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Word of the Week: Bad-John

The word of the week is a compilation of  Trinidadian sayings -phrases and words- used on the island.

  • 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. There really was an Afro-Barbadian born ex-soldier, ex-Panama Canal worker and ex-revolutionist who stowed away on the SS Don and ended up in Trinidad in 1887. That man, John Archer, a wharf worker attended church regularly and once saved three persons from drowning. But he was a rum-drinking character, always using obscene language and involved in street fights. The “marish and parish” referred to him as “BarJohn”. When John drowned at age 62, he had 119 criminal convictions.
    • It seems like everybody is turning badjohn these 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)
John Archer aka Bad John from the Argo newspaper 1931
John Archer aka Bad John

Click here now for other Trini expressions and leave us a comment below of phrases you have heard.

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

Source: date September 18, 2010 sourced September 9, 2018.

Featured Image by Henry Hustava on Unsplash


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