Every city has its style, customs, dialect and Lagos, Nigeria, is no different. From the traders at Oshodi to the street vendors on Broad Street,Marina, Lagosians are in a class by themselves when it comes to lingo. The streets of Lagos, one of the busiest in the country, are swamped with people who use these slangs frequently and tourists find it hard to understand.

Visiting Lagos and looking to grasp the most basic street slangs? Jovago.com, Africa’s No.1 online hotel booking site offers 10 popular phrases you are mostly likely to hear while shopping at the Island market, or visiting friends in Yaba. This street lingo outline is sure to help you settle in, relax and really enjoy the amazing things that Lagos has to offer.



Translated as ‘white person’, you are bound to hear this phrase around you if you fit the description. While most slangs are transitionary, this is one slang that has stood the test of time. Sometimes, it could be used as a cheeky reference to someone who is not accustomed to the street life or a foreigner. It is however neither an offensive word, nor is it used as an insult.

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Nigerians on the street of Lagos use this word a lot. Its meaning is a far cry from the original English transaltion which is “to run or rush”. Dash is commonly used when the person is asking for a gift or tip and it is also used to refer to a bribe.



This is a common Lagos patois which has spread through the country. It is no secret that Lagos is notorious for its traffic jams and so its inhabitants now refer to the dilemma as ‘Go-slow’. If you are stuck in traffic, do not be surprised if the driver starts to complain about being stuck in a ‘Go-slow’.

Ma binu

Originally a Yoruba phrase, ma binu has now become a slang used by people on Lagos street despite their ethnicity or citizenship. The slang which translates as “please” is used especially when you have offended someone and would like to be forgiven. It comes in very handy in situations where you are accosted by policemen or road thugs. It works a lot faster than just saying “please”.

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Most people use this word as a sign of respect or praise particularly for the male gender, the word means “Boss” or “Sir”. It is used by vendors and traders on the street to appeal to the inner ‘lordness” of the prospective buyer and get him to spend some ‘Benjamins’. It can also be used sarcastically to mock someone. Lagosians also use the word to refer to a man when they do not know his real name.


This is a favorite slang on Lagos street. The word is used to mean ‘trouble’. Most time you will see people complaining make statements as: ‘ See me, see wahala oh!” literally meaning ‘look at me, look at trouble’. Another way this slang is commonly used is in the phrase ‘no wahala’, meaning there are no troubles or worries.

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This slang is so abrupt that most people tend to miss it in conversations, however, it is used all around Lagos, not just the street. The frequently used slang usually translates as the questions ‘isn’t it?’. Most times, it is used to confirm an assertion, justify a claim or verify an agreement.


A common phrase used to mean taxi, especially when you are not looking to share; ‘Drop’ is commonly used on the streets of Lagos. If you are looking to get a taxi on Lagos Street and you don’t know where to get one, it is preferable to ask someone where you can get a “drop” rather than a taxi. Also, drop is a term used to refer to getting off a bus or taxi. If you are taking a public bus for instance, rather than say you would light to alight at a junction, it best to say drop: “I’ld like to drop here”.

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