Talk like a Trini
In formal or business situations Trinbagonian’s write and speak Standard English. However visitors can’t help but hear a distinct difference in the way natives speak when in social settings.
The accent can be difficult to understand at times mainly because of the speed and cadence of the delivery. It has been compared to Welsh accent in the way they both sound like the speaker is singing their words. A Trini's choice of words are a mix of local Creole phrases and Standard English grammar with pronunciation that has been distinctly flavored by the country’s diverse cultural mix and history.
So to help you feel more connected and better infomed on your visit, we've compiled some useful vocabulary to help you get familiar with the local lingo.
An expression of surprise or indignation, spoken either very slowly in a questioning manner for effect, or quickly as an exclamation.
Accra (pronounced Ah, crah)
Fried saltfish fritter. From Yoruba word Akar(a).
A substitute for both the first person singular "I" and the article "A". For example, ah going to get ah cokes - I am going to get a coke.
A expressing of annoyance, vexation, exasperation, disappointment or disgust, similar in meaning and use to "Oh shucks". An expression that drives from the West African language heritage.
Ah Eh Able
An expression of exasperation, literally, I am not able. Give me patience. I can't keep up with you.
Ah Fine So
Literally, "I agree", or Wholehearted support. Usually said after a statement.
All Now So
Presently, now, at this moment. Tomorrow, all now so, we in Trinidad - tomorrow, at this time, we'll be in Trinidad.
East Indian delicacy, a soft fried bread filled with seasoned and spiced potato. A popular Trinidad festival food and appetizer.
All of you. This group. Similar to American idiom "you-all". Also expressed as, all'a all-yuh - every last one of you, everyone, everybody. An expression that drives from the West African language heritage.
Ask, as in to ax ah question. Same word and meaning but different pronunciation.
Costumed carnival character, died out by 1930s. Gaily dressed baby with bonnet, frilled dress and white wire masked face, which accused male spectators of being their father.
1: Scandal, confusion, loud quarreling that can be overheard. 2: The merrymaking and noisy confusion associated with all carnival events.
Bachac (pronounced Bah-chak)
Large red, leaf-cutter ants, but sometimes any large ant. From the Spanish-Conquistador word Bachaco.
To reverse, to step back.
Insolent answer, especially from a child to an adult. Argumentative and cheeky response.
To drive recklessly. To swerve a vehicle inconsiderately between moving traffic. To drive with complete disregard for others. To cut someone off in traffic.
Ba' John, Bad John
A gangster, a dangerous person with a violent reputation who pushes their weight around, and may have been to prison.
East Indian for melongene, egg-plant.
Fried or roasted flat bread, made with flour, water, salt and baking powder. Add coconut for coconut bake.
Balisier (pronounced Bal-ee-zay)
An exotic, red, tropical flower, that last for weeks. Heliconia species, belonging to the banana family. Flower used as symbol for the Peoples National Movement, one of Trinidad's political parties.
Posterior, rear end, behind, backside, bottom, buttocks. Often replaced by bumper in soca lyrics.
Barra (pronounced Ba-rah)
Fried East Indian bread used to make doubles
Costumed carnival character. A realistic portrayal in either brown, gray, black or white with large movable wings, and head resembling either a Vampire or Mavis bat. Presented with unique dance movements.
A descriptive synonym for Dragonfly. The English word "Batty", meaning crazy, odd, eccentric, and the patios word for woman, combined to describe the erratic flying patterns of this common insect.
1: Totally confused, dizzy, giddy, lightheaded. In a state of shock. Disoriented after an accident. 2: A state of confusion caused by the opposite sex, head over heels in love.
Beat Pan, Beatin' Pan
To play a steel-pan by striking the notes in sequence, with rubber-tipped sticks so as to produce a melodious sound. Also, to play pan, playin' pan.
Costumed character in devil band, rarely seen after 2000. St. John's seven headed beast. Looked somewhat like a dragon with movable eyes and tongue. Around its waist there were 3 lengths of chain held by imps. Presented with unique dance movements.
Ruling character in devil band, rarely seen after 2000. Keeper of the "Book of Laws", who wore a grotesque mask with horns and a costume made of red velvet or satin.
Behind God Back
A very distant place. A remote part of the island, so far away that even God can't see what is going on there.
Tobago candy made from sesame seeds, honey and molasses. Benay or Bennee is a word of African origin.
East Indian for Spinach, a word now commonly used in Trinidad.
Very similar to black pudding, blood pudding or blood sausage from the United Kingdom, except Trinidad black puddin' is well seasoned and spicy.
1: Dasheen, a root vegetable that has a blueish color when cooked. 2: Any Creole dish made with root vegetables (ground provisions like dasheen, eddoes, tanya, cassava, dumplings etc.), similar in meaning to "soul food".
Bold Face. A pushy, unreasonable and shamelessly demanding person.
Calabash bowl. Word of African origin.
Large round green fruit with a high carbohydrate flesh that must been cooked like a potato to be edible. Brought to the Caribbean from the East Indies by the infamous Captain Bligh of "Mutiny on the Bounty" fame, as an inexpensive way to feed slaves; it has since become a delicacy.
Break Away, Break 'Way
1: To dance wildly to a calypso tune. 2: A piece of music that is jumpy or up tempo, usually a fast moving portion of a calypso or soca tune.
Upbringing, conduct, character, manners.
Word of African origin. 1: Matter in the eye. 2: Stupid, dumb.
