Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, I was always surrounded by people from different ethnicities, races, and beliefs, descendants of those who arrived from all across the globe — Indian, Spanish, British, Chinese, African, and French, to name a few. The music and traditions of our nation, as well as our languages, accents, and sayings, reflect the rich history that has made Trinbago what it is today. If you plan to visit, learning some Trini slang is as important as having the right gear in your pack.
Here are some other examples of Trini slang you’ll want to remember and how to pronounce them:
Meaning: Either “awesome” or “sexy”
Example of usage and translation: “Dat girl rel bess” = “That girl is really sexy” / “Dat rel bess” = “That’s really awesome”
Explanation: “Weys” is an exclamatory term often used in moments of surprise, shock, or disbelief.
Explanation: “Lime” is a word used in Trinidad and Tobago, and throughout the Caribbean, as a synonym for “a gathering” or “to hang out.” Instead of “No Loitering” signs, you’ll often see signs that say, “No liming.” “Lime” can be used as both a verb and a noun.
Example of usage and translation: “When we limin’?” = “When are we going to hang out?” / “I’m having a lime tonight” = “I’m having a get-together tonight”
Meaning: “or what?”
Explanation: “Owah” is commonly used at the end of a question.
Example of usage and translation: “You going to sleep owah?” = “You going to sleep or what?”/ “You like her owah?” = “You like her or what?”
Explanation: “DDI” is an acronym for “Down di Islands.” It’s a term used to refer to islands off the northwest coast of Trinidad. Many of these islands have houses on them and residents typically go DDI on their own boats on weekends and vacations. You don’t have to own your own home or boat to go DDI, however. You can rent a boat, find someone to go with, or befriend a local fisherman and anchor in the middle of a bay or near a beach and have fun in the ocean. During weekends and vacations, many young people can be found DDI, enjoying water sports, a good lime, and the occasional DDI party.
Pronunciation: “Dong di islands”
Explanation: “Wine” or “wining” is the name given to the dance of Trinidad and Tobago. It’s similar to what people in the US call “grinding.” However, the movement of the hips tends to be more fluid. A common phrase directed at individuals who can wine very well is, “Yuh grease yuh waistline,” which is supposed to mean the individual’s hips move so fluidly it’s as if they were oiled.
Explanation: “Bacchanal” is a term used most often to refer to drama. It can also mean having a good time at a party, as heard in the very popular Carnival song in Trinidad and Tobago called “Bacchanalist,” by Kerwin Du Bois.
Waz di scene
Meaning: Literaly “what is the scene?” but is understood as “what are you doing?” or “what’s up?” Though similar, it should not be confused with “waz your scene?” (see below).
Example of usage and translation: “Ey, waz di scene?” = “Hey, what are you doing?”
Meaning: “Wam” means “what happen?”
Explanation: Synonymous with “Waz your scene?”, both terms tend to be used in instances of indignation, though “wam” can also be used in a friendly manner, as meaning “what’s up?”
Example of usage and translation: “Wam to you?” or “Waz your scene?” = ‘What’s the matter with you?” / “Ey, wam?” = “Hey, what’s up?”
Meaning: Similar to the term “dawg” in many other parts of the world — basically, a way to address a friend.
Explanation: “Hoss” represents a friend in the same way as “padna” (Trinidadian word literally meaning “partner” but understood as “friend”) — just as a horse is your riding partner. Over time, the word “hoss” has taken on new meanings in Trinidad and Tobago. Instead of just referring to a friend, it can be used in place of the word “weys.” Using “hoss” in this manner is almost a combination of “weys” and “hoss,” since the speaker is typically attempting to draw the attention of a friend.
Note: This Trini slang word is not used by the older generation, and is not heard anywhere else in the Caribbean.
Example of usage and translation: “Waz di scene, hoss?” = “What’s up, dawg” / “HOSSSSSSS, you see that?” = “BUDDY, did you see that?”