10 Nigerian English Words That Do Not Exist

Published on: July 27, 2022 (Updated on: April 22, 2024)

Nigerian English words
Nigerian English words that do not exist

Nigerian English words that do not exist

'English is not our native language' has become the foundation of many grammatical mishaps and blunders in Nigeria. We've taken it as leeway to create our own 'Nigerian English' words, some of which are dangerous enough to have our colonial masters rolling in their graves. In this article, we'll be looking at 10 Nigerian English words that do not exist. We all use these words and phrases (yes, don't lie), that don't actually exist anywhere in the English Dictionary. So hold on tight, because tables are about to be shaken.

One way or another, the English language became the world's lingua franca. Along the line, other strings of the English language have also become recognised internationally. However, Nigerian English is yet to, and if we're being honest, may never gain such recognition. Don't dwell on it, we already know the system is rigged. While we may understand our Nigerian English among ourselves, what happens when we need to communicate on international fronts? May we not 'cast' our own selves.

Below are some Nigerian English words that do not exist:

1. 'Horning'

Not every word has a verb form, and that's something a lot of Nigerians refuse to understand. 'Jealousing', 'oning', 'offing'. The list is endless. 'Horning' is just another one of those words we've created. When you use your car horn, you're not horning, rather you're 'honking'. H-O-N-K-I-N-G. It might be difficult to grasp why, but it is what it is. I don't make the rules. Next time you're caught up in traffic, don't hesitate to honk that horn.

2. 'Dash'

'it's mummy Ridwan that 'dashed' me the money.' Mummy Ridwan did what? 7 out of 10 Nigerians have probably used the word 'dash' at one point in time, to refer to the act of giving someone something without expecting it back, a freebie. In most cases, we're referring to money, but there's actually no such thing as 'dash', at least where money or giving is concerned. To dash means to move with sudden speed. So mummy Ridwan can not dash you anything.

3. 'Fanimorous'

This one right here is my personal favourite. Legend has it that it originated from the Yoruba word 'fanimora' which means 'enticing' or 'appealing'. From this, we magnanimously coined 'fanimorous', it's adjectival form. Rather ingenious if you ask me. Unfortunately, my opinion doesn't matter, because 'fanimorous' is not a thing anywhere else outside Nigeria.

4. 'Talkless'

Always accompanied by the preposition 'of', 'talkless' is another invention of our creative minds. 'I can't even speak Yoruba properly, talkess of writing it.' I gather 'talkless' is supposed to be a (rather substandard) mimicry of the expression 'much less'. It should, by all standards, go 'I can't speak Yoruba properly, much less write it.' You could also opt for using other expressions like 'not to talk of', 'let alone', and 'not to mention', but it is never 'talkless'. 'Talk less' can only mean don't talk much.

5. 'Instalmentally'

You hear this one everywhere you go, among traders and their customers, and even on TV ads that air globally. You have probably said it yourself, but the truth remains, there's no such thing as 'instalmentally'. When you're paying bit by bit, you're paying 'in instalments' or 'by instalments' but never 'instalmentally'.

6. 'Trafficate'

The word 'trafficate' is so frequently used, it's starting to sound like proper English. It is used to describe a situation where a driver uses the indicator/pointer to signal left or a right turn. Instead of 'trafficate', it is more appropriate to use the word 'indicate' or 'signal' because when it comes down to it, the word 'trafficate' does not exist.

7. 'Opportuned'

There's no 'd' in 'opportune', and most importantly, it is not a verb. You can not be 'opportuned' to do something. Never! However, you may get the chance to do it at an 'opportune' time. 'opportune' means 'suitable', 'timely', 'convenient'. It is definitely not the verb form of opportunity.

8. 'Pepperish'

There's a thing about how Yoruba people love pepper, and so our stew is usually...? Were you going to say 'pepperish'? Please, perish the idea. There's absolutely nothing like 'pepperish'. The correct word to use will have to be 'peppery'. The stew is peppery. The kebab is peppery. It is not 'pepperish'.

9. 'Reverse back'

Although both words exist individually, somebody needs to tell Nigerians they do not exist together. There's no such thing as 'reverse back', and if you're among those who say it, you need to stop it right now. It is extremely tautologous. After all, you can not 'reverse forward', and so the added 'back' is rather redundant. It is sufficient to say 'reverse'.

10. 'Upper week'

'Upper week', 'Upper Tuesday', 'Upper weekend'. None of these is correct. Shocking? I know! I personally feel we should propose it's inclusion in the dictionary, but until then, there's no such thing as 'upper week'. We could, however, try saying, 'two weeks from now' or 'week after the next'. 'Two Mondays from now' or 'Monday after the next'. It's certainly not upper Monday or upper upper Monday.

So tell me, which of these Nigerian English words that do not exist are you guilty of using? I promise I won't tell.

See also 3 Nigerian English Words That Sound Weird in the UK.