A breakfast or brunch dish, made from shredded salt-fish, onions, tomatoes, pepper, olive oil and sometimes avocado.
A bath made with the extract of certain plants, the application of which is supposed to stop a period of bad luck, or cure a sickness.
Costumed carnival character of Spanish origin, died out as street mas by 1960s. Donkey and rider in one; decorated horse or donkeys head protruded from a frame work worn around the waist of masquerader, with a long skirt to conceal legs - possibly a carnival costume that predates the 1783 Cedula of Population.
A descriptive synonym for Paratha Roti, a shredded roti that resembles a ripped up shirt.
Buh Wait Nah
But wait a moment, but hold on now, let me get this straight, be patient won't you.
Bus' Yuh Tail
1: To fall in an undignified manner. 2: A very bad beating, to be thrashed either physically or in a sporting event.
Caccachat (pronounced Ca-ca-shat)
Periwinkle. Common garden plant, usually with pink or white flowers.
A small tree with low spreading branches, which bares a hard shell gourds that were used extensively to make drinking utensils and bowls. The gourd can be shaped when young to produce different types of vessels.
1: A thick soup made from pureed dasheen leaves. 2: An unusual blend of ingredients, as in mix-up like callaloo.
1: A lyrical and often topical musical commentary that is usually composed for, but not limited to, the Carnival season. Trinidadian folk music.
2: A musical beat indigenous to Trinidad and the West Indies that is of West African origin, and which was made internationally famous during the 1950s by Harry Belafonte, the Andrew Sisters and others.
A person who composes and sings calypsos.
A venue featuring new calypsos and soca. Originally, a tent supported by a bamboo frame.
Carnival (pronounced Cah-na-vaal)
Farewell to the Flesh. The final indulgence before giving up wine, women and song for the 40 days of Lent. A pre-Lenten festival that begins almost immediately after Christmas in Trinidad. Actual celebrations start on Carnival Monday (Shrove Monday) with Jouvert and run for two days, ending with Las' Lap late on Carnival Tuesday (Mardi Gras - Fat Tuesday). During Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, costumed bands parade in the streets of Port-of-Spain, San Fernando, Scarborough and other cities throughout the islands.
Carnival Band, J'ouvert Band
1: A group of Carnival revelers united by a theme; a group of masqueraders. 2: An organization that produces and sells Carnival costumes to the public at Carnival time.
A relatively small, freshwater catfish with very large scales. Legend has it that those who eat Cascadoux will return to Trinidad.
Manioc root. A root vegetable. A ground provision that was grown and eaten by the Caribs and Arawaks, the original Trinidadians.
To fall in an undignified manner, an embarrassing fall, to loose ones balance completely.
The bright red, orchid-like national flower of Trinidad and Tobago.
Chickpea. A large pea used in the preparation of doubles and other East Indian dishes.
Very small, a tiny portion.
Butterfly Shells, small wedge shaped clams of assorted colours and patterns, usually found at low tide on the Trinidad East Coast beaches of Mayaro, Manzanilla and Balandra.
To step or walk in time with calypso and soca music, a dance-like shuffling march, an energy efficient gate used at carnival when dancing in a carnival band. As in, ah chippin' dong de road.
1: To stick, prod, poke, or puncture something. Ah picker chook meh – I've been stuck by a thorn. To chook someone' eye out – to take advantage of someone. To chook fire – to egg on someone in an argument, to add fuel to the fire in an argument. 2: To thrust your waist in a suggestive manner when dancing or winin', usually, to chook yuh wais'.
The act of frying aromatic herbs and spices in oil for addition to a recipe. An East Indian word now commonly used in Trinidad.
A stupid person, a fool.
Cigal (pronounced See-gall)
Cicada, an insect that produce a shrill noise by rubbing the edges of it's wings together. The males are famous for their shrill chirping at night, which Trinidad and Tobago folklore interprets as the insects callin' for rain.
The coconut forest, made up of a collection of old coconut estates, that stretchs along Cocos Bay, from Manzanilla to Mayaro.
A small, orange sub species of Heliconias, which grow in wild profusion under the coconut trees of the Cocal.
Cocoa Panyol, Cocoa Payol
Person of Creole and Venezuelan mix. Comes from patois word for Spanish, "espagnol", and historical association between this group and the growing of cacao.
A beverage made from cocoa, usually consumed at breakfast. Sometimes also coffee tea, bush tea. A tea is made by seeping any edible plant in steaming water. A tea made with orange peel is sometimes used as a cooling, to cleanse the blood.
The woody shaft of the leaves from a coconut tree branch. The dried shafts are used to make yard brooms, handcrafts and kites.
A bunch of cocoyea tied together to make a hand broom that is used for sweeping yards and in certain rituals.
Rufus Vented Chacalaca. Tobago's National Bird.
Coki-Eye (pronounced Co-key-eye)
1: Cross-eyed, cock-eyed. When the pupils of both eyes focus on the bridge of the nose. 2: Can't see straight.
Confusion, controversy and bacchanal associated with arguments and gossip.
Cornmeal and okra pudding. Originally Fu-Fu, a dish of direct West African origin made from yams.
Corbeaux (pronounced Co-bow)
Black Turkey Vulture. A common turkey-sized scavenger.
Flamboyant. To dress in outlandishly coloured clothes. To have weird, strange or bizarre tastes in colors, clothing or decor.
