Are You A Pakka Local Yet? Check Out Our List Of Tamil Lingo To Find Out!

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There is one way to gauge your local-ness: swear words. But don’t worry, this isn’t that kind of write up. Local Tamil is the holy matrimony of crass and class. So, here are three quick ways to tell if you’re a pakka local:

If you giggle when your friend asks you, “You want to go play some pool?” If you hear someone say “What the” really fast, and feel fuzzy inside if you know the lyrics and translation to Aluma Doluma. 

If you did not qualify according to the above three criteria, not to worry. Here’s a crash course on some words and phrases from Tamil Lingo you can throw around in Chennai and be accepted as one of our own.

Ey, Ootla Soltu Vantiya? (Road Safety)

This comes handy when you’re on the road. If someone cuts you off, or comes too close for comfort, you look at them and ask “Ey, Ootla Soltu Vantiya?” which literally translates to “Hey, have you informed at home?” What it really means is “Does your family know they need not expect you to come back home alive?” Social message of road safety delivered with a condescending punch, and a tinge of family sentiment. Here in Chennai, we scold unto others, how our parents scold unto us.

For maximum effect, raise your hand and point all fingers at the targeted vehicle and roll your tongue. Most importantly, do not stop and check if the person heard you. Just like love, you must let it go. If it was meant to be, it’ll come back to you someday.

Semma Gaandu (Expression Of Anger); Semma Gujaal (Expression Of Joy)

Dear north Indian friends, stop giggling. This isn’t what you think it is. Semma is the local Tamil superlative. To match the intensity of the feeling, add extra m’s. For example: Semma = Super. Semmmmmma = supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Gaandu means anger. If you’re pissed off, you are feeling some Gaandu. If you are really pissed off, you are experiencing Semma Gaandu.

The true beauty of Gujaal lies in the feeling you get when the word leaves your mouth. Go ahead and say it. GU-JAAAAAL. Doesn’t that sound like a happy-go-lucky word to you? The next time you see your friend sporting a smile, ask them “Enna machi, semma gujaal ah?”

Ayyae, Moonja-Paaru! (Sarcastic Comeback/Putdown)

Moonji is equal to Face, paaru is to look (verb), and Ayyae, Moonja-Paaru translates to your face! (or) Have you seen your face?

When you say something like, “Hey, I just realised Interstellar is all about a big black hole! LOL!” and your friend responds with “Your face is a big black hole!” You get the picture. Ayyae, Moonja-Paaru is the ultimate STFU and GTFO move to end a conversation where someone is talking about something above their pay grade or general IQ.

In Chennai, we take everything at face value.


When you want to call someone, but you don’t know their name, given above is a litany of safe words you can use in public. Thala is short for Thalaiva (which means leader or boss). This is mostly used when you’re referring to someone of high stature. Anna and Bro mean the same thing, but Bro is for the youth, and Anna is for someone who might look older but might get offended if you call them Uncle. Wondering what’s Dyood? That’s dude with a Tamil accent.

Gethu And Mokka (Measure of Swag)

Gethu is synonymous with cool. If you do something uber-cool, your Tamil pal will look at you and go, “Gethu machi!”. The next level to Gethu is Vera Level, which literally means “different level” or “next level, bro!”. Here, Vera Level Gethu applies, because Tamil is fly like that.

Mokka, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of swag – lame, useless, bad. A bad joke in Tamil would be a mokka joke.

So, if you liked this article, you can say “Thala, semma gethu!”. If you didn’t like it, you can say “Ayyae, moonja-paaru!”