Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

Can we do another Q about whether you say lightning bug or firefly and other regional differences?

Asked by JLeslie (65332points) March 7th, 2022

A long long time ago I did this Q, and I really enjoyed it. We have new jellies now, and I wanted to try it again.

Here’s my answer: I usually say lightning bug, but firefly does not sound odd to me, and I hear it just as much.

Here’s a few more regional and also country to country examples:

- Couch or sofa.

- Bureau or dresser.

- French fries or chips.

- Jimmies or sprinkles (from what I understand jimmies are now deemed racist, is that right?).

- Pop, soda, or coke.

- Lift or elevator.

- Hero, sub, or grinder.

Tell me some more.

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40 Answers

kruger_d's avatar

I just learned that some call all plastic food containers Tupperware, regardless of brand or quality. Kind of like all tissues are Kleenex.

ragingloli's avatar

either is common
Kohlensäurehaltiges Erfrischungsgetränk, or “Brause” for short.
I actually had to look up what that means. I think we call it a “Jumbo Sandwich”.

JLeslie's avatar

Ok, I was thinking other words in English, but I did find it interesting that sprinkles are streusel in German and kommode is one of those words that is funny in translation.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

“Hero, sub, or grinder” also Maine Italian and Hoagie

Tropical_Willie's avatar

“Pop, soda, or coke” also tonic and soft drink

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

I moved from Michigan to Chicago in my twenties, and have switched:
From pop to soda
From couch to sofa
From highway to expressway

cookieman's avatar

Here in Boston, we eat subs from the sub shop (steak & cheese or chicken parm are favorites). You might wash it down with a soda from the corner store where you also get your scratch tickets. If you’re an alchi or just like to get wasted, you can head to the packee. Get some smokes while you’re there too. Next, we’ll hop the T into downtown to buy some new kicks from Converse. Maybe see a movie before dinner. Afterward, we can sit on the stoop and play cards. Ya know, tomorrow I might bang out sick. We can book it down to Brighams and get a frappe. Ya, I know. That street’s a one way. We’ll have to bang a uey at the circle. See ya tomorrow you fuckin’ knucklehead.

jca2's avatar

French fry
wedge (there’s a very small region that uses “wedge” and it’s where I grew up

smudges's avatar

creek not crick
davenport not sofa or couch (davenport while growing up, couch now)
nightstand not bedside table
toilet not commode
restroom instead of bathroom (unless you’re with people close to you) not toilet, commode, little boys/girls room, and omg never never ever ‘potty’
bag not sack
purse not bag
billfold not wallet
interstate not highway or expressway (which both exist, but are something else)

SergeantQueen's avatar

Do ya’ll say “stop lights” or “stop and go lights”? Or “traffic lights”?



JLeslie's avatar

Bubbler is the give away that you are from Wisconsin. I don’t think it’s used anywhere else. Maybe nearby IL?

I hadn’t noticed some people say stop light instead of traffic light until right now, even though I’ve heard it before. I say traffic light.

@jca2 Wedge is another word for sub? I don’t know if I’ve heard that before.

@smudges I’ve incorporated interstate into my every day word usage now. I used to say highway most often, sometimes freeway, but now I’m much more specific and use Interstate, Turnpike, local highway or the actual name of the road, etc.

jca2's avatar

@JLeslie: Yeah, wedge is a Yonkers thing. Yonkers and thereabouts.

ragingloli's avatar

How about “water dispenser”?

snowberry's avatar

Where I live they don’t say vacuum cleaner. They say sweeper. In fact most of them don’t even know there is another word for the machine.

ragingloli's avatar

Dust sucker.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca2 I need to ask my parents if they remember wedge.

@snowberry I have a friend who uses the word sweeper; her parents were from Ohio. I looked it up once and the first invention was called a sweeper or sweeping machine or something like that. It’s odd to me to call it a sweeper, because I don’t think vacuums sweep, and I don’t think of rugs being swept.

Do you say buggy instead of cart at the supermarket?

Love_my_doggie's avatar

If you’re from New England, you likely call a drinking fountain a “bubbler.”

There are also the terms “frappe” or “cabinet” for a milkshake.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

A sweeper is a non-powered carpet cleaner. They preceeded vacuums, but are still popular for places like restaurants because they are silent.

Unless you live near Snowberry, where a sweeper is a vacuum cleaner.

ragingloli's avatar

I am pretty sure that a sweeper is a revolver shotgun.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Growing up, I heard both fireflies and lightning bugs.

Couch or sofa.
sofa, but where I grew up, it was a couch

- Bureau or dresser.
Dresser, but where I grew up, it was called a chest of drawers or chester drawers colloquially.

- French fries or chips.
French fries

- Jimmies or sprinkles (from what I understand jimmies are now deemed racist, is that right?).

- Pop, soda, or coke.

- Lift or elevator.

- Hero, sub, or grinder.

Tell me some more.
Wagon instead of shopping cart or buggy.
“All pau.” (Pronounced “pow”) Meaning “all finished.”
shoyu instead of soy sauce
The interstates are called by their names: H1, H2, or H3. We have them only on Oahu. They get the interstate designation, because they are paid for mostly with federal dollars.
We use a lot of words from both Hawaiian and Japanese.

zenvelo's avatar

In Southern California, people use the defnitive article to designate hghways – “The 10”, “The Five”. In Northern California people just say “101” or “280”. For a true Interstate we will say “I-80” 0r “I-5”.

