Skip to Content

Do’s and Don’ts of Ghanaian English Vocabulary

Ghana’s official language may be English, but be prepared for looks of utter shock if you take certain words here in Ghana for their American meanings!

Here’s a handy guide of Do’s and Don’ts for a few Ghanaian phrases to keep you out of jail.

Can you balance a box on your head?
Can you balance a box on your head like this guy in Ghana?

1.) “Flash me.”

DON’T: Yank up your shirt, wiggling your bare chest and screaming, “Throw me some Mardi Gras beads, baby!”

DO: Call the person on their cell phone.

2.) “Give me a dash.”

DON’T: Sprint away from the person at top speed, hollering: “Eat my dust, tortoise!”

DO: Give the person a tip for their services. (Or, if they actually did nothing to merit appreciation pay and are just trying to get money, don’t give them anything!)

A tiny white kitten.
A tiny white kitten.

3.) “Do you have a rubber?”

DON’T: Throw a pile of Durex on the person, saying, “You’ve made the right choice to use a birth control method!”

DO: Politely hand the person a plastic bag for their belongings.

Vendors balancing food containers on their heads.
Vendors balancing food containers on their heads in Ghana.

4.) A phrase that sounds a lot like: “Ma boner”

DON’T: Take the phrase for what it sounds like in American English and slap the person in the face.

DO: Know that the person is kindly informing you in the Ewe language that they will be over soon to meet you.

Me with my colleague, Collins.
Me with my colleague, Collins.

5.) “TSSSSSSSS!” (powerful hissing noise)

DON’T: Leap onto a table to hide from oncoming snakes. Also, don’t accuse the person of trying to scare you through cobra impersonations.

DO: Understand that the man or woman is asking you to please come closer to them to discuss something.

Isn’t the evolution of language in different countries a wonderful thing? See Part Two here!


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Nhu Huynh D.

Tuesday 17th of November 2015

It's so nice to know that Ghanaian English is different than the English we are used to. For instance, for number four, if I didn't know the phrase "Ma boner" meant the person would be over to meet you soon, I would of course stop talking to them. It's cool to know other cultures and languages so that if I were to visit, I wouldn't be too rude to the people living there.


Monday 5th of November 2012

What is the difference between Ghanian and Nigerian English?


Tuesday 6th of November 2012

I'm not sure, but I would think there are some similarities and some differences!

Qiyin Y.

Wednesday 13th of June 2012

That is just so weird. Languages in other countries are so different from American English. Hehe... I like this form of English, it's just so funny.


Saturday 20th of October 2012

I find it funny that americans changed the english language in many ways. eg. neighbour ----> neighbor

Yurgen Müller

Tuesday 24th of January 2012

"Flash me" means that you call the person and let the phone ring a few times and then disconnect, so the other person knows that you are home or ready to receive the call. It is a way of sending a message with the phone without spending money. If somebody flashes you without a previous agreement or message it means "please call me, I want to talk" ("and I have no prepaid credit left" you can add for yourself)".


Tuesday 24th of January 2012

Clear definition! Thank you!

russell adjei

Friday 21st of October 2011

chaw folks do not knw what chuckle really means and they keep mistaken it for hiss

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.