Zambian slang

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Like many other countries or cultures Zambia contains a mixture of euphemisms in various provinces or different parts of Towns/Areas/Regions that often leave Zambians from various backgrounds/foreigners scratching their heads wondering the meanings of the catch phrases or terminologies.While most of the words are used in English,some of the words are also commonly used in the local languages such as Nyanja and Bemba which are widely spoken throughout some or most parts of Zambia.The following are terms/words/Phrases commonly used in Lusaka, Copperbelt province and some parts of Zambia.


Album - (Offensive Term)Refers to Pregnancy/Birth – That girl just released an Album.
Ati how? - How are you? Very informal slang. Origin ‘Ati bwanji’ became ‘ati bwa’ and ‘bwa’ was translated to English ‘how’
Ba ka’amba - from ‘ba kalamba’ big man. Generally used to address either a friend or one whose name you don’t know
Ba'ane - Good friends. generally used to address very good friends or in jest to not so good friends
Bali - Father/Older Man.
Ba Rwanda (can be derogatory )- Beer Scavengers. - usage arose at the time when Zambia had a lot of refugees from Rwanda in the
Balloon Type - Lady with Big Bums/Back side/Hips
Brush - sex
Better TV - A prostitute. [from a song by local musician Danny of the same title]
Bells - Length of time (usually long) or time of day. derived from a bell ringing at the top of the hour. e.g. Its 6 bells right now i.e. 6 am/pm. E.g., It's been bells since I saw him.
Blazed - To get drunk / high on drugs
Black album / blue movie - Porn movie
Black table - A table laden with lager beer Bottles, usually castle or mosi
Bolt - to run
Book - leave a location e.g. "Buta" lets book from here its getting "dry".
Box - reference to any area that is confined such as a room or a location.
Buta / Bootah - in reference to brotherhood. from "boet" or "boetie"
Bululu / Bururu - Relative from Afrikaans "broer" meaning brother
Burg - Town from the name Johannesburg which got turned in to slang "LusBurg" for Lusaka now Burg just means Town or Lusaka
Bwete - (Big Ass) A simultaneous shaking of a Woman/lady's Behind when walking.
Belegede - Drunk
Kanasaki (Kan-i-Saki) - Get Head—From the word Kawasaki
Cabin - House/Home.
Chakolwa - an alcoholic
Chamba - Marijuana/cannabis
Chux'd - To be detained/imprisoned by the Police.
Choncholi - rather derogatory reference to a Chinese person.
Chow(chau) - Eat.
Clap - to finish e.g. I've clapped all my homework so we can go play football now.
CNN / BBC - In reference to gossip and its ability to spread like the news
Coolie (Kuli) - An Indian
Colgate - Refers to ANY toothpaste
Crop - To fall down
Cut - 1)Going/Leaving e.g. I'm cutting cabin, its already 3 a.m. 2)Drunk e.g. My father was cut last night after the party, I had to drive him home. 3) What's cutting? = what's happening?
Decoy to leave a personal item in one place while you are somewhere else eg. you leave your car by one pub while you are drinking from somewhere else. or your jacket hanging on your chair at the office while you have gone to do personal errands.
Damage - in reference to money spent. How much damage did you do last night? - 1 million Kwacha on dinner.
Departure lounge - someone very ill and most likely on their death bed.e.g. one with HIV could be said to be in the departure lounge.
Dicey - Tricky
Dop / Dope - Alcohol
Dos - To sleep
Doss / dossed - terminally ill (derogatory) used to describe persons suffering from AIDS (gossip type)
Down it - Bottoms up - drink at one go
Dry - Boring/Lame
Dyonko - sample/taste
Digs - Home
Ek Se - Originally an Afrikaans term which means " I say " e.g. Ek Se what time is it?Its meaning has literally changed to refer to a friend or some one of your age you don't know.
Eh Eh/Ah Ah - An expression used to describe 'being surprised'. What the hell? E.g., Eh eh, didn't he "prang" his ride?.
Falisa/Falisis - ambiguous reference to any object, situation or action (popular among Copperbelt Kaponyas)
Fastele - Fast - From a cartoon Comic in local newspapers, 'The Post' from back in the days.
Father - used to call a man’s name you don’t know/Elderly Man(commonly use by call boys/Bus conductors)
Flat - Annoyed or upset or angry.
Flush - The act of aborting an unwanted pregnancy.
