The myTobago guide to Tobagonian slang and colloquialisms (2023)

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Holiday research should be as much fun as the holiday itself. If you have managed to wade through even a small fraction of this site, you now deserve a break. The Creole dialect spoken in Trinidad and Tobago is a wonderful cosmopolitan mixture of words and expressions from many parts of the world, resulting from Trinidad's rich ethnic mix. So, let us put a smile on your face with a humorous look at Trinibago expressions plus a few local jokes.


ABC, ketch-ah-crab - very poor handwriting
Ah - substitute for “I”
Ah-eh-able - I'm not able / Give me patience, I cannot keep up with you
Ah yah yie - exclamation meaning anger or joy, depending on the tonal inflection
All kina ting - all kinds of things / everything imaginable
All skin-teet (teeth) eh laugh - all smiles are not genuine
All what good to eat, eh good to talk - sometimes it is better not to talk about certain things
Allyuh - all of you people. A group
Ax - to ask a question
Aye-yah-yie - an expression of anticipation or pain, etc.


Bacchanal - scandal, heavy quarrelling, big party, confusion
Back back - to reverse a vehicle
Back chat - insolent response, especially from a child to an adult
Backing ah jack ass in ah horse race - backing an apparent loser
Bacro Johnny - fair skinned or albino type people who live in abject poverty - usually Spanish Immigrants
Bad drive - to drive with complete disregard for others
Bad eye (cut-eye) - a look of anger, especially when looking from the corner of the eye
Ba-John - a bully or a really tough customer
Bad like crab - very very bad people - rowdy/violent person
Bade (bathe) in de salt - To swim in the sea
Bamboozle - to confuse someone / con someone
Bamsee - the rear end, what you sit on
Bam-se Lambe - rather attractive bamsee
Batimamselle - a dragon fly
Battle axe - an old, hardened, quarrelsome person
Bawl dong de place / bawl like twenty Tarzan - to cry excessively/to be in a state of grief
Behin' (behind) God back - a very remote place.
Biff an' bam - two peas in a pod
Bol'face - a pushy person, unreasonably demanding
Broughtupsy - showing that a person was properly brought up, decorum
Bucket-a-drop - heavy rainfall
Buh look at meh crosses - look at the problems that are facing me
Buh wah jail is dis - as above
Buh wait nah - but wait a minute, now hold on/it


Call cat George - the end of a matter / call it finished
Callaloo - a thick soup made from dasheen leaves, ochroes, coconut milk, seasoned to taste, invariably includes crab
Calypso - a musical and lyrical comment on any subject, usually composed for, but not limited to, the Carnival season
Calypsonian - one who sings calypsos
Cheups (Steups) - a noise made by sucking your teeth
Chinkee - very tiny portions of anything
Chupid - stupid
Chupidee - a foolish person
Cockroach have no right in fowl party - do not get involved in anything where one is unwelcome or can be snubbed
Coki-eye - cross-eyed
Commesse - confusion associated with arguments, gossip and slander
Company does carry you, but they don't bring you back - bad companions lead you to trouble, but don't bail you out
Cressles - watercress
Cuff - hitting someone or something with a clenched fist
Cut arse - to discipline/whip a child / to beat someone in a fight
Cyah - can't


Da is you? - is that you?
Dan-dan - any sharp looking outfit
Dat good for yuh - serves you right
Dat - that
De deeper de darkness, de nearer de dawn - every cloud has a silver lining
Deck off - to wear one's best clothesDig out meh eye - to be taken advantage of
Digs out / dus it - to leave hurriedly
Doh - don't
Doh make joke - you don't say / are you kidding / surely you must be joking
Doh try dat - oh no, you don'tDotish - silly, stupid, foolish and dumb
Dougla - mixture of East Indians and African parentage
Drevait (dree-vay) - wayward person who likes to "knock about"
Driver, ah go take it here - request a taxi to stop
Dry wedder car - a car that leaks profusely when it rains


Eat de bread de devil knead - to experience hard times / very rough life
Eh - what did you say?
Eh-eh - no, no way, oh no
Eh-heh - oh really? I understand. Yes
En'less - plenty, endless
Ent? - is that not so? That's true, isn't it?


Faddah - father
Farse an outa place - to meddle is someone else's affairs
Fete - a party, loud music, lots to eat and drink, dancing to wee hours of the morning
Fig - banana (ripe fig and green fig)
Flim - film
Founkie (foong-key) - foul-smelling, stink odour
Fresh water Yankee - a person that spend a short time in the U.S, comes back home for a visit and speaks with a heavy American accent
Fuh true/troot? - yes that is true. Is that really so?


