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The Oxford Dictionary has updated its word list and 24 diverse South African words have been added to the ever-growing list.

 

The Oxford Dictionary updated their word list in December 2018 and added a few really great South African words to the list. For a word to qualify, it must have been in popular use for at least 10 years in both novels and newspapers. Some of the newly added words have been around since the mid 1800’s.

“South Africa is known as the Rainbow Nation, a name that celebrates the modern country’s acceptance of and pride in its multi-ethnic and multicultural identity. This diversity of cultures, traditions, and languages is reflected in the varied and vibrant lexicon of South African English, and throughout the years, the Oxford English Dictionary has documented over a thousand words and senses of South African origin. Several new words have been added to this long list in the dictionary’s latest update.”

This selection of words has been added to the dictionary as part of a continued effort to record the South African lexicon. The Oxford Dictionary commits to future updates which will include even more colourful additions from the Rainbow Nation.

Below is the list of the 24 new words now officially in the dictionary.

  • amakhosi, n. – collective term of Xhosa and Zulu origin for tribal leaders or chiefs in traditional Nguni societies
  • bunny chow, n. – a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with curry, a popular takeaway dish among South Africans.
  • deurmekaar, adj. – something that is confused, muddled, or mixed up
  • district surgeon, n.
  • dwaal, n. – referring to a dreamy, dazed, or absent-minded state, frequently used in the phrase in a dwaal
  • eina, int. and n. – an interjection expressing sharp pain or distress
  • gumboot dance, n. – a style of dance where the dancer incorporates the sound of their rubber boots
  • howzit, int. – a casual greeting of ‘how’s it going?’
  • ingcibi, n. – a Xhosa word for a person who performs circumcisions on young men as part of a traditional rite of passage
  • ja, adv. – Yes
  • ja well no fine, phr. – a non-committal, resigned, or ironic ‘whatever’ expressed as ‘ja well no fine’, pronounced quickly, almost as one word.
  • kasi, n. and adj.
  • kif, adj. – meaning cool or sometimes used as a term of agreement
  • Mzansi, n. – the Xhosa name for South Africa, also meaning South Africans as a people.
  • sakkie-sakkie, adj. and n.
  • sarmie, n. – a sandwich
  • shackland, n.
  • skedonk, n. – an old, dilapidated car
  • spaza, n. – is a small, unlicensed shop in a township, usually one run from a person’s house.
  • tickey box, n.
  • toyi-toyi, n. and v. – the name of a dance-like movement usually performed with chanting or singing during marches or rallies.
  • traditional healer, n.
  • ubuntu, n. – a word signifying the fundamental values of humanity or of Africanness, also borrowed partly from Xhosa and partly from Zulu.
  • voetstoots, adv. and adj. – a legal term describing the buying or selling of items in their existing condition, also used more generally to describe actions carried out unconditionally, without reservation or qualification.
  • Wine of Origin, n. -(abbreviated W.O.), which is used to designate wines that are officially certified as originating from a recognized region or estate and guaranteed as being of the specified vintage and grape variety.

Some other South African words that were previously included in the Oxford Dictionary updates are Papsak, Whoonga and Tenderpreneur. What words do you think should be added next?


Sources: The South African / Oxford Dictionary 
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Tyler Vivier
About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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