Top 60 Nigerian Slangs and their Meanings: Ultimate Dictionary of Naija Lingo

This being a movie review website, you might be wondering what an article about Nigerian slangs is doing here. The answer is not far from you. People miss out on a lot of nuances in movies when they do not understand the slangs and lingo used in those movies.

If you are not Nigerian, or were not raised in Nigeria, you might hear a few phrases in Nollywood movies and be lost as to the meaning. We are here to straighten you out with the meanings of those slangs, so you can get in on the fun along with the rest of us. Ready? Let’s do it.

Richard Mofe-Damijo RMD, is the poster boy for Nigerian slangs and lingo.
Super-star actor, Richard Mofe-Damijo RMD, is the poster boy for Nigerian slangs and lingo.

Abi?: Often used for emphasis, similar to how the English expression, “right?”, is used.

Ajebo, Ajebutter: A person born with a silver spoon. Also, see “Butty” below.

Aza: Bank account details.

Baddie: The babe that other babes aspire to be.

Badooo, Baddest: A great person. Badass. The best.

Biko: An Igbo language word meaning, “Please”, and used to make an appeal.

Butty: A person born with a silver spoon. Shortened form of Ajebutter.

Chop breakfast/serve breakfast: To “chop breakfast” in street lingo means to be served your share of life’s disappointments and pains. To “serve breakfast” is to be the tool of dishing out such unpleasant experiences.

Dem No born You Well: A dare, “I dare you”

Dey play: A pidgin English slang meaning, “keep playing” or “keep being unserious”. “Nor dey play” means, Stop being unserious.

Dorime, Do ri me: Lavish or extravagant spending.

E Choke: Overwhelming or impressive.

Ehen: An all-purpose pidgin expression whose exact meaning changes with the context. It can mean, “okay”, “and so what?”, “say what?” “I get it”, “continue”, depending on the context.

Ehn Ehn Naw, Ehn Naw: Expression of agreement. “Yes, of course”.

E nipe: A Yoruba language phrase meaning, “You said what?”

Fall Hand: To disappoint. To fail to live up to expectations.

Gbam: Correct. You nailed it. Spot on.

Gbege: Trouble.

Getat: Get out of the way. Go away.

GOAT: Greatest of all time. Not exactly a Nigerian slang but popularly used in the country.

Idan: A Yoruba language word meaning “Wonder”. A wonderful or impressive act or person.

I Go Change Am For You: A threat to get unpleasant, nasty, or violent.

Japa: Derived from a Yoruba language word meaning to escape. Japa is mostly used specifically to to indicate emigrating from Nigeria.

Jara, Jaara: Derived from the Hausa word, “gyara”, meaning xtra. An extra serving or portion of something.

Knack: Literally means “to hit”, but in the Nigerian context, it also means “to get laid”.

Kolo: Unhinged. A person that is not normal.

Komot: Leave. Get out of the way. Go away.

L: Short for “loss”. When you take your L, it means you’ve accepted your failure.

Mad O: Unbelievable. Amazing. Disbelief.

Ma Fo: A Yoruba language phrase from the Yoruba language phrase that literally means “Don’t break,” adapted to mean, “Don’t worry,” “don’t fear,” or “don’t be intimidated”.

Maga: Gullible person. Fool. Someone who is easily taken for a ride.

Maigad: A slang derived from amalgamating the Hausa word “mai” and the English word “guard”. A security man.

Ment: Derived from the English word, “mental”. Used to say that someone or some behaviour is abnormal.

Mugu: Gullible person. Fool. Someone who is easily taken for a ride.

Muri: N20. Twenty naira.

Naija: Slang for Nigeria.

Na wa o: A pidgin English phrase meaning, “this is serious”.

Omo!: A slang used to express surprise, shock, or amazement.

O por: Derived from the Yoruba language expression indicating plenty. The slang is usually used when you are impressed.

Otilo: A Yoruba language expression meaning, “He/she/it has gone”.

Oversabi: A person who does too much, a know-it-all.

Pour sand sand for my garri: To mess things up for me.

Sapa: being broke. Lack. Poverty.

Sef: This is an informal Pidgin English adverb that is added to the end of any sentence to for emphasis. Examples: “I don’t like that boy sef’ or ‘I am not going sef”.

Shikena: That is it. That is all. No further additions or subtractions.

Trabaye: Used to describe getting high on drugs.

Trenches: ghetto. Poor neighbourhood.

Tule: A Yoruba language phrase that means, “release” or “let go”.

Tuale: An informal greeting for a respected personality. Used to show respect to another person.

Vawulence: Violence.

Wahala: Problem. Trouble.

Wahala be Like Bicycle: A slang used to express the sentiment that there is no end to problems.

Wazo: N50. Fifty naira.

We meuuve/meuve: This is an expression meaning “we keep going”, used in a motivational way after a setback. The equivalent of saying, “life goes on”.

Wetin: A pidgin English expression meaning, “what?”

Who Dey Breeett?: Similar expression to “E choke”.

Yahoo: Internet fraud.

You Get it! If You don’t Gerrit, Forget About It: Dismissive slang. Used to dismiss someone who does not understand a conversation.

You wan collect?: A threat. An expression of aggression. Do you want to suffer? Do you want me to deal with you?

Nigerian slangs keep growing and evolving

There are hundreds more Nigerian slangs in use every day across the country and in the diaspora. However, getting a hang of the above 60 expressions will make a huge difference in how well you are able to enjoy some Nollywood movies. As a matter of fact, you will also be able to sit with your Nigerian friends and not feel lost in their conversation should they use these slangs copiously.

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