Social Question

downtide's avatar

Local dialect: are there any words or phrases unique to your local area?

Asked by downtide (23480points) July 9th, 2010

I think language is fascinating, especially the comparison of local dialects from different areas. I moved to Manchester (in northwest England) around 25 years ago and there are some great local words here, that are rare or unheard of elsewhere in the country.

We have ginnel, which is a passageway or alley between houses. A bread roll is a barmcake, to skrike is to cry and to have a decko is to look at something. Gobsmacked is surprised, minging is ugly, mint is good and mithered is harassed or bothered.

What words are unique to your locality and what part of the world is that?

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63 Answers

janbb's avatar

“Bennies” as a term for outsiders or summer people who come “down the shore” in New Jersey. Supposedly the derivation is from people who come from Bergen, Essex and Newark; cities or counties in northern New Jersey.

aprilsimnel's avatar


I mean, Brooklyn.

Actually, the demographics are changing enough in Brooklyn that even the famous accent is pretty much gone. I don’t know anyone under ~35 who has it.

dpworkin's avatar

New Yorkers stand on line. The ground is called the floor, even outside. “Inside” is whatever room you are not in: if you are in the bedroom and your mom is in the living room, she is “inside”. If you ask her where you are, you are “inside”. A porch is a stoop. Coffee with milk and sugar is “regular”. There are many more.

downtide's avatar

@aprilsimnel I visited New York in 1999 and stayed in Brooklyn, and I just loved that accent! So perfectly New York.

Jude's avatar

2–4 (24 case of beer)

Double Double (Timmie’s coffee – two cream/two sugar)

Sarnhole/Stinktown (my home city is also known as Chemical Valley – smelly chemical plants)

jazmina88's avatar

Y’all come and find out. Take your shoes off and set a spell. ya hear??

Jude's avatar

Canadian slang

Beaver Tail (BeaverTail) — A dessert food basically consisting of a pastry, usually covered with lemon juice and cinnamon sugar. Given its name because it resembles the shape of a beaver’s tail. Also known as an Elephant Ears.

Blochead — A derogatory term for Anglophone, or English speaker in
the province of Quebec. French translation tête carrée. Often used as a derogatory term for a member of the Bloc Quebecois

Canuck — Canadian. Often used in the US as well, sometimes derogatorily. Originally used to mean French-Canadians only, and
archaic pron. can-OOK. Also the name for a player on the Vancouver
NHL team. SeeCanucklehead.

Chinook — A warm, dry wind experienced along the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada.

eh — a spoken interjection to ascertain the comprehension, continued interest, agreement, etc., of the person or persons addressed (e.g.
“That was a good game last night, eh?”). May also be used instead of
huh? or what?. Meaning please repeat or say again.

hoser — aster eotype and a mild insult; exploiter; from Depression era prairie gasoline thieves

homo milk — homogenized milk, particularly with a fat content greater than 2%, usually 3.25%. Referred to in theUSA as whole milk

May 2–4 — the Victoria Day holiday which takes place on the third Monday in May, on or around May 24. It also refers to the entire three
day holiday weekend, which is Canada’s “unofficial” start of the summer
season, when many open cottages after the winter. (Note that the term
May two-four may be used to refer to this weekend even if the holiday falls as early as May 17.) The name is a conscious pun on the date and the case of beer which is traditionally drunk on this holiday. (Ontario). Maylong — see above; contraction of “May long weekend

pogey — Social Assistance,Welfare (Especially inNewfoundland.)

Runners — term for running shoes or ‘sneakers’

Sasquatch — A creature similar toBigfoot orYe t i, from the Halkemeylem wordsesqac. In British Columbia often used to mean someone tall, large and shaggy or bearded. Also a Saskatchewan driver in Alberta, or an Albertan teen with Saskatchewan licence plates.

Serviette — Paper napkin

Snowbirds — a reference to people, often senior citizens, who leave
Canada during the winter months to reside in southern states of the U.S. (particularly Flor ida)

Tickety Boo — Meaning ‘things are in good order’ or ‘good to go.’ Perhaps a corruption of the Hindi ‘thiik hai, babu’ meaning ‘it’s all right sir’ which may have been brought back from India via the UK by RCAF pilots in World War Two

Tim’s, Timmy’s, Timmy Ho’s, Timmy Ho-Ho’s— Tim Hortons doughnut chain; female employees of same are sometimes (affectionately) known as “TimTarts”.

Tipper — A 3.75 litre bottle of liquor, sold with a metal frame used to support the bottle when pouring.

Toonie — Canadian two-dollar coin

Tory — a member of the Conservative Party of Canada; previously used to refer to one of its predecessors, the Progressive Conservatives

Tuque or toque — A knit winter hat sometimes with a ball of wool or a tassel on it.

