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Tringlish: Trini Words & Phrases Dictionary

Estimated reading time: 30 minutes

Tringlish – Trini Slang:  The local vernacular, considered a variety of English dialects or as an English-related creole language. This Trinidad Dictionary of slang words and phrases is the largest of its kind online and growing. A hybrid of languages from all corners of the globe but with a definitive French influence.

At the centre of any Trini lime, you will find food and blag.  Post-colonization Trinidadians carry forward the oral storytelling traditions of their West African ancestors to the ensuing generation at every lime.

The charm and sing-song tone of the Trinidadian articulation is easily distinguished from the other Caribbean countries.  It wasn’t until I migrated to the United States that I found a genuine admiration for the history, complexity and uniqueness of the spoken word in Trinidad.

Here is an inadequate sampling of sayings from Trini Slangs and Phrases:




  • Angostura (bitters) (n):  A reddish-brown, slightly bitter, aromatic, alcohol-based liquid used to flavour drinks.  Originally developed as an aid t digestion by Dr J.G.B Siegert, in the town of Angostura – no Ciudad Bolivar – in Venezuela. The Siegert family moved to Trinidad in  1875, where the company is still the sole manufacturer.
    • The House of Angostura, Internationally Famous since 1824.  Bolivar appointed Dr Siegert Surgeon-General of the Military Hospital of Guiana, situated in the town of Angostura [Venezuela].  Her Dr Diegert lived and continued to practice medicine until 1850, when he resigned to devote his full time to the commercial development of his Angostura Bitters.  Owing to the unsettled political situation in Venezuela, the sons of Dr Siegert, Carlos and Alfredo, decided to leave the country.  They came to Trinidad in 1875, where they were joined later by their youngest brother, Luis.  here they started their factory of ANGOSTURA aromatic bitters in rented premises at the corner of Charlotte Street and  Marine Square.  In 1909 Alfredo Cornelio formed a public company in London, under the new name of Angostura Bitters (Dr. J.G.B Siegert & Sons) Ltd.  In 1949 a subsidiary company Trinidad Distillers Ltd., was formed for the production of rum, alcohol and dried yeast.  In 1958 the Trinidad Government bought out the controlling interest in the company and resold it to a private company called Siegert Holdings Ltd. on terms which ensured the manufacture of Angostura aromatic bitters would remain permanently in Trinidad. (Mavrogordato 1977:103-5)


  • Bacchanal (noun): Bacchanal, bakanal, and bacchanale are all variations of the same word. The term has its roots in French, where it is spelt “bacchanale” and means “orgy, disorder, tumult.”
  • Back a jackass in ah horse race (phrase): Back or bet on a loser one that should have been obvious had no chance to succeed.
  • Bad John  (noun): A man willing to use violence and who likes being known as a dangerous person; a ruffian. John Archer, nicknamed Bad John,  a notorious habitual violent criminal during the early years of the 20th century.
    • It seems like everybody is turning badjohnthese days.
    • You playin’ bad-john! Take care I bust a lash in your ass and make you coil up like a old snake here tonight (Khan 1964:131)
  • Boboli, bobolee, bouberly (n) is rooted in the Carnival and Good Friday celebrations where an effigy of Judas Iscariot, called a “bobolee” was beaten. The word Boboli is believed to be of African origin specifically from Kikongo bubulu ‘ignorant; stupid; mad’ + Kikongo buubulu ‘beaten; flogged’.
  • BokeeA penalty in children’s games, usualy marbles, in which the winner snaps a finger or pitchess a marbles hard against the loser’s fingers or knuckles.
  • Break Dew:  Remain outside for a long time at night; stay outside all night until the morning DEW comes.
    • You break so much dew you catch cold (Ottley 1971:10)
  • Bring Belly: Become pregnant while living in the parental home.  You playing big woman, knocking all about at night, don’t bring any belly here.
  • Broko foot: Having one leg shorter than the other, limping.
  • Brulejol / buljol / bhuljol / bull-jowl / brulejol / bulljoll, buljug:  A dish made from salt cod, oil, onions, tomatoes, peppers usually eaten for breakfast.  French origin brÛle ‘burn’ + geule ‘throat’.
Saltfish or Brulejol
  • Buck (n) an aboriginal Indian native of Guyana. A Guyana Amerindian locally generally refers to the Guarahoon tribe, living in Venezuela, and sometimes Guyana. (English buck ‘a man, applied to native Indians of South America’ probably Dutch bok ‘he-goat’) Warahoon.
Trinidad Buck
Buck. Digital Painting. (c)2020 All Rights Reserved, Garrett Kellogg
  • Bus carbide (phrase) – A way of making loud explosive noises, usually to commemorate the coming of Divali and Christmas, with calcium carbide. Bus carbide is not to be confused with bus bamboo.
  • Bus bamboo, burst bamboo (phr) – An activity usually of boys, traditionally done from Divali through Christmas. A small amount of pitch oil is poured into a section of cut bamboo, then the fumes are ignited. The resulting explosion sounds like a small canon.
bus bamboo

