Daryl Ilbury

What is ‘eish!’?

Readers of this blog will notice an unfortunately all-too regular category of entry called ‘Eish!’

If you’re wondering what it means, it’s because you’re not South African; so let me try and explain. “Eish!” (almost always with an exclamation mark) is pronounced “aye-shh” and is a colloquial expression of a mix of mild exasperation and resignation, and is usually accompanied by a gentle shaking of the head.

It is typically South African in that it ‘makes a plan’ and can be used in numerous instances, negative as well as positive. For example, should you finish washing the kitchen floor and your dog walks through leaving behind his muddy footprints, you shake your head and go “Eish!” But there again, should you have enjoyed a wonderful braai (barbecue), and your tummy is full and your host offers you more pudding, you shake your head slowly and whisper “Eish” (notice no exclamation mark).

However, it is mainly used when South Africans, faced with the far-too many cases of corrupt politicians filling their pockets with taxpayers’ money, shake their head with sorrow and anger, and go “Eish!”

A classic “Eish!” moment

  1. You are right, that is a real ” Eish ” moment and one that has happened to all of us. It does teach you to check before you go…. in theory.

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