Definitions

crocus-sack

Regional vocabularies of American English

Regional vocabularies of American English vary. Below is a list of lexical differences in vocabulary that are generally associated with a region. A term featured on a list may or may not be found throughout the region concerned, and may or may be not recognized by speakers outside of that particular region. Some terms appear on more than one list.

Regionalisms

Historically, a number of everyday words and expression used to be characteristic of different dialect areas of the United States, especially the North, the Midland, and the South; many of these terms spread from their area of origin and came to be used throughout the nation. Many today use these different words for the same object interchangeably, or to distinguish between variations of an object. Such traditional lexical variables include -

  • faucet (North) and spigot (South);
  • frying pan and spider, both of New England origin (the former brought over by the English), and skillet (Midland);
  • clapboard (North) and weatherboard (Midland and South);
  • gutter (South), now the mainstream term, as opposed to eaves trough (North) and spouting (parts of Mid-Atlantic);
  • pit (North, from Dutch) and seed (Midland);
  • teeter-totter (originally Northern, now also Western), seesaw (Midland), and "dandle" (Rhode Island);
  • firefly (North) and lightning bug (Midland and South);
  • swill (North; garbage for hogs) and slops (Midland and South);
  • pail (North) and bucket (Midland and South).

Many differences however still hold and mark boundaries between different dialect areas, as shown below. Newer lexical variables that have been studied in recent years are, for example, the different terms in use to denote

  • a sofa, couch, or (now old-fashioned) davenport;
  • carbonated beverages or soft drinks (soda, pop, coke, etc.);
  • a long sandwich with meat, lettuce, etc. (submarine sandwich, hero, hoagie, grinder, po' boy etc.);
  • a rubber-soled sports shoe (mainly sneaker, tennis shoe, or gym shoe).

Below are lists outlining regional vocabularies in the main dialect areas of the United States.

The Northeast

  • brook - creek. Mainly New England, northern New Jersey, and parts of New York, term creek is thought of as a smaller brook.
  • (shopping) carriage - (esp. Southern New England & Northern New Jersey) shopping cart.
  • cellar - alternate term for basement.
  • sneaker - although found throughout the U.S., appears to be concentrated in the Northeast. Elsewhere (except for parts of Florida) tennis shoes is more common.
  • soda - usual term for soft drink.
  • stoop - from Dutch, traditionally associated with New York City, now found throughout the Northeast.
  • whiffletree - piece of wagon gear elsewhere known as "whippletree," "swingletree," etc.

New England

See Boston accent for the Boston lexicon

  • basement - (local) a lavatory (as in a school).
  • bubbler (Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Boston) - a water fountain.
  • bulkhead - cellar hatchway.
  • Cabinet - (Rhode Island) - milk shake
  • clicker - television remote control.
  • grinder - submarine sandwich (except usu. ME, extremely common in CT)
  • hosey - (esp. parts of MA & ME) to stake a claim or choose sides, to claim ownership of something (sometimes, the front seat of a car)
  • intervale - (also spelled "interval") bottomland; mostly historical
  • johnnycake - (also journey cake, esp. RI jonnycake, also called "Shawnee cake") a type of cornmeal bread
  • leaf peeper - a tourist who has come to see the area's vibrant autumn foliage (also colloquially leafer)
  • Masshole - derogatory term applied to someone from the state of Massachusetts; sometimes used with pride by Bay Staters
  • Taxachusetts - derogatory term for Massachusetts based on the high state taxes.
  • necessary - outhouse, privy.
  • packie - (chiefly MA and CT) Short for package store, a regional variation of liquor store, derived from the use of brown bags or shallow boxes to package and conceal the purchased bottles.
  • quahog (Rhode Island) - Pronounced "koe-hog," it properly refers to a specific species of clam, but due to its abundance in RI, most Rhode Islanders refer to any clam as a "quahog"; it is also used to refer to stuffed clams.
  • rotary - traffic circle.
  • spa - (mainly Eastern NE) soda fountain.
  • tilt, tilting board, totter, dandle, teedle board - seesaw, teeter-totter
  • tonic (Boston) - soft drink. One of the few variations from the general split in the United States between "soda" and "pop".
  • wicked - (adv.) very, extremely (especially among younger people)
  • frappe (Boston, Eastern MA) - a Milkshake
  • barrel (Boston) - Trash Can