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  • Carnival Baby (n):  A child born about nine months after Carnival usually in November. (From being conceived during Carnival fever.
    • The acceptance of normally disapproved social practices such as the public consumption of alcohol and forms of sexual interaction also relate to this phenomenon, as gan warfare, no less than male/female relationships and the Carnival-baby syndrome, contribute to a societal detumescence even if for certain portions of the society more than others.
Carnival Baby
  • Catty-Catty (adj):  Said of a man who likes sex with many women.
    • She lend one brush to Lord Shorty, the catty catty one from South.
  • Cax for bokee:  In marble PITCH, a game in which players place their marbles at random, each player then tries to hit another’s marble, and the player whose marble is hit gets a BOKEE penalty.
  • Cax:  The sound of a solid hit in marbles
    • I hit him caxs!
  • Chickichong, chickeechong (n)
    • Bird: A small songbird also known as a bullfinch or large red-bellied finch. The bird is about five inches long, mostly black with a brown belly and a short thick beak, its song ‘a fairly long, musical series of clear whistled notes’.
    • Kite: In addition to the paper and wood kites, there are the all-paper kits, known as chickichong and the corbeau kites. They are made and flown mostly by elementary school-age children since all you need to make them is a piece of paper (usually the size of a school exercise-copy book) and thread. The kite is named after the bird because of its small stature.
  • Chupid, chupit (adj): Stupid, unintelligent, without sense
    • Maybe one of the headmasters in the orphanage bus’ a lash in he head one day and it affec’ he senses. Maybe the boy was just a chupid boy.
  • Chupidee (n): A stupid person.
    • Look dat boy so chupidee – he let he cousin take way he marbles.
  • Chupidness (n): Stupidity; bad behaviour, wrong-headedness; unworthiness.
    • Allyuh take yuh fight outside. Doh bring this chupidness to me.
  • Cobo, Cobeau, Corbeau n Coragyps atratus (Black Vulture), a large bird. A very common resident in Tridindada, not found in Tobago.   Corbeau is French for Raven.
Trinidad Corbeau
Trinidad Corbeau
  • Cockroach before fowl (phrase): Temptation; something impossible to resist.
    • Doh put that cake out – you put cockroach before fowl.
  • Cocktax: Court-ordered child support payments.
  • Kokiyoko, Cokey-O-Ko (adv) – A cockcrow, describing the sound of a male fowl calling. Ewe kokolieko, Yoruba kekere-n-ke, Igbo kokorokoko, Lingala kokoliko, French coquerico, ‘sound of a cock crow’
  • Kokiyoko, Cokey-O-Ko (v) -Carry another person on one’s back, usually done with children for fun, or to relive the child when it is tired. Northeastern Kikongo koka ‘pick up and carry, e.g. scraps, leaves; kokila ‘hold the arms around the neck of another.

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  • Dance top in mud (phr): Try something without chance of success; be frustrated by trying to do something in too difficult a situation. (From impossibility of making a top spin in mud) => spin top in mud.
    • You people want to build a little India of your own in Trinidad. You are trying to dance top in mud. It can not be done.  The difficulty lies in the fact that you are too muh of a majority to assimilate, too much of a minority to dominate (Naipaul 1976:92)
  • Dhansirya: A woman who wastes money.  I sorry fuh he, that wife ah he one is ah dhansirya.
  • Dingolay (v): Twists; turn; gyrate. (Kongo dyengula ‘agitate the waist in dancing’and possibly
  • De sweet music make everybody want to dingolay (Baptiste 1992)
  • Donkey years, donkeys years (phr):  A very long time. (donkey’s years  ‘ a very long time>).
    • “Les, when last….” “Years man.” “Is ah long time, oui.” “A long, long time, donkey years.” (Jones 1973:86)
  • DotishStupid; slow-thinking;incompetent.
    • Dotish men like you deserve what you get.  If you can’t work things out with your own woman, then stop complaining.  Sorf -soft- men like you should simply do as you are told.
  • Doudou, doodoo, doux-doux (n): Sweetness; sweetie; a term of affectionate endearment, usually used to females. (French doux ‘sweet’; such repetition is common in French Creole, but some reduplicated forms of doux, including as a term of affection, are historically found in the east and north-east of France, Aud-Buscher 1989:13; also possibly Yoruba dun ‘is sweet’ = dood(s).
    • “Ah…done tell mih wifey wot to do when I die.  Ah tell she, ‘Doo-Doo gyul, when I die, please bury min wit’ a bottle in each hand” (Sweetbread, Express 21 July  1982:42).
  • Douen, Duende, Douaine, Doune, Dwen, Duegne (n): A Folklore character, the spirit of a child who died before baptism.  Douens wear large hats, have backwards-pointing feet, utter a soft hooting cry, and often lead children to wander off.  duende ‘goblin’>
    • Nex’ ting you know douens hauntin’ TTT, an’ we seein’ all dem programmes runnin’ backwards instead of upside-down as dey does run sometimes. (Keens-Douglas 1984:3)
Trinidad Folklore Douen

