I read on Cambridge Dictionaries’ About words blog that peng is a British slang adjective meaning pretty, very attractive. I am told by a coworker that it is of Caribbean origin, but have no more information. Can someone confirm this origin, and maybe provide some more information (e.g., what root it ultimately comes from)?

  • 2
    As Brit, I've never heard this expression before
    – UpTheCreek
    May 10, 2011 at 10:10
  • There isn't any entry in 3 Dictionaries I checked: OALD, NOAD, OED. :D By the way @F'x What does "I am talk by a coworker that it is of Caribbean origin, but have no more information" mean?
    – Alenanno
    May 10, 2011 at 10:22
  • @Alenanno: I am told, sorry. Regarding dictionaries, apperently Cambridge dictionaries will be introducing it in the next edition.
    – F'x
    May 10, 2011 at 10:25
  • 1
    no worries! :D Ah, I see... I suppose so. Not being a native speaker, I can't say anything about it. But I gave it a quick search. In Wikipedia it says it's "Peng, a term used by London youth meaning "good-looking" or "attractive"." You knew it was UK, now you know it's used in London, at least your search is less broad. :)
    – Alenanno
    May 10, 2011 at 10:29
  • 1
    In the sense "stoned/high on weed/cannabis", it might be related to the slang kushempeng noun marijuana UK, 2001 (from The Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English - 2008). Of Jamaican origin. May 10, 2011 at 10:45

2 Answers 2


here's one definition of peng

Adj. 1. The best, great, excellent, often heard with reference to drugs. E.g."This weed is peng!" 2. Of a person, very attractive, desirable.

one non-authoritative version of where it came from:

Basically, it means they think you're good-looking/attractive - usually referring to a girl. It can also mean stoned/high on weed/cannabis. (It originates in Nottingham.)

Here's the Urban Dictionary reference:

a word used in areas such as nottingham to descibe something as good. Can also be used to describe someone as good-looking. see also bum

. oh my god, that jacket is proper peng! or Yeh, i'd do him, he's well peng.

  • 3
    He was actually asking about the Etymology/Origin, not the meaning...
    – Alenanno
    May 10, 2011 at 10:40
  • 1
    @Alenanno uhm "(It originates in Nottingham.)" 8-O May 10, 2011 at 11:05
  • Uhm, that's not really what Etymology is supposed to be, you know...
    – Alenanno
    May 10, 2011 at 11:55
  • 1
    May I confuse things by saying that 'Penge' is Danish for money?
    – Richard A
    May 11, 2011 at 12:00
  • @Richard A just provide a citation :) May 11, 2011 at 16:27

I've never heard it, but peng is UK slang of Jamaican Patois origin. It now means anything good, or someone attractive. It earlier referred to strong marijuana in the UK, and marijuana in Jamaica.

UK slang

It appears to have become popular in London or Nottingham some five or six years ago, and has spread. For some very recent examples, check this Twitter search, and use this map of Twitter results to see the geographical spread. At the time of writing, it's being used mostly in England: a cluster in the north (Leeds, Huddersfield, Mirfield), Milton Keynes, Merseyside and London. Here's an example tweet (also with the opposite, deng):

Today was gunna be peng, but now its gunna be deng, my dads a deng'ed.

The top definition at Urban Dictionary is from 2006:

Sexy girl.

'There's some PENG over there'
'Shes proper Peng!'

The earliest from 2003:

good quality/strong flavour (in drug terms)

"that is some peng skunk!"

And the most recent from 2012 covers all three meanings:

Really nice weed, usually high grade in the form of cheese, haze or kush. Can also be used to describe anything of exceptional quality, including people, but primarily it is a weed term.

1-"That strawberry haze you had last night was the peng"
2-"Cheese on toast is peng"
3-"Your mum is peng"

Some highlights from a recent discussion on Digital Spy from January 2012:

  • It's been around for at least 5 or 6 years that word, it's nothing new. Used to use it quite a lot myself, still do sometimes

  • It's what chavs say. I blame 'grime' music.

  • I would have to echo the above. I've been hearing it the last 5 years. I was just finishing college during the time (around 17-18), I was hearing that and other annoying words and could barely stand hearing people talking like that.

  • Peng was definitley a thing in London a few years back- everyone said it (well, apart from me, I still think words like charming, bloomful and comely wench are cutting edge ways of describing somebody attractive).

  • Hear it loads here in Nottingham.

  • I'm 17, I can't bring myself to say the word because I hate it so much. A few months ago I noticed some people on Facebook adding an account known as 'Britain's Pengest Teens'. It was filled with sent-in pictures of chavs doing ridiculous poses in the mirror. I just rolled my eyes when I saw it.

  • As far as I know its of Jamaican origin Its not new. Peng was used to describe high quality weed.It then became to mean someone who is really good looking. A lot of the London slang words are Jamaican in origin. They become popular through music and black Londoners links with the Caribbean. They then become commonly used in schools with the younger londoners (other large cities) and become part of London slang. Remember the old chestnut "wicked" as in wicked pair of trainers. That is probably thought of as UK slang when it is in fact Jamaican.

  • It's been around for ages In Essex/East London, almost out of date now. The latest teenage slang is P for money and yard for home. Drives me mad when my son says it, why not just say money or home grrrrrrrr.

  • How nice that we needn't bother to even pretend to welcome this word, which seems to have gone straight from niche to obsolete bypassing mainstream.

Jamaican Patois roots

In 1985, Frankie Paul ("Jamaica' Stevie Wonder") released a song called "Pass the Ku-Sheng Peng", sometimes spelled "Pass the Tu-Shung Peng", about smoking marijuana. You can listen to it on YouTube, the word sounds like "ku-shum-peng". And U-Brown released a 1983 song and album called Tu Sheng Peng (YouTube).

Some definitions.

2002, The A-Z Encyclopedia of Alcohol and Drug Abuse:

Kushempeng Colloquial term for marijuana.
Kutchie Colloquial term for marijuana.

(Could it be related to kutchie? See also Mighty Diamonds' 1981 "Pass the Kutchie" song.)

2006, Jabari: Authentic Jamaican Dictionary of the Jamic Language:

peng (péng): n. - the shortened form of kunshungpeng; marijuana

kushungpeng (kü-shung-péng): n. - marijuana; (see ganga)

2007, The concise new Partridge dictionary of slang and unconventional English

kushempeng *noun* marijuana UK 2001

I can't find much about this Patois term's origins, apart from an Urban Dictionary claim it's "Chinese term for marijuana" and a second claiming kushumpeng "word is considered to have French origin, but is used all over the world", and another says kushempeng is French, but found nothing to back those up.

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