speech & slang vocabulary of trinidad and Tobago
ahse: ass, arse
ah-yah-yai: an expression of anticipation or pain, etc.
A lime; to lime; liming: To hang around with friends and acquaintances, indulging in “ol’ talk” and giving “fatigue”, enjoying drinks and delicacies perhaps, for an indefinite period of time at a given location.
allyuh: all of you people
A fete: to fete; feting: Not to be confused with an informal “lime”, a fete is a full-blown party with copious amounts of food and drink. The more crowded the fete, the better. Music and dancing are essential elements.
ax: ask, to ask a question
bacchanal: rowdy, scandalous behaviour; good party, minding another's business and adding to, thereby causing confusion
back back: suggestive dance, the male dancers front rubbing against the females rear and vice versa
bad eye: a look of anger or reproach, especially when looking from the corner of the eye
badjohn: a bully, a dangerous man, a gangster, someone with a reputation for hurting people
Bago (bay-go): Tobago
bam-se lambay: attractive female buttocks
bam bam: backside, behind, arse, bottom, buttock
basa basa: argumentative, confrontational
bawlin: screaming or crying hysterically (use in a sentence - "de chile was bawlin dong de place"
bigan: aubegine, melongene, eggplant, solanum melongena
bobolee: a person who is habitually taken advantage of
bol-face: bold face, pushy, loud and wrong, unreasonable, demanding
bongo: a funeral song and dance of African origin, often accompanied with hand-clapping and the percussion instrument the qua-qua
boo-boo -lups: fat, clumsy ungainly person
boof: to insult, castigate, yell at or argue with
boom-boom: backside, behind, arse, bottom, buttock
boomsie: backside, behind, arse, bottom, buttock
bottomside: the windward - the south-western side of Tobago
brought -up-sy: showing that a person was correctly brought up and has decorum
bubbo: a pestering young man who dosn't take no for an answer from the ladies
buh wait nah: but wait a minute, now hold on
buljol: a dish of shredded saltfish with onions and tomatoes, avocado, pepper and olive oil
burrokeet: human donkey
buse: to talk agressively to; to abuse verbally
buss-up-shut: flaky bread served with curries; derives from 'burst-up-shirt' - refers to the torn-cloth appearance of the bread
callaloo: soup or stew of African origin made from dasheen leaves with okra, boiled with pumpkin, coconut, salt meat or crab
calypso: a musical and lyrical comment on any subject, profusely composed for, but not limited to the Carnival season
calypsonian: a singer of calypsos like Shadow Winston Bailey who was raised in the village of Les Coteaux
Canboulay: is a part of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival celebration. It arose as an alternative for slaves, who were banned from participating in Trinidad's Carnival. Canboulay has played an important role in the development of the music of Trinidad and Tobago, for it was the banning of percussion instruments in the 1880s that led to the development of steelpan music; Canboulay celebrations were also at the origin of calypso music.
Canboulay Riots: The Canboulay Riots were riots by the descendants of freed slaves in the cities of Trinidad and Tobago against attempts by the British police to crack down on aspects of the celebration of Carnival. The riots occurred in February 1881 in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and in the southern cities of San Fernando and Princes Town in February 1884 causing the loss of life. The riots are still commemorated today and canboulay music is an important part of the music of Trinidad and Tobago notably the use of steel pans which were the descendants of percussion instruments banned in the 1880s. The "chantwell" or chantuelle who was also an integral part of the celebrations was the forerunner of the calypsonian and later soca music.
carnival: was incorporated into the Catholic faith as a final binge before the fasting period of Lent. carne vale - farewell to flesh
channa: Indian word for chick-peas or split peas
cheups: a derogatory sound noise made by sucking your teeth, also indicates a negative or no response, probably origin is the Congo where it is still part of speech
chupid: stupid, foolish
commesse: confusion, controversy associated with argument, gossip and slander
Congo Betsy Congo Brown Congo Ellis: supernatural being from African witchcraft and myth
coocoo: a cornmeal pudding with okra and vegetables; a slave dish which was cooked in a simple pot over coals
coo-nu-moonoo: idiot, foolish, stupid person
compere: male companion or friend
coskel: weird, strange
crapo, crapaud: frog
cunumunu: a stupid, foolish person
cut-eye: a look of anger or reproach, especially when looking from the corner of the eye
cyaa, cyah: can't, can not.