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  • Eat and wipe mouth like fowl (phr): Do something wrong, but quickly cover up the evidence. (French a fowl’s habit of wiping food of its beak).  Do all your naughty things, but cover up your tracks.  (Haynes 1987:64)


  • Fada, fadder, farder, father (n):  An intensifier usually positive, emphasising the large, grand, superlative, impressive, or exaggerated quality of something. Usually placed after the word it modifies.
    • Boy! He bring home a big, big American Buick! That is car fadder!
    • Dat year was fete fadder. An wat about de year dat Crazy “Nani Wine” and Baron “Somebody” had people dancin. Dem tunes mash up de place, boy. (Foster 1990:51)
  • Feel how (phr): Feel peculiar, not normal, especially uncomfortable, ill at ease, upset over something.
    • “Doh feel no how, ah go fix up yuh bicycle for you.” (Baptiste 1993:57)

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  • Ganga ChannaA magical practice to make a lover remain faithful; a woman squats over a bowl of hot CHANA, lets her sweat drip into it, and gives it to the man to eat. See also SWEAT RICE.  Ganga ‘Ganges river; water + chana).  The correct term [is] sweat rice, but channa (chick peas [garbanzo] beans) are substituted for rice and Ganga refers to water, of whatever dubious origin.  This meal is served by a woman to the man that she wishes to cast a spell over. ( 25 April 2001).
  • Get On:  Carry on loudly; talk in an angry or excited way.
    • Any time you get ah real American in an aggravating situation, the first thing he do is let his voice be heard in objection; in other words, he does get on. (Lovelace, 1987:20)
  • Goat-Mouth (n) – With, have or put….on, cause bad luck to befall someone or something by predicting or expressing a good outcome. (French belief that where goats eat, nothing grows.). A believed ability, possessed by some individuals, to deliberately frustrate somebody’s effort or cause some minor misfortune by predicting failure. Also known as bouch-kabwit in Dominica, which means to have bad mouth.
    • His savings were diminishing and employment was not in sight. It seemed as though the Catholic priest has put goat-mouth on him.
    • Lawd, Rachel, don’ set yu goat-mouth ‘pon de people them; yuh always preaching crosses.
  • Gouti Look BackA position for sexual intercourse in which the man is behind the woman who is usually on her hands and knees.
  • Gownay: Elope; run away to get married.  They gone to gownay.
  • Guts like Cobo (phr): With have, describing someone who can eat anything also someone who doesn’t react badly to being insulted or getting pressure.
    • He doesn’t get on, he have guts like cobo (1990)

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  • Half-Pick Duck, Harpic Duck(phr):  Not the whole story, explanation. (French taking only half the feathers of a duck.) = duck story.
    • “Ah, dat is more like it. When yuh ah gimme ah drink, gimme ah man’s drink, no damm half pick duck” (Rollock 1975:18)
  • Have cocoa in de sun (phrase): Trinidadian phrase used as a warning that something is vulnerable, and needs to be protected; often used for situations in which people have something to hide.
    • When yuh have cocoa in de sun, look out for rain!
  • Horn (v):  Cuckold; commit adultery; have a sexual relationship outside of an official one.
    • Platform work demands at least the minding of one deputy, in case your wife is horning you while your’re out there, drilling.
  • Huff (v): Steal especially take before anyone else can take it.
    • She wanted to “huff” the little money her ex-husband had and take it back to the USA with her. (Bomb 9 Nov 1990:25)


  • If crab walk(phr):  A proverbial expression indicating that if you do not take some risks, you will not gain anything, but if you take too many risks, you may end up in trouble.
    • If crab don’ walk, he no get fat, but if he walk too much he go de pot no?