Cote Ce Cote La (pronounced Co-tay-see Co-tay lah)
Patios meaning, to quote them. To spread a rumor, to pass along hearsay.
Costumed carnival character, extinct by 1960s. Originally played by abattoir employees.
A delicious soup made from the gelatinous heel bones of a cow.
A local delicacy made with local Blue Back or Mangrove crabs.
Crapaud (pronounced Cra-po)
A large, brown terrestrial species of frog.
Very poor or illegible handwriting.
1: A person of African heritage. 2: The version of English spoken in the Caribbean.
Hearty food based on African cooking traditions, usually includes root vegetables, ground provisions like dasheen, eddoes, tanya, cassava, and dumplings.
To eat heartily or quickly.
Idiot. A stupid or foolish person.
Cut Ass, Cut Tail
A sound beating or trashing.
Costumed carnival character. Usually a male portrayal of a fashionable French lady with large bosoms and posterior.
Pretty clothes, Sunday best.
A large verity of Taro root. An edible root vegetable.
Taro root leaves, the basic ingredient for callaloo. Also, callaloo bush.
Dat Cyar Wok'
That can't work, that's impossible.
De, Dat, Dem, Dis
The, that, them, this.
Extra marital partner.
One of several mud volcanoes in southern Trinidad.
A flat East Indian bread or roti that is filled with spiced split peas.
Dimanche Gras (pronounced Dee-marsh-gra)
Trinidad's primer Carnival show held on Carnival Sunday (Fat Sunday), the night before Carnival, when finalists for the prestigious titles of King and Queen of Carnival, and Calypso Monarch compete on stage at the Queens Park Savanna.
1: To dance with joyous, carefree abandon. 2: To flaunt, to tease playfully.
Diwali (pronounced Divali)
The Hindu festival of lights, when oil filled diyas are lit in celebration to welcome Lactchmi, the goddess of light.
Small clay lamps - earthenware bows usually filled with coconut oil and a cotton wick that is set alight - which are placed in yards, along fences, and along geometric designs made from split bamboo to celebrate the Hindu festival of Diwali.
Doh Make Joke!
Don't say that, you don't say. Really?
Doh Mine Dem, Doh Pay Dem No Mine
Don't pay any attention to them. Don't worry about them. Don't be concerned with them.
1: Don't play the fool. I wouldn't do that if I were you. 2: You don't say?
Dong De Islands
Down the Islads. A collective noun for the Boca Islands, Gasparee, Monos, Huevos, Chacachacare etc., a mecca for vacationers, boating, sailing, fishing, swimming, snorkeling and picnicking.
A seed resembling a donkey's eye that is often found on Trinidad's east coast beaches. The seed gets so hot when rubbed vigorously that it can almost burn skin.
Dotish (pronounced Dough-tish)
Silly, stupid, foolish, dumb. Likely from the English word "doltish" meaning slow witted.
An East Indian snack that has become a national breakfast food in Trinidad, made of curried chick peas placed between 2 barra hence the name.
A person of mixed race, usually African and East Indian ancestry.
Doux-Doux (pronounced Doo-doo)
French patios meaning, sweet-sweet. Expression of endearment. Sweetheart, darling, honey. Often used together with darling as in Doo-doo darlin'.
Drevait (pronounced Dree-vay)
Knock about, wayward person. To be aimless.
Very early. Well in advance of...
No problem. Very simple.
1: Get off my back, ease off, ease off the pressure, let off the hook.
2: To help out financially.
A small verity of Taro root. A root vegetable or ground provision. Eddoes provide a flavorful alternative to potatoes and are prepared in similar ways.
Multi-purpose word/expression of African origin that can be used: 1: In place of "isn't" - Dat eh right, 2: In place of "didn't" - She eh come. 3: At the end of a plea or threat in place of "okay" - Bring some for meh, eh, or Watch out, eh. 4: On its own as a query to mean, "what was that?" or "what did you say?"
Absolutely not, no way!
An expression that can mean many things dependent on infraction, including... Oh really? I understand. Yes.
Eh Makin' Joke
Very serious matter. Not making a joke.
Isn't that so? Isn't that true?
To check out someone, to look someone over from head to foot.
To get annoyed with someone, to stop speaking with someone or terminate a friendship.
Farse an' Out'a Place
Presumptuous, busybody, nosey. Meddles in the personal affairs of others. Doesn't know their place.
The act of meddling in someone else's business.
Back chat. To boast. To make meaningless promises.
To ridicule someone, to tease or heckle them. To cleverly poke fun.
To take after, to look like or resemble, as in Dat chile really favour de fadda - That child really looks like the father.
The state of being fed-up or bored.
Fete (pronounced Fet)
Patios meaning, to feast, celebrate or live it up. A super-sized party that must include loud music, good food, alcohol, and dancing until wee hours of the morning.
Take a drink. To have alcoholic drink. Fire one fo' de road - Take one last drink before you begin your journey home.
Stokers dressed in merinos, wearing thick gloves and goggles, pushing long iron rods before them in a unique carnival dance.
Flambeau (pronounced Flam-bow)
Patios meaning, a torch. A simple lantern, made from a cloth wick stuffed into a bottle filled with kerosene.
1: Before the dawn, before the morning. Early dawn, before the cock crows. 2: Sometime in the future, eventually.
Leg, everything between crotch and toes.
1: Precious behavior. A young person who acts older than they are, and in so doing looks laughable. 2: A fruit that colors-up and looks ripe before it is fully grown.
