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Speak Like Us

Speak like an Oyibo

Don't know what Oyibo means? Can't figure out what Wahalla stands for?

Here is a rough guide to some of the more common words and phrases you will hear when you land. You'll be amazed at how quickly they start slipping into your own everyday speech. This has been a fun section to compile.

Below we have the highlights of The Oyibos English Condensed Version of Pidgen. Click the alphabet links to the left to see the Complete & Unabridged dictionary.

Send us your favourite sayings and help get the Fish Fish out there fluent.


Oyibo: This originally meant White Man or White Woman but has slipped into Pidgen to mean something along the lines of 'foreigner'. It is regularly used by Nigerians to describe returning expat Nigerians.

It originally comes from the Yoruba language and it exact definition is along the lines of - no skin.

For the purposes of our site we are using it to cover any, and all, Nigeria based expatriate. There really is no insult intended in its use so please don't be offended. Do expect to be followed down the street at some point by a crowd of little kids shouting 'Oyibo Oyibo' over and over again. You can't call yourself a truely Dashing Oyibo 'till it happens.

Wahalla: Trouble or problem. Also a Yoruba word. This is one word that will slip into your vocabulary very quickly. It's just so damn useful and can be used in a multitude of situations.

Fresh Fish: This phrase is used to describe anyone who is new to Nigeria. As the saying suggests, Nigerians and expats alike can smell a new comer from 50 paces. Don't worry-It does wear off.

Chop: Means food or to eat. Has been known to cause confusion in certain Oyibo households when the owner of the house has told kitchen staff to chop food items meaning cut them ready to cook. You can imagine the results right?

Dash: Commonly used to mean a bribe but can also be used to describe a tip or a gift.

419: Used to describe any type of scam or vaguely dodgy money making scheme. It derives from the section of the Nigerian Criminal Code that deals with financial fraud.

Sorry-O: Expect to hear the vowel O added to the end of a variety of words. No translation needed on this one, we just like how it sounds.

Oga: Another Yoruba word. Meaning a big man or big boss.

How Now? : A common greeting meaning 'How are things?' Not to be confused with 'How Body?' meaning 'How are you?'

Gulder Wahalla Oyibo suggested the responses to these questions: 'No skin pain' (I am well), 'No shaking' (ditto), 'Body dey inside cloth' (he thinks it means something like; I can afford to put clothes on my back). Another anonymous reader sent us this... " think the word 'Body dey inside cloth' (we think it means something like; I can afford to put clothes on my back).Really it goes like this...  when u say  how body ,normally u expect 'i dey' or 'body fine oh' but some will try be sarcastic though very humorous by replying body dey inside cloth'."

Wetin: Meaning 'what'. As in: Wetin dey talk? What did you say?

Go by Leg: To walk

Pikin: A small child

Go Come: Meaning hurry back or have a safe journey

Carry am go: Roughly translated as take this thing to that place

Pick am carry am go: Again roughly translates as pick this thing up and take it to that place

NEPA: We are told that this stands for Nigerian Electric Power Authority. We insist it stands for Never Expect Power Always.

MoPo: Stands for Mobile Policemen. Can also be called MolPol or MoPol. However you say it, they are usually very tough guys with very big guns who are usually there for your protection.

A-be?: Meaning-Isn't it? Example: NEPA done die-o a-be? Translation: The electricity is off again isn't it?

Okada: A motor bike commonly used as a taxi. Expect to see them carrying everything from school kids to chickens. The best thing we've seen was one bike, one driver, one passenger and one double bed mattress. Try hanging on to that at 35 miles an hour.

Go Slow: A traffic jam. These can be miles in length and can make you hours late for meetings. Can be caused by power cuts disrupting the traffic lights, broken down vehicles or just out and out stupidity.

Nyash: Your backside, your butt, your arse or you derriere. No matter what you call it-it's all the same thing. 'Gulder Wahalla Oyibo' suggested the example for this word too... He says it's useful at the clinic when suffering from a stomach upset. "My nyash go scatter scatter". We'll let you work it out....... An anonymous reader tells us that the correct spelling of this word is: yansh.

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