We’ve all seen books, brochures and pamphlets promising to teach us how to “speak Jamaican”. Usually they offer a few hackneyed, sanitized expressions that even my grandmother no longer uses. Jamaican parlance, as spoken on the streets, on the buses and in school yards is vigorous, colourful and politically incorrect. It is expressive, blunt and used more often to wound than to uplift. We apologise in advance to those who will find that the list below demonstrates a strong vein of misogyny and homophobia in the average Jamaican BUT if you really want to speak like a native, forget the “how to” books, put aside your delicate sensibilities, and add the following words and phrases to your vocabulary:
Bad Mind: Ill will, hatred or envy. If the average Jamaican is to be believed, bad mind is the source of 99% of all problems in life.
Bait: A person unworthy of respect.
Battery: Where a woman allows a number of men to have intercourse with her one after the other. The motivation of the men involved is clear. The motivation of the female less so…
Battery Dolly: Term used to describe the woman in the definition above.
Battyman: Male homosexual. “Batty” means bottom… You get the picture.
Boogering: The sex act as practiced by Battymen (male homosexuals). Doubtlessly derived from the word Buggery.
Bowcat: A man who indulges in cunnilingus. (Cunnilingus being widely regarded in Jamaica as one of the seven deadly sins)
Cass Cass: Controversy. (See Mix Up)
Crimoojin: Mean. Tight-fisted. Grasping.
Dark: Ignorant, unsophisticated. e.g. “Him dark an ignorant like…”
Fast like ten battyman: As quick/speedy as ten homosexual males. The roots of this expression are unknown. It appears, however, to be a common Jamaican belief that homosexual males are particularly fleet of foot – perhaps because of the need to be able to escape crowds of murderous Jamaican homophobes? We look forward to the results of recent studies into the relationship between homosexuality and speed.
Fassy: A weak, effeminate man or homosexual
Fish: A weak effeminate man or homosexual. A Fassy.
Fruit: A weak effeminate man or… You get the picture…
From Wappy kill Fillup: A long time ago. Who was Wappy? Who was Fillup? What was the dispute that led to Fillup’s untimely demise at Wappy’s hands? Who knows? Maybe Fillup called Wappy a “Fassy”? All we know is that it happened long enough ago that the expression is now used as shorthand for a time long since past.
F#ckery: Any kind of injustice, ill treatment or vulgar behaviour. F#ckery is usually perpetrated by Bad Mind people. (see definition of Bad Mind above) e.g. "Yow, dat is utter f#ckery star!"
Jing Bang: A person (esp. female) of loose morals and coarse behaviour. (See Leggo Beast)
Joe Grind: Man who frequently indulges in illicit sexual liaisons with women who are neither his wife or girlfriend.
Leggo Beast: A loud, coarse woman usually with loose morals. (See Jing Bang)
Matey: In Jamaica where a woman's boyfriend or husband has an "outside woman" that woman is described as the girlfriend or wife's "matey". Curiously enough, the terminology almost seems to imply that the relationship (however bitter and competitive) lies more between wife/girlfriend and outside woman and not husband/boyfriend and outside woman!
Mix Up: Controversy, scandal or confusion. Also known as “Ray Ray” Sure to follow when Jing Bang clashes with Leggo Beast
Mumma Lashy: A person (usu. Female) who frequently indulges in loud verbal confrontations and cass cass.
Pop Down: Exhausted. Worn out.
Pum Pum: The female genitalia. The object of the reverence, devotion and affection of every red-blooded Jamaican male... who is not a Fassy, Fish or Fruit.
P#ssy Watch Man: Man in the habit of keeping close watch on his wife/significant other’s movements. A prudent step when Joe Grind is in town. Also sometimes known as a “Mr. Watchy Pums”
Root up the gas: To consume any hot drink (tea, coffee, etc) with the intention of causing oneself to belch, thereby ridding oneself of excess gas.
Sketel: Loud coarse woman usually with loose morals. (See Leggo Beast or Jing Bang)
Sort out: Sexual intercourse. e.g. "Yow, mi get a proper sort out last night, star!"
Stabbin’ Cabin: The term is taken from a popular dancehall song of the 1980’s and refers to a place used as a regular venue for illicit sexual liaisons. (Sounds like the scene of a crime? Well, in a manner of speaking, it is)
Trace: To curse, esp. in a vulgar, abusive manner
War Boat: A bellicose, combative person.