dasheen: leaves that are finely chopped with a special wooden 'dollie' which has ochroes added, boiled with pumpkin, coconut, salt meat or crab to make callaloo soup or stew that is of African origin made from
dingolay: to dance with joyful abandon, to flaunt, to tease playfully
doh, dough: don’t, do not
doo doo, doux doux: sweetheart often used with darling, as in dodo dahling - the French doux means 'sweet'
doogla, dougla: a person of mixed race, usually African and East India
dotish, doughtish: stupid, foolish and dumb - probably from the English doltish
doubles: curried channa served between two pieces of fried bread
douens (dwenz): unsure of its translation but it refers to children who have died without being christened. This reflects the strong influence of Christianity especially Catholicism.. Their feet are turned backwards and they wear straw 'chinese-like' hats (they resemble an upside down splayed dome). They wear these hats to hide their featureless faces. They eat baby corn and lure children deep into the forest with sweet songs and games and then disappear as soon as the children are lost. They are supposed to be lost souls who are lonely and need to play with someone.
dress rong: move over, shift, I need a seat
drevait, dree vay: wayward person, to knock about
eh eh: an exclamation of surprise or indignation, often said with much emphasis for effect - Eh - What did you say? Eh eh - No, no way, oh no. Eh heh - Oh really? I understand. Yes
enless: plenty, endless.
ent: isn't it, is that not so, thats true
fairy maids: supernatural beings from African witchcraft and myth. They have one human leg and one cloven hoof. Sometimes they fall in love - particularly with smooth-skinned men, of whom they steal the shadow.
fall out: to stop speaking with someone or to terminate a friendship
fete, fet: a party, loud music, lots to eat and drink, dancing to wee hours of the morning
founkie, foong-key: foul smelling, stink odour
free up: relax, let go
fresh-water yankee: a person who spends a short time in the USA and returns with a heavy American accent; originally, one who acquired a 'yankee' accent by simply visiting a US military base or the US Embassy
Gang Gang Sara: an African witch involved in legend where the mermaids came to play
go-bar: nonsense, foolishness
goinorf: someone who appears to be going out of their mind, acting strangely
gun talk: fighting words, to threaten verbally
hair: here or hear
hops: crisp bread roll, often filled with ham
horn: to cheat on a spouse or lover
horner man: a guy who makes love to someones wife
hototo, hotoetoe: a very large amount, plenty
huggish: rude, crude, mean; the behavior of a thug or gangster
humbug: to pester, bother, molest
in ting: to be involved in current activity.
is so?: is that so?
jabjab: a carnival clown-like devil character
jadoo: 'magic' used by a woman to charm a man
jamet: a 'sweetman' or kept lover
jamette: a prostitute
jook: to stab or punch at anything, a sudden forward hip motion
jouvert j'ouvert: British authorities decreed in 1843 that the festivities could not begin until Monday morning. Since no time was specified, the carnivalgoers began to celebrate on the stroke of midnight - the origin of the wild procession known as j'ouvert that begins Carnival today and culminates with the sound of steel bands, the participants covering themselves with mud and then proceeding to splatter all the bystanders with it - all in good fun.
jumbie: (v) to harass, to annoy ,to irritate
jumbie: (n) traditional characters or demons that can either be mild or very malignant
jus now: in a little while
kalenda: stickfighting which is thought to have originated in the use of bamboo sticks to fight fires in the cane fields
Klim: a generic word for any brand of powdered milk
koskel: weird, strange
La Diablesse - la-ja-bles - 'Female Devil,' or 'She-Devil': She is a very pretty woman who wears pretty dresses with full petticoats. Late at night she lures men to her with her beauty. These men are usually coming home from the bars and are drunk. However, what the men don't know is that she has one good foot that she normally shows and one cloven calve's hoof that she hides. She lures men to cliffs where they can fall to their death.
langniappe, lang yap: a little extra, a bonus
las lap: last lap, last minute street partying on Carnival Tuesday just before the official end of Carnival at midnight
lef dat: leave that
leh we: let go
leh go: foul smelling, stink odour
lick dong yo: hit someone or something, to topple over
licks: a beating, a physical punishment
like ting: to be somewhat mischievous
limbo: a funeral song and dance of African origin is performed each night of the week following a funeral, accompanied by hand clapping or stamping of bamboo sticks (tamboo-bamboo).