God doh sleep - God will not allow injustice to go unpunished
Goin'orf - someone who appears to be going out of their mind, acting strangely
Gun talk - fighting words, to threaten verbally
Gyul - girl


Harden -disobedient


I eh payin' tax fuh mih mout' - I could say anything I want
In ting - to be involved in current activity
Is so? - is that so?
It take yuh - you look good wearing it / looks good on you.


Jeez-an-ages - used for any reason where an outburst is appropriate
Jokey - an amusing person
Jook - to stab at anything
Jumbie - spirit, ghost
Jus' now - in a little while
Jus' so? - just like that?
Jus' so - out of the blue, totally unexpected


Ketch -catch
Klim - any brand of powdered milk


Lef dat - leave that
Leh - let, let's
Leh go - let go
Leh we - let us
Lick dong - to accidentally hit someone or something
Lickrish - someone who eats for the sake of eating / insatiable appetite
Licks - a beating, physical punishment
Life in London - to have things easy / a sarcastic remark aimed at a lazy person
Like t'ing - to be somewhat mischievous
Like you went to school in August and your best subject was recess? - an expression for slow-witted people or a dumb person
Lil'bit - in small meaningless portions
Lime - when a small group of people engage in a sometimes pre-arranged activity
Long eye - a person who is envious of the possessions of others
Look nuh! - an expression of annoyance


Maco - a person who minds other people's business for the purpose of gossip.
Macocious - a person having the trait of a maco
Macumere man (maa-coo-may) - a man that useless around the house / an effeminate man
Maga - very thin, skinny
Make message - to shop for groceries, usually at a country store
Mamaguy - to make fun of, to ridicule
Mama Yo! - expression denoting shock and surprise
Matter Fix - everything is well organized
Mih han' slip - an expression used when too much of an ingredient is used
Ming pilling (ming p-ling) - a cheap / frugal person
Mooma - mother
Mout'er - a boaster
Much up - to pamper, to butter up
Mutton dress up like lamb - a person pretending to be of higher means / to give the impression that you are better that you say you are


Nah - no
Nancy story - cock & bull story / lame excuse
Nastiness - an expression of disgust applied to a good-for-nothing person
Never see come see - someone who has recently been exposed to something new and who overdoes it to ridiculous proportions
Ning ning - tired eyes
Now fuh now - instantly
Nowherian - a person who does not have any fixed place of abode


Obzokee - awkward in appearance, anything bent or twisted out of shape
Oh geed! - an expression used when an offensive smell arises
OH gosh! - expression denoting shock, surprise indignation and admiration
Oh gorm man! - as above
Ol' talk - idle chatter, social chit-chat
One set ah - a lot of anything
Own-way - stubborn person


Pallet - frozen lolly
Papa yo! - exclamation of surprise
Pesh - money
Pissin' tail - a person of no class or importance
Pitch oil - kerosene
Planasse - to hit someone continuously with the flat part of a cutlass
Playin' social - someone who pretends to be of a higher social strata than they are
Pong - pound
Po-po - very small child, baby
Prim-prim - disgustingly proper and formal


Quac-coo-wa-ja - an overdressed person / or someone that uses heavy make-up
Quenk - an irritating person
Qualey - withered, dried up


Raff - to grab suddenly
Ragadang - broken down
Ram-cram - packed to capacity
Rum boo boo - someone who constantly drinks rum
Rumfle - ruffled or wrinkled


Saga boy/girl - flashy dresser, dandy
Shif' yuh carcass - move over, get going
Shub - shove, move or cast aside
Skinnin' yuh teet' - grinning
Skin up yuh nose - to turn up one's nose at anything
Sometimeish - moody
Storm carpenter - incompetent. Only good enough to nail up barriers in preparation for a storm
Strims - shrimps
Surprise de water - to finally have a bath after a long time
Swee' (Sweet) drink - any aerated beverage, soda pop
Sweet soap - any brand of bath soapSwell up yuh face - to look angry, to pout


Tanty - aunt
Tell me dis t'ing nah - an expression of agreement, usually associated with aggravation
Tight - intoxicated, drunk, stoned
T'ing - thing
To besides - besides which
Too-tool-bay - a confused state, in a daze, also head over heels in love
Tot tots - female breasts
Two man rat, cyar live in de same hole - two persons of a dominating nature cannot exist under the same roof


Umpteen - plenty of anything
Under all de ol' talk - after all is said and done


Vampin' - an offensive smell
Vaps - to suddenly behave excitedly or in a strange manner
Vex money - pocket money just in case there is an argument with your partner and you have to take a taxi home


