Word of the Week: Work Jumbie

Here’s a few Trinidadian/Tobagan words that seem fun.  I cannot vouch for their autheticity however.  I also can’t speak to the etymology of these words but I’ll at least note that, given Trinidad’s mixed linguistic heritage, these words could be from English, French or French Patois, Spanish, a South Asian or African origin, or possibly Arabic,  Chinese, or an indigenous language (unknown to me). 

Belly Full – A very heavy cake made up of left-over cakes and was sold for four cents.  Also GRATATAN, CHES’ PROVOKER.

Gimmie-Gimmie – A ‘disease’ that strikes greedy persons who always want you to give them everything you have. 

Obzokee or Obzokie  – Clumsey.  Bull in a China shop.  Ungainly. Awkward in appearance. Anything bent or twisted out of shape. 

Vup – In cricket to swing the bat as hard as possible. A wild vup – to do the same but with the eyes closed, and hoping to hit the ball with some luck.

Wine – to rotate the waist and hips in a suggestive manner.  Winer gyul – Winer girl.  Any female who takes the art of wining to extreme ends, especially at Carnival time. 

Work Jumbie – A ‘work-a-holic.’


Taken from Cote ce Cote la: Trinidad & Tobago Dictionary by John Mendes circa 1986



  1. todd said,

    February 4, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    i work with a couple trinies and they make me speak trini sometimes saying “todd how doctor say you is” i cant remember what i’m supposed to say, but something about being a good boy.

    wine is a common english speaking carribean thing, and tears up the jams on miami radio

  2. thedialect said,

    February 6, 2010 at 5:25 am

    I watched that video, Todd. I’m scandalized yet intrigued. You made me so proud and flattered that something featured here on The Dialect is actually relevant and happnin. Fuhk yeah.

    Awesome contribushe btw. Keep em coming!

  3. thedialect said,

    February 6, 2010 at 6:18 am

    I think I may have disovered something. Thanks to our trusted ally, urbandictionary.com (think US-USSR 1944), I have a suspicion that Work Jumbie means someone who gets a boner (a jumbie) over thinking about or doing work. Their definitions said Jumbie is a ghost or possibly a boner.

  4. thedialect said,

    February 7, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Ok, now we’re getting closer. The ghost thing is definitely on it. Jumbies are spirits back from the dead and they are found all over the Caribbean. A work Jumbie must be a work Zombie. Someone who wasn’t a good person in their regular life and now has been cursed with an evil spirit to come back and haunt others. The work jumbie must be a walking dead work-a-holic. I also bet their is a linguistic connection between ‘jumbie’ and ‘zombie’, don’t you think?

  5. dambroz said,

    February 9, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    That’s “Caribbean.” Morons or technophobes?

  6. thedialect said,

    February 13, 2010 at 3:48 am

    Yes, indeed. Thanks for the correction.

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