Northern New England

  • ayuh, or ayup - "yes" or affirmative.
  • bulkie - a kaiser roll. Common throughout Maine and as far south as Boston.
  • "The County" - Aroostook County, Maine, so called due to its large size.
  • camp - usually waterfront vacation cabin or cottage.
  • dinner - sometimes used to describe the practice of going out for dessert after the evening meal.
  • dooryard - area around the main entry door of a house, specifically a farmhouse. Typically including the driveway and parking area proximal to the house.
  • flatlander - describes a person who lives in a non-mountainous region of your state, or more often a city-dweller .
  • from away - phrase describing a person from another state or country (Commonly used in the State o' Maine in reference to a person from a state other than Maine, New Hampshire or Vermont, and not always in a derogatory manner).
  • Italian sandwich - (ME) submarine sandwich.
  • Kaybecker - a lumberjack who is a native of French-speaking Quebec (alteration of "Quebecer").
  • pert-neah - just-about, or very close.
  • muckle - to grasp, hold-fast, or tear into.
  • logan, pokelogan - a shallow, swampy lake or pond (from Algonquian).
  • shmunk - forshortened term for a Chipmunk.
  • outfit - a group of people (e.g. "What are you doing hanging around with that outfit?" meaning "Why are you associating with those people?")
  • rooked - to be swindled, "i got rooked on that deal"
  • stove - past tense of stave (stave is rarely, if ever, used). Broken or crushed inward. "I stove the front front of my truck when I drove into the ditch."
  • yard - to haul or transport. "Steve cuts the wood and I yard it."

