Local Lingo: Bahamian Words You May Hear On Your Exuma Vacation

Before taking your trip to Exuma, here are a few local words and phrases you might hear there! Brush up before you arrive!

One of the first things that people wonder when booking a location is whether language barriers will come into play. The good news for travelers is that English is the main language in the Bahamas. However, locals have their own dialect, which was influenced by the various African languages.


The Bahamas is comprised of a series of islands; Exuma is the province with the most islands making it up, a total of 365. If you’re looking at the names you may be wondering what a “cay” is. A Cay is an island. And although it’s spelled differently, “cay” is pronounced like “key”, similar to the Florida Keys.



If you’re offered a glass of switcha on a hot day, take it! Switcha is the Bahamian word for lemonade. In the Bahamas, it’s commonly made with limes rather than lemons. It’s super refreshing and delicious, so be sure to try some!



Dem is a word used to refer to a group of people. For example, “He’s eating with Ryan dem”, it means he’s eating with Ryan and others. Keep your ear out for it!


Jam Up

A jam up is Bahamian slag for crowded or full. You may hear people referring to some of the delicious restaurants on Exuma as “jammed up”, which mean they’ll be busy.



No, these aren’t delicious breakfast treats. Potcakes is the local name for stray dogs. Potcakes are mixed breeds and got their name from being fed the scraps and leftovers from the cooking pot at the end of a meal. These animals aren’t always treated the best and many are looking for good homes, so if you want to help them out do!



Ting means things, and tanks mean thanks. In the Bahamian dialect, it’s common to drop the “h” off of words.

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