]
mile tree - a casuarina tree
mobba-ton - a really excessive amount
mock stick - a figure of ridicule
moses - a small row boat / dinghy
muh - me
malicious - to be inquisitive/nosy
mofuhme - Need more for myself
monkey -  a clay jug, used to keep water cool, before refrigerators
moss - sea weed
mout - mouth
mugen - foolish person
muster - to save (usually money)
mussie/mussy - maybe, perhaps or probably
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N
nain - nothing
Nelson Street - a popular place to pick-up prostitutes
Nepsha and Kiah - Tom, Dick and Harry
never-see, come-see - over-exaggeration
new brand - never been used (eg This shirt new brand, boy!)
nimbles - fowl lice
nincanpoop - foolish person
ning-ning - tired/sleepy eyes.
nint - to anoint
nosey - always want to know others business
nucka - little penis
nuff / nough - a lot of...
nuk nuk/nu nu - the vagina
nuse - to use
nyam - to eat
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O
obeah - Witchcraft/Black Magic/sorcery of West African origin similar to 'voodoo'
obzocky - to be weird looking or misshapen; unshapely woman
offa - off of
officious -  too rude
odd cents - loose coins (money)
oh lordie - my goodness, gracious me
Ol' haag - an old woman.
onliest -  the only one
onneat - to be underneath
onstan - to understand
opiten - to open
opnumin - to open
opunit - to open
own way - stubborn
out-it-out - turn off the light.
ovadayso / outdayso - over there
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P
pailing - the zinc-metal galvanize used for walls of the yard, or roof of the house.
palisade - an wooden fence in front of a house
pan - steel pan
pancart - wheelbarrow
parro - a crack-head, someone so addicted to drugs
pasture - any patch of grass bigger than 3sq.ft.
pass-over - an apoplectic stroke
pelttin-waist - to dance
pelt -  throw
peck - pick-axe
peggers - baby teeth
pickney - a child
picture - TV show / programme
piece a' iron - rhythmic metal beating. (usually using the metal part of a car's break disc.)
pivvy -  used to denote the tiniest degree of measurement
plaster for every sore - excuse for every situation
playing de' fool - acting annoying
play-play -  make believe
pocket-pistol -  (roast-corn [bajan]); roasted corn on the cob
pompasetting - showing off new clothes
pon - on top / place 'upon
pon'-top-of - more, after the first set
pop - any kind of soda tonic
poppit - an idiot
poor-great - To act as if you are rich and a snob when in fact you are poor snob
pot-starver - a skinny dog (with ribs showing)
propping-sorrow -  sitting, stirring into space, with chin cupped in hand
press -  to iron clothes; usually a large shelved cupboard or wardrobe
puhp - faeces / to stool
pumps - sneakers
pull-up! / pull-up-dat! - That song is nice! Play it from the beginning again.
plug-it-out - to unplug from a socket
punch that one - play that song, or turn up that song more.
poop - to fart
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Q
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R
raise up - to increase the volume on the radio or TV
race -  commonly used to mean chase
ram / ramoff - to be full or crowded
rangate- [Vulgar]   "raaaaan--gate") e.g. "Wa de Raaangate!"
rasshole - (noun) idiot; (verb) to do foolishness. [Vulgar]  "raaaahhhs-sole!"
rather - prefer - 'I rather dis one'
reckon -  to count change (coin money)
redman - a brown or light-skinned negro
red-leg - a poor white (white person)
red-skin ting - description or to get the attention of a good looking female.
regulars -  small, harmless black ants
reverend -   a pastor; a preacher
reverse back - to drive backwards
roach -  cockroach
roundabout - a traffic rotary