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  • Jam-cram (adj):  Crowded; packed usually with people. (English jam ‘press, squeeze or crowd together in a compact mass; force together’ + English cram ‘fill to excess’) = ram-cram, ram-jam.
    • Everybody was jam-cram in the North Stand.
  • Jorts, jhorts, draughts (n):  Food, especially snacks or refreshments.
    • If you see, endless jorts.
    • Right in front of his place, he has the big lawn tennis court where prospective clients or investors could talk it over…cuffing down their liquor and small jorts.
  • Jouvert, Jour ouvert, Jouvert (n): [Trinidad Jouvert] the official beginning of Carnival at daybreak on the Monday preceding Ash Wednesday. (< French Creole jou ouve jour ouvert ‘day open’, as a translation of day clean)
    • Well for me I waiting on Jour Ouvert, Just to jump me jum[p] and break away. (Kitchener “Jump in the Line” 1948)
    • The Jour Ouvert of 1920 Port-of-Spain saw revellers crowding the streets from the crack of dawn, and in the bands, amidst the beaters of tamboo-bamboo, and bottle-and-spoon, could be seen revellers depicting crooks, pick-pockets, burglars, beggers, highway robbers, and Barbadian cooks. (Anthony 1989:25)
    • Jouvay…the opening day of Carnival which begins in the early morning hours (often officially 2:00 A.M.) Monday morning before Ash Wednesday. Jouvay is a nocturnal mas that breaks shortly after dawn. Thousands of revellers in old clothes covered with mud, or as Blue or Red Devils, or drenched in black oil (Oil Men) fill the streets. (Martin 1998:227)
Trini Jouvay

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  • Kakanade:  Gossip; idle talk, shit talk.
  • Kakalaylay  (n): Sexually suggestive dancing. /kakalele/ (<kaka lele dance>)
Kaka laylay by Denise Belfon
  • Kaka-nay (n): Dirty nose; snotty nose. /kakane/ (kaka ‘feces; waste’ + nay ‘nose’ < French nez )
    • We call him Mr. Ka Ka Nez because he alway digging he nose (Baptiste 1993:96-7)
  • Kick Pan: A children’s game in which a metal container is placed in the centre of the playing area; a catcher searches, while players to sneak in and kick if over before being caught.
    • The children playing kick the can down the road
  • Kicksing (n) – Not taking things seriously; fooling around and not working. For example, Kicksing is a style of parliamentary behaviour not condoned by the established code of ethics, but in which parliamentarians have great fun at taxpayers’ expense.
  • Koté-si Koté-la, coté-ci coté-la (phr): Gossip usually of the amusing kind or [used as an adjunct] And so on and so forth; etcetera.
    • Look I ain[‘t] wan[t] to be in dis coté-ci coté-la, yo[u] see! All dis dem sa[y] he sa[y] ain'[t] fo[r] me.
  • Kunumunu, coonoomoonoo,cunumunu (n):  A fool; simpleton; someone easily deceived or taken advantage of. /kunumunu/  (possibly Yoruba kunun, kunu ‘shy; no self-confident’; possibly Hindi and/or Bhojpuri cunuh munuh ‘little baby’.
    • From the day you give the callaloo, You had me just like your kunumunu. (Growler “I Don’t want no Calaloo” 1939)
  • Kuyoh (n):  Fool; someone easily decived; under someone’s power. /kuyo/ Spanish cuna or French couillon ‘fool; imbecile’.
    • His wife horning him, she have him so kuyoh, he only washing wares

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  • lacuray, la couray (n) – A strained or difficult relationship or situation /lakure/ from French and French Creole la querelle ‘the quarrel’
  • Lajablesse, La Jabless, La Diablesse (n):  A folklore character, a beautiful woman in a long dress who has one foot like a cow’s; she entices men astray at night in the forest or on lonely roads.  < French la ‘the’ + diablesse ‘female devil’>
    • [The] diabless…is a she-devil, one of whose foot end in a cloven hoof, who frequents cemeteries and crossroads….she is particularly fond of attending belle air dances, and after the festivities, young males would make advanced to her and she would encourage her victim to follow her home….then as she leads him to a precipice she would suddenly transform herself into a huge hog…If however, the young swain knows the ropes he would pick two sticks and make a cross at which time she would also disappear.
Trini Lajabless
  • Lick OutDevastate; destroy; damaged; take away; wear out; use up; spend money without restraints, recklessly
    • The school fees lick out my money.
  • Light Candle (phr):  Perform an OBEAH ritual involving the lighting of a candle, in order to do harm to someone = put light.
    • If I cannot get justice from the law of this land, I will even light candle.
  • Lime: Participate in an informal gathering of two or more people, characterised by semi-ritualised talking and socialising, drinking and eating.  In the day when you miss me, Ah liming by some old lady.
  • Lipay, lipe, lipey (n) Is a mixture of cow dung, clay and water from Hindi – लीपना līpnā – ‘smearing; plastering.’ Lipe used in a sentence; they lived in the usual Tapia houses of the time, with thatched roofs and floors of lipay.
  • Loup Garou, Lugahu (n): In folklore, a human who takes the form of an animal, generally, at night. loup garou ‘werewolf’>.
    • The man who stole the chickens and was acquitted is really ah loup garou.

