Ugandan English

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The OED’s coverage of World Englishes includes words and phrases from the variety of English spoken in Uganda, a country in East Africa.

Ugandan English words recently recorded in the OED

See the full list of Ugandan English words most recently added to the OED here.

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World Englishes

  • E.g. Philippine English, Hong Kong English, Ugandan English
  • e.g. bammy, skinship, bunny hug
  • e.g. an informal social gathering, a street vendor
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Ugandan English editors and consultants

The OED works in partnership with external experts from or in East Africa to ensure that our entries for East African English words draw from local knowledge and expertise and reflect the everyday reality and distinctive identity of the East African English-speaking community.

Ugandan English pronunciation

View the OED’s pronunciation model and key to pronunciation for East African English.

Ugandan English resources: from the OED blog

The vocabulary of Ugandan English draws primarily from Luganda, one of the country’s major languages. Examples of Lugandan borrowings in this batch are kaveera (1994)‘a plastic bag, plastic packaging’; kwanjula (1973)‘an engagement ceremony where the families of the bride and groom formally meet’; and nkuba kyeyo (1991) ‘a Ugandan person working overseas, especially one doing a low-paid or unskilled job’—the Lugandan phrase literally means ‘someone who sweeps’. Katogo (1940) is another loan word from Luganda—it is the name of a typical Ugandan breakfast dish consisting of matoke (banana or plantain) boiled in a pot with various other ingredients. The word later developed a figurative sense, as it began to be used to mean ‘a mixture or fusion of disparate elements; a mess, a muddle’.

Ugandan English also has its share of distinctive uses of existing English words. In Uganda, to cowardize (2003) is to act like a coward or to lose one’s nerve, while to extend (2000) is to move from one’s position so as to make room for someone else. Well done (1971) is used as a friendly greeting or salutation, especially when encountering a person at work or in a state of activity. You are lost! (2013) is also used as a greeting, or in response to a greeting, in a manner similar to ‘long time no see’.

Excerpt taken from OED blog post, ‘Release notes: East African English’


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