Stink, foul smelling, odorous.
1: Caught red handed. 2: Frankly speaking.
The freedoms extender to a person by their parents, significant other of boss. When privileges are rebuked the retort might be Free-paper bu'n - Good times are over, your freedom is at and end. Originally from emancipation, freedom papers.
Expression that includes but is not limited to, fair-skinned, upper middle class decedents of French aristocracy. Any fair-skinned local with money.
Someone who returns to Trinidad with a heavy, put on American accent after spending only a short time abroad. Originally, someone who acquires a "Yankee" accent without leaving Trinidad (literally, without leaving the fresh water, without crossing the sea). Someone with a false accent.
To knock about, to roam aimlessly.
1: To show off. To publicly flaunt ones position or status. To strut. 2: The veranda of a house, an open room where people passing in the street can see you, similar to a patio.
Cavinadazh. Highly seasoned and pickled pork dish, of Portuguese origin, made with garlic, thyme, Scotch bonnet (habaneros) peppers and vinegar.
Gayippe (pronounced Gayap)
Patios, an undertaking by friends to work together for the benefit of one. Homes were built this way in the past.
A pungent, spicy drink made from ginger root, often fermented but always sweetened and served cold.
Goat mouth. To be able to predict exactly how things will turn out, usually for the worst. To put goat mout' on someone - to blight someone with bad luck, to predict an almost certain negative outcome.
Praying Mantis or stick insect. Direct translation of Yoruba word for Praying Mantis.
Flip-flops. A slipper without a heel strap, so that the only way you can walk is forward.
To make empty threats. To boast or brag without intending to follow through.
Young bananas that are edible when cooked.
Story teller of folktales in the African tradition.
Suitcase, a small bag for holding clothes, a valise.
Root vegetables or root crops.
Strongly aromatic fruit with a flavor similar to passion fruit. Makes excellent preserves, jams, pies and deserts. Word of Amerindian origin.
A crabs claw. Also, Moda, Mudder.
Fighting words. Bravado. To threaten verbally.
Girl. Young woman.
Soft candy, or sweet, which is fun to stretch.
Arm, everything between shoulder and fingers.
Wait, Hold on a while, just one moment, don't be impatient.
To ignore or be ignored. To leave someone out.
Light, round, crusty bread favored for making sandwiches.
To cheat on, or be cheated on by, your significant other.
One who never stays home. Always out doing something.
In De Bamboo
To put someone in an awkward position. To be in trouble.
Is Late Yuh Late, Is Vex Yuh Vex
African sentence structure meaning 'he is very late', 'he is very mad.'
Is that so?
Is So Yuh Stop
Is that how you normally behave?
Is You To Ketch
It's your problem now. You are the one in trouble now.
The iron brake hub for an auto wheel, which is beaten to provide the driving rhythm associated with steelband, calypso and soca music.
A precisionist who beats an iron brake hub with a short steel rod creating the driving rhythm specific to calypso and soca music.
Group of Iron men and other percussion instruments is a steelband. The engine room, the soul, the center, the rhythmic heart of soca and steelband music.
A dark-brown paper wasp that builds it nest in and around houses, often near the ceiling. Becomes aggressive if disturbed. Can inflict a very painful sting. Folklore says that a Jack Spania nests in the home mean money and happiness.
Woman of questionable morals, who frequents places of ill repute.
Underclass. Uncouth and immoral person. From the French "diametre" meaning beneath the diameter of respectability, or from the underworld. Originally used by the plantocracy to describe persons of a certain class. Like Jagabat, but applies to both males and females.
Outbursts or exclamations of exasperation. Used as non-sacrilegious outburst. Used for any reason where an outburst is appropriate.
Biting insect or flea. Word of African origin.
Heavy, disc-shaped roasted bread. Originally, Journey Bake, cooked so that it would remain edible for a long journey. Also, Roast Bake.
1: To stab, prod or poke.
Jouvert, J'Ouvert, Jouvay
Patios meaning "Opening of the day". The start of Carnival celebrations. Traditionally the time when revelers take to the streets wearing old clothes, and cover themselves with mud, oil and such. Jouvert celebrations originally included a host of Carnival characters and ol' mas' representations, consisting of political or humorous commentary.
The most sort after and popular variety of mango.
1: Mischievous spirit, malevolent ghost. An evil spirit. A being that returns from the dead. 2: A person who inhabits the night. Originally from Angola.
Striking scarlet red and black seed. Some species are poisonous. A string of Jumbie Beads worn around the ankle is believed to ward off bad luck
Owl. Folklore interprets the screech of a Jumbie Bird at night to mean some one is going to die soon.
Large poisonous mushroom. Literally, spirit umbrella.
1: To dance to calypso and soca. To precipitate in the Carnival masquerade, particularly pretty mas' on Carnival Tuesday. 2: A prancing, energetic, jumping dance done in response to calypso and soca music at Carnival time.
Jump Up An' Kiss Me
Low running, brightly flowered plant commonly found in Tobago
Just like that? An exclamation in response to an unprovoked event. Also means, out of the blue, without rhyme or reason, without warning.
West African expression similar to "Bravo!" or "Well done!"
Lopsided, leaning to one side, bent or twisted.
Extremely tasty, large, sweet, golden-pulped orange with thick, rough rind.
Common, bright-yellow chested bird with a distinctive "Ques Que Se?" call.