(now take off, eh! Hoser!)

ucme's avatar

Haddaway & shite, am gannin doon the boozer wi me mates ave a few bevvies arlreet. Ta ra catch yers afta.

Jeruba's avatar

I’ve noticed that a lot of people think the speech and usages in their own area are more common than they are. They may also assume regionalism for something that doesn’t go much beyond their own neighborhood or ethnicity. This becomes apparent to them only when they travel or someone visits and there is a failure to communicate.

By the same token, some people tend to claim uniqueness for expressions that are actually heard over a wide area. For instance, some putative New York-isms are also spoken in New England or old England. In a densely immigrated state like California, we hear just about everything.

downtide's avatar

@ucme You are clearly a Geordie! :-D

perspicacious's avatar

Tump. I heard this all of the time as a kid, and still occasionally hear someone say it. It comes from steel mills—a combination of tip and dump.

ucme's avatar

@downtide How very dare you dear boy. Why I hail from the garden of England i’ll have you know, very dear friends with the Queen…....I well you’re not far wrong.Not a geordie (spits on floor) bit further North than them buggers, more refined like XD

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

@jjmah Don’t forget Loonie – our one dollar coin!

“Texas Gate” – cattle guard (those grates to keep the cattle off the major roads or to divide farms through which a road passes)

“Snow Birds” – (Typically retired) Canadians who migrate to warmer US locales between November and May

jaytkay's avatar

@perspicacious Tump…a combination of tip and dump.

Your comment is the second time in my life I heard that. The first was from two Oklahoma kids. I thought they made it up.

perspicacious's avatar

@jaytkay They must have had some connection to a steel mill town. I’ve never heard anyone use if outside of the area.

jaytkay's avatar

In Chicago the Interstates are expressways. Nearby where I grew up in Michigan, they are highways.

In Los Angeles, Interstates are called “The” – “Are you driving on the 10?”

Everywhere else I know, it would be “Are you driving on 10?” or “Are you driving on I-10?”

JLeslie's avatar

Where I live now they say fixin’ to meaning they are going to do something.

In NC they use might could which I guess means they could, but they add the might.

I say half an hour, others say half hour.

Here is an old Q of mine you will like

@dpworkin you call the ground the floor? My NY relatives would all say the ground, Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan. My husband says the floor, but English is not his first language, it is one of the mistakes I notice he makes.

wilma's avatar

Fudgies, a term for tourists in Northern Michigan. (There are a lot of fudge shops in tourist towns.)
“Up North” means a vacation area, where the cabin or cottage usually is located.

We call a paved road, a tarvy road or blacktop. “Going to town on the tarvy”.
Some of the old timers still call our main road, “the plank” because it was first made from wood planks.
We stand “in line” not on line.
We call athletic shoes, tennis shoes.
My liquor comes in pints and fifths. Is that a US thing? When I cross into Canada and declare what I’m bringing with me, if I say I have a pint of liquor, they ask me what that means.

JLeslie's avatar

@wilma My MI friends and I came up with a new term snowbillies. My girlfriend used to use hillbiliies for people who live in the smaller towns up north (not nice probably I know), and I told her there was not enough hills in MI, unless you go waaayyy up north.

Americans almost never use the term pint, to answer your question.

jaytkay's avatar

I think of the little booze bottles as pints. Though I don’t recall the last time I discussed little booze bottles, maybe my lingo is outdated.

Vincentt's avatar

I think there are next to no words we use here that you use in your area of residence ;-)

wilma's avatar

@JLeslie So when you go to the store and buy a 375 ML bottle of booz, what do you call it?

jaytkay's avatar

An English “public school” would be called a “private school” in the US.

JLeslie's avatar

@wilma I actually don’t drink, so I might be a bad person to ask. I probably should not have offered an answer, maybe some others can answer. The only time I hear pint a lot is when I am in England. Isn’t a pint around 470 ml actually? I think the 375 ml pint is like the imperial gallon, which most Americans would have no clue. Maybe I am wrong. I think the term might be taken more literally here, since it is our standard measure. Like I said, I’m unsre, I could be wrong.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

What makes the conversion more confusing is that US ounces are larger than imperial ounces but imperial pints and quarts have more ounces. It is that kind of crazy-making stuff that makes using SI (metric) units do much easier for almost ever country other than the USA.

jaytkay's avatar

So what do you get in the UK or Ireland when you order a pint in a pub?

In the US it would be 16 ounces (473 ml)

janbb's avatar

20 oz. is an Imperial pint.

