Chimamanda Inspires Adoption Of 29 Nigerian Words Into English Language

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has adopted 29 Nigerian words into the English language, and the reason for this is the way Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, used ‘Nigerian English’ in her works.

The OED made this known in a blog post following the announcement of the 29 Nigerian words which has been adopted into the January 2020 update of the renowned Oxford University Press owned dictionary.

According to OED: “This is how acclaimed Nigerian writer Chimamanda  Adichie describes her relationship with English, the language which she uses in her writing, and which millions of her fellow Nigerians use in their daily communication.”

The body cited a quote by the Women’s Prize for Fiction winner to buttress its assertion that she inspired the decision.

“My English-speaking is rooted in a Nigerian experience and not in a British or American or Australian one. I have taken ownership of English.”


The institution further commended the manner with which the country has taken possession of English as their lingua franca, adding that the country has made “unique and distinct contributions” to the development of English as a global language.

OED said that the additions are either borrowed from Nigerian languages, or a unique Nigerian coinage which was introduced as part of local English in the second half of the twentieth century between 1970s and 1980s.

The 29 Nigerian words and expressions added in the latest (January 2020) updates of Oxford English Dictionary (OED) are listed as follows:

Agric, adj. and n.: “Of, relating to, or used in agriculture; = agricultural adj. Now chiefly West African.”

Barbing salon, n.: “A barber’s shop.”


Buka, n.: “A roadside restaurant or street stall with a seating area, selling cooked food at low prices.

Cf. bukateria n., mama put n. Frequently as a modifier…”

Bukateria, n.: “A roadside restaurant or street stall with a seating area, selling cooked food at low prices. Cf. buka n., mama put n.”

Chop, v.6, Additions: “transitive. Ghanaian English and Nigerian English.

To acquire (money) quickly and easily. Frequently in negative sense: to misappropriate, extort, or…”

Chop-chop, n.2: “Bribery and corruption in public life; misappropriation or embezzlement of funds. Also as a modifier.”

Danfo, n.: “A yellow minibus that carries passengers for a fare as part of an informal transport system in Lagos, the largest city in Nigeria. Also as a…”

To eat money, in eat, v., Additions: “Now chiefly Nigerian English and East African. to eat money: to acquire money dishonestly; to misappropriate, extort, or embezzle funds. Cf. chop v.6…”

Ember months, n.: “The final four months of the calendar year (September to December), esp. considered together as a period of heightened or intense activity.”


Flag-off, n.: “The moment at which a race, esp. a motor race, is flagged off (see flag v.4 additions a); the start of a race. Now chiefly Indian English and…”

Flag, v.4, Additions: “to flag off. transitive (usually in passive).

To direct (a driver) to start a motor race, esp. one in which the competitors start at intervals, by…”

Flag, v.4, Additions: “to flag off. transitive. Indian English and Nigerian English. In extended use: to start (an event or undertaking).”

Gist, n.3, Additions: “Nigerian English. Idle chat, gossip. Also: an  instance of this, a rumour or piece of gossip.”

Gist, v.2: “transitive. To reduce (a text, document, etc.) to its essence or gist; to condense, summarize, or précis.”

Guber, adj.: “Of or relating to a governor or governorship; = gubernatorial adj.”

Kannywood, n.: “The Nigerian Hausa-language film industry, based in Kano; Kano regarded as the centre of this industry. Cf. Nollywood n.”

K-leg, n.: “In singular and plural. A condition in which one or both of a person’s knees are turned inwards, resulting in a noticeable gap between the feet when…”

Mama put, n.: “A street vendor, typically a woman, selling cooked food at low prices from a handcart or stall. Also: a street stall or roadside restaurant run by…”

Next tomorrow, n. and adv.: “The day after tomorrow.”

Non-indigene, adj. and n.: “Not native. In later use chiefly West African: belonging to an ethnic group considered not to be indigenous to a particular area.”

Okada, n.: “In Nigeria: a motorcycle which passengers can use as a taxi service.”

To put to bed in put, v.: “West African. to put to bed: to give birth. Also: to give birth to (a child).”

Qualitative, adj., sense 3: “West African. Of high quality; excellent.”

To rub minds in rub, v.1: “to rub minds (together): (of two or more people) to consider a matter jointly; to consult and work together; to confer. Similarly, to rub our (also…”

Sef, adv.: “Used for emphasis after a statement or rhetorical question, often expressing irritation or impatience.”

Send-forth, n.: “A celebration or event to mark a person’s departure; a send-off. Frequently as a modifier, as send-forth ceremony, send-forth party, etc.”

Severally, adv., Additions: “East African and West African. On several occasions; repeatedly.”

Tokunbo, adj.: “Denoting an imported second-hand product, esp. a car.”

zone, v.

Zoning, n., Additions: “Nigerian English. The system or practice of allocating nominations for certain political offices to candidates from particular regions, as part of an…”

Nigerians have however reacted to the development with a twitter user @kolatubosun praised the breakthrough and there urged the government to encourage the update of our educational syllables.

“This development is more significant as a marker of the growth of English than as validation for the languages from where these additions have come. So, while we celebrate, let’s not reduce the drive to empower those languages themselves as well.

“So, trafficate, senior brother, etc will continue to be valid and authentic expressions of Nigerian English, whether or not they make it into the OED.”

“As always, what needs updating is our own educational syllabus in Nigeria and our English language teaching curriculum.”

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