Langiappe (pronounced Lan-yappe)
A little extra, a bonus, a little more than what was paid for.
To idle. To take ones sweet time to do something. To goof off. Worthless or lazy, from the Congo "laha" meaning to sit and beg.
Patios "le vral", meaning the truth. A form of calypso that reports the truth as seen by the singer or composer.
To beat or thrash. Also, a tongue lashing.
Last lap. The closing moments of Carnival, the last circuit of the parade on Carnival Tuesday night. The very last street party before the close of Carnival at midnight.
A beating. Any physical punishment.
1: To hang out to pass the time, or chill out. When a group engages in a prearranged activity. To bus ah lime - to congregate for idle chatter with a group of friends. 2: A group or circle of friends who regularly hang out together. Originally, to relax and do nothing like a limey (A "limey" is a New World nickname for a British person, a term that originated from British sailors eating limes to prevent scurvy).
Character in a devil band, which is very rarely seen today. King Lucifer wears a crown on his grotesque horned head. A fork is his scepter and a globe is his orb.
Folklore character that is able to change their shape in the night.
Macajuel (pronounced Mah-cah-well)
1: Boa-constrictor. Non–venomous snake that crushes its pray with its coils, swallows its pray whole then spend weeks or months at rest digesting.
2: Macajuel syndrome - the feeling one gets after a large meal when one feels tired. 3: A slothful person.
Meal made with leftovers. Patios, literally meaning "food stuck between the fork".
Maco (pronounced Mah-co)
1: Someone who minds other peoples business, a busy-body. A gossip. To maco is to spy on, to observe with malicious intent. 2: Huge, anything overly big, as in dat maco house – that huge house.
A busybody. Someone with the traits of a maco.
Macumere (pronounced Mah-co-may)
A good, old, close, female friend. A confidante and mentor.
A man who is useless around the house, a lazy man, even effeminate.
Very thin, frail, boney. Often repeated for emphasis.
Makin' Market, Make Groceries
Buying, shopping for, doing the weekly shopping.
Mal Yeux (pronounced Mal-joe)
Patios meaning bad-eye. Evil eye. An evil curse, hex or spell cast on someone, and any discomfort or illness believed to be its result.
To make fun of, or poke fun at. To fool someone with slick reasoning or smart talk. To ridicule. To take advantage of someone. To pretend support or encouragement.
Mentally weak, gullible or spineless. Of weak character, someone who is easily taken advantage of. Hen-pecked.
Brown, rough skinned grapefruit sized fruit with sweet firm orange flesh.
Preparation made with full but not yet ripe mangoes, seasoned with vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic; somewhat like a mango salsa but with slices of mango. A favorite with young Trinidadians and Tobagonians.
A child acting like a grownup.
Opossum. A nocturnal, arboreal, rodent-like marsupial with a prehensile tail, which rears it young in a pouch.
A brown, terrestrial mountain crab that lives in the forest. A relative of Trinidad Blue and Mangrove crabs. Very good to eat, has a slightly sweet flesh and a hard shell.
Abbreviation for mask, masker, masking, masquerader or carnival costume. To play mas is to wear a carnival costume at Carnival time, to join in the masquerade, or carnival band.
A Carnival band's headquarters. Traditionally the place where Carnival costumes are made, sold and distributed.
Mas In Yuh Mas, Dat Is Mas
Expressions of delight and appreciation for well presented Carnival band or costume.
Everything is now organized, set in place or completed.
Bark from the Carob tree that is made into a drink, the bark looks similar to cinnamon, but has a taste more reminiscing of root beer.
Mauvais Langue (pronounced Mo-vay-lang)
Patios meaning, bad tongue. To speak ill of someone. To gossip about or carry down.
Roving band of public entertainers, with whitened faces in the blackface tradition, who played black music reminiscent of the southern United States.
Stilt dancer. Spirits of African mythology and tradition that evolved into Carnival characters.
A very stupid person.
Any worse. Superlative, as in T'ings couldn't get more worse.
1: Used at the end of a plea or request to replace "please", as in Bring some for meh nuh? 2: Used in response to an annoyance to replace "no", as in Doh do dat nah, or to mean "Absolutely not" as in Nah man.
1: A fairy tale. A folk tail given by the spider Brier Ananci. West African children's stories and folk tails similar to Brier Rabbit stories in the United States. Trinidad versions include stories told by "Anansi" the spider, about forest animals, dwens or douyens (the souls of children who died before being christened) from Central Africa; and socouyants from the Fula/Fulani people of West Africa, and the Soninke people of the Savannah Belt. 2: A lame excuse, or cock and bull story.
1: Godmother. 2: To experience hard times or adversity, to catch yuh tail, or catch yuh nennen.
A kind of witchcraft practiced in the West Indies based on African magic rites, similar to Voodoo.
Obeah Man, Obeah Woman
Someone who practices obeah. To wok' obeah - to work magical spells, to attempt to influence other through the use of obeah.
1: Clumsy, ungainly, a bull in a china shop. 2: Awkward in appearance, anything twisted and out of shape.
That’s nasty. Exclamation used in response to an offensive smell.
Oh Gorm Man
An all-inclusive expression of surprise, sadness, admiration or indignation, dependent on inflection.
Oil down. A traditional dish made from breadfruit, salted pork and ground provisions, stewed down in coconut milk. Delicious.
1: Idle chatter, chitchat or clever social banter. 2: A smooth argument used to wiggle out of a sticky situation, or charm ones way into someone's good graces.
