Tuesday, 2 April 2013

10+ Essential Yoruba Phrases (That are not 'Ba wo ni')

Ki lonwo? What are you looking at?
Koju si waju! Face your front! Lol!
Now, first of all, I have two things to say:

One, I must give credit where credit is due. This blog was 100% inspired by Sugarbelly and her blog 10 Essential Igbo Phrases (That are not 'Kedu'). As you can see, I even 'stole' her title more or less. I loved her blog and you really should check it out. Anyway, I left a comment and told her that I would try to do a reply in Yoruba. *laughing* And, as you will soon see, I have given it my best shot!

Two, Sugarbelly did a great job with hers. I cannot 'meet up'. She had sound and really broke the words/phrases down giving examples and all that. I have done my best but like I feared, I am unable to match her attention to detail. Please just manage me and my Saltified pronounciation guide like that *laughing*.

If you are a non-Yoruba speaker and you throw some of these down with your Yoruba peeps, I want to believe you will earn a few raised eyebrows (the question will be: Are the raised eyebrows in appreciation or mock horror? Lol!). Anyway, so goes!

Eka aro (Err-car-roar): Good morning
Eka san (Err-car-son, with silent ‘n’): Good afternoon
Eka le (Err-car-leh); Good evening

So wa pa? (show-wah-pah)
Literally? Are you there well?
Proper meaning: Are you OK? Are you good? Are you doing great?

Ma binu (mah-bee-new)
Literally? Don’t give birth to your insides or don’t spill your guts
Proper meaning: Don’t be angry or I am sorry.

Mo nbo (Mo-n (nasalised n) -bore)
Literally? I am coming (but actually said when you are going. Lol!)
Proper use: I will be back. See you later.

E se (Err-Shay, but don't roll the 'r' too much)
Literally? You did (something)
Proper meaning: Thank you (for what you did)

E kaabo (Err-car-bore)
Literally? Well done as you are coming
Proper meaning? Welcome

E ku ise (Err-coo-eee-cher)
Literally? Well done as you are working
Proper meaning: Well done to anyone engaged in any kind of activity.

O dabo (Oh-dah-bore)
Literally? Till you come back
Proper use: Bye-bye. See you later

Wa jeun (Wah-jeh-oon): Come and eat.
Proper use: Do join me/Please join me (as I am eating)

A gba bire ( Ah-gba-bee-ray): In response to the invitation above, you are saying ' Tank you and may the food you are eating go down the right way. May it not choke you!

E ma fara le (Err-ma-far-ah-leh)
Literally? Don’t leave your body on the ground. Don’t let your body go.
Proper use: Said to a sick person, to encourage him or her not to let the sickness overwhelm them. A comforting phrase to get the person to perk up and asking him or her to be strong.

Eku igbadun (Err-coo-eee-gba-dune)
Literally? Well done as you are enjoying.
Proper use: Happy celebrations or a greeting said to people you believe are enjoying or ‘chopping life’.

Mo da ran (Mo-dah-run): I have done something! I am in trouble!

Egba mi o!: (Err-gba-mee o!): Come and save me o! Help! Somebody, save me!

Oma se o: (Oh-mah-shey-oh): What a pity! That’s a shame.

Eku Orire: (Err-coo-oh-ree-ray):  Well done for having a 'good head' or for your good fortune.
Proper meaning: Congratulations! Said to anyone celebrating anything; Exam success, birth of a baby, wedding, your child just turned 1, you just got a job, in short, anything good!

Orisirisi: (Oh-ree-she-ree-she): All sorts! Usually used to express amazement/dismay at some one’s actions or at some event or happening.
Like you come home one day to find your nanny wearing your cute LBD! Lol! You clap your hands and exclaim ‘Orisirisi’! Strange things are happening!' Lol!

On that note, I shall rest my case. Do feel free to 'retaliate' with your essential phrases in your own language. I would really love to see Ibibio and Hausa versions of Sugarbelly's blog.

Thanks again Sugarbelly! And Happy New Month everybody!!!!!

Remember, God is especially fond of you!


  1. Hahaha! Awesome! You did a great job! I already knew most of tthese though. I lived in Lagos as a child so not surprising. Awesome job!

    1. Thanks o jare! Now, you are sweeting my belly. Lol!

  2. Oluko, E se o! E maa gbiyanju ke!

    1. E ma se o Bernnie! Ko easy rara oh because Yoruba people! We can greet! There is a greeting for every thing! Lol! So I tried not to do just greeting!

      Ki Olorun ki O bukun yin at gbogbo ebi nyin o! Amin!

  3. Lovely list!! I am familiar with these phrases but didnt know some of the meaning till now. Its amazing how you can passively learn words by listening.

    Thank you :)

    1. I know! Thanks for coming by Ginger!


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