Connect with us


Dog House with Esco: Watch Ya Slang



dreamstime_l_32053285-2Some weeks ago, I got added to a Whatsapp  group set up by my secondary school alumni, and during one of our banter sessions, an ex-classmate used a throwback term I haven’t heard in years. I chuckled over my cornflakes, and an idea for today’s article was born.

My friends and I use slang when we speak. Slang is to language, what aso-ebi is to weddings. It fosters camaraderie, as everyone breaks it down to the very last compound. One language,  one understanding, one love, one cause.

Nigerian English is rich with expression because of some of the slang we use, many of which are derived from vernacular or native dialects. The reason why the faux Lekki-British accent sounds ridiculous to most is because it forgoes the use of Nigerian patois, in order to sound cool and foreign and everything that it is not.

Unsurprisingly, the most popular slangs are those used for the most usual everyday actions, articles or interests: Food, shelter and clothing. And sex too.

Let us take eating for example. There are literally hundreds of ways to express the fact that “man must wack”. Other words for “eat” include: lem, chop, gwanz, grub, graze

What about food items?

Garri – oto, gun p (gunpowder), garrium, Gary, cassava flakes

Cabin biscuit – kpako

Soft Drink (soda) – minerals, milala

Snail – Congo Meat

Sour Sop – chop-chop, sowanstop

Turkey – tolotolo

Bread featuring egg and/or suya – Shy

You need money to buy food unless you decide to beg, steal or borrow.

Well, money has a gazillion informal equivalents – pepper, mula, paper, cash-flow, scrilla, dosh, bread, corn, coins

I bet there are millions of jargons for the words “girl” and “sex”, no doubt coined by menfolk ranging from the ingenious, funny to outright mundane.

Fine Girl – han, yo, chickala, kele, broad, babe, dime, shorty,

Have sex with – nack, chop, lash, poke, smash, doke, poke, straff, rod, chook, climb, bala, slash, take/receive banana, shoot film…..

A term of endearment used by male friends to refer to each other – blud, brotherly, bruv, manz, guy, chairman, nna

Sometimes there are also derogatory or condescending  lingoes  which sound more insulting than the plain English language simile.

Lady of easy virtue – kpom, agbana, runs girl, kpao, skelewu, chop and clean mouth, take-away, tilapia

To suck up to somebody – famz, seek perch, otimpku, follow follow

To poop – block, log, jaguar-lize, do a Number 2

Miserly person – aka gum

Unsophisticated persons – bush, razz, locomotive

Unpleasant person – Armpit

Naïve person – JJC, learner, egbe, ju-man

On the flip a rather smug know-it-all can be called any of the following: over-sabi, omni-knowest, olofofo

You really cannot win.

Some slangs have  layered meanings. If you are inviting someone to a social event you plan to throw,  you could explain how big or private we were planning to go with the occasion by using the right lingo. That way you could subtly tell the invitee from bringing an army of mo gbo mo yas (uninvited guests) with them when coming or discourage shant-grees (desperadoes) from crashing the event and wolfing down all your food. It may not work anyway, as in Nigeria you plan for 100 but end up hosting 1000, but the terms are there:

Big Party – bash, rave, puree, owambe

Get-together – come chop

You probably need to dress up real slick attend a party right? For that you will need – baffs, kacks, “fine cloth”

And if you are a smoker despite the Federal Ministry of Health’s warnings that they cause cancer, malaria, poverty and every malady under the sun, don’t forget your cigarettes – fag, bazz, blaze, scabber, ciggie.

Some slangs are phrases rather than singular words, and explain the subject/object much better than plain English would.

For example, in some Eastern jurisdictions, a motor-bike (okada) is called “E nag a?” which is Igbo for “are you going?” because that is what you ask the okada-driver.

In the same vein, there is slanguage to describe persons thought to be mentally imbalanced or unstable or bipolar. You would say “Him head dey touch”. Anyone who knows about tapping NEPA current from a neigbour or trying to earth wiring from an appliance’s broken plug into a socket can relate.

Some slang have no direct translation because they convey a combination of feelings, trepidation/defiance and attitude which are too much for ordinary English to buttress. They may also mean multiple things depending on context. I will explain as best as I can. Did you ever see the 1997 motion picture “Donnie Brasco” in which Johnny Depp’s character an undercover FBI agent, picked up casual dialects used by Italian mobsters he had been infiltrating?

One term popular among the Mafia was the phrase “Forget-about-it”.  You used this short phrase if somebody said something to you, but the issue was not worth your time, energy, mental effort, or emotional resources.

In Nigeria, we have something similar, when we use the term “Abegi!”


Mr. A: “Na wa o. NEPA has not given us light for 7 days straight. This government is really setting us back. Meanwhile Baba is busy travelling upandan (up and down). We for allow Jona stay another 4 years.”

Mr. B: “Na today? Abegi!!!!!”

However, the term “Abegi” can also be used to answer any query, or put a shot stop to any enquiry/discussion. Or call someone’s bluff. Or disagree with someone but in a sarcastic underhand manner. In that instance “Abegi” would mean “please o!”

