All kerpunkle up. She is a jungaless. Dis ting go with sense. These are just a few Bahamian words and phrases you need to know before heading to The Bahamas.
The Bahamian dialect is by far one of the most colourful and creative on the planet.
Add in our unique accent and you’ll find it’s hard not to smile when you hear us speak.
Over the years, tourists have asked me what language Bahamians speak. To the untrained ear, it sounds like we’re speaking an entirely different language. But, it’s just the unique Bahamian words that they’re hearing.
Bahamian words are derived from a variety of sources – from our former colonial past – we were once a British colony – to our African ancestry and Spanish influences. Fun fact: the word Bahamas comes from the Spanish words, Baja Mar (shallow seas).
What makes it even more difficult to understand Bahamians at times is the fact that my people tend to speak fast fast. More about fast fast later.
So, here are 15 Bahamian words and phrases that will help you be able to understand and converse with the locals on your next trip.
If you’ve ever watched an episode of the sitcom, Martin and seen the character, Sheneneh Jenkins, then you’ve seen a jungaless.
A jungaless is a loud, uncouth and feisty woman. You can typically hear her long before you see her. There are different categories of jungali (that’s the plural form of jungaless).
The low-key jungaless may work in a corporate environment and present professionally, but can pop-off at the drop of a dime. The full-fledged jungaless is an entirely different character. She dresses either lasciviously or in very vibrant colours, sports the latest over-the-top hairstyles and is very concerned with fashion, even if it’s not fashionable.
If someone calls you a jungaless, it is not a compliment.
If you ever see a Bahamian man ogling a woman, chances are he’s staring at her buttocks, locally referred to as a boongie. There are many variations in spelling, but it all means the same thing. The juicier the boongie, the better. Bahamian men love a round, juicy butt.
Bubbie or bubby is used to refer to a woman’s breasts. It’s not uncommon to hear someone say, “dat gyal gat some big bubbies, bey”, which translates to, “boy, that girl has some big breasts.”
4. All Mix Up Like Conch Salad
If you’ve ever been to The Bahamas and tasted conch salad, which is one of our most famous delicacies, you would have noticed just how mixed up it is. The conch salad has lots of chunky conch pieces tossed in which chunks of vegetables. It’s very mixed up.
When a Bahamian says you’re “all mix up like conch salad’ he or she means that you are in a state of confusion. You’re mixed up and can’t get it together.
5. All Kerpunkle Up
All kerpunkle up has several meanings. The first is similar to ‘all mix up like conch salad.’ It means you’re mixed up or confused.
It also means that someone is completely drunk or smashed. Imagine drinking at the bar all night and stumbling home in drunk. That’s all kerpunkle up.
There are two types of potcakes in The Bahamas. The first is a Bahamian stray dog of mixed breed. You will see them all over The Bahamas, even in some rich areas. They are not dangerous dogs, but you still should be careful. They’re very protective and loyal dogs.
As for the second version of potcake, I’ll put it like this. Have you ever cooked rice and left it on the stove a little too long and the bottom burned? Well, the burnt rice is considered potcake. Some Bahamians love potcake because it’s chewy.
7. Dis Ting Go With Sense
Literally translated as ‘this thing goes with sense’, this old Bahamian saying means you have to do things and make decisions that make sense. For example, if you tell a friend you’re saving for school, but decide to blow all of your savings on a birthday party, a good friend might stop you and say, “hey, dis ting go with sense. Skip the party and save your money.”
8. Gritsy Teet
Under no circumstances do you want someone to call you gritsy teet. This literally means that your teeth are gritsy, as in very dirty and plaque and tartar-filled. It’s unsightly and nasty.
You won’t have to be in The Bahamas long before you hear this word ringing out through the air. Bey is literally translated as ‘boy’, but it can be used to refer to a woman, man, child, animal, prime minister, it doesn’t matter.
Bahamians start a lot of their sentences with ‘bey’. It’s a very expressive way to begin a conversation, especially when you have a juicy story to tell. For example: Bey, you hear Ricardo dem had big fight last night?
The word tingum is used often in The Bahamas, particularly when you suddenly can’t remember a person’s name, a thing or a place. Example, “What time Tingum dem say dey coming over?”
This is one of the funniest words in the Bahamian vernacular. Frowsy means really smelly, really stink. If someone walks by you who hasn’t bathed for days and you smell them, you could say they smell frowsy. This is not a compliment. I repeat, this is not a compliment.
Muddasick is probably my favourite Bahamian word. Translated, it means “mother sick.” It’s not a curse word, but a very colourful expression that Bahamians use when they are shocked. If you’re standing on a street corner and witness someone get knocked down, you might hear a Bahamian shout out, “muddasick.” It’s like, “damn!” But, again, it’s not a curse word.
If you hear a group of Bahamian women talking and they call someone trapsy, know that they are saying that that person is a troublemaker. They are a messy boots. In the words of Michael Jackson, they always wanna be starting something.
Bahamians use the word, peasyhead, as a way of saying someone’s hair is nappy. Usually it involves very tight curls at the nape of someone’s head that resembles peas.
15. Mango Skin
A woman who has light skin is referred to as mango skin. Don’t think about the green and red skin. Think of the beautiful yellow skin on a mango. That’s what they’re talking about. Oh, by the way, Bahamians don’t say light skinned. They say “bright skinned” or “bright” when referring to hue.
Children who are ill-mannered, show no respect for their elders and are just downright disrespectful, have no broughtupcy. When Bahamians use this word, they are basically saying that a person was not raised or brought up properly and with manners.
This word doesn’t just apply to children. Adults who are rude or uncouth can also display mannerisms that show they have no broughtupcy.
Bonus Section On The Way Bahamians Speak
There are so many Bahamian words that I could teach you and they are all colourful in their own unique way. It’s no wonder so many people are intrigued by Bahamians.
I created two YouTube videos on my channel that you should definitely check out. I will post one of the videos down below so that you can see and hear the words and their pronunciations in action.
But, before I go, remember earlier when I said fast fast? Well, that in and of itself, is very Bahamian. That’s because when Bahamians want to emphasise a word they repeat it. So instead of saying “the car was going extremely fast”, they will say, “the car was going fast fast.”
Enjoy your trip to my beautiful country and please be sure to try out the lingo.
This Bahamian Gyal