Fodia - Cigarette
Flamingo - (sexual position - Similar to Doggy Style) where the woman stands then bends over and touches her toes.
Free Kick - (Offensive) To abort a pregnancy as in She had a free kick
Frozen chicken - (sexual position) sexual position where the woman is lying on her back and her legs are over the man's shoulders.
Fuzi - side Kick
Gabon - anything bad, in reference to the Gabon air disaster of 1993 in which Zambia soccer player lost their lives.
Gon’ga - noun. an imitation product. verb. To be swindled/ugly girl.
G.P - Game Plan, i.e. organizing a plan of action
Graze - Food or the act of eating
Gun Powder - Groundnuts
Gooza / Guza - woman/lady/blanket
Gelo (Chi gelo) - A girl/woman
Gwamo - Go/Leave (Na gwamo - I have gone.)
Gwan - For something to happen e.g. "It's Gwaning!!" A party or other social gathering is highly entertaining.
Hammer - 1) to beat
Hard - to be considered something special or good e.g. That Items is Hard Ek Se.
How do you make it? - What time is it?
Hule - Prostitute
Item - Refers to a thing/anything.
Jam - to play e.g. We are jamming football tonight at the school football pitch.
Joll - 1)Come or arrive at a destination. e.g. Are you jolling to the party tonight? 2) In other parts of Africa joll can refer to a party or party atmosphere.
Joint - 1)place or location. e.g. This joint is nice. 2) Weed
John Cena - really big local buns
Kaponya - A street hawker or any individual found roaming the city streets aimlessly. Usually very vulgar
Kabwata - Body builder or well built muscular man commonly referred to as "chiKabwata" - named after Lusaka's first and oldest gym located in Kabwata Township
Ka ndile - A broke person that feeds off others and tries to keep up appearances like he/she is the spender
Ka ndule - Hot girl.
Kembo - A person of no substance (insulting) e.g. "Iwe Kembo!" English translation "Hey Jerk/funny guy/popper!"
Ku ma 'dizzy’ - Bar/Tavern
Ku ma yard [yadi] - Suburbs. [literally at the yards]
ka pulp - Nshima.
Kajansa - Masturbation e.g. - Alibe Gelo,ama chaya che kanajansa daily.
ku dyela - Having a good time e.g. wa dyela, tina dyela
Ku yupa ma banana - Masturbation e.g. - Ninamu pezekeza Ayupa ma banana mu Toilet.
Kui Typa - Bemba Word for Fight.
Kapeta - Body builder or weightlifter
Kuli (coolie) - An Indian.
Ka saka - a bag of money.
Kopala - an indigenous citizen of the Copperbelt province (Usually an unruly member of this group of people)
Long Nose /4 Corner - formal shoes with a long front-end/4 Squared heal.
Laliga - Something good
Laka - nice, good, great. From Afrikaans "lekker"
Lash - To give e.g. Lash me some Money Ek Se
Ma packs - Opaque beer. e.g. shake-shake,(Chibuku).
Maize juice or Blue print - Shake Shake/ Opaque Beer
Ma pint - Lager beer e.g. Mosi and castle
Mahafu - Money.
Mbama - Slap/ To Slap Someone.
Metre [Mita] - A million kwacha.
McGyver - Using ingenious methods and simple tools/materials to fix something. e.g. using wires instead of bolts and nuts to hold together two parts. From the popular 1980s TV series McGyver.
Mpopo - Hot Girls/Babes
Moko-Moko - Retarded person/Retard
Mwanaa - Refers to Friend/Young Person
Mune - Same as mwanaa, term of endearment for a good friend e.g. 'Shani Mune' "Hello my friend"; 'Shani baane' "Hello My friends"
Mali - Mother / Mum / in certain contexts a lady or woman
Mati - Mate/friend
Mao - Derived from Mal (French for sick/sickness). Being "sick in the head" or crazy. Usually as a reaction to someone doing something stupid. E.g., "ek se", how do you "dope" without "tuning" us "ek se", but you're mao.
Mauless - speechless or at a loss for words, used especially when shocked at something or by someone. Derived from the phrase, "Nilibe mau" meaning I've got no words or I've got nothing to say.
Mat - to leave - Mat ek se
Ma Bono - Local Buns
Milochi - kissing.
Michopo - Grilled steaks
MuZungu - Nyanja Word for White Person.
Mukalad - Nyanja Word for a Mixed Race person (coloureds).
Mwenye - Nyanja Word for Indian.
Nailos - Copperbelt slang used by Kaponyas. See the meaning of Falisis
Nikisi - Comes from the German "Nichts" and means "Nothing", or "NO".
Ntakuko - Booty.
Njumi - Cute girl.
Nyaps - NSA[No Strings Attached] Partner.
Ponyo Ponyo/Kanjansa - Masturbation
Ndule - Girls.
Nkeche - Girls/Girlfriend.
Ngwele - side kick .
Nakata line - To get to know the trade.

