Whatchusayin? Learn these Bahamian sayings.

Local Lingo: Tips for a Trip to The Bahamas

Update: Our guests’ safety is what matters most, which is why we’ve chosen to pause all of our cruises. We know everyone is focused on their health and loved ones but also dreaming of their next vacation. That’s why we’re still thinking of ways for you to escape the everyday, and when the time is right, we look forward to welcoming you back on board. Until then, we’ll be here with inspiration in all forms whenever you need it.
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The Bahamas is brimming with blue water, white sand and unique phrases.

Credit: Royal Caribbean

With 700 islands and even more cays, The Bahamas is a paradise of pristine shores spanning more than 100,000 square miles of ocean. Beyond the beaches there are lively streets, culinary discoveries and a rich history that reaches from the capital of Nassau to the outer islands of The Exumas.

English may be the official language of The Bahamas, but just like many islands in the Caribbean, the country has its own collection of colorful sayings. Commonly known as Bahamian English, it’s a mixture of Queen’s diction, African influence and island dialect. When you cruise to The Bahamas with Royal Caribbean, not only will our shore excursions help you easily navigate the adventure in store, but we’ve also got you covered with tips for speaking the local lingo.

Use this handy lingo to get around and you won’t get lost in translation, even if it’s just thanking the bartender for the delicious Coco Loco.

Bahamian spiny lobster is a unique delicacy.

Credit: iStock

Ordering

First things first: filling your stomach:

  • Conch = Large mollusc
  • Switcha = Lemonade
  • Crawfish = Spiny lobster (also known as a langouste or crayfish)
  • Duff = Boiled, fruit-filled dough with a rum-flavored sauce—a national dessert
  • Sky juice or gully wash = A local drink of the Out Islands, stemming from Prohibition, that consists of gin, coconut water and sometimes sweetened condensed milk

 

Transportation

Keep these in mind if you and your group are exploring on your own:

  • Jitney = Bus
  • Back-back = To reverse in a car
  • Buck up = To crash

 

General Phrases

Walking through the bustling streets, you’re sure to hear a few of these:

  • What da wybe is? = What’s up?
  • Een nothing. = Nothing much.
  • Whatchusayin? = What are you saying?
  • Tanks. = Thanks.

        Pro tip: The “h” is typically dropped in Bahamian dialect, similar to “tings,” meaning “things.”
  • Whatchusayin, bey? = Everything cool, aye?

 

Exclamations

In The Bahamas, a “whatchamacallit” is a “tingum,” but that’s far from the only saying you may hear on the street:

  • Well mudda sick! / well muddo! = Oh my gosh! / you’re kidding!
  • Bey = Can be used to refer to a man/woman; can also mean “look here.”
  • Dem = Plural marker/group of people
  • Tingum = A word used to refer to a person, place or thing whose name cannot be easily recalled.
  • Jam up = Crowded/full
  • Mash up = To damage/break
  • Yeah, ya see. = Indeed.
  • I straight. = It’s all good.

 

No matter which island you are cruising to in The Bahamas, these phrases will keep you in the know. Whatchusayin, bey?