10 Phrases I Love That I Learned From Black People

10 Phrases I Love That I Learned From Black People

As a dude with a degree in Psychology, people interest me, and black people are no exception.


1. Omma do dis

Translation: “I’m going to do this”

I don’t really find myself saying, “I am going to do this”,  too often, but because it’s so fun to physically say aloud “omma do dis”, it’s tempting.

(singing “Rock me, Omma do dis” to the tune of, “Rock me Amadaeus” optional)

2. Word and Word?

Translation: Really and Really? Or can just mean, “cool” or “ok”.

This “word” isn’t particularly important, but it’s said often, mostly after a declarative sentence. As in,

Rodney: I’ll meet you at 8:30?

Jamal: Word


Rodney: Rihanna just called and asked me on a date.

Jamal: Oh word???

In my experience, “word” is a great way to spice up an otherwise-lame-o sentence like,

Rodney: So I guess my mom has been watching a lot of Perry Mason re-runs lately.

Jamal: Oh word???


3. Twerking

Admittedly, I’m a lot more amused by watching twerking, than I am by the word, “twerking”. But I did learn the word from black people, so I guess it counts as a reason to show some twerking.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this video is worth only three words. Which I will explain in #4


4. Ohh maaa Gaaaa

Translation: Oh my God

Black people say, “Oh my God” in a much more amusing way than white people do, and I’ve found that women are much more likely to say this than men. And when they do, it’s awesome.


5. “Fa ril” and “Fa ril dough”

translation: For real and For real, though.

These are a lot like “word” and pretty self explanatory. It’s just a more fun way to say, “Oh, no kidding?”


6. You wrong fa dat

translation: You are wrong for that

It was a slow week at my last job if one of the Southside ladies I worked with didn’t tell me, “Oh you wrong fa dat”, at least twice. It’s a great phrase and kinda reminds me of

7. Hayell Naww

Translation: Hell no

A lifelong southsider helped me with my blaccent on this one. I was used to pronouncing it more like “Hay-ell naw”, but she told me she goes with more of a “heeee-ill naw”.  So pick one of those two pronunciations and try it out.

8. Bogus

Translation: Bogus

Bogus is an underutilized word in modern America and it seems like the black community does a better job keeping it alive than other groups I’ve spent time with and I want to commend them for that. I’m also told that it’s common for black people to add an “h” to the end of  “bogus” in an attempt to shush their counterpart’s bogus notions, though I have yet heard it on my own.


9. Girrrrrlllll

Translation:  Girrrrrllllll

This is a great multi-use word. It can mean, “You better be careful”,  “You go girl”,  “You are really something else”, ore most frequently, all of the above.


10. Lay her Down and Smack em Yack Em

translation: Makes a man, healthy, wealthy and wise

As far as I can tell, not a lot of black use that phrase but they will always get the reference when you use it.


Protip:  “sheeeeit”,  translates into, “golly”.



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  • The twerking video? I'm just going to tell you . . . my mother-in-law wore those same pants to the theater yesterday. Oh, and I have the pink & red ones I wear as pajamas. We must all shop at the same store.

  • In reply to Jenna Karvunidis:

    Hayell ye-uh!! Women of all ages need good twerkin' pants!

  • In reply to TRSlyder:

    I'm going to ask her to do that move on Christmas.

  • In reply to Jenna Karvunidis:

    Since she'd be the tweker, that would make you the Christmas twerkee!

  • These have all been featured on Ice Cube CDs. If you wanted to give someone language tapes on this topic, you'd give them some Cube albums

  • Ha ha!! Also:
    1.Turnt up
    2. Slapped
    3. Bout that life
    4. Out South
    5. Popping Molly's
    6. Yessuh

    Check out the Twitter account for ghetto translations.

  • In reply to Evan Moore:

    Evan, I first heard #5 from some white music industry people a few years ago. I do like #1, which reminds me of one I learned from the Wire that I love: Got got.

    Thanks for reading.

  • Haha, 20 years from now Cube CD's will be curriculum.

  • As you mature, you will realize that all people who have the same color of skin are not alike. When you say "black people" that includes over 17 million people in the USA. Only a tiny portion of black people walk around saying "Omma do dis" and other idiotic phrases. This kind of slang represents the street culture of people who certainly do not represent intelligent, well spoken educated black people who are leaders, entrepreneurs, policeman, professors, doctors, lawyers, and presidents. If you want black friends, stop choosing them from street people who will probably turn on you at the drop of a hat. Choose ordinary people with good character who have not made themselves into a comic character. Get away from TV. Many of those people create outrageous crazy slang-talking personalities for ratings and money!.
    Think of the craziest most outrageous person in your family. Now suppose people judged your family by that person. Suppose most people thought that all of you were just like him or her? Wouldn't that make you upset and frustrated, especially if you were educated? I know you don't mean any harm, but it is another kind of racial profiling, stereotyping. Maybe you should say "Things street people say."

