This section appears to contradict itself about etymology.Please see the talk page for more information.(October 2012)
The word zef is an Afrikaans slang word, which roughly translates to the English word common. Jack Parow, in an interview, describes the movement as "kind of like posh, but the opposite of posh." It differs from the Australian term bogan, and the British term chav in that it is mostly a positive term for oneself, rather than a derogatory term for someone else. It is also not typical of the poorest classes of the society, but rather a mostly white, lower-middle class subculture. Yolandi Visser of Die Antwoord is quoted as saying, "It's associated with people who soup their cars up and rock gold and shit. Zef is, you're poor but you're fancy. You're poor but you're sexy, you've got style."
The word "zef" is a shortening of the name of the Ford Zephyr motorcar that was popular worldwide from the 1950s to the 1970s. In South Africa, these cars were often owned by working-class people, especially from the then-upcoming East and West Rand areas of Johannesburg (due to gold mining activity and the rising price of gold after it was de-coupled from a fixed price of USD 35 per fine ounce). The average Zephyr driver, while relatively comfortable financially in the 70s, was still generally from a more working-class than elite or highly educated background, so owners of these cars were given the derogatory description of being "zef" (Zephyr owner) by middle-class and more well-to-do South Africans.
The music group Die Antwoord self-identifies as "zef" in style. In an interview Jan 2011, Ninja of Die Antwoord responded to the controversy arising from his claim zef represented South Africa. Critics suggested it might rather just represent (Afrikaans) white South Africa. He commented that "racism is somewhat obsolete and a thing of the past for South Africans."In the same interview, Ninja describes that zef is a style of music and a style of subculture, comparing it to hip-hop in its role in society.