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  • Maco, macco, mako, makko, marko (v/n) – Gossip; peep at; look at something that is supposed to be private. Someone that is overly curious about other people’s affairs. Possibly derived from the French word ma commère (ma.ko.mè patios) ‘my child’s godmother’, hence ‘my very close friend’, this relationship resulting in an intimacy leading to gossip. There is also a derivation of the Hindi word jhānkanā (झांकना) – jhaake(v) which means to peep at; look at secretly. Do you macco?
  • Maharajin, marajhin, marajin (n) – A term of address or reference for the wife of a Brahmin or Pundit. Generally used as a term of respectful address for any married woman. Hindi Mahārāja (/ˌmɑːhəˈrɑːdʒə/Sanskrit: महाराज; ‘sovereign emperor’ + -in, feminine form.
  • Maljo, maljoe, maljeu (n):  Evil eye; the belief that a conscious or unconscious look of envy or ill will can harm someone.  malzie, Spanish  mal de ojo ‘evil eye’; Yoruba fi oju buruku si ‘put ugly eye on, Igbo /ole anja ‘look ugly  eye’, Kikongo /ntadidi je disu/ ‘look with bad eye’
    • I heard them say how my donkey grows, It seems like they want to give it maljo… The whole this is through jealousy , Because they want to buy me donkey from me.
    • A disease, attributed to maljo, characterized by fever, changed colour, inability to urinate, loss of appetite and weight, greenish stool.
  • Mama Glo, Mama Dlo, Mama D’Leau (n):  A folklore character in the form of a beautiful woman, sometimes snake-like, with long hair and a fish-like tail who lives in rivers.  mama dlo/glo maman ‘mother’ + de l’eau ‘of the water’>
    • Then there were….mama d’leau… – mother of the waters who is the great snake character of rivers. (Ahye 1938:45)
Mama D'Leau Trinidad Folklore character.
  • Massa Day Done:  An expression used to reproach someone to remind them that colonial days are finished and old privileges and oppression are no longer acceptable. (Public lecture by Eric Williams, 22 March 1961)
  • Matta Fix: Settled; arranged; ready to go.
    • A good brulejol must never boil, Once it’s well mixed, is matta fixed.
  • Mauvay Langue, mauvaise langue (n): Critical, slanderous talk. (French mauvaise ‘bad’ + langue ‘tongue’).  A person who says malicious, gossipy or slanderous things.
    • I find both appalling and disgusting..the pettiness that sees a sinister plot behind every move the brand new government makes.  The mauvais langue, vicious and calculated to damage reputation and character.
  • Merikan, Merikins (n) – Demobilised Black Soldiers for the West India Regiment, and escaped slaves who fought with the British against the United States in the War of 1812, established in the “Company” villages in eastern and south-central Trinidad after the American Revolution.
  • Mermaid (n) Tobago: The mermaid or fairymaid is a folklore character of a woman with a fish tail instead of legs, who lives in a river or in the sea near the coast. She is not dangerous or evil but can pull people under the water, take them travelling, and then return them to shore.
    • It used to have a mermaid in the river here, but nobody ent see she for donkey years now.
  • Moko-Jumbie (n): A Carnival mas in which a costume player on very tall stilts walks and performs a jig like dance with long strides and stamps.


