Language is a phenomenon that is used in communication. The environment we live in is largely verbal, therefore, language serves as an expressive function used in everyday conversation.
Yoruba is an ethnic group which has an exciting history and rich culture. Yoruba people are known for numerous things, one of those things is their penchant for colorful insults which are mostly witty.
Insults are called (èébu) in Yoruba language. Below are some commonly used insults in Yoruba:
Oponu (An Idiot or Daft Person)
Oponu is a Yoruba slang that describes someone who is ignorant or extremely stupid.
Agba iya is pronounced “Agbaya“. It is a Yoruba slang that means “bad elder” or an older person who acts like a child. It also means an older person, who despite his age, is still useless. Yoruba mothers usually use it when you do something especially childish.
Ode is a Yoruba slang which means dumb person, one who is mentally weak or foolish. It is a classic used by almost everyone with a grasp of Yoruba. It is so commonly used as many do not even feel insulted when it is used on them.
Obun is a Yoruba slang mostly used for a dirty person. It is used to call into question a person’s personal hygiene, so it can mean anything from dirty to filthy. Usually used when your room looks like a pigsty that has not been cleaned in years.
Oloshi is translated to English as a stupid person. It is used by almost everyone and it means someone who does rubbish a lot. It is also widely translated as unfortunate but it means someone who is interested in unnecessary things.
Olodo is a widely used insult which is used to describe someone as having low intelligence. An Olodo is dull, slow and most likely has problems with academic activities or assimilation.
Didirin is a close relative of Olodo and Ode, it is a cross between the two and can be used to describe someone who has low mental faculties.
When one is called ‘Apoda’, it is meant to suggest stupidity or someone who is confused and has little or no direction. It is similar to being called a ‘Retard’ in English.
Some common Yoruba Insult phrases are:
- Alapa stainless:
A Yoruba insult that directly translates to “one with a stainless arm/hand” and is used to insult a lazy person or whose hands are not useful.
A Yoruba Insult that means “bad head” but is used to say someone who has a stupid head. It doesn’t translate literally to English but carries a lot of Gravitas in Yoruba.
- Omo Ale:
A yoruba insult that means “Bastard”. Used when the paternity of someone is not known but also used as an insult the way bastard is.
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