Language & Culture

A Guide to Jamaican Words & Phrases

Want to learn to chat patois? Take a gander below for some of the most popular Jamaican words and expressions. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it sure is a good start!

See dem here:

Body Parts

  • BATTY – Bottom/Rear end
  • FINGA– Finger
  • HAN – Hand
  • TITTY/TITTI – Breast


  • BAXIDE– used similar to “rahtid” to express shock, surprise or disbelief. Can also be used as an adjective to describe the gravity or size of anything. Eg. She have a baxide batty yuh see! Meaning: She has a very big ass.
  • IS A GOOD LOOK – It’s a good look; Used to express approval/acknowledge something good
  • JESUS, SAVIOUR, PILOT MI – A call to God for guidance, especially in an upsetting situation KISS MI NECK – Another exclamation of shock, disbelief or surprise
  • KETCH YA – “Look at this”; Often used in a condescending or sarcastic manner
  • LAWD GAD – Lord God; a beckon to the creator in good or bad situations
  • PUPPA JESUS – Father God
  • RAHTID– an exclamation of surprise; often used to convey shock or disbelief about an observation or occurrence. Also used as an adjective to describe the magnitude of an event. Eg. Him get a rahtid lick! Meaning: He was hit very hard.
  • TEK DI CASE AN GI MI DI PILLOW – an expression usually used in times of trouble or stress; calling on a higher power to work out the problem and leave only the solution
  • WAH GWAAN – What’s up?/What’s going on?
  • YUH SEE WEH MI A SEH – Do you see what I’m saying?/Do you understand?


  • DEM– Them/Those
  • EVRYBADDY – Everybody
  • EVRYTING – Everything
  • FI HAR – Hers
  • FI HIM – His
  • FI MI – Mine
  • FI UNNU – Yours (plural)
  • FI WI – Ours
  • FI YUH – Yours
  • MI – Me
  • UNNUYou (plural)
  • WI – We
  • YUH – You


  • ANTI – Aunt
  • BREDDA – Brother
  • FREN – Friend
  • MAN – Man; A male partner
  • MUMMA/MADDA – Mother
  • PICKNEY – Child
  • PUPPA – Father
  • SISTA – Sister
  • WOMAN – Woman; A female partner


  • BATTYMAN/BATTYBWOI – a gay male
  • BWOY/BWOI – boy; can be used in a derogatory sense as well when used to refer to an adult male; also used as an expression of concern.
  • CROSSES – an unlucky person, thing or event
  • DUPPYBAT– a person acting in a ridiculous or foolish manner
  • DUTTY – dirty; can be placed in front of words to add a derogative meaning. Eg. Dutty gyal.
  • EEDIAT – Idiot; a stupid or foolish person
  • FASSYHOLE – a person who has displayed inconsiderate behaviour
  • FISH – gay or effeminate male
  • FOOL FOOL – a stupid person; an idiotic person, thing or event
  • FUNNY MAN – gay or effeminate male
  • GAL/GYAL – girl; can be used in a derogatory sense as well when used to refer to an adult female
  • OLE FAAT – old fart; used to reference a worthless person
  • SODOMITE – a gay female


  • CHI CHI BUS/YELLOW BUS – Jamaica Urban Transit Corporation (JUTC) (Government owned) buses
  • COASTER – A large Coaster bus; Typically seats 35
  • MINI BUS – A small bus; Typically seats 16
  • RED PLATE – a licensed, public passenger vehicle; typically a taxi
  • WHITE PLATE/ROBOT – an unlicensed public passenger vehicle

In The Streets/Night Life

  • DANCE – street/roadside party
  • SELECTA – Selector/Disc Jockey (DJ)
  • MONEY PULL UP – paying a selector at a dance to replay a song
  • SCAMMA – scammer; one who obtains money/material objects through deception or other unlawful means
  • GENNA/GENNA GENNA – General; A term of respect often used when greeting/speaking about someone held in high esteem
  • UP – Used to indicate that everything is good; can also be used as a greeting in passing
  • KWENGA – Hot boy/Star boy; A stylish person (usually male)
  • HAIL – The act of acknowledging someone/saying hello

Check out a few other popular In the Street slangs:

“Bad” Words

Be warned – the list below contains words and phrases that are considered indecent at best. Observing Jamaicans, you’ll find that no one part of speech covers any of these words, and that meanings change with context. Pro tip – Jamaican bad words often end with “claat” and “hole”



  • A – It’s
  • CERFITICATE – Certificate
  • CLIDING – Cloying
  • DAT– that
  • DEH– there; Used also to indicate that two people are in a relationship
  • DI – The
  • FRAM – From
  • GI – Give
  • LICK – the act of hitting someone
  • PATWA – Alternative spelling for patois – term for Jamaican lingo
  • SEH – Say
  • TEK – Take
  • WAAN – Want
  • WEH – What/where
  • NYAM – Eat

Test your skills! See how well you’re able to understand Jamaican words with the Jamaican Patwa Quiz.

Tek care!

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