Cape Town Slang 101

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Cape Town is such a mix of different cultures and languages, therefore it’s a given that the city would have its very own “language” or slang. And boy, Cape Town’s slang is unique!

Here’s a list of the most popular Capetonian slang words and what they actually mean:

  • Ag (ah-ch): To show resignation or annoyance.
    Example: “Ag no man!”
  • Awê (ah-weh): a greeting.
    Example: “Awê, brother!”
  • Babbelas (bah-bah-luss): Hungover. Comes from the Zulu word “i-babalazi” which means drunk. The term was adopted by the Afrikaans and is now used as a term for “hangover.”
    Example: “I am so babbelas!”
  • Bergie (bear-ghee): Comes from the Afrikaans word berg” (mountain) and was initially used to describe the vagrants living on Table Mountain. The word is now used in Cape Town to describe any type of vagrant.
    Example: “That bergie is asking for money.”

bergie cape town slang

  • Bokkie: From the Afrikaans word “bok”. Used as a term of endearment similar to the word “sweetheart.”
    Example: “Hello bokkie.”
  • Bra (brah), bru (brew): Comes from the Afrikaans word “broer” (brother) and is a term of affection used among male friends.
    Example: “Howzit my bru!” “Hey bra!”
  • Braai (br-eye): word meaning barbecue.
    Example: “We’re having a braai.”
  • Cheers: Can be used as a toast or greeting.
    Example: “Cheers!” or “Cheers bru, see you later.”
  • Dop: Alcohol.
    Example: “Don’t forget to bring the dop.”
  • Eish (ay-sh): Another expression derived from the Zulu language. Exclamation of surprise similar to “oh wow!” or “oh my!”
    Example: “Eish! That must have hurt.”
  • Eina (Ay-nah): Exclamation used when in pain.
    Example: “Eina! That hurt!”

cape town slang

  • Entjie (eh-n-chee): Cigarette.
    Example: “Come smoke an entjie with me.”
  • Howzit (how-zit): Greeting. Means “hi”. Shortening of “how’s it going.”
    Example: “Howzit my bru?”
  • Ja (yaah): Afrikaans word for yes. Ja is used by most South Africans, not just the Afrikaans.
    Example: “Ja, let’s go.”
  • Jislaaik (yiss-like): An expression of astonishment similar to “Geez.”
    Example: “Jislaaik! That’s awesome!”
  • Laaitie, (lighty): Refers to a young person – especially males.
    Example: “He’s still a laaitie.”
  • Lekker (leh-kah): Nice or delicious.
    Example: “That was a lekker braai.”

slang in cape town

  • Takkies (tack-kees): Sneakers.
    Example: “I want to buy those new Nike takkies.”
  • Tjommie, chommie (choh-mee): Friend.
    Example: “There’s my tjommie!”

These are only a few of the many slang terms used by Capetonians.

The Language Teaching Centre

You don’t only get to take a language course in Cape Town with us at the Language Teaching Centre – we also expose you to the wonderful culture and languages of the Cape. Besides the wonderful view of the harbour and Table Mountain from our spacious classrooms, the excursion programme is designed to allow students to discover this beautiful city. LTC is a great place to study English in Cape Town.

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