Saturday, 30 July 2016


            Many people speak English as their first language. It is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world.

            Nigerians are very good at a number of things and one of them is inventing their own version of English which has become popular over time. Some of the words and phrases we use often cannot be found in the dictionary. Some are words picked up from others and they have become quite a norm. It is not only the uneducated folks that are guilty of using these wrong words as the very educated Nigerians also use the English language inappropriately. Below are some words Nigerians use that don’t exist in the English dictionary:

1) Go-slow: When Nigerians say go-slow, they usually mean congested traffic which is wrong. The meaning of go-slow in the English dictionary is a form of industrial action in which work or progress is deliberately delayed or slowed down.

2) Disvirgin: This word is used on a daily basis by many Nigerians when they intend to say a woman has lost her virginity. There is no word like disvirgin, the correct word to use is deflower. Disvirgin simply does not exist.

3) Trafigate: Nigerians use this word to describe a situation where a driver indicates to other drivers that he/she wants to take a turn. It is used so often, that it has started to sound like proper English.

4) Flashing: Every Nigerian knows “flashing” to mean a situation when someone calls your mobile phone and cuts off before you answer. The word ‘flash’ is so common among Nigerians and is used at least once daily by many. Flash has different meanings but none has anything to do with a phone call. The word doesn’t exist in that sense in English.

5) Installmentally: Don’t ever be tempted to use the word ‘installmentally’. Though it sounds correct, it isn’t. There is no such word in the English dictionary as it only exists in the Nigerian edition of English language. The correct thing to say is, ‘in installments’.

6) Opportuned: What exists in the English dictionary is ‘opportune’ without the ‘d’ at the end. Opportune means ‘timely’ or ‘well timed’, especially convenient or appropriate for a particular action or event. Opportuned is only common in Nigerian English.

7) Cunny: This is a word Nigerians use to describe someone that is deceitful or crafty. The right word is ‘cunning’ not ‘cunny’.

8) Next tomorrow: Most Nigerians generally use ‘next tomorrow’ but there is not such word as next tomorrow. Instead, you should say, ‘a day after tomorrow.’

9) Packer: Nigerians probably got the word from pack. The right word is dustpan. Since dustpan packs dirt, Nigerians like to wrongly call it packer.

10) Pepperish: It is very common to hear Nigerians describe a meal that has too much pepper in it as pepperish. The proper word should be ‘peppery’.  No native English speaker uses the word ‘pepperish’ to describe the burning sensation we feel from eating pepper.

            Many of us have been guilty of these errors in the past and some are still guilty of these errors. Hopefully, that will change after reading this.

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