Belizean Kriol Phrases for Travelers

I was once told that you’re only a true Belizean if you speak Kriol. It’s the first thing you’ll hear when you arrive in Belize—the accent, the intonation, and the sentences that chop away at articles and verbs. Kriol, or Creole, is the lingua franca here. Like most patois tongues in the Caribbean, it has its roots in the days when the enslaved workers in mahogany camps were exposed to English and mixed it with their own West African dialects, hence the choppy grammar and the borrowed English words.

Over time, efforts were made to ensure that Kriol was properly studied, written, and recorded as a language, thanks to the National Kriol Council, created in 1995 to promote all aspects of the Creole culture. Keeping this language going has been their goal, as a way of instilling a sense of identity and cultural pride in its people. It’s now spoken and understood by almost all Belizeans, even non-Creoles, and knowing a couple of phrases is a great way to immerse and break the ice.

kayaker on the clear waters of tobacco caye
The serene waters of Tobacco Caye. Photo © Lebawit Lily Girma.

Basic Phrases in Belizean Kriol

  • Gud maanin! — Good morning!
  • Weh di gaan an? — What’s up?
  • Aarite. — All right.
  • Cho! — What on earth!
  • Weh yuh naym? — What’s your name?
  • You da Belize? — Are you from Belize?
  • Weh gaan ahn gyal? — What’s up, girl?
  • Da weh time? — What time is it?
  • Mi naym da… — My name is…
  • Lata! — See you later.
  • Ah tayad/mi tayad — I’m tired.
  • Weh/weh-paat… — Where is…?
  • Evryting gud/aarite. — Everything’s fine.
  • Haul your rass! — Get the hell out of here!
  • Fu chroo? — Really? (Is that right?)
  • Mi love Bileez! — I love Belize!

Sayings in Belizean Kriol

  • Wahnti wahnti kyah geti an geti geti nuh wahnti. — You always want what you can’t have.
  • Dah no so, dah naily so. — Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
  • Wait bruk down bridge. — Don’t make me wait too long.
  • Sleep wit’ yo’ own eye. — Only rely on what you know, not what others tell you.
  • One one craboo fill barrel. — Every little bit counts (craboo is a Belizean fruit).
  • Ah wah know who seh Kriol noh gat no kulcha? — Who said the Creole don’t have any culture? (A phrase coined by renown Belizean Creole artist and performer, Leela Vernon).

Lebawit Lily Girma

About the Author

Born in Ethiopia, Lebawit Lily Girma was nine months old when her parents moved to the West African country of Côte d’Ivoire. She has loved travel ever since: exploring cultures and learning languages on various continents, including Europe and the Americas.

After practicing law in the U.S., Lily took a leap of faith to pursue her passions: travel, writing, and photography. After a three-week visit to Belize in 2010, she was determined to return. A year later, Lily was commissioned as an in-house writer and photographer for the Belize Tourism Board for three months. She explored Belize extensively, sharing her adventures through a collection of online articles, blogs, and photo essays. Belize’s diverse cultures and people struck a chord and she returned to Belize for long-term stays while researching freelance articles on the country.

In addition to this title, Lily is the author of Moon Belize Cayes and Moon Dominican Republic, and her writing and photography have been published by CNN Travel, BBC Travel, Delta Sky, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, MorningCalm, Every Day with Rachael Ray, The Travel Channel, and AFAR, among others. She was also a major contributing writer and senior editor for the 2016-2017 edition of Destination Belize Magazine, Belize’s main tourism publication.

Learn more about this author

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Belize flag waving on a flagpole. Pinterest graphic.

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