rock-stone -  a stone of any size
rockinengine - steam roller
rubbatail -  a homosexual male
rucka-tuk - awful noise, sound, or commotion
rumshop - a small shop where rum and some other alcoholic drinks are sold.
rummie -  a rum drinker; drunkard
rumfle-up / ramful-up  - to wrinkled ; to mess-up a hairdo (girls)
run de route - let us go
runt - a small pig
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S
safe - cool, ok, good
schuupse / scrhuspe / stupse - to suck ones teeth in exclamation
scotch-it - wedge/place something in a tight area
scotch-round - move, give me space
sea-bath - swim in the sea
sea cat - squid
sea eggs - sea urchins
skank - a low classed female
skinning your teeth - grinning, smiling or laughing.
sky-larke - to play the fool
shun - to avoid
sive - a food strainer
spraddle - sprawl; straddle
soft - to be shy or afraid
solid - well stocked bar
soft stone - limestone blocks, quarried locally
sno-cone - made of finely crushed ice, and flavoured with brightly coloured syrup
stan' pipe - a public water-faucet that used to be in every community of Barbados.
stop - "stay" or "is located" (ex. "It's down by where da' house stop.")
stop-cock - faucet
steupse/stupse - a sound made with the mouth expressing more than words.
stew-dumplings -  another word for conkies
stick - at parties, you always refer to the cake getting stick! not cut.
stick-licking -  the art of fencing with sticks
swank -  a drink made of only sugar and water
sweety - candy
sweet-drinks - any kind of soda
sweet-fuh-days - something that is really nice
swipe - pilfer; steal
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T
take-in -  to have suddenly fallen ill
tea -  referred to any warm beverage
thingumajig / thingummy-bob - gadget
tip -  a small portion
too-nuff - very much
too sweet - real nice.
tot -  very small drinking vessel made of tin
topsy - a chamber pot
to-besides - I agree and in addition to that...
trouble - To interfere, bother, harass, pickup, take, disturb
trimps - shrimp
trust -  to give a person credit for goods supplied
tacklings - your belongings
turning bewitch - becoming crazy
turning foolish - becoming forgetful
turn-over - a sweet roll filled with coconut
tings - things
trildren - obscure word for children
two by four - facetious term for a smallish house
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U
uh??? - pardon?
uh - also means 'a'. eg."five fuh uh dollar."
umpteenth - denoting many times
upstairs-downstairs - a two story house
upsided-down - this is preferred to upside-down
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V
veranda - a special porch for showing off.
vex - angry
vise - to understand
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W
walking-bout - running errands, going about ones' business.
wall-house - a house predominantly made of cement
way - where
warri - a game brought from Africa in the days of slavery.
wares - kitchen utensils, cutlery and crockery
wee-wee - very small; tiny; to urinate
whax-palax - a hard hit denoting the noise of the lash.
whax-palax-bruggadown-brax - a hard hit and fall
when you hear the shout - you've just got to hear what happens next.
wha gine on -  what's going on with you; what's new!
w'happening - what's happening!
wizzy-wizzy - whispering
who-so, don't like-so - A hypocrite never likes when another person does the same thing
wine - a dance done by gyrating one's waistline around
wood-slave - white lizard. Also known as 'poison' lizard
wood-ant - termite
writing-hand - this inversion is preferred to hand-writing
wuck / wok - work
wulloss -  used to express disappointment
wufless - worthless, terrible, no good