Ol' T'ief (pronounced Ol' Teef)
Old thief. A habitual thief, someone who has a reputation of taking advantage or stealing from others.
Patios meaning, yes. Used at the end of a sentence or exclamation to give emphasis, as in All yuh good, oui.
Patios expression of surprise, literally "yes do", but used in Trinidad to mean, what madness, what foolishness.
Patios meaning, yes father. Expression of surprise, as in Oui pappa, look trouble reach.
Expression of surprise. Often associates with stubbed toes, hurt, pain, and bad news. Somewhat like "Ouch!" or "Oh no!" Also a sigh of exasperation.
Oyster vendor, who sells oysters that are found growing on Mangrove tree roots in local swamps.
Paime (pronounced Pay-me)
A sweet corn dumpling raped in banana leaves and boiled. Similar to pastelle.
Frozen fruit lolly, ice cream sucker. A Pallet Man is someone who sells pallets form a small bicycle cart.
Steel-pan, steel-drum. Musical instrument invented in Trinidad between the late 1930s and the early 1940s. A tempered oil drum with notes grooved into one end that are struck with rubber tipped sticks to produce a melodious sound. The only musical instrument invented in the 20th century. An instrument in a steelband or steel orchestra.
Pannist, Pan Man, Pan Woman
Person who plays pan as a musical instrument.
A steelband's headquarters. The place where a steelband holds their rehearsals. Traditionally an open yard or vacant plot of land.
Word of Amerindian origin. Fruit similar to Papaya, which is the Hawaiian variety most often available in supermarkets. Paw-paw is indigenous to the Caribbean and Central America. Fruits can weigh up to 10 pounds, and reach 15-inches long. The flesh can be either yellow, orange or pink. Both Paw-paw and Papaya aid digestion, and can be used to tenderize meat.
Patios meaning, father of the woods. African folklore character, the protector of animals, who is bearded, aged and very hairy, has cloven hooves for feet and carries a hunting horn.
An exclamation of great surprise.
To ridicule or make fun of someone or something.
Christmas music with a distinctive South American flavor. Originated with Spanish Priests teaching native Amerindians biblical stories. Derived form the Spanish word "parandero" meaning serenader. Soca parang is a calypsofied and updated version of parang, a Trinidad Christmas calypso.
Small street corner cafeteria where cold drinks and snacks can be purchased.
A Christmas delicacy, made from pork, beef, olives, raisins and other seasonings, wrapped in a corn dough then covered in banana leaves and steamed.
A very popular one-pot rice dish. A cook-up made of rice, pigeon peas and usually chicken or beef. An excellent meal to take to the beach.
Patios name for a short dry spell, usually in September during the height of the rainy season. Similar to an Indian summer in North America.
Ponchacrema, Punch de Creme, Punch-a-Creme
A potent Christmas drink made with eggs, condensed milk, and rum served over crushed ice, and sprinkled with either bitters or grated nutmeg.
Holi. A Hindu religious festival where song, dance and music play and important part, and where spectators throw abeer, a brightly colored powder.
Trinidad street food of East Indian origin. Small fried balls of split pea flour served in a thin slightly sweet chutney sauce, usually mango or tamarind.
Thorn. Doh touch dat bush, it have picka.
To tease, heckle, ridicule, make fun of.
Grenada Clown. A scholar who boasts great learning in speeches that demonstrate his ingenious language. Dresses in tatted rags, his costume would also include discarded tins and small boxes, a straw hat strewn with shrubbery, a whip and sometimes a hart motif on his chest. Heart shaped motif on chest and whip links this character with Jab-Jabs and earlier Canboulay stick fighters.
Congo Peas. A small, speckled, smooth pea that is the main ingredient in pelau and other Trinidad rice dishes and soups.
Pissant (pronounced Pis-sant)
Insignificant, small, beneath contempt.
Good for nothing. Person of no consequence, class or importance.
A lake of heavy, almost solid crude oil. Open tar pit. At one time it was considered one of the wonders of the world. Located in La Brea in southern Trinidad. Visited by Sir Walter Raleigh on voyage to discover El Dorado. Used to surface roads in Trinidad and Tobago.
Kerosene, or tar oil. Hearkens back to a time when oil was extracted from the pitch in the Pitch Lake. Pitch is an archaic English word, "pich" meaning tar. Interestingly, the Amerindian word for the material in the Pitch Lake was "piche".
To hit someone with the flat part of a cutlass.
When someone pretends to be of higher social status. To put on airs.
Pomme Cythere (pronounced Pom-se-tay)
Patios meaning, golden apple. Sweet golden colored fruit with a spiky, woody seed that is often eaten green with salt. Used to make anchar.
Patios believed to mean, Maracas apple. Red pear shaped fruit with white cottony flesh and a large seed.
A heavy, sweet pudding made of cassava and sweet potato.
Brightly colored (yellow and pink) flowering trees. One of the most beautiful flowering Trees in Trinidad. Blooms at the end of the dry season.
Pouyont (pronounced Poo-your)
Bow. Chinese steamed bun filled with barbecued pork.
1: A wardrobe, an upright closet in which clothes and other items are kept. 2: Shaved ice, similar to a snowcone, that was pressed into a block and then dipped into fruit syrup.
High potency homemade rum.
Quai D'or Say (Croisee - pronounced Quay-zay)
The main junction in the San Juan area, which reputedly never sleeps.