Nyashi - Big Behind

Own - Guy e.g. "Tune" that own to "lash" me my "tong" - Tell the guy/person to give me my money.
One Piston - One who easily gets Drunk.
Open - to burst out into laughter e.g. Ek-se, I opened! (I really laughed)
Opan - to take a girls virginity e.g. I opaned the cherry! (I was her first sex) ;,the a is stressed when pronouncing.
Page - to give a "miss call", usually due to a lack of pre-paid funds on a mobile phone. e.g. I'll page you so that you know I'm here.
Peg - to die. e.g. This "own" pegged because of drunk driving.
Perch - To sit
Pin - denomination for a thousand Zambian kwacha e.g. 1 pin - K1,000,50 pin - K50,000
Prang - crash, normally the action of being in a motor-vehicle accident
Queen - mother
Rasta - Any person with dreadlocks
Remix - A Lie.
Ride/whip/G - car
Sawa - K1,000(One Thousand Kwacha)Commonly used by Bus conductors/passengers.
Saat/Sut - No
Scale - Steal
Scan - to look
Schoolbag - A whole case of Tujilili
Skim - to think
Swine - a vest/waistcoat.
Sheets - in reference to sheets of money
Span - plenty, a large number.
Shansha - Hustle, stay strong.
Shadow - Dark like Ronish
Skat - shoe
Spalour - Home
Scene - Club or event
Scoop - Get
Shanks - Toilet
Strap - Walk e.g. I had to strap all the way home because the car broke down.
Skwale! - To Run Away, normally leave the scene in a rush.
Stango - United States of America
Sau Bay - South Africa
Susu - K500 (Five Hundred Kwacha) Commonly used by Bus conductors/passengers.

Tune (Choon)- To tell/say. "I tuned that kama bali" Originally from South African Slang.

Tune Out - To Tell Off
Turbulence - Distraction/Confusion in a Group.
Tujilili - A highly intoxicating locally produced alcoholic liquid sold in little packets and sachets.
Tong - Money.
Two (2) Pulls - short duration / amount for something. "Shani ko ka fwaka ... two pulls fye."
Vigasa - hard liquor mostly in whiskey/brandy or local wine forms
Wire [waya] - 1) to beat or cause harm to somebody 2)An Old/vehicle in bad condition.
Weeve - Beat/Fight.(from the boxing terminology eg bobbing and weaving)
Zali - A Hundred kwacha(K100). Or a Hundred thousand kwacha(K100,000). e.g. 2 zali = K200,000
Za yellow - A Person with bleached skin or is light skinned derogatory term for mixed race person.
Zambia Airways - Refers to a chicken Wing.
Zee - Literally 'Z'1)quiet eg Pali Zee Pa "bondi" the house was quiet 2)you offer some on something when excepting they reply "Ni Zee"means that's Cool
Zigolo - water and sugar
Zigs - Shorthand form of Zigolo
Zooker - Beer vulture.
ZNS - Refers to Green Flies (green bottle fly) in relation to the Green uniforms Worn by Zambian National Service men and women.
Zimandola - AKA Kopala. Peoples of the Copperbelt province particularly from Ndola town

Nyanjalising-(English - Nyanja language Mix)[edit]

Nyanjalising is a combination of both English and Nyanja words/verbs, intertwined to produce an English finish of each word e.g.:

  • Nyanja word
    'Menya' meaning beat used in this context…”That guy was Menyerd(Pronounced Menyad) badly”/That guy was pononerd(pononad) badly.

Ku Bbumuka- getting drunk. "tenze ku Bbumuka pamene bana mu bampa ba bbora mu guys" (we were drinking alcohol when the police arrested the guy). ZILEKI- NO Z'gabe- shoes, e.g., "ba people ba Duma Z'gabe ya kayazi". (somebody has stolen my shoes). Zaistrain/sistren- sister, "Nina mu peza zaistren wakayazi ku markaz"( I found my sister at the market) Punka- a crook "uja mu guys ni punka" (that guy is a crook") or "Ana ni punka" (he tricked me).

Brand Name Generalisation[edit]

Around the world, common brand names are used to identify products in their category,e.g. Sellotape for clear adhesive tape or Panado for any Pain killer Tablets and as a result of popular usage, this eventually becomes their Generic name (noun) which is a process called Genercide.[1] Brand names as a result of this have literally lost their status as ‘Brand Names’ in their relevant categories.

  • Honda 
    Any Motorbike/literally Honda is the default Noun for motorbike.
    Despite ‘Dynamo’ being popular back in the days. Any Detergent Paste is called ‘Boom’ by default which is a local popular soap brand.
    literally any opaque Beer.
    Literally any Floor Polish product.
    Literally any toothpaste product
    Any Pain killer tablet.
    Any Washing Powder product.
    Literally any Cooking Oil Product.
    Literally any insecticide spray.
    Literally any Petroleum jelly product.
    Literally any football boot.