Wajang - a rowdy, uncouth person
Warap - a very weak mixture
Well yes! - an expression of disbelief
Whappen? - what's the matter with you?
Wha-happenin' dey? - what's happening
When push come to shove - when all is said and done
When rain fall, sheep and goat have to mix - in times of crisis, all differences are temporarily forgotten
When your neighbours house is on fire, wet yours - pay attention to others misfortunes and do not think it cannot happen to you
Whey - where
Whey yuh say? - what did you say?
Win' ball cricket - cricket played with a lawn tennis ball, instead of the leather ball


Yampee - mucus, found in the corner of the eye
You an' all? - you too?
You so - people like you
Yuh ass too happy - an expression that is used when someone does something really stupid out of boredom
Yuh eat parrot bottom - a person that talks a lot
Yuh eh even say dog, cat, good morning - when someone enters a room and does not acknowledge anyone
Yuh faddah head - an expression of annoyance
Yuh faddah is a glassmaker? - you are blocking my view
Yuh go put fowl to watch corn? - Will you put a thief to guard your money, like putting an alcoholic to tend a bar
Yuh look fuh dat - it's your own fault
Yuh makin' joke! - you can't be erious!


Zaboca (za-bo-ca) - avocado
Zug-up - a rough and uneven cutting of anything

Liquid Sunshine

Our first item is not a joke; it was a true story shared with us by a visitor some years ago. It typifies the wonderful Tobagonian outlook on life. It also directly led to the title Paul Tallet chose for the weekly weather forecasts that he posts in our forum and weather page.

Sitting on the beach near the Grafton Beach hotel one day, it suddenly started to rain - as it can. We moved under one of the beach umbrellas with all our bit and pieces to sit it out. While we were there, one of the beach vendors that we knew walked past, and asked "What you doing there man?" We replied that we were sheltering from the rain. He laughed at us and said, "Hey man - dis not rain, dis liquid sunshine.

Enough said!

Trini Style

A Trini walks into a bar in Miami, orders three Caribs and sits in the back of the room, drinking a sip out of each one in turn. When he finishes them, he comes back to the bar and orders three more.

The bartender approaches and tells him, "You know, a beer goes flat after I draw it; it would taste better if you bought one at a time." The Trini replies, "Well, you see, I have two bredders. One in Toronto, the other in London, and I here in Miami. When we all left home, we promised that we go drink this way to remember the days when we drank in St James. So I drinks one for each ah meh bredders and one for meh self." The bartender admits that this is a nice Trini custom, and leaves it there.

The Trini becomes a regular in the bar, and always drinks the same way: He orders three Caribs and drinks them in turn. One day, he comes in and orders two Caribs. All the other regulars take notice and fall silent. When he comes back to the bar for the second round, the bartender says, "I don''t want to intrude on your grief, but I wanted to offer my condolences on your great loss."

The Trini looks confused for a moment, then a light dawns in his eye and he laughs. "Oh, no. Everyone''s fine," He explains, "It''s just that I joined Seven Days Adventists Church and I personally had to stop drinking."

How to Call the Police in Trinidad

Andre Lashley of Diego Martin, Trinidad was going up to bed when his wife told him that he'd left the light on in the garden shed, which she could see from the bedroom window.

Andre opened the back door to go turn off the light but saw that there were people in the shed stealing things. He phoned the police, who asked "is someone in your house?" and he told them no. Then they said that all patrols were busy, and that he should simply lock his door and an officer would be along when available.

Andre said, "Okay," hung up, counted to 30, and phoned the police again. "Hello, I just called you a few seconds ago because there were people in my shed. Well, you don't have to worry about them now cause I've just shot them all." Then he hung up.

Within five minutes three police cars, an Armed Response unit, and an ambulance showed up at the Lashleys residence. Of course, the police caught the burglars red-handed. One of the Policemen said to Andre: "I thought you said that you'd shot them!" Andre said, "I thought you said there was nobody available!"

Local Call to Heaven

A European decided to write a book about famous religious structures around the world. So, he bought a plane ticket and took a trip to London, thinking that he would work his way across the world.

On his first day, he was inside a church taking photographs, when he noticed a golden telephone mounted on the wall with a sign that read "£10,000 per call". The European, being intrigued, asked a priest who was strolling by what the telephone was used for. The priest replied that it was a direct line to heaven and that for £10,000 you could talk to God. The European thanked him and went along his way.

Next stop was Paris. There, at a very large cathedral, he saw a similar golden telephone with a similar sign beneath it. He wondered if this was the same kind of telephone he saw in London and so asked a passing nun what its purpose was. She told him that it was a direct line to heaven and that for 100,000 Francs he could talk to God. "O.K., thank you," said the European.

