Bahamian English

Our friendly nature makes it easy to strike up a conversation with a Bahamian. Try it for yourself. English is our official language. Although, you might hear Bahamian English. It’s a mixture of Queen’s diction, African influence, and island dialect. The “h” is often dropped, so it sounds like “ouse” for “house” or “t’anks” for “thanks.”

How to Be Bahamian

Our dialect and idioms were influenced by African slaves, English Puritans, and other settlers. Because of this combination, you will hear a unique language found only on The Islands of The Bahamas. For instance, if you hear “day clean” they mean “daybreak” and “first fowl crow” means the first cry a rooster makes in the morning. These idioms are typical of Bahamian English.

Bahamian Proverbs

  • ya gat a roach on ya bread (someone taking your man)
    you make up ya bed ya ga lie in it (you cause a problem, live the consequences)
  • every dog gat his day (everyone have problems – today you tomorrow me)
  • you is ya ma chile (you look just like your mother)
  • tongue ene ga no bone (you talk to much)
  • you spit in the wind it blow back in ya face (what goes around comes around)
  • hand go hand come (as you give so shall you receive)
  • if you don’t hear, ya ga feel (listen or ya ga get a beating)
  • hard head duck,don’t make soup (if you don’t listen, you will get a beating! – lol)
    hungry make dog eat raw corn (if you hungry you will eat anything (forced to eat anything)
  • lose goat don’t know now how tie goat feel (if you never been there you don’t know – don’t critize a man until you walk in his shoe)
  • pot calling the kettle black (me and you gat the same problems/concerns)
  • every day the bucket go to the well, one day the bottom will drop out (ya play with fire you ga get burn)
  • jump outta frying pan into the fire (from bad to worst) you know what ya gat)
  • what you do in the dark will come in the light (when you do things )
  • as you sow, so shall you reap (for every action there is a reaction)
  • you can’t plant corn and expect peas(as you sow shall so shall you reap)
  • time and tide wait for no one (there’s a time and place for everything)
  • Peter ene no better than Paul (when criticizing the other, you are perhaps just as guilty)

Bahamas Slang

  • argie: to argue
  • baby maker: getting alot of women pregnant
  • Baker=oven as “fresh out of the baker”
  • back-back: to go in reverse in a car
  • big-eyed: greedy
  • biggety: anything bold, brassy, and boastful
  • big up: Pregnant
  • boom-boom: rear end
  • bungie: rear end; considered a national word
  • bound: constipated
  • bright: light complexion
  • bubby: breasts
  • buck up: to crash, as in car
  • burlup: a potion, that is “boiled” up, as in Cerasee, a flower that is a “burlup”, or penicillin, for the flu
  • bust-up: badly drunk or intoxicated
  • camolly: lump, or bruise
  • conch: large mollusk; considered to be an aphrodesiac; national food
  • conchy joe: An ethnic term referring to those of caucasian inclination (in other words, white)
  • confuddle up: to get confused
  • corporation: in some cases, a pot-belly
  • cowboy: to take an abbreviated bath, without getting in the bath.
  • cuckoo soup: soup into which certain bodily fluids are placed to “tame a man”, especially one who is trying to win the heart of that man; said to have magical powers in winning the man in marriage
  • cut hip: to give a beating
  • dead: used as an adjective to intenisfy anything (“dead” ugly)
  • dialing new york: drunk vomiting into toilet
  • duff: boiled, fruit-filled dough; a national desert, much loved,with a rum flavored sauce
  • fast: describes someone who steals, or cannot mind their own business
  • general: form of address from man to man
  • gin up: to screw up, mismanage
  • gussy-mae: fat Bahamian girls, with large “bubbies” and “bungie”
  • high: bad smell
  • hurt: to put a hex on
  • jack: friend
  • jam up: to crowd
  • jook: to stab
  • leg short: arrived too late
  • long out: to pout
  • low fence: someone that is easy to take advantage of
  • muggage up: to beat up
  • outside: away from the marriage, as in outside children
  • parrot ass: one who talks too much
  • picky head: short, thin hair
  • pump: to pass gas
  • purge: to vent rage
  • quarm: to walk in an affected way
  • shuttail: without pants
  • sip sip: gossip
  • skylark: good natured horseplay
  • show sef: show off
  • spilligate: to go out on the town
  • spirit agree: to get along well with someone
  • springchicken: an old lady acting younger then she actually is
  • stiff-toe gang; rigor mortis, or to die
  • swallow water-melon: pregnant
  • sweetheart: affair
  • tarpree: low class, gullible; like “low fence”
  • terreckly: soon, from ‘directly’
  • tote news: to gossip
  • true, true: I agree with you
  • “you think I black”: meaning you’re not stupid


“Looks like someone has gone shelling without a basket”

“When I slap you, you goin stay slap?

“Don’t let your mout (mouth) carry you where your foot can’t bring you back from?

 30 Ways fa ya ta know ya is Bahamian…

…is when:

  • Ya older dan ya uncle or aunt.
  • Ya Mummy still holdin’ ya passport and ya 33 years old.
  • Ya know what ‘spry’ is (rain)
  • Ya go to a funeral to see da person face, but ya don’t know dem.
  • Ya call parts of ya body: bubby, bungy.
  • Ya ask for de worm outta de conch.
  • Potcake is a dog or burnt rice.
  • Ya say current instead of electricity.
  • Ya start shopping for hurricane supplies the day before the hurricane.
  • “Vel mudda sic” means something to ya (meaning, I can’t believe it)
  • Ya point wit ya lips.
  • Ya refer to people as boss or chief.
  • Ya refer to the lunch lady at school as ‘Mum”.
  • Ya can direct an American to the nearest Walmart, Brandsmart or Florida Mall.
  • Ya call Coca-Cola coke soda and everything else sweet soda.
  • Ya say ‘reverse back’.
  • Ya know wat ‘pants gunnin’ and ‘gun casin’ mean (short pants / big waist)
  • Ya use da word ‘destroyful’.
  • Ya buy food from a place called ‘Dirty’s’ and go dancin’ in a place called ‘da Zoo’.
  • Ya MP have more case in court dan you.
  • Ya only buy da Thursday paper (ta see who dead).
  • Ya start off gossipin’ wit ‘chile, guess wha’.
  • Ya call all dishwashin’ soap ‘Joy’ and all clothes washin’ soap ‘Tide’.
  • Ya put Dettol in da water to bade wit.
  • Ya grammy is clean da house in pulled up slip or nightdress.
  • Ya best come-back in an argument is ‘You like man, eh?’
  • Ya get outta ya bed at 1am ta watch junkanoo, but can’t make it ta woik for 9am.
  • Ya go to da beach, not to swim but just wet ya foot.
  • When ya talk, ya pronounce v’s like w’s and w’s like v’s, e.g. vomen, wulger.
  • Ya go Miami every month, but have never visited another Bahamian island.

Credit Sources: Bahamas dot com  Bahamas4U dot com  Lorna Thompson 

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