Mid-Atlantic

New York City Area

  • BICs (Bronx Irish Catholics) - a derogatory term used by Bronx teen boys (of all ethnicities) in the 1950s to refer to Irish-American teen girls who were coquettish but not available.
  • BOCES - a derogatory term for special education children. Derives from the acronym for the Board of Cooperative Educational Services.
  • bodega - a convenience store, most often in a Spanish-language (usually Puerto-Rican or Dominican) neighborhood.
  • bungalow colony - a group of small closely clustered summer homes in the Catskill Mountains, usually rented. Their heydey was the 1930s through the 1970s.
  • catty corner - to place something on an angle to a corner; catercorner.
  • Chinese handball - one-wall handball in which the ball must bounce first before hitting the wall. Typically played against the wall of an apartment building that is flush to the sidewalk. As there is not much room for a ball to bounce after hitting the wall, the stipulation that the ball must bounce before hitting the wall slows down its speed.
  • The City - Manhattan, or, New York City as a whole (primarily depending on whether the speaker is in the outer-boroughs or in another city altogether.)
  • close the light - "turn off the light" elsewhere
  • dungarees - jeans
  • egg cream - a mixture of cold milk, U-Bet chocolate syrup, and seltzer.
  • gutter - the entire width of street and not just the depressed rain catchment along the sidewalk, as in "let's play stickball in the gutter".
  • hack - from hackney carriage. An especially elongated hired car (with driver) used to transport New Yorkers without cars to the Catskill Mountains. The cars were based on the special DeSoto New York City taxi model. By the 1960s, the proliferation of car ownership, and multi-car ownership had ruined this market. The common term was "to take a hack."
  • have a catch - To throw a ball back and forth. "Play catch" elsewhere.
  • hero - submarine sandwich.
  • icebox - refrigerator
  • ices - "Italian ice"
  • The Island - Long Island (not including Brooklyn and Queens). In NYC, it can also refer to Rikers Island, particularly when used in a context such as saying that one got "sent to the island." Also refers to Puerto Rico, especially by Puerto Ricans or New Yorkers of Puerto Rican descent.
  • johnny pump (archaic) - fire hydrant.
  • kill - (from Dutch) a small river or strait, in the name of specific watercourses; e.g. - "Beaver Kill", "Fresh Kills", "Kill Van Kull", "Arthur Kill". Also the ending syllable for a town that is on a small river, e.g., "Peekskill".
  • light and sweet - a method of serving coffee, with lots of milk and sugar. Also common in New England.
  • off the point - child's game in which one player throws a spaldeen off the point of a step in a concrete stoop (the place where the vertical and horizontal portion of the step intersects). If the other player catches the ball, the first player makes an out, using baseball rules. Otherwise, the number of bounces before the ball is caught determines how many bases the first player has earned.
  • to wait/stand on line - to wait/stand in line (e.g. "I stood on line for 5 hours to get these tickets.")
  • on accident - Not used by all New Yorkers, but is not uncommon, contrasting "on purpose". For example, "I didn't mean to; I did it on accident." While all Americans use the term "on purpose," most non-New Yorkers use "by accident."
  • outer boroughs - The four boroughs of New York City that are not Manhattan - Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and Staten Island.
  • pie - an entire pizza; a cheese pie or a plain pie has no toppings other than cheese and sauce.
  • potsy - hopscotch.
  • punchball - a baseball-like game suitable for smaller areas, in which a fist substitutes for the bat and a "spaldeen" is the ball.
  • regular coffee - 10 oz. coffee with whole milk and two sugars; by contrast, plain coffee is black, no sugar.
  • sewer - manhole cover in the middle of the street, as in the stickball term - "he can hit three sewers".
  • slice - one piece of a pizza
  • sliding pond - a playground slide
  • spaldeen - a small, soft rubber ball, reputedly the inside of a tennis ball, made by the Spalding sporting goods company and used for punchball and stickball.
  • stickball - a baseball-like game played in the street ("gutter") with a broom handle used for a bat and a "spaldeen" for a ball.
  • stoop - the front steps of a house (usually cement, sometimes wood), similar to porch; a kid's game of throwing the ball against the stairs was called stoopball or "off the point".
  • take the train - Ride the subway (in New York City) as in Duke Ellington's classic song, "Take the A-Train".. On Long Island, it is when one is riding the Long Island Rail Road. In New York City, other local commuter rail lines are often referred to by name – i.e., in New Jersey, one might say, "I'm on the PATH."
  • take off your clothes - idiomatic for taking off your outer clothes, as in the welcoming phrase, "come in and take off your clothes". Can be a source of misunderstanding if used outside of New York City.
  • to stay - in the question "to stay or to go?" Many New York eateries use the term "take out" in place of "to go". Other regions use the phrase "for here or to go?"
  • two cents plain - carbonated water (often called seltzer in New York City. From the price of a glass of seltzer in local stores.
  • upstate - the part of New York state that excludes New York City, Long Island and the northern suburbs of Westchester and Rockland counties. Some natives of the region go so far as to refer to anything north of the five boroughs of New York City as "upstate."
  • The Village: Greenwich Village
  • wagon - shopping cart
  • wedge (mostly in Westchester and Putnam suburbs) - submarine sandwich.
  • yoo-hoo - an informal call to get someone's attention, made famous by the radio/television show "The Goldbergs" in the 1920s to the 1950s. Also a chocolate drink, heavily advertised in the 1950s as "Yogi Berra's favorite drink".
  • youse - you (plural). (compare with Chicago youse guys)
  • CT - Chinatown in New York City

New Jersey

  • Down the Shore - a phrase used by residents of North, or Philadelphia when referring to any beach in the Jersey Shore area, for example, "We're going down the shore this weekend." Also used by inland Connecticut residents when referring to beaches on Connecticut's Long Island Sound.

Other

Other Mid-Atlantic areas include the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area & Delaware Valley (Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, DC, Northeastern Maryland, and environs, including southern New Jersey and northern Delaware).

  • out of service - usually "out of order" in the rest of the U.S.
  • pavement - sidewalk.
  • pork roll - a meat product made of pork. Usually served fried (cut in slices with a slit).
  • rowhomes - attached houses.
  • Shoobie - A visitor to the beach (typically the South Jersey shore) for the day (as contrasted with an overnight visitor). Supposedly derives from the practice of taking the train from Philadelphia to the coastal town of Atlantic City with one's belongings in a shoebox. Similar to Benny, though Benny is more commonly used in the northern beach counties of Ocean and Monmouth.
  • shore - beach; often associated with South Jersey speech, esp. in the phrase "down the shore" (at the beach).
  • get a shower - Idiomatic construction, equivalent to 'take a shower.'
  • Texas Tommy - a hot dog with cheese and a bacon strip wrapped around it
  • wooder - the way many people pronounce the word "water"
  • water ice - Italian ice
  • Pineys - Residents of rural South Jersey near the Pine Barrens. Similar to the term Redneck.

