Top 10 Words Nigerians Use That Aren’t in the Dictionary

There are some words that Nigerians use often but which do not exist in the any authoritative dictionary. Usually, when you type these words on Microsoft word and social media chat software, a red line appears underneath them immediately. Yeah, it’s true that English is not our native language but then again, it is our official language until some future government decides that the Nigerian Pidgin English or even Swahili is worth considering as an official language. Until then, it’s important for us to get the English language right.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some words Nigerian use that aren’t found in any English dictionary ever written.

#1 Plumpy

This word is often used by Nigerians to describe a chubby or slightly fat person. “She is very plumpy” you might hear them say. However, the correct word is plump.

#2 Disvirgin

This word is used several times daily, by many people, especially by Nigerian men. “Disvirgin” as a word is used  to describe a lady who has lost her virginity to a man. The correct expression to use is ‘deflower’. ‘Disvirgin’ is not a word and cannot be found in any dictionary…yet.

#3 Installmentally


This word doesn’t exist in any dictionary, though it is a Nigerian favorite. It even has this ring to it! However, the right thing to say when you want to say ‘installmentally’ is ‘in installments’.

#4 Crosscarpeting

Politicians and political analysts in Nigeria use this term a lot. This term is used when a politician leaves his party for a new one, usually, to the opposing party. To describe this event correctly, the right terms to use are party switching, crossing the floor, or defection.

#5 Go-slow


This word actually exists but Nigerians use it wrongly.  Go-slow is when workers intentionally reduce activity, efficiency and productivity as a means to press home their demands. In other words, a go-slow can happen in an organization, office or a factory. But Nigerians use this term to refer to slow moving traffic. The correct word to use is hold-up, traffic jam, traffic congestion, gridlock but definitely not ‘go-slow’. Then again, if you’re stuck in a Lagos gridlock, I bet that correct English might be the last thing on your mind! Try sha.

#6 Cunny

This  word is used by Nigerians to describe someone who is crafty, deceitful and two-faced.  This word has been used in many tales about Mbe the tortoise and his cunning acts. However, the right word here is ‘cunning’ not cunny as you wouldn’t find ‘cunny’ in most authoritative dictionaries.

#7 Pepperish


This word is commonly used by Nigerians to describe very spicy food, especially when the food seems to burn one’s tongue. The right word for it though is ‘peppery’ not pepperish as. Some even opt for the word ‘spicy’ which is a much better option.

#8 Opportuned

You get to hear someone say “I was not opportuned to attend the event”. However, the correct word is ‘opportune’, because it has no past tense. So you are opportune to know that ‘opportuned’ is not a word in the dictionary.

#9 Wake-keeping

This term is used by Nigerians to describe an evening event organized for the death of a loved one in Nigeria. ‘Wake-keeping’, or ‘wake-keep’  doesn’t exist in the dictionary. In fact it is simply known as “Wake” otito!

#10 Screen-touch

Broken iPhone

This term is used by Nigerians to describe an android device which is capable of being operated via its screen. The white people named these devices ‘touchscreen’ but Nigerians renamed it to ‘screentouch’.

Nigerian English when spoken correctly is music to the ears but when those bombs of incorrectness begin to escape people’s lips and hands, Nigerian English becomes puzzling even to men with the highest of I.Qs. So are you guilty of not guilty of these acts of terrorism on the English language?

Do you know of other words Nigerians use that aren’t in the dictionary? Enlighten us in the comments section!

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