What makes TikTok aka the clock app unique? It has to be the sense of familiarity as it recognises the smallest of things that we do daily, from skincare to chores or even mannerisms. 

TikTok can be both general, but can also be quite niche, which helps people not feel like outsiders or weird for liking certain things. 

What also makes TikTok unique is the slang, and the slang is derived from sounds. A TikTok sound is a sound bite, a maximum of a minute, when someone says something quite catchy that sticks in your mind. The sounds become trends when most people use them for their videos: they can use them as voice-overs, reenact them or use them for meme-like videos for comedy. As a user, the more you hear the sound, the more it sticks with you, and somehow you find yourself using it randomly in real life contexts. 

So you can say something random like ‘it’s corn’,  a phrase made popular by a young boy who talked about how much he loved corn. Now people use the phrase for all types of things they like – and that’s how a sound becomes slang on TikTok. 

Here are some of the most popular sounds in South Africa:  

Nkare ka loma – comes from SeSotho. In direct translation, it means “I wish I could bite,” but on the clock app, it’s used for frustration moments. You are so annoyed or angry that you can bite something.

We cannot escape; we cannot come out, mama! – This one was a random sound that a creator standing in a packed long line waiting to get into a concert made in a video showing that they could not escape or come out because it was so hard to move. It is now used as a joke in moments of panic/stress, and I have used this quite often with my friends. 

This is Thato’s mother, you likkle ngwana – Thato’s mother created a WhatsApp voice note calling out Thato’s girlfriend to stop adding him to groups and texting him. Now people use it to express anger, funnily, of course. ‘Likkle ngwana’ means small child.

I can’t see; I’m blind, blind, bliiiiind! – This one is from a song by SZA. People use the sound when you pretend not to see something under your nose.

Honey, is it safe? – Queen Bonang, on her reality show Being Bonang, talked to her cousin Pinky girl about  Small Street in Joburg. Pinky told her she bought something from there, and Bonang was shocked and asked if it was safe. It’s now used for contexts like, “Honey, is it safe to date a married man” or “Honey, is it safe to buy something cheap,” or “Honey, is it safe to eat this type of food,” etc. 

Le skaba mad at me – meaning don’t be angry at me, comes from a creator called Oratile Kekana, and she was talking about telling her friends that her boyfriend was cheating, and she still took him back. People typically use this sound when they do things that they know people will be angry about. 

DC in full is Dance credit – When TikTok first came out, it was more of a dancing app. Many black creators started complaining about racism in the algorithm after noticing that White creators would become popular from dances created by Black creators. Charli D’Amelio became popular from the renegade dance that people started replicating, crediting Charli as the original when it was Jalaiah Harmon who created the dance. Situations like this happened a lot so DCs became a must. When you dance, you must credit the original. 

Say less – This means I am already convinced by what you said, you don’t need to say anymore.

Sending me – Means you are making me laugh so hard.

I’m dying – It also means I am laughing so hard that I feel like I am dying. 

POV –  in full is “Point Of View”. A “Point Of View” style video refers to a trend that shows the viewer’s point of view of a certain situation.

FYP –  is the abbreviation of “For You Page”. You probably have seen #FYP everywhere on TikTok. As the name suggests, the content creator uses hashtag #fyp or #foryoupage to make their videos appear on your homepage based on your algorithm, thereby getting more views.

CEO – The “CEO of” comment trend is starting to appear on TikTok. In real life, CEO means “Chief Executive Officer”. On TikTok, to be called CEO of something means that you are the best at it. For example, on a well-edited video, you will see comments like “CEO of editing”, “CEO of transitioning”, and “CEO of viral videos”. 

Tell us: What TikTok sound has you on a chokehold currently?