The North

  • Cheesehead - a native of Wisconsin; considered derogatory in Illinois and Minnesota, but a term of pride in Wisconsin (well known across the U.S. through sports media).
  • pop - generic term for any brand of soft drink, except in parts of Wisconsin; more at Soft drink

Chicagoland and Northern Illinois

  • Braht - Bratwurst
  • the 'El' - the rapid transit train system run by the CTA, which is mostly elevated (parts are subway with the tracks running underground)
  • Chicagoland - the metropolitan region centered on Chicago, always including Cook, Lake, DuPage, Kane, McHenry, and Will counties, and often including Kendall, Grundy, DeKalb, and Kankakee counties in Illinois and Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties in Indiana.
  • Clout - political influence, especially with respect to the governments of the City of Chicago, Cook County, and the State of Illinois
  • Currency exchange - Check-cashing establishment. In the rest of the English-speaking world, a "currency exchange" describes an establishment where foreign money is bought and sold.
  • Downstate - the balance of the state of Illinois excluding the Chicagoland area. Some residents of Illinois may refer only to areas south of Chicago as "downstate," using the term "outstate" for areas west of Chicago.
  • front room - (pronounced 'frunchroom') the common name for living room
  • gangway - the narrow space or walkway between two single family homes or apartment buildings
  • gaper's block or gaper's delay - the traffic delay caused by people slowing down to stare at an accident (the result of the activity of 'rubbernecking' as it is known elsewhere)
  • gym shoes - tennis shoes/running shoes (sneakers)
  • Jewel's or the Jewel - Jewel-Osco combined food and drug (grocery) store chain in the area.
  • LSD - Lake Shore Drive
  • the Loop - Downtown Chicago
  • on accident - by accident
  • pop - generic word for soft drink
  • come with - come with us
  • sliders - White Castle mini hamburgers - they slide right through you
  • Where do you stay? - Where do you live? (Specific to South Side of Chicago)
  • youse - plural you; also youse guys

There are also nicknames for all the Chicago expressways - the Edens, the Kennedy, the Eisenhower, the Dan Ryan, the Bishop Ford, the (Chicago) Skyway. Traffic reports refer them by name and by saying 'inbound' or 'outbound' (meaning driving towards or away from the Loop) rather than a N, S, E, W direction. There are also nicknames for places along the highways used in traffic reports in addition to street names - the Circle, the Post Office, the Junction.

Iowa

  • ramp - parking garage
  • cave - basement or cellar
  • sack - (Grocery) bag
  • county mounty - usually a sheriff or deputy sheriff
  • foot-feed - gas pedal
  • fleet store - a store that sells farm supplies
  • Carhartts - any type of insulated clothing
  • implement shop - a business that sells and repairs farm equipment
  • blacktop - a county maintained highway
  • elevator - a facility that stores grain
  • co-op - an organization that deals in many aspects of farm business
  • help - an employee

North Dakota

  • slush burgers - sloppy joe's (Western North Dakota, only; unheard of in the rest of the state)
  • uffda - word of Norwegian origin, used to express exclamation; essentially, "Wow" (e.g. "Uffda that stinks!")
  • Fargo-Moorhead - the largest city in the state; as opposed to calling it just Fargo. Also known as F-M.

The Eastern North Dakota Red River Valley dialect shares many more terms, usages, and pronunciations with Minnesota than it does with the rest of the state.

