Tringbago Humour: Expressions

A practical and humorous look at local dialect of Tobago


Although the official language of Tobago is English, the local dialect could be another language altogether if you are not used to it.

The following list is a light-hearted attempt to explain a few of the colloquialisms and other expressions and that you might hear on Tobago.

My thanks to reader Roger deMatas, who originates from Trinidad but currently lives in New York, who contributed the list.


ABC, ketch-ah-crab

Very Poor Handwriting

ah-eh-able (I'm not able)

Give me Patience, I cannot keep up with you

ah yah yie

Exclamation meaning anger or joy, depending on the tonal inflection.

all kina ting

All kinds of things / Everything imaginable

all skin-teet (teeth) eh laugh

All smiles are not genuine

all what good to eat, eh good to talk

Sometimes it is better not to talk about certain things

backing ah jack ass in ah horse race

Backing an apparent loser

back back

to reverse a vehicle (e.g. "Steve, back back the car and go back forward")

Bacro Johnny

Fair skinned or albino type people who live in abject poverty - usually Spanish Immigrants.

bad drive

to drive with complete disregard for others

bad like crab

very very bad people - rowdy/violent person

bade (bathe) in de salt

To swim in the sea.


To confuse someone / con someone


A dragon fly

battle axe

An old, hardened, quarrelsome person

bawl dong de place / bawl like twenty Tarzan

to cry excessively/to be in a state of grief

behin' (behind) God back

A very remote place. (e.g. "how far do we have to drive, like dis place behin' God back?")

biff an' bam

two peas in a pod


Heavy rainfall  (e.g. 'It rain bucket-a-drop last night')

buh look at meh crosses, or
buh wah jail is dis

Look at the problems that are facing me

call cat George

The end of a matter / call it finished

cockroach have no right in fowl party

Do not get involved in anything where one is unwelcome or can be snubbed.

coki eye

A cross-eyed person

company does carry you, but they don't bring you back

bad companions lead you to trouble, but don't bail you out



cut arse

To discipline/whip a child / to beat someone in a fight

dat good for yuh

You had it coming / serves you right

de deeper de darkness, de nearer de dawn

every cloud has a silver lining

deck off

to wear one's best clothes

digs out / dus it

To leave hurriedly

dig out meh eye

To be taken advantage of

doh make joke

You don't say / are you kidding / surely you must be joking

doh try dat

Oh no, you don't

driver, ah go take it here

Request a taxi to stop

dry wedder car

A car that leaks profusely when it rains

eat de bread de devil knead

To experience hard times / very rough life

farse an outa place

To meddle is someone else's affairs

fresh water Yankee

A person that spend a shot time in the U.S, comes back home for a visit and speaks with a heavy American accent.

God doh sleep

God will not allow injustice to go unpunished

goin 'orf (going off)

Having diarrhoea

gone orf (off)

Some one who has lost their mind

gran' charge

More talk than action

Guardian paper

Any newspaper

Heinz variety dog

Pot hound/mongrel - taken from the Heinz 57 sauce

hot an' sweaty

To undertake anything without much thought

if you play with dogs, you get bitten by the fleas

If you associate with undesirables, you will share their problems.

it take yuh

You look good wearing it / looks good on you. (e.g. "Susan, you look very nice in that dress, it take yuh.")


An amusing person

jus so / dry So

Out of the blue


Someone who eats for the sake of eating / insatiable appetite

life in London

 to have things easy / a sarcastic remark aimed at a lazy person

like you went to school in August and your best subject was recess?

An expression for slow-witted people or a dumb person (e.g. Schools are closed in August and recess is a play break from school work)

ma ma yo

An expression of surprise / shock / bewilderment

macumere man (maa-coo-may)

A man that useless around the house / an effeminate man

make message

To shop for groceries, usually at a country store.

ming pilling (ming p-ling)

A cheap / frugal person

mutton dress up like lamb

A person pretending to be of higher means / to give the impression that you are better that you say you are

nable string (umbilical cord) bury dere (there)

Someone who shows deep attachment for a place - This is from a long ago practice of burying a child's umbilical cord when born at home under a mango tree, to ensure the child has a good life/good luck/fortune

nancy story (cock & bull story)

Lame excuse

pitch oil


photo takeouter


policeman grease

Water or saliva used when there is no hair cream / mousse available or you cannot afford to buy

put away de house

To decorate one's house for Christmas


an overdressed person / or someone that uses heavy make-up

ragadang (rag-ah-dang)

A car / house that is in need of repairs

ram cram

Like sardines in a can, no room for a pin.

rum boo boo

Someone who constantly drinks rum

surprise de water

To finally have a bath after a long time. (e.g "Oh God, surprise de water na man, look at yuh!")

storm carpenter

Incompetent. Only good enough to nail up barriers in preparation for a storm


Anywhere in the USA

swee' (Sweet) drink

any aerated beverage, soda pop

sweet soap

Any brand of bath soap


The feeling one gets when a love affair is over

tell me dis t'ing nah

An expression of agreement, usually associated with aggravation


A confused state, in a daze or someone madly in love

two man rat, cyar live in de same hole

two persons of a dominating nature cannot exist under the same roof

under all de ol' talk

After all is said and done

vex money

Pocket money just in case there is an argument with your partner and you have to take a taxi home


A rowdy or uncouth person

when push come to shove

When all is said and done

when rain fall, sheep and goat have to mix

In times of crisis, all differences are temporarily forgotten

when your neighbours house is on fire, wet yours

Pay attention to others misfortunes and do not think it cannot happen to you

win' ball cricket

Cricket played with a lawn tennis ball, instead of the leather ball

yuh ass too happy

An expression that is used when someone does something really stupid out of boredom

yuh eat parrot bottom

a person that talks a lot

yuh eh even say dog, cat, good morning

when someone enters a room and does not acknowledge anyone

yuh go put fowl to watch corn ?

Will you put a thief to guard your money, like putting an alcoholic to tend a bar

zaboca (za-bo-ca)


Tobago Satellite Map

Enjoy interactive satellite maps of Tobago. If you have Google Earth download the map here. If not, click the map below to view in a browser window.

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Page Updated: 18 Aug 17