User talk:Wakuria/Kenyan English

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  • Bhang/ bangi - marijuana
  • billion - as in the UK this officially means a million million. Nowadays the American usage (one billion is one thousand million) is almost exclusively used.
  • biscuit - same as tea biscuit
  • bonnet - hood of a car
  • brinjal - eggplant (from Portuguese berinjela, also used in Indian English) Known as biriganya in Kiswahili.
  • bundu – (slang) a wilderness region, remote from cities . Same as in South Africa.


  • call - when someone says that they will "call" this typically means that they will make a telephonic call, not visit in person, phone and (less commonly) ring are also used.
  • candy floss - as in Britain this is used for cotton candy
  • chang’aa – cheap and illegal alcohol with an extremely high alcohol content. It is made from various ingredients which can include methanol, antifreeze, and has been known to cause blindness and death.
  • chang’aa den - illegal drinking establishment.
  • chemist - besides meaning a scientist specializing in chemistry the term is also used for a pharmacist and for a drugstore (short for chemist shop in the latter case)
  • chips - used for french fries
  • chop – intelligent person (probably outdated)
  • costume - besides meaning attire worn to a dress-up party/play it also refers to a bathing suit (short for "swimming costume" or "bathing costume"), sometime abbreviated cossie
  • crisps - potato crisps are what Americans refer to as chips.
  • dam - used to mean a water reservoir
  • dhania - coriander known in the US as cilantro
  • doolah/ dwanzie – stupid person (probably outdated)


  • flat - as in Britain this is used for an apartment
  • Form -besides other meanings referred to a school grade for secondary school. Currently there are Forms 1-4. Followed by University.
  • football - typically refers to soccer
  • globe - as formerly used in Britain, a light bulb.
  • housegirl(boy) or maid – domestic worker, usually female.
  • jam - a fruit preserve spread whether containing pieces of fruit or not, never called a jelly in South Africa similar to use in UK
  • jelly - when referring to food this always means what in American English is called 'jello', ie. a flavoured gelatine dessert never a fruit preserve spread


  • kamuti - witchcraft (from Kamba muti)
  • kiosk - refers to a small convenience store usually found in residential areas.
  • kombi - (slang) a minivan, esp. Volkswagen (from the Volkswagen 'Kombi' van)
  • lift - as in Britain this is used for an elevator; also used for a ride in another person's vehicle
  • loo – slang for toilet


  • main road - what is generally called a high street in Britain
  • maize – corn
  • matatu – minivans used for public transportation. They are both a substitute and supplement to public buses.
  • miti shamba – traditional medicine (herbal medicine)
  • mushkaki - a kebab on a stick
  • mutura - traditional sausage usually made with goat or mutton. (from Kikuyu language)


  • Parking boy - homeless boys found mostly in the cities. Also abbreviated to ‘parkies’ or chokora – coming from the Kiswahili phrase ‘chokora mapipa’ (scavenges in the rubbish bins). There a many girls found within these groups today hence chokora is more commonly used.
  • pound – in addition to it’s other uses, in Kenya slang for 20 shillings
  • queen cake – cupcake
  • rubber - as in Britain, a rubber eraser


  • samosa – Indian meat samosa, it is rare to find a vegetarian samosa Kenya
  • shamba boy - a male gardener (of any age). Another vestige of colonialism. The Kiswahili name : ‘mfanyi kazi’ i.e. ‘worker’ is more respectful.
  • shilling - currency, divided in to 100 cents.
  • shop - as a noun the same as American store
  • skive/ skiving - (slang) playing hooky, skipping school/class
  • spit - as a verb this is only used for the present tense unlike in America where it is also used for the past tense. The form spat is used for the past tense.
  • standard - besides other meanings referred to a school grade for primary school children. Currently there are Standards 1-8.
  • sweets - confectionery, candy (singular sweet used for an item of confectionery)


  • tackies - (slang) sneakers, trainers.
  • tea room, tearoom - has the same meaning as 'cafe', a corner shop or convenience store
  • thorn – (slang) ugly person (i.e. thorn in my eye) also thwack (probably outdated)
  • ugali - the staple food of Kenya made from maize meal. It is somewhat similar to American grits, and is known as pap in South Africa
  • up-country – refers to the rural areas from where most people have their homes. This is usually where their families are originally from and where their parents/grandparents still reside.
  • Zebra crossing – pedestrian cross walk.