Michigan

  • Davenport (sofa) - Used to refer to a sofa, or couch. Used in southern regions of the state.
  • Devil's Night - The night of October 30. Used especially in Detroit.
  • Downstate - The lower half of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, used by people in the northern half of Michigan's Lower Peninsula.
  • Euchre - Card game similar to spades.
  • Flustered - Being overwhelmed by something.
  • Fridge - Refrigerator.
  • Fudgie - Tourists, because they buy fudge made by locals.
  • Glovebox - Glove compartment in an automobile.
  • Kiddy-Corner - Same as 'catty-corner' or diagonally.
  • Michigan Left - The requirement of being forced to 'turn around' on a divided highway and turn right, instead of turning left in the first place.
  • Noonhour - 12 - 00 PM
  • Outstate - Name used by people in the Metro Detroit area to describe the rest of the state.
  • Paczki - A jelly donut eaten on Paczki Day.
  • Paczki Day - Same as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday.
  • Party Store - Any convenience store of sorts (7-Eleven, Liquor Stores, usually CVS/Rite-Aid).
  • Pop - All brands of carbonated soda.
  • Secretary of State - The Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Tennis Shoes - Sneakers which may or may not be worn to play tennis.
  • Troll - Name jokingly used by people in the Upper Peninsula to refer to residents of the Lower Peninsula, as they live "under The Bridge" (i.e., south of the Mackinac Bridge that connects the two peninsulas).
  • Up North or U.P.- Used throughout Michigan to describe the northern half of the state - Clare County, uses the slogan "Where North Begins".
  • Vernor's - Synonym for ginger ale.
  • Yooper - People who reside in the Upper Peninsula.
  • Wet Burrito - a burrito with sauce over it

Wisconsin

  • bartime - the time of the night when the drinking establishments quit selling liquor.
  • blinker - a turn signal.
  • bubbler - drinking fountain (most common in Eastern Wisconsin).
  • to budge - to cut in line.
  • fib or F.I.B., a derogatory term for a person from Illinois (acronym of Fucking Illinois Bastard)
  • flatlander - a person from Illinois (most common in Southern Wisconsin)
  • Mud Duck - a person from Minnesota (most common in Western Wisconsin).
  • on top of - distance to the north (e.g. "The lake is about a mile on top of the highway.")
  • over home - at home (e.g. "I stopped over home to pick up the tickets." or "He looked for me at the store, but I was over home.")
  • soda - soft drink (most common in eastern Wisconsin)
  • stop-and-go light - traffic light
  • till - a cash register.
  • up north - approximately north-central Wisconsin
  • tyme machine - an ATM machine

Minnesota

  • to budge - to cut in line
  • The Cities - the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area. Specifically, the central cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
  • Duck duck gray duck - a children's game, more commonly called Duck duck goose.
  • hot dish - a simple entree cooked in a single dish, related to but not the same as a casserole.
  • The Lakes - (general) The region of Northern Minnesota most heavily affected by the most recent ice age, known for its great number of large, shallow lakes and widely used as a summer playground for Twin Citians.
  • The Lakes - (Minneapolis) The city's famous system of lakes, especially the lakes of Chain of Lakes Park.
  • Minnewegian - The common accent of rural Minnesota, a variation of North Central American English. A portmanteau of Minnesota and Norwegian.
  • Outstate - any part of Minnesota that is not part of the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
  • Parking ramp - enclosed, above-ground car park.
  • Pop - the common name used for carbonated beverages (soda).
  • Premium or Primo - popular name for Grain Belt Premium, a local beer formerly brewed in Minneapolis and now brewed by Schell's in New Ulm.
  • Spendy - expensive (shared with the Pacific Northwest )
  • Sucker - lollipop
  • Timberpuppies, Twinkies, Viqueens - derogatory terms for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings, respectively.
  • Northerns - insulated boots.
  • Cheesehead - Wisconsinite.

The Midland

  • dinner - the mid-day meal (esp. on farms); generally applied to the largest meal of the day whether at mid-day or in the evening.
  • for here - in the question "for here or to go?" Other regions use the phrase "to stay or to go?"
  • hoosier - someone from Indiana; also a hick or a redneck, low class (esp. in St. Louis and surrounding areas).
  • husker - someone from Nebraska.
  • used to could - Could do at one time, but can't anymore (i.e. "In high school, I used to could throw a football 60 yards").
  • pop - a soft drink (everywhere except 100-mile radius around St. Louis where soda predominates ).
  • sucker - lollipop.
  • to - used in place of the word "at"; especially in the phrase "I have to be to work by 6 - 00".
  • tower - (esp. in OK) job or work, as in "I'm off to work my tower"; originally related to the oil industry.
  • where all, who all, and what all - the plural form of these words (i.e., "Who all went out for your birthday, and what all did you do?"); one step away from y'all.

