To keep current with Jamaican slang, you need a teenager. So that's what I did for this page. I asked about ten teenagers to brainstorm (no, I didn't actually say "brainstorm") with their classmates to come up with the latest expressions.
So they gave me with a list, half of which I had to ask them to translate, or use in a sentence so I could understand
their meanings! I used to think I was cool.
What especially fascinated me, was that some of the words on the list had gone out of style long ago, and were now reappearing, fresh and revived. Who knew words were like fashion?
Anyhow, here is a taste of Jamaican Slang, as compiled and explained by a very willing group of girls at Hampton School, St. Elizabeth, with additions by contacts in Kingston and all over.
A dat wid you That's how you are - used to comment on someone's (bad) habits
A mi fi tell yu! That's right - used to show agreement with something you've been told
A who you man? What are you up to? (literally means "who are you really?")
A yasso nice! Expression used when one is having a good time (originates from an extremely X-rated song of the same name)
Bad chargie Young guy on the streets Bait up Set someone up for a downfall/ Cause disappointment or embarrassment (Yu a bait up di ting)
Beat dem bad Surpass, be better than anyone or anything else
Ben Upset, angry
Big man ting Grown up business/Honestly
Big tings Good things/Monetary success
Bill Chill, take it easy
Boom Listen up
Breathe easy Relax, calm down
Bush Look awful
Crawb up Looking good, something good
Crawful Outrageously good
Crawny Look awful
Creng Muscular, buff
Daadie A term of address, used usually by males talking to each other (see "Paadie" below)
Dat a shot/dat shot That's fantastic (used to describe something fabulous)
Deh pon a endz Gone out (usually somewhere nice)
Do road Go on an outing
Do yu ting Go ahead (do your thing)
Dun (see "shell dun")
Fish Male homosexual
Flassing Spending big - buying drinks by the flask etc
Fluffy Fat, plump
Fulljoy/Funjoy Enjoy, enjoyment
Gaza Originally used to describe the Portmore community (hometown of DJ Vybz Kartel), or also used to describe Kartel's crew. Now used as an expression of resilience and defiance, referring to individuals or groups who stand their ground, even if it requires using violence.
Gone Drunk, pregnant
Goodaz Hot, sexy woman or girl
Gyalis A guy who loves women/has many women
Happen Fabulous (e.g. Yu hairstyle a happen!)
Hataz Hot, sexy woman or girl
Hol' a medz/medi Meditate, relax
Ig Vexed, upset (Don't get mi ig)
Inna di morrows See you tomorrow Kwenga Star boy, someone full of style
Level Calm down, relax
Live a luu Spoil the plan
Loud up di ting Expose someone's business
Memba mi tell yu Listen up, take note Mi a forward I'm coming Militantly Taking action and not backing down More life more strength A phrase used to wish someone well
Naah mean? Do you know what I mean?
Paadie A term of address, used usually by males talking to each other (see "Daadie" above)
Pree Think about, examine, consider carefully
Run road To be in charge (A we run road) Russian A real bad guy
Scabby Someone who does not take care of himself, does not have good hygiene Screbe/screbs An uncultured person
Seh one Great, wonderful, fantastic
Sell off Expression of approval (Di party sell off)
Shell dun/shell dung Do something fantastic, take by storm. (Di DJ shell dun di place.) Derived from gun jargon - to shell down is literally to shoot down.
Shelly Adjective derived from Shell dung (see above), meaning awesome. (Di concert did shelly)
Sick Awesome (Da tune deh sick!)
Slap weh Awesome (Di dance a go slap weh!)
Sort out Fix up, usually related to sex life (but anything can need sorting out - hair, clothes, complexion, finances)
Squeako A streetwise person, someone to be careful of, as he is tricky Stinga A guy that the girls love Stulla Lover (male), sexually competent male, hot guy
Swaggerific Extremely cool and stylish, full of swagger
Tek Fabulous (It tek!)
To di worl Expression of approval
Tun up/Tun ova Wonderful, great
Yu done know You understand
Yu swag tun up You're looking great
Zeen? You understand me?(whereas "Oh, zeen" means "oh, yes")
To keep this list true to the idea of "Jamaican Slang", I'll update it every few months, dropping off words no longer in use, and adding new ones. Those words that look like they'll be lasting, I'll shift to my page on established Jamaican phrases and words.
An interesting thing I've noticed is that some Jamaican slang words take hold of the whole country, all at once, especially if they are used in songs.
Click here if you're interested in Jamaican proverbs.
Jamaican slang is only one aspect of our culture. There are many other interesting features that combine to make Jamaica unique:
Jamaican Lifestyle (captured in sound - one of my favourite pages)
Christmas, Easter, Independence in Jamaica
Jamaican Customs and Beliefs
Birth and Death Practices
Rastas and Rastafarianism
Jamaican Folk Tales - Duppy, Rolling Calf and more