  • Neg Jardin, Negre Jardin, Neg Jadan (n): A Carnival Mas in which players imitate black slave field-workers. From French Creole neg andFrench negre ‘black person’ + French Creole jadan and French jardin ‘garden; field’.
  • Never-see-come-see  (n):  Of a person, unsophisticated and therefore excited about something ordinary.  (French just now coming to see something new.)
    • Yuh like a never see come see in yuh new car with alarm and stereo. (Baptiste 1993:116)

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  • Obzocky, obsockie, obzokee, obsukky, obzoky, obzockie, upzuckie  (adj):  Unbalanced; awkward-looking; of ungraceful line or shape; of a batsman, not flowing or smooth. (Possibly Kikonngo  zakazaka ‘shaking’).
    • “Allyu only eatin’ ah set ah junk food like dem social bakes dey does call Pizza, an’ allyu still want to find out why allyu gettin’ fat an’ obsozky.” (Keens-Douglas 1984:87)
  • Orisha (n): An African religion, mostly of Yoruba origin, known also as SHANGO, based on the worship of numerous ORISHA (deities), who also have Catholic counterparts. Worship includes spirit possession, drumming, dancing, chanting, and animal sacrifice. Severely represses at times during the past, it has survived, and is no more openly accepted (Yoruba orisha ‘diety’) = African work, Shango.
    • Devotees of the Orisha or the Rada faiths were often imprisoned and even flogged under an 1868 law –Convictions Ordinance 1868 – which made the practice of ‘Obeah’ a criminal offence. (Brereton 1993:50)
    • Steelbands as well was tamboo bamboo bands had a deep connection, in terms of musical influence with Orisha centres in East Dry River (Stuempfle 1995:39)

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  • Pail ClosetAn outside latrine; an enclosed toilet consisting of a pail (bucket) underneath a seat with an opening in it.
  • Papa Bois (n):  A folklore character, usually depicted as having a man’s head, chest and arms, with goat-horns on the head, and the lower body of a goat or similar animal. He is the protector of animals in the forests and can change himself into animal forms to lead hunters away. Papa ‘father’ + French Bois ‘woods; forest’>
    • The African legend of Papa Bois mixing with the European tales of werewolves – our lougahou‘ the Anansi stories of the Ashanti people of the Gold Coast.
Trinidad folklore Papa Bois
  • Parang (n) :  A traditional Venezuelan-derived type of singing, sometimes improvisational, on religious themes, usually entirely in Spanish, performed around Christmas, in house-to-house carolling or while visiting friends. (Spanish parranda ‘serenading; going out and singing; having a good time’)
    • I myself buy rum for when the neighbours come over, and when the parang pass playing the quatros and signing the seranales for Christmas.
  • Pasray, pasare (v) :  Spread; stretch, e.g. a sheet; sprawl, sit in a vulgar, exposed way, usually said of a woman. /pasre, pasare/  (Hindi and/or Bhojpuri pasarna ‘spread out; stretch out)
    • Look how she pasreyin sheself dey.   She pasare like ah mad oman
  • Phantom (n) A folklore character; a very tall, misty white figure who stands at crossroads, and traps those who pass between his legs.
    • Then there were phantom – the headless spectre with extremely long legs that grip his victims in a death squeeze (Ahye 1983:45).
    • Even our mighty phantoms have found themselves confused with the old mas character from the comic strips (Araujo 1984:43).
  • Pull hand: In SUSU, to collect the entire amount of all members contributions in your turn

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  • Quelbe, quelba, quilbay 1 (n): A kind of African dance possibly of Congo origin, comprising songs, drumming and dances performed by women.
    • As late as 1940 on the hills in Charlotteville at nights one could hear the music of Congo women playing what villagers called Congo-drum (marli doun-doun) and tambour-bamboo…and dancing quelbe reputed to be a very wild erotic dance for females only.
  • Quito-Quito (n) – A distant place in the countryside. Very far away from town life or from any important or well-known place.


  • Rachifee, ratcheefi, ratchifi, rachify (n): Somethings done in a makeshift, careless, or slightly devious way; or as a result of cheating, corruptions, or trickery. (Possibly French rafistolé ‘mended; patched up; English retrofit ‘force something to fit; use something not originally designed for the task’
    • The amount of ‘bobboll’ and rachifee going one with we money in that project.
    • Excuse me, but when you speak of ‘culture’ in our society, you mean culture as including rachifee ?” (Alleyne -Forte 1994:99
  • Ram Goat Can’t Pee:  Phrase indicating that you do not believe someone’s story.  He cleaned up the whole house? That ram goat can’t pee!
  • Reds (n)A formal form of address for a RED-SKIN person usually friendly. Hey reds, leh we take a drive up Maracas nuh?
Trini Slang Reds
  • RED-SKIN (adj) – Light-coloured in complexion, brown, light brown, reddish-brown or reddish-white; usually a mixture of European (White) and Africans (Black).Anyway, buxom, brown-skinned Cecilia and her red-skinned daughter, Barbara, were in trouble today.
  • RingsIn PITCH, a small circle, usually about 18 inches in diameter, in which the marbles are placed; the object is to now opponents’ marbles out of this ring with your TAW.
  • Rings & Taws (Right Through): In PITCH, shouted before pitching in RINGS, when you intend to roll your marble through the field of play and keep anything you hit out of the ring, including your opponents TAW, and in addition claim points for any opponent’s marbles which have been indirectly hit.
    • I going to pitch, rings and taws!
  • Rum Jumbie (n) – Habitual drunkard; alcoholic.
  • Rum Talk (n) – Saying or promising things when drunk that you would not do if sober.