Withered or dried up.
Outfitted with flair, stylishly dressed. As in, How yuh hair queff up so, yuh going somewhere?
To grab suddenly.
To verbally abuse, insult or make a fool of someone.
Rumple, ruffle, tousle or wrinkle. As in Doh ramfle dat paper, eh.
Flying termites that appear during the rainy season, and shed their wings soon after flight.
Rain Set Up
Dark threatening clouds signifying impending rain.
1: To show off. Flamboyant and creative display during a musical solo or dance. 2: To carry on at length.
Packed to capacity, crammed to overflowing. As in, Dat fete was ramcram.
1: A scheme. 2: A patched up job.
A spicy, sweet mango preserve of Chinese origin that is eaten as a snack.
Extravagant, braggadocios, meaningless, long-winded empty threats.
Trinidad Carnival's top calypso or soca tune. The tune most played while Carnival bands parade cross Port-of-Spain's numerous stages. The winner of the Road March Competition, a title that includes a significant cash prize and considerable prestige.
A hard, heavy cookie or scone that is often made with grated coconut.
A flat tortilla-like bread of East Indian origin, into which is folded a spicy mixture of curried meat and potato. Roti has almost acquired the status of a national dish in Trinidad. A very popular and delicious Trinidad fast food.
The red, powdery, natural food coloring, originally used by native Amerindians as a body dye, among other things.
Run Money, Run Woman
To pursue money, to pursue women.
A thick split pea based soup featuring a selection of ground provisions, salted meat and other odds and ends.
Further thought. Patios, "sans humanite" meaning without humanity, without pity. Often a chorus or refrain in older calypsos that boasted of the singer's exploits
Large plum sized, brown, rough skinned fruit with a sweet pulpy flesh and flat black seed. Sap provides chicle for chewing gum.
To be without money, down on your luck, broke. Also expressed as, Catchin' yuh tail.
Sea Blast. The Trade Winds. The constant, salt laden wind that quickly rusts items made from iron.
A seaweed extract that is mixed with milk and sugar to produce a delicious, nourishing cold drink.
Lots of... Ah set ah money - A lot of money. Ah set ah noise - A lot of noise.
Maracas, rattle-like instrument made for a hollow calabash filled with a small quantity of seeds. Used in parang.
Pomelo. A thick skinned and pithed relative of the grapefruit. Candy made from the thick pith of a Pomelo.
Pungent smelling herb with a similar flavor to coriander. Very popular seasoning, used in many dishes.
Religious ritual of the Shouter Baptists, celebrated with drumming, vibrant dancing and chanting. The sacrifice of chickens and goats is often used as part of the ritual. Participants and sometimes onlooker's ketch de power, a form of religious ecstasy. Includes some elements of African ritual magic.
Shatwell, Chantuelle, Chanteuse
Old time calypsonian. During the earliest celebrations after emancipation, popular singers called shatwells (Patois "chantuelle" or "chanteuse") would egg on stick fighters and improvise veiled lyrics about unpopular figures. When groups met the shatwells would start a singing "war", with clever and witty barbs directed at the apposing group.
Small thick banana with a silky, smooth texture. Must be eaten when completely ripe, otherwise it will tie up yuh mout'.
The new music of the Caribbean. A modem up-tempo version of calypso created in Trinidad by Ras Shorty I (Garfield Blackman, the father of soca, also known as Lord Shorty) that is a blend of calypso, African and East Indian rhythms. A fast, jumpy, modern but uniquely Caribbean beat.
To be moody, can't be counted on.
Cat call, pisssit!. A rude call usually directed at a woman, made by sucking or blowing air across the teeth and puckered lips.
Deep, red skinned fruit, related to Hibiscus and Okra, the pulp of which is made into a delicious Christmas drink.
Soucouyant (pronounced Soo-coo-yah)
Folklore character: An old hag who sheds her human skin at night and transform into a ball of fire, sucking the blood of her victims while they sleep. Legend has it that if salt is thrown on her skin before she can reenter it, she will die.
Boiled pig trotters seasoned with pepper, cucumber, onion salt and lime that is often served on Sunday as a late breakfast or brunch.
From the Yoruba word "esusu", a cooperative African banking system or way of saving money, where a group of people contribute a monthly sum, each drawing one hand in turn at the agreed upon time.
Public water supply. Standing post with a tap affixed for water distribution that are usually located on the main road in rural areas.
A steel-pan orchestra, sometimes with over 100 instruments, capable of playing a wide verity of music including classical, pop and of course calypso.
A melodic percussion instrument originally made from discarded oils drums, first invented in Trinidad during the early 1940s, heard publicly for the first time when Carnival resumed after World War II.
Stick Break In Yuh Ears
Refuses to listen to advise. Stubborn, contrary, disobedient. Trinidad saying, African structure.
String Ban' Ah People
A lot of people. String band is an old term for a carnival band from the days when stringed instruments were used.
A sound made when air is sucked into the mouth between teeth and lips. A show of disapproval, disdain or disagreement. Also expressed as, Cheups, or to suck yuh teet.
Very easy, without much effort, as in Dat was suck-eye!
Confectionery made from grated coconut and sugar, to which food coloring is added.
Sweet Drink, Soft Drink
Pop, soda, carbonated drink.
To give someone a saucy or romantic wink
Small Velcro-like, green seeds that stick to socks and other clothing.
A man who is kept by a woman.