Other Terms/Phrases[edit]

  • Kwendo mu Tank 
    stepping on it/or driving at high speeds/driving off.

e.g.:Pamene wenzo tuma phone nenze kwendo mu Tank mu Cairo Road.

  • Kwendo mu Njila 
    Going/One who is always on the move/the act of leaving
  • Gillette 
    leaving /act of running away[The term originated from the Sports show “Gillette World Sport Special” as a result of its association with sporting activities such as races/running/sprinting,it was adopted as a term to mean running away and later on to mean leaving/going]

e.g.:Mu Boys ana chaya Gillette baka pokola/Na chaya Gillette.

  • Mau lendo 
    leaving/trip e.g.:Ali mau lendo pamene tikamba so.
  • Shot 
    steal/leave/throw e.g.: Bani chaya shot cellphone/Na chaya shot ku bond boi/Banamu chaya shot malegeni ku matako.
  • Yenza 
    steal e.g. Bani Yenzela cellphone baka ponya mu station.
  • aka mutaka or aka mege
    meaning Nshima..."Pangapo aka Mutaka"
    ukui bova
    meaning hiding yourself "nai bova guy namuli bovini"
    uku Geba
    meaning working, "Nde geba "am working...
    back in the days when zale was effective...we would call it umwanda mean K100 (otho that is more of bemba) "mpelako umwanda".."can i have K100"
    then when one is drunk we would say namwano notu mwangashi meaning one has taken alcohol ....
    then there was senkanti(French=cinquante) mean K50 or ninja.....
    Faiba = 5 zale,
    senki san...k500.
    this are gottn from French words cinq cents...
    kaboke=kasai or thief and kembo
    meaning crook or thief.Zaireans where the most notorious thieves in the 80's,even when crossing the borders,Zairean soldiers would extort money from you.

ZP (Zambia Police) slang[edit]

This is Nyanjaslang that has been passed on from Generation to Generation in the Military and Police Service Training Academies. All service men and women who join the Force usually ‘Graduate’ from the academies with at least full knowledge of “Police Jargon” incorporated into Nyanja as well as its distinct accent. This is evident when one speaks to or hears Police/Military personnel conversing. This also makes it easy to identify them even when in plain clothes from the manner in which they speak.Also,Members of the public or civilians humorously refer the initials 'Z.P' in Nyanja as "Zabwino Palibe" (Nothing Good),due to the manner in which the Police 'Man Handle' Suspects/convicts during custodial situations.

  • Anso 
    Again/In fact/(may be used as question tag) - Wabwela Anso?/si ndiwe anso?
    Refers to Zambian Government.
    (used to show respect) alternative for 'Boss'
    Any Traffic offence.
    isn’t it?/Fast: - si choncho ati ndiwe una tundila ku galimoto ya Boma?/Ubwele choncho ku station otherwise nima mbama chabe uka fika.
    Motor Vehicle.
    Hotel Luanda 
    Kabwata Police Station Jail/Cells.
    As you wish:e.g. Captain:Uyende anso ku Lilayi naba silikali ba tatu mu lete mpolyo mpolyo,Junior Officer:(Salutes)Inde Mwami!
    Ku Chimwa/ku lakwa 
    To be guilty: e.g. wa chimwa iwe,uza kamba ku sogolo.
    Ma Wenge 
    (used to show respect) Cop/High Ranked Officer.
    Mu Silikali/Ba Silikali 
    May refer to a soldier or policeman.
    Mpolyo Mpolyo 
    Gun/AK 47 Rifle.
    Arrested/locked up. Literally the act a suspect of being thrown into a police van.
    Literally 'Remand' - Pre-charge detention.
    'Uza kamba ku sogolo' 
    ZP Miranda Rights – "You will speak when you get to the Police Station". This is synonymous with the English Miranda rights; “You have the Right to Remain Silent” the phrase is usually used during custodial situations at the point of arrest.
    Zabwino Palibe.(Ain't Nothing Nice)

ZP - Police/Military slang Language Mix[edit]

This kind of language(*Relatively Unheard of*) is a mixture of the native Zambian languageNyanja with common ZP(Zambia Police) Phrases.It is made up of mating zp Phrases with Nyanja words producing a recipe that confuses people who know little of ZP slang words/Phrases. Below is a comparison of two sentences with same meaning one in native Nyanja and the other being the ZP/Nyanja Mix.[The language is spoken with an accent just as the Zambian Police Service officers do].

  • Native : Boi,ine manje na yambapo ku yenda bond.
  • ZP - MIX : Boi,ise naku chaya Gillete ku bond.


  1. ^ "English language genercide: the power of popular usage". Robert Stevenson. 2008-07-07. Retrieved 2010-06-10.