lime / liming: (v) hanging out, having fun, as 'Let's go down to the corner and lime.'
liming: (n) a wildcard word for any social event like cinema lime, pub lime, party lime
locho: a loafer, a lazy person, a parasite
long eye: envious of the possessions of others
look nuh: an expression of annoyance.
lowside: the windward - the south-western side of Tobago
maco: someone who minds other people's business to gossip
macommère: a female companion or friend
macocious, makocious: one who is prying, nosy
ma dogoma: one of the supernatural figures who aid mortals in getting into or out of this world
magga: very thin, skinny
makaforshet: left-overs; from the French 'ma ca fourchette' - 'food stuck between the fork'
make style: show off, tantalise
maljo, maljoe: bad eye, or evil eye
malkadee: blight, unhealthy, ill
mamaguy (mamaguille): trying to fool someone, or being fooled by someone, to falsely praise, eg. Your friend is wearing an ugly dress, but you tell her that it's beautiful
Mama d' Leau: -<em> duh-low</em> - 'Mother of the Waters'. She is Papa Bois' wife. She protects all things that live in the seas, rivers, lakes and oceans. If her environment becomes threatened she has the ability to taint all water sources that are essential to life.
mamapoule: hen-pecked husband; a derogatory term for a husband who seems to be controlled by his wife, a weakling, easily taken advantage of
mama yo: expression denoting shock and surprise
mas: masquerade, carnival
matter fix: everything is well organized, everything is OK
mauby, maubi: bark of the carob tree colubrina reclinata used to make a drink of the same name
mbiras: varing lengths of metal strips suspended over a gourd that acts as a sound board. Also known as a kalimba or marimba. Known throughout sub-Saharan Africa
melongene: eggplant or aubegine, solanum melongena
merasmie: un-healthy, sickly looking
moko jumbies: stilt dancers, an African tradition carried over into carnival - their costumes represent jumbies, or beings from the dead
mouter: a boaster - to much mouth
mo vey lang: bad tongue, slanderous
much up: to pamper, to butter up
mud band: a j’ouvert mas band with revellers plastering their bodies in mud from head to toe
nah: no - negative
nastiness: an expression of disgust applied to a good-for-nothing person
neem: a culinary spice from a 'sacred' tree - used in some form on a daily basis - the twigs as a toothbrush, the oil for soap, and the leaves for medicine. Veppam, margosa. Azadirachta indica
ning ning: tired eyes
now fuh now: instantly, right now
no wherian: person of no fixed abode
obeah: traditional characters, practices and belief
ochro: okra or lady fingers
obzokee: awkward, out of place, misshapen
ogun: a god of a faith of African origin that takes significance from the elements and the force of nature
okra: lady fingers, vendakkai, benakaayilu
ol' talk: empty chatter, nonsense, eg. 'What you're saying is a bunch of ol' talk.'
old hag: traditional characters
one han cyaa clap: one hand can't clap - a bribe will grease the wheels, be good to me I’ll take care of you
one set ah: a lot of anything, plentiful
own way: stubborn person.
orisha: a faith of west African origin that takes significance from the elements and the force of nature
panyard: where steel bands reheass
Papa Bois: -<em> bwa</em> - translated from French-Patois 'Father of the Woods'. He is responsible for the lives of all of the animals in the forests and it is said that when hunters get too greedy, he takes revenge on them - either by damaging their guns so that they can no longer hunt or so they injure themselves, or by making the hunters get lost in the forests and other such stunts.
parang parran: people that sing at Christmas time about the birth of Christ in their parang songs. Parang is derived from the Venezuelan-Spanish word ‘paranda’ which means to go from house to house to fete. The colloquial term for ‘parran’ is the abbreviation
pastelles: seasoned mincemeat mixed with olives, capers and raisins in a cornmeal casing and wrapped in banana leaves; a culinary legacy of the Spanish settlement, traditionally served at Christmas
pelau: rice dish with peas and meat and flavoured with coconut and pepper - from India
peong: someone who seems to be addicted to or obsessed with something, eg. 'You're a TV peong,' - someone who watches too much television
pholouri: fritters made with split peas
pierott granade: local clown-like carnival character
pissenlet: a transvestite often seen at carnivals - literally 'wet-the-bed'
pissin tail: a person of no class or importance
planasse: to hit someone with the flat side of a cutlass
playin social: someone who pretends to be of a higher social strata than they are
pomme / cythere: the fruit golden apple
pommerac: a bright red fruit with velvety white interior; maybe from the patois for 'Maracas apple'
po po: very small child, a baby
powder puff: vagina
pressure / preshah: intense circumstances, rough times
prim prim: disgustingly proper and formal
qualey: withered, dried up
qua-qua: a percussion instrument which, with hand-clapping often accompanies 'bongo' music.