Zaku's avatar

This Pacific Northwesterner says:

Firefly (lightning bug… ok)

Couch (sofa ok)

Dresser (a bureau would be a desk with places for papers – hence “bureaucracy”)

French fries (chips in the UK)

Sprinkles (WTF are “Jimmies”? I’ve never heard that)

Soda (pop ok. “Coke” is what that corporation would love you to say. But no, Coke is a specific soda drink brand, not a generic term.)

Elevator (lift in UK)

Sub (possibly grinder, though I find that slightly annoying) “Hero”, I assume, is an annoyingly phonetic misspelling of “gyro” which is pronounced but not spelled like “hero”)

JLeslie's avatar

@Zaku I thought gyro was supposed to be pronounced yiro. I need to ask someone Greek.

I found this about Jimmies There were other articles but I only read this one. I tend to believe it’s not racist, but if people turned it into that then I guess it is now. I say sprinkles anyway.

Zaku's avatar

@JLeslie Yes, you’re right about gyros – rhymes but it not actually “hero”, but I assumed (?) that’s the origin of “hero”. Let’s see . . . hmm, looks like the origin is disputed or unknown, and some assume like me, but that may likely be wrong because the Italian-American “hero” sandwich pre-dates the widespread import of Greek gyros to America . . . or it could be true but because the original people who named it were referring to or riffing on gyros but no one (?) now really knows.

Thanks for the instruction on “Jimmies” – just in time to avoid using it – I almost never order or am offered sprinkles, and haven’t spent much time in the NE, so I hadn’t heard that or don’t remember.

SnipSnip's avatar

I say closet, some say locker.
I say the middle divider in a highway is a median, some call it a neutral zone (NOLA).
I call our family room the den; I have friends who call it the salon.
I call my room full of windows my sun room; I have friends who call it the morning room.
I say bathroom; my European friends say WC (pronouncing it wissy).
My family has never used the term French Fries at home. We say fried potatoes.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I remembered an important one. We say we reverse our cars instead of back up.

JLeslie's avatar

@SnipSnip I’ve never heard neutral zone for median, nor have I heard locker for closet.

My parents called our home office a den, but I hear den for family room more often and it makes more sense.

In Memphis, TN they call the family room a hearth room, and it is usually not very big. I found that annoying. I was used to the formal living room being small and the family room open to the kitchen being large. Actually, they had a great room (the larger living room) and a hearth room in the kitchen area. It can be a nice set up if you like people to stay out of the kitchen.

I used to call the window room a sun room, but now I also call it a 4 seasons room or here in Florida they often say enclosed lanai.

jca2's avatar

When I was little, the TV room was called a den. Now it’s called a family room or in a big house, a great room. Sometimes called a man cave.

@JLeslie my aunt in Jacksonville had a windowed room to the side of the house and she called it a sun porch.

NY Times has a quiz where you answer questions about regional terms and pronunciations and it tells you what your regional pattern is most similar to. Mine guessed the area I’m from with pinpoint accuracy. I’ll see if i can find it and link it.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@jca2 in New England the sun room was called a “Florida Room”, no heat or A/C.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca2 To me a great room is when there is no formal living room and it’s basically synonymous with a family room that is open to the kitchen, and also part of a very open floorplan overall. When I lived in TN realtors would show me “open floorplans” and they were not open by Florida standards.

I’ve seen some of those regional quizzes. That’s fun if you can find it.

raum's avatar

Firefly or lightning bug. We don’t really have them here in the Bay Area, so both terms aren’t local.

Couch or sofa. Use them interchangeably.

Bureau is for desk. Only use that term with my family though. (French influence on Vietnamese culture.) Dresser for what you’re talking about.

French fries. Unless I’m ordering fish or in Europe. Fried potatoes for larger hunks of potato.

Sprinkles. Apparently there is a distinction between jimmies and regular sprinkles? Someone from the east coast told me that all jimmies taste the same. But sprinkles is an umbrella term for many types.

Soda. Unless I’m actually ordering a Coke. Sometimes soft drink.


Sub or hoagie.

Nightstand. Bedside table is fine. But usually use nightstand because it’s shorter.


Restroom or bathroom. Potty if I’m talking to kids.



Stop light for singular. Traffic lights for plural.

Water cooler.

Vacuum cleaner.


Shopping cart.

Shoyu is a type of soy sauce.

Moved from Southern California to Northern California. So I do a mix. “The 5” and “880”.



Family room. Unless their house is super retro, then maybe den.

Sun room. Morning room if it’s east facing.

Back up if coming out of a driveway. Reverse otherwise.

Phew! That was long!

SnipSnip's avatar

@JLeslie Both Neutral Ground and Locker come from New Orleans. I can’t say why they use Locker for Closet, but in the early days the Spanish lived on one side of the street, the French lived on the other side, and the street car was in the Neutral Ground. NOLA natives today still use those terms. I carelessly used Neutral Zone in my original answer.

JLeslie's avatar

@SnipSnip Thanks for that explanation of the neutral zone! I liked it very much.

snowberry's avatar

@JLeslie no, I say cart. I was confused the first time I heard someone call it a buggy.

snowberry's avatar

I was taught that a couch is long. A sofa is shorter, and only seats two people.

I say both, depending on what piece of furniture I’m referring to.

JLeslie's avatar

I call a two-person sofa a loveseat.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Settee for sofa

jca2's avatar

@Tropical_Willie From what I understand, a settee is a bit different than a sofa. All settees are sofas but not all sofas are settees haha.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

True sofa is heavily cushioned ! But people uses them interchangeably.

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