List of Jamaican Patois words of African origin

The List of African words in Jamaican Patois notes down as many loan words in Jamaican Patois that can be traced back to specific African languages. Most of these African words have arrived in Jamaica through the enslaved Africans that were transported there in the era of the Atlantic slave trade.

Patwa Language Original word Description
Accompong Akan Acheampong (or Akropong) Ashanti surname, which means destined for greatness. "Akropong" comes from the conjugation of the Akan words "kro" and "pɔn" meaning "Great City."
Ackee, akeee Akan Ánkyẽ "a type of food/fruit", "cashew fruits"[1]
Adopi Ga Language Adópé (Dwarf in Ga language) Ghost, often written in Jamaican English as "duppy"[2]
Red Eye Akan Ani bere "envious - direct translation from Akan into English"
Adrue Akan, Ewe Adúru, adrú "powder, medicine, drug"[2]
Afasia, afasayah Akan, Ewe Afaséw, afaséɛ "inferior wild yam"[2]
Afu Akan Afúw "yam" or "plantation"[3]
Ahpetti Akan O-peyi A certain amulet[4]
Akam Akan A wild and inferior yam
Anansi Akan, Ewe Anansi "Spider"[5] also name Akan folktale character.
Adru Akan a medica herb
Bafan Akan Bɔfran a baby or toddler. A child that did not learn to walk between ages two and seven.[6]
Bissy Akan Bese Kola Nut
Broni Akan Oburoni a white person[6]
Casha Akan, English Kasɛ́, acacia "thorn"[7]
Dookunu Akan (Asante Twi) Dɔkono (also known as blue draws or tie-a-leaf in Jamaica) food, a dessert item similar to bread pudding.[8]
Cocobay Akan Kokobé "leprosy"[5][9]
Ginal Akan (Ashanti Twi) Gyinaa Someone that is not taken seriously, a stupid person. A con-man (in Jamaica only)
Kaba-kaba Yoruba, Akan, Ewe "unreliable, inferior, worthless"[10]
Kongkos Akan Konkonsa "gossip"[5]
Mumu Akan, Ewe, Mende, Yoruba "dumb", "stupid"[5][11]
Odum Akan a type of tree[12]
Obeah Akan (Ashanti Twi) Ɔbayi "witchcraft"[13]
Igbo ọbiạ "doctoring", "mysticism"[14]
Opete Akan "vulture"[6]
Paki Akan apakyi calabash[15]
Patu Ga Language "owl"[6]
Poto-poto Yorùbá "mud", "muddy"[5]
Backra Efik Mbakára "white man"[5][16]
Juk Fula Jukka "poke", "spur"[17][18]
Akara Yoruba àkàrà Type of food[2]
Attoo Igbo átú "chewing stick"[19]
Breechee Igbo Mbùríchì Nri-Igbo nobleman[20]
Chink, chinch Igbo chị́nchị̀ 'bedbug'[21]
Country ibo Igbo Ị̀gbò Pluchea odorata or Ptisana purpurascens[22]
Himba Igbo Mba "yam root", a type of yam, Rajania cordata[23][24]
Nyam Akan Nyam (also means to blend) to eat
Okra Igbo ọkwurụ a type of vegetable[5][14]
Red Ibo, Eboe Igbo Ị̀gbò a person with a light skin colour or a mulatto of mixed parentage[25]
Unu Igbo únù "you (plural)"[26]
Dingki Kongo funeral ceremony[23]
Dundus Kongo ndundu "albino", "white person", "European"[9]
Djumbi Kongo "ghost"[5]
Pinda Kongo "peanut"[5]


  1. ^ Cassidy & Page (2002:3)
  2. ^ a b c d Cassidy & Page (2002:4)
  3. ^ Cassidy & Page (2002:5)
  4. ^ Cassidy & Page (2002:6)
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i McWhorter (2000:77)
  6. ^ a b c d Cassidy & Page (2002:20)
  7. ^ Cassidy & Page (2002:93)
  8. ^ Cassidy & Page (2002:155)
  9. ^ a b Cassidy & Page (2002:112)
  10. ^ Allsopp & Allsopp (2003:323)
  11. ^ Mittelsdorf (1978:34)
  12. ^ Cassidy & Page (2002:328)
  13. ^ Williams, Joseph John (1933). Voodoos and Obeahs: Phases of West India Witchcraft. Library of Alexandria. p. 90. ISBN 9781465516954.
  14. ^ a b Eltis & Richardson (1997:88)
  15. ^ Cassidy & Page (2002:335)
  16. ^ Cassidy & Page (2002:18)
  17. ^ Cassidy & Page (2002:153)
  18. ^ Watson (1991:10)
  19. ^ Cassidy & Page (2002:14)
  20. ^ Cassidy & Page (2002:68)
  21. ^ Allsopp & Allsopp (2003:152)
  22. ^ Cassidy & Page (2002:124)
  23. ^ a b Graddol, Leith & Swann (1996:210)
  24. ^ Lewis (1996:24)
  25. ^ Cassidy & Page (2002:378)
  26. ^ Cassidy & Page (2002:457)