20 Jamaican words that originated from Nigerian languages

Igbo culture and languages, as well as other cultures from Africa, were key in forming the Jamaican Patois language and culture during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

20 Jamaican Patois words that originated from Nigerian languages

The Jamaican Patois is a colourful mix of several languages passed down from our colonial past and Igbo, Efik and Yoruba ancestors.

Here are a few.

1. Akara

This derived from the Yoruba àkàrà, and points to a type of street food — bean cakes.

2. Attoo

This derived from the Igbo átú, meaning “chewing stick”

3. Big-eye

“Big Eye” is derived directly from the Igbo “anya ukwu”, meaning “greedy”

4. Breechee

This is from mbùríchì, meaning an Nri-Igbo nobleman

5. Buckra

This is an Efik term from mbakára, meaning “white man”

6. Chink, Chinch

This is from the Igbo chị́nchị̀, meaning “bedbug”

7. Country ibo

from Ị̀gbò, Pluchea odorata or Ptisana purpurascens

8. De, Deh

This is derived from the Igbo dị, [with adverbial] meaning “is” (to be)

9. Door-mouth

This is a claque from ọ́nụ́ ụ́zọ̀ (mouth + door), meaning “doorway”

10. Hard-head

This is from Igbo ísí íké, (head + hard, strength), meaning “obstinate”

11. Himba

This is from Igbo mba, “yam root”, a type of yam, Rajania cordata

12. Kaba-kaba

is derived from Yoruba (and Akan, Ewe) and means ‘unreliable, inferior, worthless’

13. Mumu

means "dumb", but is derived from Yoruba (and Ewe) where it means 'slow in the head'

14. Obeah

from Igbo ọbiạ, meaning “doctoring”, “mysticism”

15. Okra

This is from the Igbo ọkwurụ, a vegetable

16. Poto-poto

This is from the Yoruba “opoto-opoto”, mkpọtọ-mkpọtọ, meaning “mud”, “muddy”

17. Red Ibo, Eboe

from Ị̀gbò, a person with a light skin colour or a mulatto of mixed parentage

18. Se

This is from the Igbo sị, which usually follows with a quote. Also from Akan se and English say

19. Soso

This is from the Igbo sọsọ meaning “only”

20. Unu

from Igbo language únù, meaning “you (plural)”

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