“Lekker” & More South African Slang You Need To Learn

19 April 2023
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Japanese House
Unsplash: Marc Herve

Picture this: you are in Cape Town, South Africa contemplating on how to reach the summit of the iconic Table Mountain. Is it better to trek one of its several hiking trails or take a scenic cable car ride? Hmm, both options are pretty good so either you decide to walk a hiking trail or fly over to the peak on a cable car, there's no doubt that your experience won't be as memorable as ever. Honest.

Now, zigzagging your way all over Cape Town and other cities of South Africa may sound daunting. But it shouldn’t be, because South Africans are quite friendly. Besides, most of them speak and understand English along with its other 10 official languages. Yep, South Africa has 11 official languages (that’s a story for another day)! And because there are so many different languages spoken there, locals ended up borrowing and incorporating various words to produce a special slang known as South Africanisms. These phrases are used by locals all over the country, so it’s always very helpful to know at least a handful of them. I mean… you don’t want to freak out when you hear someone telling you to not run a yellow robot. Right?

  • Lekker: great, nice, tasty
  • Howzit: how’s it going
  • Yebo: yes
  • Bra, brah, bruh: male friend
  • Jol: to have fun, to party
  • Tekkies, takkies: sneakers
  • Skinner: to gossip
  • Braai: barbecue
  • Dof: stupid
  • Doss: sleep
  • Eina: ouch
  • Izzit: is it
  • Larny: something fancy
  • Cozzie: swimsuit
  • Ag man: oh man
  • Domkop: idiot
  • Hayibo: wow
  • Voetsek: go away
  • Vry: kiss
  • Slap chips: deep fried potato chips
  • Sharp sharp: goodbye
  • Bangbroek: scaredy pants
  • Jip: yes
  • Krimpie: old person
  • Watookal: whatever
  • Mooing: to flirt
  • 442 (four four two): lies, lying
  • Lulu: laugh
  • Robot: traffic light
  • Padkos: snacks for the road trip