Northern and Eastern Missouri (Saint Louis, Columbia, Missouri, and Surrounding Areas)

  • on accident - By accident
  • brights - high-beam headlights
  • hoosier - Hicks or anyone considered lower class ; often used with county name, i.e. - Jefferson County hoosier, Dupo,IL
  • to love on someone - to show love to someone or love someone.
  • outer road - frontage road
  • soda - a soft drink
  • shoes - tennis shoes or sneakers, more often used in urban areas, such as St. Louis City and County
  • "Ozarks" - the Lake of the Ozarks

The South

  • billfold - a man's wallet
  • broke out (distinguish from 'break out') - to have a lot of or more than you need. "You need to get that cat fixed or we're gonna be broke out in kittens here soon."
  • buggy (or less often, jitney or trolley) - shopping cart
  • car tag - license plate
  • carry - to transport something or someone in a vehicle. "Do you want me to carry you to town when I go?"
  • chill bumps - goose bumps
  • chunk or chuck - toss or throw an object. "Chunk that ball over here to me so I can look at it."
  • coke - any brand of soft drink shortened form of Coca-Cola. See soft drink.
  • commode - bathroom; restroom; particularly the toilet seat or stool, but also used for the entire bathroom
  • craw dads - crayfish, although, no matter how it's spelled, it's pronounced "crawfish" by locals.
  • crocus sack (Atlantic), croker sack (Gulf) - burlap bag
  • cut on/off - to turn on/off. For example, "Cut the lights off." Sometimes "cut out" is used instead of "cut off."
  • directly - in a minute; soon; momentarily
  • eye - burner or heating element of a stove. Turn on that front eye and boil some butter beans.
  • fix - to get ready, to be on the verge of ("I'm fixing to leave"). The terms "fitntuh" or "finna" are short for "fitting to," a similar phrase. Also, to prepare food ("I'm fixing cornbread for dinner").
  • hose pipe - Not the actual hose itself but the point at which the hose attaches to the water supply (usually on a house/side of a building). Does not apply to fire hydrants.
  • ideal - any idea, plan, or thought ("I have an ideal on how to do that.")
  • lay out of - be absent from an obligated activity, namely work or school; to "play hooky," as rendered elsewhere in the U.S. ("Why did you lay out of school today, young lady?")
  • mash - Used to describe virtually any action that involves applying any sort of pressure. Including, but not limited to, pushing, smashing, stomping, pressing.
  • maters - Tomatoes
  • might could - May be able to. For example, "I might could do that."
  • nabs - crackers or cookies from vending machines.
  • peepeye - Peekaboo.
  • piled up - sleeping or in the bed at times other than normal sleeping hours. "Here it is 1 p.m. and Joe is piled up in the bed sleeping after laying out all night."
  • poke - a paper bag, a sack. Used primarily among older Southerners.
  • put up - put away, put back in its place
  • Shag - Carolina Shag.
  • snowbird - a person from a Northern state who vacations in a Southern state during the winter season, and has thus "flown" down to the South only to get away from the snow of their native state. Generally refers to a tourist, or someone who is clearly not a full-time resident ("In December I rent out a room in my apartment to some snowbirds from New York"; "I had to explain to some snowbird where the nearest gas station is"; "This whole town is flooded with snowbirds right around January")
  • skeeter hawk (mosquito hawk) or snake doctor - a dragonfly or a crane fly (Diptera tipulidae).
  • sorry - of poor quality
  • stakeholder - stockholder
  • sweet tea - iced tea sweetened with sugar.
  • swimming hole - lake or pond used for swimming.

  • tote - to carry ("Tote that bag in the house for me.")
  • toter's card - concealed carry handgun permit.
  • ugly - discourteous, rude ("You're actin' ugly.")
  • wide open - hyperactive, full of energy
  • yonder (or over yonder) - over there, or a long distance away (contraction on "beyond there")
  • y'all - Contraction for "you all"; the plural form of the pronoun "you"

