Baba India Taken from the English 'baby' but then applied in other expressions: 'baba log' for baby people and 'missy baba' for little miss. Implies simple but good.
Babu India Native clerk, but often used derogatorily. Sometimes Baboo.
Badmash India A villain or an evil person.
Badshah India A Great King.
Bafu Africa Bath, from Swahili.
Baht India Language. 'bolo the baht a toro' was used by the army to mean that they speak the language a little.
Bajke bajao, Khabadar India 'Look out'. Usually heard as a cry from Rickshaw drivers.
Baksheesh Arabic Gratuity - but can also mean bribe.
Bahadur India Champion or hero.
Balloon Naval 'When the balloon goes up' A common slang expression - of Naval origin - to refer to the beginning of a significant upheavel or event. It is a relic of the 1914-18 War, when the first visible sign of an operation was the sending up of observation balloons from HM ships fitted with them.
Banda Africa Thatch shelter.
Bandook India Gun (matchlock).
Bania India Refers to a Hindu from the shopkeeper or merchant caste.
Bantu Africa African peoples who live in Central and Southern Africa.
Banya India Moneylender.
Banyan Banyan Party An old Naval name for a picnic party. The word "Banyan" originates from the time when, as an economy, meat was not issued on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays: these days were called "Banyan Days" after a religious sect in the East which believed it wicked to eat meat. It became the custom for men to save up portions of their rations to tide them over these meatless days, and also to be sent ashore on those days to gather fruit. Meatless days were discontinued in 1884.
Barkandaze India Matchlockman.
Barracki Hausa Africa A simplified version of Hausa (a language used in Nigeria) to enable the officers to talk with their men.
Base-wallah India A soldier who avoided the front line.
Battalion An organisational unit used by the army. It was usually commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel and had four to eight companies comprising 500 to a 1000 men.
Bature Africa White man in Nigeria.
Bazaar India Native marketplace.
Beach Naval 'On the Beach' Naval slang expression normally, and originally, meaning retired from the Service, but of recent
years sometimes used to describe an appointment to a shore establishment.
Bearer India House valet
Begum India Princess or Queen
Bell Naval Bell Bottomed Trousers. The uniform trousers of a seaman of height about 5ft 10ins measure 25
inches round the bottom. It is said that the practice of making sailors' trousers very full arose from the days when the men made their own clothes, when they
found it easier and less wasteful of material to use the full width of the material. A bolt of serge in Britain has for years measured 54ins across. This, allowing for
turn-ins, would just give the two trousers legs.
Bhai India Lit. 'Younger brother' but gave rise to the call for servant 'Boy'
Bhai bund India Brotherhood, used to describe the Indian Army
Bhajan India A Hindu holy song.
Bharat India The Indian name for India.
Bheesti India Native water carrier. Also Bhisti.
Bibby India Lit. 'high class woman'. However, it was taken by the British Army ranks to mean any kind of native woman.
Bibighar India Women's quarters - often for Indian wives of British Officers
Bint Arabia/India Native woman.
Bistra India Bedding roll.
Black velvet India Native girl 'comfort'.
Blighty Arabia/India Lit. Kingdom, but used by British soldiers to describe Britain.
Blighty ticket India Service discharge usually from a wound requiring repatriation to Britain.
Blood chit India Written authorization in the army.
Blue Peter Naval The common nautical name for flag - blue with white central square - worn by merchant ships (not R.N. ships) when about to leave port, warning all persons concerned to get on board without delay.
Bobajee India Cook (from biwarchi). Bobajee Khana meant the cook house.
Bobbery India Angry. Lit. 'Oh father' from 'bapre'. Used by British soldiers as in 'Don't get bobbery!'
Boer Dutch Name given to Afrikaaner farmers.
Boma Africa District or divisional headquarters. It literally means enclosure as in the early days when all the government posts were originally fenced in.
Bombay bowler India British Army service issue pith helmet.
Bombay milk cart India British Army term for waste disposal wagon.
Bone Naval To Bone. Common (originally Naval) slang for to pilfer, steal or scrounge. The word comes from the name of a Boatswain in Admiral Cornwallis's Flag Ship,
who was notorious for making good deficiencies in his stores by stealing from other ships. The Admiral is reported to have said to the Boatswain on one occasion:
"I trust, Mr. Bone, you will leave me with my anchors".
Boneyard Africa Area of ocean lying between Canary Islands and Sierra Leone. Also known as 'Elder Dempster boneyard'.
Book Africa A bundle of employers references carried by servants.
BOR British Other Ranks ie NCO's and men.
Bowli glass India Finger bowl
Bowri India Well
Box wallah India Derogatory term for European businessmen. Originally from the Indian word for a door to door salesman.
Boy India from 'bhai' Lit. 'Younger brother' but gave rise to the call for a servant.
Brahmacharya India Celibacy
Brahmin India A Hindu from the highest, originally priestly, caste. Also Brahman.
Brass Brass Monkey weather Common (originally Naval) slang expression for bitterly cold weather.
Browned off India British Army term for 'fed up'. From the overcooking of food.
BSAP Africa British South African Police in Rhodesia.
Buckshee India free
Buddhi India Temporary servant.
Bugg bugg Africa Insect
Bullumteer India Volunteer in the Indian army.
Bunby India Bombay
Bund India Raised embankment
Bundo India Arrangement. Originally from bundobust 'tie up loose ends'.
Bundook India Gun
Bundu Africa North Rhodesian and East African term for bush.
Bungalow India Country house. From 'Bungla' meaning country.
Bungy India Sweeper
Bunnia India Money lender
Burgher Administrative person living in a town.
Burma Road India British Army name for rice pudding.
Burra India Big. Gave rise to many uses, for example; 'burra bungalow' - manager's bungalow; 'burra din' - big day or Christmas Day; 'burra khana' - big dinner or celebration; 'burra mem' - senior lady; 'burra-peg' - double whisky; 'burra sahib' - important man.
Burquha India Female garment which covers from head to toe
Bus India Enough
Bush happy Africa State of mind created by prolonged absence from civilisation or without leave.
Bustee India Native quarter
Butcha India Baby. Used by soldiers in 'Tum soor ka butch' - You son of a pig.
Bwana Africa Swahili for master. Generally transferred to mean European.