wuh-law / wuh-loss - an exclanation
wuk-up - a dance done by gyrating one's waistline, with heavy emphasis on the forward and backward motions
wunna - you all
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X
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Y
yuh - you
ya - you
yard-boy - a boy employed to do odd jobs around the house
yonder - over there
Yuh-right! - "How observant!"
Yuh-shooting - your high-water pants are too short.
yute - a youth/ child/ offspring
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Z
ZR - "Zed-R" - a private-owned route taxi

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Dictionary of Bajan Dialect Phrases

Barbados Dialect: I gine and mek lunch

Meaning: I am going to make lunch.

Barbados Dialect: Shut yuh mout

Meaning: Shut your mouth

Barbados Dialect: He en hay pompasettin

Meaning: He is showing off

Barbados Dialect: Wuh is dah?
Meaning: What is that?

Barbados Dialect: Wuh you talking bout?

Meaning: What are you talking about?

Barbados Dialect: De higher de monkey climb de more he does show he tail.

Meaning: The more someone show off,the more you will see their faults.

Barbados Dialect: Stan dey so

Meaning: Stay there

Barbados Dialect: To Flam

Meaning: To flirt or the object of such flirtations

Barbados Dialect: Wuh wrong wid you?

Meaning: What is wrong with you?

Barbados Dialect: De tongue dat buy you does sell you.
Meaning: The same person that flatters you, may betray you later.

Barbados Dialect: Catluck en ’ dogluck.

Meaning: What one person get away with,another person may not be so lucky.

Barbados Dialect: You cahn behave doh?
Meaning: Why don't you behave?

Barbados Dialect: Whey you gine?
Meaning:
Where are you going?

Barbados Dialect:  Yuh can' be poor and show poor.
Meaning: Poverty is no excuse for shabbiness.

Barbados Dialect: Bajans like wukkin' up bad
Meaning: Gyrating energetically while dancing

Barbados Dialect: Every dog got’eday.

Meaning: What goes around comes around.

Barbados Dialect: The sea en' got nuh back door.

Meaning: The sea can be an unsafe place.

Barbados Dialect: Yuh money
Meaning: Your money.

Barbados Dialect: De more yuh look de less yuhsee.

Meaning: If you are spying on someone there are going to find ways to trick you.

Barbados Dialect: Cuh-Dear

Meaning: Poor fellow, show of empathy in someone.

Barbados Dialect: Water does run, but blood does clod.

Meaning: Blood is thicker than water.

Barbados Dialect: Wha mout seh, han' can' do.

Meaning: It's not always easy to back one's boast with actions.

Barbados Dialect: Yuh does gih’ yuhmout too much liberty.

Meaning: You talk about things that do not concern you.

Barbados Dialect: Cumma tuh muh nuh?

Meaning: Come here to me.

Barbados Dialect: Trouble don’t setup like rain.

Meaning: Misfortune often happens with out any warning signs.

Barbados Dialect: Studiation beat eddication.
Meaning: Common sense is better than formal education.

Barbados Dialect: Hole dat fuh muh
Meaning: Hold that for me

Barbados Dialect: Common

Meaning: A s in commoner

Barbados Dialect: De sea en’ got nuhback door.
Meaning: Once you go into the sea there are no guarantees you will getback outsafely.

Barbados Dialect: Only dogs does return to heown vomit.
Meaning: Once you get out of a bad situation, you should not return thesamesituation.

Barbados Dialect: Wuh yuh eye en sih, yuhstomach will tek.

Meaning: What you don’t know don’t bother you.

Barbados Dialect: I gih she dah bag
Meaning: I gave her that bag

Barbados Dialect: Girl, yuh like liquor bile over.

Meaning: Means a girl is so beautiful she looks like sugar-cane liquor which has boiled over the rim of the container.

Barbados Dialect: De longer yuh live, de moreyuh does hear.

Meaning: No matter your age you can still be surprise by what you hear.

Barbados Dialect: Wuh part you gine?

Meaning: Where are you going?

Barbados Dialect: Everyfool got e ’sense.

Meaning: Every one has knowledge about something.

Barbados Dialect: She car mash up

Meaning: Her car is not working

Barbados Dialect: There is more than one dogname Bob.

Meaning: Your name maybe called butwhat is said could apply to someone else.

Barbados Dialect: Duncey/dumpsey
Meaning: Means stupid or unintelligent

Barbados Dialect: Duh is more in de mortar dan de pestle.

Meaning: There is more to the issue than appears on the surface.

Barbados Dialect: Don’t let the devil get in me now.

Meaning: Don’t make me angry with you.

Barbados Dialect: Whu she say?

Meaning:
What did she say?

 

While this may all seem like a bit of a learning experience while in Barbados, do bare in mind that once Bajans are asked to slow down in their speech, there is always a great possibility that you will understand what is being said.

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 01 February 2012 14:22

1 comment

  • Comment Link bethanny Saturday, 30 March 2013 00:01 posted by bethanny

    I's a bajan an duh got sum things in hay i dint know till now

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