South Louisiana

  • alligator pear - avocado
  • banquette - (old-fashioned) sidewalk
  • bobos - Any kind of wound, especially a bruise.
  • boo or booboo - affectionate name for a baby or small child, sometimes used with adults
  • by (location) - to be at or in someplace (e.g. "by your mama's house"); to pass by (location) - to stop and visit someplace
  • cap - sir (from "captain")
  • cold drink - soft drink
  • (to make) dodo - (To go to) sleep. From French "faire dodo", from "faire dormir" or to "make sleep"
  • dirty Rice - Cajun rice dish consisting of rice, spices, herbs and either ground beef, chicken giblets, or both.
  • Fais Dodo (Fay Doh Doh) - a party
  • flying Horses - carousel, merry-go-round
  • gout ("goh") - (old-fashioned) a little taste
  • hickey - a bump on one's head
  • How's your mama an 'em - "How is your family (mother and them)?"
  • lagniappe - a little bit of something extra
  • locker - closet
  • make (age) - Have a birthday ("He's making 16 tomorrow.")
  • to make groceries - to go shopping for groceries
  • neutral ground - median strip
  • parish - county (There are no counties in LA, only parishes)
  • pass a good time - Have fun, as in "Come pass a good time at da Fais dodo, y'all".
  • passion mark - a love bite/hickey
  • po' boy - a sandwich in which French bread (baguette) is hollowed out and typically stuffed with fried oysters, clams, or shrimp.
  • to save (dishes, laundry, etc.) - to put away something
  • t'rows - "throws", or the beads, trinkets, toys and stuffed animals thrown during a Mardi Gras parade
  • waste - to spill or leak something, or the mess it makes ("Something's wasting under your car")
  • where y'at? - "How are you doing?" Hence yat.
  • whoadii - "friend", "buddy", "pal" - "Where' y'at, whoadii?" ("How are you doing, friend?")

The West

Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, western Montana, and Alaska)

  • Beauty Bark (Washington), Bark Dust (Oregon) - landscape or garden mulch consisting of chipped bark.
  • crummy - a vehicle used to transport forest workers.
  • crick: creek
  • davenport - couch or sofa. (questionable for this region -- see Davenport, for instance)
  • grip - an abundant amount.
  • gyppo - contract work (or worker). Corruption of "gypsy".
  • Jefferson - a mostly rural area of Southern Oregon and Northern California known for its secessionist movements.
  • Packing a card - to be a member of a union, such as the Wobblies.
  • Pecker pole or Peckerwood - a small tree, often found in the understory of old growth.
  • Pop - the word used for carbonated beverages
  • Second-growth - timber that has grown back on a previously harvested unit, either by natural reseeding or replanting.
  • Skid road or Skid Row - the path over which oxen pulled logs; it came to mean the part of a city where loggers congregate and eventually refer to slums.
  • Snoose - damp snuff or dipping tobacco.
  • Spendy - Expensive.
  • Till - a cash register.
  • Timber Tiger - Chipmunk (lumberjack jargon).

  • Weak Sauce - slang term for something that is disappointing (used by youth).
  • Freddy's - refers to the Hypermarket Fred Meyers owned by Kroger's

Chinook Jargon was a trade language (or pidgin) of the Pacific Northwest, which spread quickly up the West Coast from Oregon State, through Washington State, British Columbia, and as far as Alaska. The following words were borrowed from it -

  • Chechaco - Derogatory term for new comers to the Northwest. A Chinook Jargon word.
  • Potlatch - a social gathering.
  • Skookum - good, strong, best, powerful, ultimate and first rate.
  • Tyee - Chief, boss, etc. Also, high muckymuck, literally "a big eater".

Alaska

  • Outside - outside Alaska.
  • Lower 48 - The 48 contiguous U.S. states
  • Sourdough - Person who has lived in Alaska since before the oil boom.
  • preacher - fallen tree in river (as the Yukon River) hindering navigation; snag.
  • snowmachine - Lower 48 snowmobile.
  • The Lights - the Aurora Borealis, commonly seen in Fairbanks.
  • bug juice - insect repellent.
  • Los Anchorage - referring to the largest city, Anchorage
  • the Valley - the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, just north of Anchorage or the Mendenhall Valley, north of downtown Juneau.

Wyoming

  • barrow pit: ditch
  • goats: antelope
  • outfit: vehicle

Colorado

  • The Ike - Local name for the Eisenhower Tunnel on Interstate 70 under the Continental Divide
  • Colorado residents, including highly educated ones, often end sentences with "at," such as "Where were you at?"

See also

Regional American English

English around the world

Language studies

References

External links

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