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  • Sancoch, sancoche, sancoach, sancocho, san kootch (n) : A thick soup made with meat, GROUND PROVISIONS, and vegetables. (Latin American Spanish sancocho ‘a stew’; Spanish sancochar ‘paraboil’)
    • “San Kootch for supper,”  she announced grandly. (Pollack 1943:25)
  • Sandimanitay, sans humanité, sandemanetay, santimanitay (n): A traditional Kalinda and Calypso challenge refrain. (French sans humanité ‘without mercy’).
    • None of the bands sang any properly composed songs, most of t the songs having a jingle of words uttered with lightning-like rapidity and ending with the monotonous sans humanité.
  • Say Prunes (Phr):  Used often with a negative to describe someone who seems to be quite but turns out to be quite the opposite. – mash ants
    • Is my neighbours I talkin’ ’bout. Whole year them people does want to pass you straight like a full maxi.  All the time they nose up  in the air like they can’t say prunes and jus’ becauses is Christmas, they want to much-up and expect drinks. They mus’ be think I born big! (EX 18 Dec 1994:11)
  • Soucouyant (n): A person, usually an old woman, who sheds her skin, travels as a ball of fire and sucks people’s blood, leaving a blue mark. Soucouyans, have an unnatural and indelicate propensity for casting off their skin, which they usually conceal in or under a chocolate mortar.  There are two plans: one is to sprinkle salt upon the cast off skin, should you meet it (there’s the rub); or when you are expecting a visit from the ‘thing,’ strew the floor around your bed with rice.  This the Soucouyan, by some mysterious law, will be compelled to pick up grain by grain, thereby affording you an opportunity for slaying or otherwise disposing of the monstrosity.
Trini Soucouyant
  • Sprawl Off (v):  Sprawl; lie around in a relaxed manner with limbs spread out. (< English sprawl  ‘stretch out on the ground, etc. in an awkward manner’)  = loll off, spread off.
    • After Sunday lunch, real man does be sprawl off in a hammock under the coconut tree.
  • Stollmeyer’s Castle (n) One of the Magnificient Seven buildings on the Queens Park Savannah, was modelled after the Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Build in 1904, or brick and limestone, with towers, it was owned by the Stollmeyer family until purchased by the [Trinidad and Tobago] government in 1979.
    • A Scottish firm designed Killarney also known as Stollmeyer’s Castle [sic] Castle in 1902. The design employs several elements from Balmoral Castle in Scotland, such as the tower and the pepperpot turret this is corbeled from its wall. The diagonal wing projecting the corner has a steep roof with a crowstep gable. A combination of pale yellow brick and blue-grey dressed stone.
Stollmeyer's Castle Trinidad
  • SUSU:  A cooperative savings systems in which each person contributes the same fixed amount each week, and the whole amount, the HAND is taken by a different member each time.
  • Sweat Rice: Rice into which a woman, given to a man to make him remain faithful.  Steam rice. “Sweat rice” was supposed to be one of the more potent aphrodisiacs employed to “tie” men.  Sweat rice: A meal of rice, which a woman prepares when she wants to trap a man.  The woman prepares this by squatting over steaming rice, and allowing her vaginal  juices to “sweat into the rice.”

