Jamaican Dictionary

Jamaican Patois or Patwah was introduced in the 17th century and is an English-based creole language with West African influences. Sometimes referred to as ‘broken-english’ it is a very expressive and colourful language. Although Jamaican official language is English, most of the locals speak Patois in their casual, everyday conversations. So, if you plan visiting Jamaica, knowing the basics of their own local language will always help you!  

 

 

A

Ackee: Jamaica’s national fruit 
A fi: It’s for
A hav: Aaving
A tek: Taking
A mek: Making
A nuh nutten: It's nothing
Ah gud: Serves you right
A suh wi stay: That's how we are
A suh wi dweet: This is how we do it
A suh: That's how
A watta guwaan yasso?: What's going on here?
A wah dis?: What is this?
Ah suh it guh: That’s the way it goes
Awah: What
Ah yuh dat: Is that you?
 
B

Bwoy: Boy
Badda: To not worry or be upset
Baby love: Darling
Back a Yard: Back at home

Badmind: Someone that is jealous
Bammy: Flat round bread made of grated cassava dipped in coconut milk and fried.
Bashment: Party
Big up yourself: To congratulate oneself
Blouse and skirts: When one is surprised
Bless up: I will be back soon, have a nice day
Bredren: Anyone who is a friend
Bredda: Brother

C

Cease and Sekkle: Stop and relax
Cho: An exclamation of annoyance
Chargie: Homie
Chatty-Chatty: Talkative
Coo yah: Look here
Cyah: Can’t
Cum yah: Come here
Choops: Kiss on the cheek

 

D

Da one deh: That one
Dancehall: A genre of Jamaican popular music from the 1970s
Deh bout: Nearby
Dehyah: Here
Deh pon: On
Doctor Bird: Jamaican Hummingbird
Duppy: Ghost
Dutty: Dirty
Dubplate: Unreleased tracks that DJ’s have
Dash weh: Throw away
Di ting lock: Under control

E

Easy nuh: Chill out
Eediat: Idiot
Empress: Girlfriend
Enuh: You know
Escovitch fish: Fried Fish marinated in vinegar, spices, onions, carrots, and peppers
Everything is Everything: All is well
Every mikkle mek a mukkle: Every little you do adds up to something big. 
Empty bag cyaah tan up: A hungry person cannot work efficiently 
Earthstrong: Birthday

F

Faada: Dad
Fallah: Follow
Fava: Favor
Farin: Foreign
Feel no way: Don’t worry!
Fish tea: Fish Soup
Fiyah bun: Fire burn
Frass: High
From wah day: For so long
Fren dem: Friends

G

Gwaan: Go on
Ganja planta: Ganja farmer
Genna: General
Ghetto bwoy: Ghetto boy
Gimme: Give me
Goodas: Nice Body (Girl)
Gyal: Girl
Give thanks: Thank you
Gyalis: Play boy
Gully: Ghetto

H

Haffi: Gotta
Hail up: Hello
Herb: Marijuana
Hard dough bread: Jamaican bread, also known as hardo bread
Head gone: Someone suffering with a mental illness or someone making ‘crazy’ decisions 
Hear seh: Rumors, something said that appear not to be true
High grade: High quality marijuana
Hush yuh mouth: Be quiet!

I

I and I: We
Irie: Everything is alright
Irish Moss: Sea Moss, algae, rich in minerals, iron, magnesium or omega 3 
Ital: VItal, vegetarian diet meant to boost health and energy
Inna di morrows: See you tomorrow!

J

Jamrock: Jamaica 
Jah: God
Jerk: A style of cooking native to Jamaica, in which meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice
Jah know: God knows
Jammin: Having fun, dancing/singing 
Jamdown: Referring to ‘Jamaica’
Jelly: Soft flesh of a young coconut
Just cool boss: relax/calm down

 

K 

Kaa: Because
Kaka rass: What
Ketch: Caught
Kibba yuh mouth: Shut your mouth!
Kin ova: Knock over
Konshens: Conscience
Kool: Cool
Kotch: Jamaican dance performed by women
Ku paan yuh tu: Look at you 

L

Lawd: Expressing disgust as in ‘ew’
Link up: Meeting someone
Leggo: Let it go!
Lickkle: Little
Loud up di thing: Gossiping
Lowe mi: Leave me alone
Loodi: A board game 

M

Mi: I, me
Mawnin: Morning 
Mad mi: Someone is upsetting you 
Mi a gwaan easy: Everything is under control. 
Mek wi dweet: Let us do it
Mi seh: I say
Mi yout: My youth
Mi yard: My home
Mussa: Must or must be
More Life: To wish someone well/better life
N

Natty: Rastafarian
Nek bak: Back of your neck
Nyam: Eat
Nuh fi: Should not
Nine Night: Wake/funeral tradition
Nuff Respect: Utmost respect
Nah jesta: Not joking 
Nah tell yuh: I am not telling you
Nyabingi: Gathering of Rastafarian people to celebrate Rastafari
No sah: No sir
Nuh: Hasn’t

O

Obeah: Spell, Black Magic
Ova deh suh: Over there
Ova Dweet: To over do it
Overstand: Understand

P

Pickney: Kid
Passa Passa: Mix up
Patty: A Jamaican Patty is a pastry that contains various fillings and spices baked inside a flaky shell. 
Pon di ting: On the thing
Poppy show: Describing someone doing something ridiculous.

Q

Quashie: Low class
Quest: Marijuana
Qwenga: Gangster

R 

Raggamuffin: Street tough
Rasta: Refers to the 'Rastafarian' movement
Ramp: To joke around
Rhaatid: Expression of surprise
Roun deh suh: Around there
Rude bwoy: Bad boy

S

Sekkle: Settle
Sinkle Bible: Aloe Vera
Si mi yah: See me here

T

Tan: Stay
Tek Weh: Take away
Too nuff: Nosy

U

Uno: You all
Unuh: You all
Unda deh suh: Under there

V

Vampaya: Vampire
Vencha: Venture
Vex: Upset
Vibez: Mood/vibe

W

Wacha: Look here
Wadada: Love
Wah: What
Wah do dem: What is wrong with them?
Wah mi seh: What I said/say
Waah: Wanted
Wah yuh name: What’s your name?
Weh yuh up to: What are you up to?
Weh yup ah seh: How are you doing?
Weh we a go do: What are we going to do?

X

X amount: Many

Y

Yaad: Home
Yaah: Here
Yardie: Jamaican
Yow cum yah: Hey, come here!
Yuh dun know: You already know it
Yuh good: You good?
Yuh mek mi happy: You make me happy
Yuh nuh ready: You re not ready

Z

Zion: Refers to the utopian place of unity, peace and freedom
Zum: Whip
Zutupong: Poo