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    In reply to MeMe1:

    It's a catch 22 that no one has responded to you until now. Based on your response, unfortunately the author that posted this and the intended audience most likely wouldn't want to be friends with a black person taking the same approach as you have here.

    As an educated person of color, I can see through your love for knowledge and the American dream and bring to light your apparent disdain for your own culture and people. You seek solace in total assimilation. Though I do not have a problem with totally assimilated blacks, I do have a problem with those blacks bad mouthing their own community with no obvious desire to influence it. Your authentic people(community), educated or not, would call you an oreo cookie for a post like this. Here's why:

    1. An educated individual is aware that no language that is constant. All language, even body language, is cultural. There is no right or wrong language. American English is not the only language spoken by every culture residing in America. Especially not within their cultural environment.

    2. If you're educated, you should have some basic understanding of cultural relativism. In your post, you've shown a lack in ability to utilize cultural relativism when referring to your own culture, only further influencing the divide between, and destruction of, our people.

    3. I can guarantee you most of these people you've taken upon yourself to categorize "street" and deemed "uneducated" are highly intelligent, yet choose not to change themselves for money. That, to me, doesn't sound like they have their goals in the wrong place.

    4. These "street" people do more for the community that is in need than those who have chosen complete assimilation for selfish reasons.

    5. The most loyal and supportive black people you will find are those that have chosen not to assimilate. Look at how many blacks go down for not snitching when they are completely innocent aside from their knowledge of the truth.

    6. Why do you think cultural language dictates character or makes someone ordinary or unordinary? There are no correlations. Please educate yourself.

    7. Your black president is bilingual. Fluent in many languages and one of his favorite, A.A. Vernacular English, also known as black cultural slang, is the one you're bashing.

    8. You're only half right about the ratio of blacks that speak vernacular English and blacks that dont. First, you've ignored the middle notch of the spectrum. Yes, there are very few blacks that solely speak vernacular english... but the mass majority does not fall into the total assimilation category. Many of our strongest supporters would disown them. Before you start bringing in numbers and generalizations make sure you've done your homework. By homework I mean field work, not some numbers you read from someone else.

    9. Apparently you've had some bad run ins when submerging into the black culture or simply some bad run ins by being black in white America. Something my mama told me when I was a child that might benefit you: "people will always think what they want, it's up to you to prove otherwise and that is if you care enough to" another being "people always gon' talk about you, good or bad; you decide to listen". If you lose the perception that our community is uneducated based on the way we, as a whole, speak, maybe discussing our culture with other cultures and diffusing the stereotypes wouldn't cause you so much frustration and angst.

    10. You speak of a concern for your family being judged; however, you have chosen to judge an entire culture. As my blacks would say: #wheretheydothatat? Translation: your mother taught you better than that. #church Translation: You needed this sermon. #youtriedit Translation: you tried it, but you failed. #sitdown Translation: you either need a time out or a nap because #youtrippin Translation: you are crazy if you think (what was said/done) is/was okay.

    10. The author of this post DID NOT stereotype. "From black people" does not mean "from all black people". Even the integrity of the post in general does not qualify as a stereotype. The author shared the bit of culture he learned from his black associates. The mere fact that they taught him on purpose refutes the post being stereotypical in the sense you're referring to.

    Morality of all of this is: The real issue seems to be that you're a puzzle piece to a puzzle with about 9 billion pieces and you're trying to squeeze into a space that you obviously don't want to be in or dont belong in, hence your level of frustration even when not required. Your placement in life and struggles in life aren't a result of language or of color, you're dealing with an internal battle about judgment. I have been there- battles like these are made worse with the things we cannot control (like our skin color). I strongly suggest courses on anthropology, communication, black politics, black literature, etc. Practice things like attaining inner peace through activities like yoga and meditation. Sun gaze. Take a field trip to Baltimore. These suggestions may sound ridiculous, but they do eventually dissolve the bitterness you feel and will help guide you in further interactions.

    All love,
    A strong black woman

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Qing Artisan:

    I know this thread is over a year old but I came up in this ridiculous article and I wanted to say kudos!! Wonderful said!!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Qing Artisan:

    You said that! Word up! Lol I love an educated queen.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to MeMe1:

    Excuse me, that second "10" obviously should be "11"

  • fb_avatar

    I just was watching a news story featuring commentary from an ACLU. lawyer who said the word: " Impor ent" translation: Important.

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