Swell Up Yuh Face
To pout, to look angry.
Tabanca (pronounced Ta-bang-ka)
Love sick. Forlorn. That low feeling you get when a love affair or relationship end abruptly. Word of African origin.
Tamarind (pronounced Tam-bran)
Brown crisp, easily broken pods, which contain and extremely acid tasting fleshy covered black seeds. The fleshy covering on the seeds is used to make Tamarind balls.
Bamboo drum rarely see today. Comes from Congolese word "utambu" meaning 'drum'.
Aunty. Tanty, a'nty and uncle, are terms of familiar respect used by children to address adult relatives, family friends and also adults who are not known by name.
A root vegetable also eaten in Africa. A ground provision that provides an excellent and nutritious alternative to potato.
Through Waist (pronounced T'row Wais')
The ability to wine well, as in, Dat gyul could t'row wais' - That girl can really wine.
Very low growing shrub, the leaves of which close to exposed thorns when the plant is touched. Very common in open grassy areas.
Thing and Three. The silent "H".
When people who are in love engage in play hitting and fighting, in an effort to hide their true feelings.
Now. Immediately. Bring it fo' meh today-today - bring it for me now.
Expression of surprise.
One of Trinidad's earliest candies from the days of slavery, made from molasses and grated coconut. Derived from a West African word meaning to "pull out teeth".
1: Confused, dazed, gullible. 2: Head over heels in love.
Patios meaning, everything, including the kitchen sink.
Toute Monde (pronounced Toot-moon)
Patios meaning, everybody, the entire world, every man jack.
A track, path or unfinished road. From archaic Middle English, Anglo-French meaning, a course or path someone takes.
A Trinidadian. Someone born in Trinidad.
Anytime. Always late for appointments. Little regard for time, island time.
When fun is made of an embarrassing truth. Being heckled about embarrassing or personal information.
Twenty Four Hours
A lizard, so named because folklore insists that if it lands on your skin it will remain stuck to you for 24 hours, unless it is removed with a hot iron.
2 story dwelling.
An offensive smell, putrid. Dat vampin' man - that really smells bad.
Sudden strange behavior or inexplicable movement. To suddenly behave in an uncharacteristic or excited manner. As in, He catch ah vaps - he had a fit. May have evolved from the Victorian English term "caught the vapors" or "suffering from the vapors" which meant, to become lightheaded or to faint.
Veni Mange (pronounced Veni Ma-zchay)
Patois meaning "Come and eat".
Vere (pronounced Veh)
One of the most common varieties of mango. Mango Vere.
To be angry, annoyed. To anger, to annoy. From the English word, vexation, a word rarely used in other English speaking countries. Ah vex yes - I am extreemly annoyed. Doh ge' meh vex, nuh - Don't get me angry, you hear.
To do things is a reckless, careless, unreliable, indecisive or haphazard manner.
To thoroughly enjoy yourself dancing. To dance with abandon. As in, Ah wail dong de place.
Waste down. To belittle. To make someone look small.
A rowdy or uncouth person. May be derived from the name of an Amerindian tribe that people of the time judged to be uncouth because they insisted on going naked, and maintaining their traditional lifestyle. See Warahoun', just below.
Walk Wit' Yuh Two Han' Swingin'
To come empty handed, especially when contributions are expected.
To enter without being invited. To enter with airs, self-importance. To turn up unexpectedly.
A rowdy, quarrelsome person. A ruffian. A wild man. From Guarahoons, an Amerindian tribe that left Trinidad when priests insisted they wear cloths, who returned each year until the 1920s on a pilgrimage to visit Tamana, a sacred mountain from their creation myth. And who, by all contemporary accounts, were reasonable peaceful and civilized, except for their insistence on maintaining their traditional lifestyle.
Dishes, pots and pans. All the utensils necessary to prepare and eat a meal.
Old fashioned canvas sneakers.
Expression of exasperation or disbelief.
What happened? What's the matter with you? Are you annoyed with me? How did it happen?
When Ah Tell Yuh
Words can not describe. Believe me.
When Cock Ha' Teet'
There's no way. It will never happen. Literally, that will only happen when chickens grow teeth.
Who Sen' Meh
How did I get involved. Expression of regret.
Pale colored geckos, which come out at night, often indoors, to eat bugs attracted by electric lights.
A sexually suggestive dance using rhythmic gyrations of the hips and waist. To roll or rotate hips and waist in a suggestive, winding manner.
Very large misshapen feet, with toes spread apart.
Yam It Down
To eat quickly, or with great haste. To devour hungrily.
You An' All
You too. Including you.
Costumed carnival character that was still very much alive in the back yards of eastern Trinidad on Jouvert Mornings during the 1970s and 80s. Dressed in old clothes, wearing a wire mask, and carrying a cocoyea broom this character would demand payment for sweeping yards. Refusal resulted in vandalism much like old North American trick or treat.
You Good Yes, You Al' Right Oui!
You can afford to say so. Better you than me. That may be fine for you.
People like you.
Yuh Business Fix
You are all organized now.
Yuh Coo-coo Cook
You are in big trouble.
Yuh Makin' Joke
You can't be serious. See Doh Make Joke.
Yuh T'ink It Easy?
It is not as simple as you think. Believe it or not.
1. A fast moving ground lizard.
A hot tip. Gossip whispered in secret.
1: Broken razor blades tied to a kites tail to cut the string of other kites. 2: A thin person.