querk: an irritating person
raff: to grab suddenly, to take away something from someone
ragadang: broken down, derelict
ram cram: packed to capacity
roti: a thinly cooked dough which is filled with a curry mixture which can contain beef, chicken, goat, shrimp, any meat or potatoes - from India
rude: nasty, sexually explicit
saga boy: a male or female who is boastful of his physical attributes, flashy dresser, dandy
sampat: an unfair attack, ambush
scizzors: poom-poom - vagina.
screw pan: an angry or determined look on a person's face; usually makes them look humorously ugly
shadow beni: a herb known an cilantro used for its distinctive seasoning flavour, added to cooking meats giving a distinctive taste
shif yuh / carcass: move over, get going.
shub, shove: move or cast aside.
skin up / yuh nose: turn up ones nose
skinnin yuh teet: grinning
sky-lark: to idle, waste time
Soucoyant / sucuyant - <em>soo-koo-yah</em>: she is an old woman who lives by herself in an old rickety house. Late at night she peels off her skin, turning into a ball of fire that flies over the entire island. She stops intermittently and sucks the blood from sleeping individuals. She has to return to her home before sunrise or else she will die. She can also die, if, while out of her house, salt is sprinkled on her skin. When she returns to her skin she will shrivel up and die. It is believed that you can protect yourself by sprinkling salt around your bed before retiring for the night.
The way you can tell if you've been bitten by a soucouyant is if you awaken and you're bruised. This is how some account for waking up with black and blue marks - which could have ocurred the night before or even the day before and to account for why old people tend to stay home alot.
souse: pork boiled and served cold in a salty sauce with lime, cucumber, pepper, and onion slices
steups: a derogatory sound noise made by sucking your teeth, also indicates a negative or no response, probably origin is the Congo where it is still part of speech
suck eye: too easy for words to describe
sweetie: confectionary, an attractive female.
tabanca: the feeling of hurt when a romantic relationship ends
tantie tante: from the French for Aunt
tamboo: variable lengths of bamboo knocked down to make a drum-like soung.
tent: Kaiso tent - a venue - a calypso or soca concert featuring several singers, music bands and comedians
tick: thick - overweight
tight: intoxicated, drunk, stoned
titty-vay: to titivate, to waste time or stir up trouble. toh-ty: toti, toto - male genitalia, penis.
toolum: one of the earliest candies from the slave days, made with molasses and grated coconut
too-nee: poom-poom, scizzors - vagina.
too tool bay/ toutoulday/ toutoulbay: a state of confusion, in a daze, also head over heels in love, a gullible person, a fool
topside: the leeward side - the north-eastern side of Tobago
toti, toto: male genitalia, penis
tot tots: female breasts
<h2>U - V</h2>
umpteen: plenty of anything, often
vampin: farting - producing anoffensive smell.
vaps: suddenly behave excitedly or strangely
vex: vexed, angry
vikiey vi: evasive, unreliable, indecisive.
wajang: roudy, uncouth person
warap: a very weak mixture.
well yes: expression of disbelief.
wha happenin dey?: what’s happening?
wha'ppen?: what's the matter with you? - How are things?
when cock geh teet: it will never happen
whey yuh say?: what did you say?
wine winin: sexually suggestive dance using rthymic hip gyrations
wrong-side: the worst pieces of bad luck is for a fishermen is to go fishing with his clothes put on inside out.
<h2>Y - Z</h2>
yampee: mucus found in the corner of the eyes after sleep
yemanjah: a god of a faith of west African origin that takes significance from the elements and the force of nature
you an all: you too
you so: people like you
yuh faddah head: expression indicating disgust
yuh look fuh dat: it's your own fault
yuh makin joke: you can't be serious
zug up: an uneven cutting