Mr. A: “Chairman, see as you are chopping life. Please remember me when you are in paradise”

Mr. B: “Abegi. All na film trick o. Before EFCC go come carry man”

What are some of the ones you use?

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Fellow Nigerians, it is with the utmost pride and sincerity that I present these memoranda as a living testament and recollection of history in the making during our generation. Preamble: Esco is a lampoonist, content provider for hire, and convener of the blog Literati: Satires On Nigerian Life, which is a symposium to project the conditions of every Nigerian and inspire young people all over the world. He is currently working on his memoirs “The Great, Wonderful Adventures of Esco”, which will be available in 2016. Esco can be reached for scripting writing, ghost writing and editing work by email at [email protected] Oh, and he occasionally tweets at @Escowoah.


  1. xyno

    April 21, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    Very well written article. If u lived in Benin (Benghazi) or warri ( waffi) where proper pidgin is spoken, then you would know some very sick slangs. I miss Benghazi where I grew up. The pidgin there is spoken in a way that will make u fall in love with it. Some of the slangs Spoken in Benghazi before I left were’omila’ which is armed robber, ‘obukoko’ aka doggy style And ‘solo’ for a guy that spends on girls without getting any.

    • Thatgidigirl

      April 21, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      Lmao @ omila…..dat na strong armed robber o! Sikoko- stammer, eke or ekelegbe- police, pinaire- albino, know it all- onoriode etc

    • DAME

      April 21, 2016 at 5:24 pm

      LOL, OMILA na strong thief be that…those ones that disappear thru the wall..Benin o
      Runs girls in Benin were called Oluku also and so many other slangs. While in Benin, my friends grew up in warri so it was an endless battle trying to understand them but it was fun…i miss benghazi

  2. Majestic

    April 21, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    Lol…Funny post..Cracked me up real good..
    Well, I use Bang for sex…

  3. sonique

    April 21, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    As a sharp Warri girl, I’ll add my two cent heheeh; sex( lamba), Girl (barney) , sophisticated girl (otele) ,a person who can lie for Africa ( linus), know-it-all (ITK) , when a person is trying to show off and you need to water down that pride( Abeg who you epp? ……when one is confidently murdering English language (gbagam, tian, blow fuse)….you can call my bluff by telling me to “Move’ or ‘shift’ e.g
    Me- you no know my matter oh
    My bestie—-Abeg shift or Abeg Move
    lemme goan research for more…heheheeheh

    • What is epp?

      April 21, 2016 at 2:48 pm

      Please, what is epp?

    • K

      April 21, 2016 at 3:00 pm

      Lmao “epp” is just a funny pronunciation for “help”. And it’s spelt that way too. Twitter people invented the spelling.

  4. Anon

    April 21, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    Interesting read.

    Lady of easy virtue – pololo, animashaun!
    Receding hairline – mama Iyabo.
    Low hips/bum – idi isa le.
    Busty – olubunmi.

    • Tosin

      April 21, 2016 at 9:08 pm


  5. onyii

    April 21, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    lol, when someone is not making sense, you can say the person is “misyarning” or “yarning okpata”

  6. Left Hand Bionic

    April 21, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    i been wan waka pass this post but nna mennnhhh i can’t, fit not when its ESCO in the building….. Had me in stitches and brought back memories…….lol……

  7. Nunulicious

    April 21, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    You haven’t heard about the latest gist, you must be a roasto!
    You’re behaving slow and not sharp, then you are a sule.

  8. Lol

    April 21, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    I definitely remember the slang “baff up” in sec school then. Those were the days when the men were still boys, sniff sniff

  9. Tobigirl

    April 21, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    “Jero” also refers to a slow or naive person. These day, people use the word “lastma” for anyone who hasn’t heard the latest gist or something like that.
    You forgot to add “butty” for a spoiled or privileged person.

  10. naijamess

    April 21, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    I think Nigerian pidgin English and slangs are the best among African country, here in Sweden it is fascinating,sweet and lovely hearing Nigerians speaks these slangs and pidgin.
    Its a pity that some Nigerians are not proud of thier roots,some pretend they do not speak or understand pidgin. Nice one Esco lovely article keep it up.

  11. lola

    April 21, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    thief- fapper. “Kunle is a fapper, he fapped my wristwatch”. which is translated “Kunle is a thief, he stole my wristwatch” loooool. Nice article, brought back some secondary school memories.

  12. Strit Kredibility

    April 21, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    Esco i laff well well. The following ones were also freely used. I’ll leave the street amongst us to decipher them MaryJ, Eja, Kpoli, Igbinedion, raincoat, kolobi, tear rubber, Mr Ade, gbagaun, guy i don kawa, i don hammer, dey there na, oko man, popsy, maaleh, confaam, a guy how far, wheesh levulz, square me, ashi, ogbongidi, d geh set die, scopings, Ajeh, pako, mugu, maga, wazo, oshofree, expo, mgbokrikri, if i woze u, chop beta slap, lem, mamaput. etc

  13. Ikido

    April 22, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Lady of easy virtue: “Public Toilet”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Tangerine Africa

Star Features