Nigeria is home to so many unofficial slangs that have somewhat found their way into our everyday discourse, even in official settings. Interestingly, these slangs are either rave of the moment words that popped first came up in songs, an error someone made on a social media platform or something that has stuck since Nigeria was declared a sovereign state.
Although most of these slangs are uniquely Nigerian, neighbouring states or Non-Nigerians who came in contact with ‘no restriction’ Nigerians would have been influenced one way or another.
Foreigners who have never been in contact with Nigerians before might have a hard time understanding these interesting but crazy words. It can be daunting if these words are fused or incorporated in sentences and used when in a conversation with a non-Nigerian who isn’t so big on slangs.
The word ‘Jara’ is a Noun derived from the pidgin English and it is often used when negotiating or buying; It means ‘to add extra’ or ‘more’ when something has been bought or paid for. For example, when buying food from a local restaurant, the buyer might ask for ‘jara’, extra on what he or she is buying. Example : “Abeg, add jara to my rice”.
‘Abeg’ is a pidgin English Adverb, meaning ‘please’. Just like ‘please’ in English, ‘abeg’ is used as a polite addition to requests or commands. Example: “Help me call your father, abeg”.
The word ‘mumu’ is a noun in pidgin English that can be used to refer to someone as a fool or an idiot. The term is often derogatory but periodically comes up when close pals are engaged in a non-offensive discourse. Example: “This mumu boy is coming again”.
Marlians refers to staunch followers of controversial Nigerian musician, Naira Marley. The word describes followers of Naira Marley who believe in his beliefs, ideals, and practices. You can read more about Marlians here.
Kolo is a word that can be used metaphorically or literally and it means ‘crazy’ or ‘nuts’. Example: “The footballer don kolo”.
Amebo is a noun used to refer to someone who delights in or is a gossip. It can also be used to describe someone who loves to gist a great deal. Example: “You too like Amebo” or “That girl na proper Amebo”.
The word ‘Ojoro’ is a verb often used to imply one has been cheated or treated unfairly. It could also mean something that is untrue or false in and totally unacceptable. Example: “No do me ojoro”.
This particular word is an interjection that could mean many things. If it carries a question mark, it could mean “is that so?”, “really?”, “like seriously?”, etc. And it could mean the same words but with an exclamation, if it carries the exclamation mark.
Also ‘Ajebo’, ‘butty’, or ‘omo butty; it refers to one born with a silver spoon. You are more likely to hear the word often from comedians as they get to make jokes about the rich and the poor and how they react to situations. Ajebutter is a coinage of two words “aje” and “butter”, meaning one who eats butter in the Yoruba language.
Ajepako is the opposite of Ajebutter and it refers to someone born without a silver spoon; someone who is from a humble background, with little or no access to certain basic things. Like Ajebutter, Ajepako comes alive with the coming together of two words; ‘aje’ (one who eats) and pako (wood), meaning one who eats wood.
Owambe is a Yoruba word meaning ‘it is there’. It implies ‘food is there’ or ‘party is there’ but it is often used to refer to social parties where there are lots of foods and drinks.
12. Aso Ebi
Aso ebi is a combination of two Yoruba words; ‘aso’ (clothes) and ‘ebi’ (family) and it refers to uniformed attires usually worn at social gatherings or parties by a particular group of people. Today, however, Aso Ebi means uniformed native attires worn for a special purpose, which involves a party.
Orobo is a Yoruba word used to describe a rather chubby or fat person. While it is undoubtedly of Yoruba origin, the word has managed to find its way into the everyday discourse of Nigerians even when speaking the English language. Note that the term can be derogatory.
Lepa, a Yoruba word meaning ‘flattened’ is used to describe an individual that is slim, lanky or trim. Depending on how it comes up in a discourse, it can be slightly derogatory or complimentary.
Wahala means trouble in Nigeria. Wahala pronounced (wa-ha-la) means trouble or problem and its origin is the Yoruba language even though it is commonly used throughout Nigeria.
The words ‘maga’ or ‘mugu’ are words used to refer to people who are easily deceived, conned or duped of their monies, belongings or possessions. ‘Maga’ or ‘mugu’ also refers to individuals who are gullible.
17. Fall my hand
This interesting slang has been around for years and it means ‘disappointed in someone’ or ‘at something’. If someone tells you that you ‘fall their hand’, it means you disappointed them when they least trusted you not to.
The word ‘shakara’ is used to refer to ‘show-offs’. Shakara can also imply one is ‘proud’, ‘haughty’, or ‘arrogant’. The word is purely pidgin and has been in use for decades in Nigeria.
Bobo is a word used to refer to a male buddy or a close pal. It can also be used for a young male one is older than. Among ladies, bobo can mean ‘male friend’, a boyfriend’, ‘a handsome dude’ or a gentleman.
Sisi is a Yoruba word used to refer to a young, pretty lady, mostly unmarried. Matured women who are referred to as ‘sisi’ are referred to as such to tease them that their beauty can match that of younger ladies.
Ogbeni is a Yoruba word meaning ‘Mr.’. The word had long been in existence before the former governor of the state of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola had used it in place of the English word ‘Mr.’
Oyinbo is a Nigerian word used in pidgin English to refer to white people. In Nigeria, it is generally used to refer to a person of European descent or people perceived to not be culturally African.
Chop in the Nigerian pidgin English means to ‘eat’. Saying “I want to chop” means “I want to eat” or “I’m hungry”.
Shenkes is a strong pidgin word meaning a ‘beautiful girl’.
Agbero is a pidgin creole meaning motor park thugs or touts. Agbero could also refer to street boys characterized by waywardness or arrogance.