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Polari

Vocabulary and phrases

Vocabulary

Bona: Good
Dolly: Nice or pleasant
Eek: Face
Fantabulosa: Excellent
Lallies: Legs
Lattie: House
Lucoddy: Body
Nante: None or nothing
Naph: Bad
Omi: Man
Omipalone: Homosexual
Palare: Talk
Palone: Woman
Riah: Hair
Troll: Walk
Vada: Look

Phrases

Here are some examples of Polari phrases:

  • How bona to varda your dolly old eek!
    How good to see your dear old face!
  • Vada the dolly dish, shame about his bijou lallies
    Look at the attractive man, shame about his short legs
  • Can I troll round your lally?
    Can I have a look around your house?

Writer/ editor Daniel Villarreal penned some shady Polari phrases during the COVID-19 lockdown. Enjoy!*

  • I’m not into palone-omees because I’m not bibi, but anyone with ogles can varda that she’s got a bona bod.
    I’m not into lesbians because I’m not bisexual, but anyone with eyes can see that she’s got a nice body.
  • I’ve nanti dinarly; park me some handbag for another buvare.
    I’ve got no money. Give me some money for another drink.
  • Mais oui ducky! Let’s nish the chat and go troll for rough trade … just gardy loo for chickens and don’t blag an orderly daughter!
    Oh yes! Let’s stop talking and go walking for a working-class sex partner … just watch out for underage men and don’t pick up a cop!
  • Everyone thinks that auntie is a total fruit, but her gildy clobber makes me think she’s a duchess.
    Everyone thinks that older gay man is a total old queen, but his nice clothes make me think he’s a rich gay man.
  • I don’t mean to cackle, but he’s not manly Alice. When I first varda-ed at her mince at the sweat chovey, I thought, “She’s mauve.”
    I don’t mean to gossip, but he’s not a masculine gay man. When I first looked at his effeminate walk at the gym, I thought, “He’s someone who appears to be gay.”
  • As an omi, he’s naff. But in drag, she’s fantabulosa! She titivates with fortuni slap, zhooshes up a switch and is one hell of a hoofer.
    As a man, he’s dull. But in women’s clothes, he’s fabulous! She makes herself look great with gorgeous makeup, styles up a wig and is one hell of a dancer.
  • And no flies! It’s so bona to vada you! Your lovely eek and your riah! Sharda that we don’t palare more often!
    Honestly! It’s so good to see you. Your lovely face and hair! What a shame that we don’t talk more often!
  • I’ve nanti jarry, nante latty and what’s worse, nante doss. I’m basically living off the national handbag — I might as well become a Dilly boy.
    I’ve no food, no place to live and what’s worse, no bed. I’m basically living on welfare — I might as well become a male sex worker.

Learn these shady Polari phrases during quarantine, You cackling Alice! | Hornet | Daniel Villarreal | 3 Apr 2020

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