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  • Tabanca, tabanka, tabankca, tobanca (n) (Grenada, Guyana, Trinidad): A painful feeling of unrequited love, from loving someone who does not love in return, especially someone who was once a lover or spouse. (No reliable derivation has been found for this word, though some possibilities have been proposed, e.g. (Kikongo tabaka ‘sell out or buy up completely’). It’s the same behaviour, Horn like fire, I can’t take it no longer, You know I nearly dead with Tabanca. (Sparrow “A Sailor Man” 1957, in Rodman 1971:217)
    Very infatuated; passionately in love. She got you tabanka boy!
  • TAWA large, lucky, or choice marble used to shoot at other marbles, rarely parted with or betted Partner, we doh play with no doggle, Dat is not real marble, Dat is balls-bearingYu want to mash up people taw!
  • Take in Front or take front (phr) Act or say something in your own interest or defence before someone else can use the same point against you; anticipate and avoid and accusation or argument by starting oneself, i.e. take front
  • Tanka Lanka (phr) – Expression meaning “you’re going to get in trouble”, used by schoolchildren, usually accompanied by shaking of one hand.
  • Tobago ice-water (n):  A humorous reference to sucking a dinner mint and drinking pipe water afterwards to give a cold water effect when ice is not available.  From denigration of living conditions from the view of a less sophisticated Tobago.
    • Yuh have to take Tobago ice-water, to wash down that doubles boi.
  • Tobago love (n):  Said of a relationship characterized by lack of demonstration of affection, or by fighting.
    • Is only weetie he sending she by de post – like is Tobago love or what? (Baptiste 1993:157).
  • Tonnere, tonnay, tonnier (intj): Exclamation of suprise, vexations, annoyance. (tonnere ‘thunder’, an expression of anger)
    • Tonnerre! It have plenty people in this fete. (Baptiste 1993:157)
  • Tout Bagai, toot bagai,  tout bagaille (pron):  Everything; all sorts of things. /tut bagai/ (tout ‘all’ + bagai ‘thing’).
  • Tringlish (n):  A humorous name for the local vernacular, considered as a variety or dialect of English, or as an English-related creole language.
    • Yuh see, we in dis country deos talka a t’ing we call “Tringlish” – Is a kinda secon’ language to true, true English and to beside we does talk it fas’, fas’ and put een plenty ah we own local words like: obzokee, mamaguy, mehrazmee, tootoolbay, tobiaxee an’ t’ing. (Elcock 1997)
  • Turtle Botheration:  A preparation of a  turtle penis in rum, of which small sips are taken as a male aphrodisiac.


  • Under Bamboo (phr) A Trinidad Hindu nuptials ceremony conducted according to Hindu religious rites. Such services were not recognized as legal [marriage] unions until 1946 in Trinidad. English under ‘subject to the authority or control’ + bamboo the usual building material for the wedding reception area which is under Hindu rites, under fig tree.

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  • Washikong, wachekong, washeekong, watchekong, watchi-kong (n):  Rubber-soled canvas shoes; sneakers; plimsolls; running shoes. Origin unknown but two widely held theories: caoutchouc ‘rubber’, and Chinese perhaps Mandarin, kong hua xie ‘flower sandal’>
    • She haven’t really nothing really to eat, Only knocking bout in washikong bout the street.
  • Waving Gallery (n):  An area of the former airport building at Piarco Trinidad, where people waiting for arriving passengers could see and wave to them as they came in.
    • We stand up in the waving gallery and watch you pulling your bag, I could imagine how your hand feeling. (Doh Say Dat, TG, 15 Sept 1991:13)
Trini Waving Gallery
  • Whey de arse (phr):  An expression of disgust, disapproval.
    • Bu’ wey de arse is dat? Sinc when you become church defender?
  • Whe-whe, we-we, whay-whay, whey whey (n) – A gambling game of Chinese origin, in which the organizer or Banker chooses one number or Mark from a set of numbers and seals it in an envelope. Players then bet on what number it is, traditionally according to dreams experienced by the player.
  • Wild Meat (n):  Game; meat from animals killed by hunting, most commonly DEER, QUENK, MANICOU, TATU,[GOUTI], and LAP.
    • I stay home on Christmas for most of the day and I do a lot of cooking – wild meat and plenty of pork. (Express 23 Dec 1990:15)
Trini Wild Meat

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  • Vai-ki-vai, vaillequevaille, vai-qui-vai, vie-que-vie, vike-e-vike,vi-ke-vi, vikeyvy, vy-kee-vy, vy-ki-vy (adj):  Lackadaisical; disorderly; unplanned;chaotic; irresponsible; without care or thought. French Creole vai ki vai; French vaillequevaille ‘for better or worse’
    • I live the carefree now-for-now, Worship the nine-day- wonder, I have no future plans or hopes, No scruples to live under. (Wilkes 1994)

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  • Xamboula (n) obs.   A type of African dance.
    • Xamboula dance is known by only a few persons. It is such an obscene dance that it is only [performed] by moonlings in the bush.  It comes from Trinidad. (Uh 1883:252)

Trini Slang Dictionary: Back to Top

Next time in Trinidad learn a couple of slang Trinidad phrases of the language.

Source: Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad & Tobago by Lise Winer

Featured Image: The Red, White and Black by JP-Talma

1 thought on “Tringlish: Trini Words & Phrases Dictionary”

  1. Pingback: Trinidad Lingo: Understanding the Meaning of Bacchanal ⋆ TriniInXisle

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