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10 popular phrases that emerged in 2023 [Pulse Picks]

Pulse Picks features 'kitakuramba', 'mambo imechemuka' and eight other popular phrases and tags that emerged in 2023

10 popular phrases that emerged in 2023

Language is a dynamic entity, evolving with each passing year as new phrases capture the essence of our experiences, conversations, and culture.

In 2023, social media platforms and everyday conversations became the breeding grounds for linguistic gems that resonated far and wide.

Let's take a linguistic stroll through the phrases that defined the verbal landscape in 2023.


It has been regarded as the word of the year, even making it to the Associated Press (AP) Word of the Year list.

'Kitakuramba' emanated from the controversial Coast-based preacher Mackenzie, accused of leading a starvation doomsday cult that resulted in the deaths of more than 400 people.

He used the word to warn officers who had arrested him, telling them they did not know what they were dealing with and that it would eventually come back to haunt them.

Kenyans adopted the word and used it in cases where they had been dealt blows and were in regret or as a warning of some danger ahead.


These words are used as a phrase to refer to a love partner or someone you are dating. Mpoa means "my good one," while Mverified, as the word suggests, means the verified one.

The phrase loosely translates to 'things have boiled up' and is used to mean things have gotten thick.

Musician KRG The Don was the one who came up with the word and even won patent rights to it.


In other words, the phrase is used to mean things have escalated. KRG would later release a song titled 'Mambo Imechemuka.'

The phrase was used by President William Ruto while referring to sugar cartels who were derailing the revival of Mumias Sugar Company.

He told the sugar cartels that they would have to either cease their corrupt ways or leave Kenya, go to jail, or go to heaven.

The president would later patent the catchphrase, which anyone intending to use would have to seek his permission.


The phrase, mostly used by Gen Zs, means that things or a place are not as good as they had set standards for it.

On TikTok, the sound has been used so often that if you are a TikTok user, you have most likely come across it.


Like the phrase before this, "It's giving" means there is a level of satisfaction for something, and it's up to standard and even enjoyable. The phrase is also popular among Gen Z.

The phrase emanated from a Catholic burial where a nun threw herself into the grave in sorrow for the departed father.

While some say Father Bernard, others also say Brother Bernard, and it has been used by Kenyans to refer to situations that turned ugly and did not go as expected.


The phrase emerged from the 2022 campaigns leading to the general elections and was used by Suna MP Junet Mohamed.

Junet said it while campaigning for Raila Odinga, expressing confidence that they would clinch the presidency.

The phrase has been popular throughout the year and has been used by Kenyans from all walks of life, in business, in sports, and even in politics.


The phrase came from an online video where a young man was being chased by a dog and was being warned not to run.

The video quickly went viral online and trended for a better part of the year. Kenyans online have used it to refer to different situations.

The phrase came from a viral Ugandan video where a man expressed shock, saying 'My Lord I wonder.'

Netizens quickly adopted the word and have since used it to refer to other shocking situations.


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