He the travelled throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, Australasia and North and Central America. In every church, synagogue, mosque and temple he saw the same golden telephone with a sign showing the equivalent of £10,000 per call" beneath it.

The European, upon leaving the U.S., saw a sign for Tobago and decided to see if Tobagonians had the same phone. He arrived in Scarborough, and again, saw the same golden telephone, but this time the sign beneath read "25 cents per call."

The European was surprised, so he asked the priest about the sign. "Father, I've travelled all over the world and I've seen this same golden telephone in many religious structures. I'm told that it is a direct line to Heaven, but in every country the price was £10,000 per call. Why is it so cheap here?"

The priest smiled and answered, "You're in Tobago now son, it's a local call".

A Beer Is A Carib

After the Great Beer Festival, in London, all the brewery presidents decided to go out for a beer. The guy from Corona sits down and says "Hey Senor, I would like the world's best beer, a Corona."

The bartender dusts off a bottle from the shelf and gives it to him. The guy from Budweiser says "I'd like the best beer in the world, give me 'The King Of Beers', a Budweiser."

The bartender gives him one. The guy from Coors says "I'd like the only beer made with Rocky Mountain spring water, give me a Coors." He gets it.

The guy from Carib sits down and says "Give me a Coke." The bartender is a little taken aback, but gives him what he ordered...

The other brewery presidents look over at him and ask "Why aren't you drinking a Carib?" and the Carib president replies "Well, if you guys aren't drinking beer, neither will I."

Retiring to Tobago

A hard-nosed businessman was enjoying a holiday on the island of Tobago.

He was overwhelmed by the beauty of the island but everywhere he went he felt a sense of frustration looking at the fishermen sitting on the beach tending to their nets and watching the world go by ... he thought that, maybe, these guys could do better for themselves.

One day, having enjoyed an undisclosed number of Rum Punches, he approached one of the fishermen (sitting there tending his nets ... as they do) and asked him if there was anything he could do to help him improve his business.

The fisherman replied that he simply sailed off each day, caught some fish and then sold his catch and went home to his family ... that was the routine, apart from sitting there on the beach some days and tending to his nets.

The businessman suggested that if the fisherman could invest a little more in his business, he could buy more nets and increase the size of his catch and consequently make each sailing trip a tad more profitable.

"And what would the benefit be to me?" enquired the fisherman.

The business man explained that such a venture would increase the fisherman's income and improve the lifestyle for his family ... although the increased profits could be used to further enhance the business.

The fisherman started to take an interest ... "and in what way do you suggest that I could 'enhance' my business, Mr Businessman?"

"Well, the profits could be used to buy more boats and increase the sizes of your catches ... earn more money ... more profits ... you could get others to work for you ... they would earn money for you and you would get richer and richer"

The fisherman gave this some thought ... "and then what?"

The businessman replied, "well, if you are successful and able to inspire your fellows to work for you, who knows, you could buy other fishing businesses and develop your business even further ... you could monopolise the Tobago fishing industry ... gain influences with the Government ... develop enough money to invest in other businesses and trades ... you could become a very important man".

"Ok", said the fisherman, "where is all this leading to?"

The businessman paused for a moment and said, "You don't get it do you? ... You could invest overseas in other fishing businesses. Eventually you could have the world's largest fleet of ships with the latest technology ... sailing the seas ... you would make millions, billions, have regular dinners with kings, queens, Rupert Murdoch, whoever you want ... you will make all the money you need to retire and have a comfortable life..."

"And what would I do when I retire?" enquired the fisherman.

The business man pondered this for a moment ... "well ... erm ... you could retire here and sit on the beach and watch the world go by couldn't you....?

A True Trini To D Bone

A Trini US Marine stationed in Iraq recently received a "Dear John" letter from his Trini girlfriend back in Brooklyn. It read as follows:

"Dear Leroy, I cya continue our relationship. De distance between us just too great. I hav tuh admit dat ah horn yuh twice, since yuh gorn, and it eh fair tuh eeder ah we. Ah sorry. Yuh could return de picture ah me dat ah did send yuh? Love, Gwendolyn"

The Marine, with hurt feelings, asked his fellow Marines for any snapshots they could spare of their girlfriends, sisters, ex-girlfriends, cousins etc. In addition to the picture of Gwendolyn, Leroy included all the other pictures of the pretty girls he had collected from his pardners. There were 57 photos in that envelope.... along with this note:

"Dear Gwendolyn, Ah rell sorry, buh ah cya remember yuh nuh. Please take yuh picture from de pile, and den send de rest back tuh me. Take Care, Leroy "

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