JLeslie's avatar

473, that sounds right, I said 470.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb And ours is 16 right? Two cups? I Swear I cannot remember anything.

janbb's avatar

Yes – 16 oz; two cups.

anartist's avatar

Here is the first of a bunch “house side” or “senate side” all neighborhoods to the south of East Capitol Street are “house side” because all the House of Representatives office buildings are on the south side. Neighborhoods north of East Capitol Street are “senate side” because that’s where their offices are.
Hangouts: Bullfeathers is on the house side. The Monocle is on the senate side.
How’s that for regional esoterica?

wilma's avatar

@JLeslie I’m not talking about a pint of beer, although we don’t order it that way here.
I’m talking about a bottle of hard liquor, it may not actually be a pint now, it’s 375 ML. But I think years ago the booz was sold in pint (16 oz) bottles. As for why we call the big bottle a fifth, they are 750 ML. Is that a fifth of a gallon?

jaytkay's avatar

We have a West Side, South Side and North Side in Chicago where you would expect them.

But the East Side is on the far, far South Side. So far away most people would tell you there is no East Side.

Except maybe for an area called the New East Side. It’s about 13 miles north of the East Side.

JLeslie's avatar

@wilma, lets see an American gallon is 3.78 liters or 3780 ml, divided by 5 = 756 ml, so I guess so. I’ve never really thought about it.

jaytkay's avatar

A fifth of a US gallon is 757ml

So replacing fifths with 750ml bottles was no biggie, less than 1% different.

wilma's avatar

@JLeslie I never really thought about it either. One more reason I like fluther. Thanks for doing the math for me! :-)

aprilsimnel's avatar

Where I’m originally from, Milwaukee, people say “Up North”, but in NYC, people say “upstate” to indicate the areas of their respective states north of the city.

anartist's avatar

@JLeslie a pint is served in a pint glass, you know, like Andy Capp? In US it is what is often received when one orders a draft/draught. You know the glass, existentially a simple large tapered glass with no frills as here [the Zoo Bar, across the street from the National Zoo, Washington DC—hence the mural in the background].

JLeslie's avatar

@anartist Yeah I know. I was not saying that a pint glass is an actual pint, although maybe a typical one is, I have no idea, and I would guess it is an imperial pint if it is, which I did not realize there is an imperal pint until it was mentioned on this Q, I never thought about it, I just knew there was an imperial gallon, but it makes sense. All I meant is I rarely hear people even use the word pint in America. Gallon, half gallon, quart, two cups, but rarely does some use pint. I had to think about two cups is a pint, two pints is a quart, and was not sure, that is why I asked @janbb to check myself. I wasn’t clear previously, I understand why you thought I did not know about the beer glass.

anartist's avatar

@JLeslie pint glass=16 oz of cerveza. But in US the bottle beer is usually 12 oz and the draft from the tap frequently, although not always, a pint [16 oz].

A non-Capitol Hill expression that I am very curious about is “close the stool” It means to put the toilet lid down. I have heard it only from a southerner [a Missourian or Missouran depending on pronunciation choice]. Has anyone else heard this and is this genteel bathroom talk or funky potty/outhouse talk?

JLeslie's avatar

@anartist MO is the midwest. Although, very southern MO, near the AR border does have some “southerners” lurking about. I never heard of the expression you mentioned.

Seems it does depend on the country

YARNLADY's avatar

An oldie, but goodie: In California surfer talk, gnarly meant exceptional or cool, as in the gnarly waves today.

In Hawaii, it has developed exactly the opposite meaning; disgusting.

Aethelwine's avatar

Corn Chips are punk rockers from the Peoria area, circa late 80s.

MissA's avatar

In NC, you “might could” hear CUT OFF the lights instead of ‘turn off’ the lights. Instead of saying, “I’m going to take her to the store.” You “might would” hear, “I’m going to CARRY her to the store.” That one always paints a humorous picture in my mind.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Ay-yup, Ya cahn’t get theyah from heeyah. Smoke goes up the chimbley hee-yah. Tourists are called “summah complaints”. Excellent things are “wicked good”. The further north you go, the more French is heard.

downtide's avatar

These are all great. I love reading about this stuff. Thanks everyone.

jaytkay's avatar


I learned this on Fluther today.

‘In many Canadian provinces, including Ontario, hydroelectric power is so common that “hydro” has become synonymous with electric power regardless of the actual source of the electricity.’

anartist's avatar

Does anybody know about “close the stool”? It means to put the toilet lid down.

JLeslie's avatar

@MissA My neighbor uses “carry” she is from Mississippi. I never heard it when I lived in Raleigh, NC, but “might could” all day long (I think I mentioned it above, I don’t remember)

downtide's avatar

In the UK we wouldn’t say “carry” – we’d say “give a lift”. As in “I’ll give you a lift to the shops”.

Never heard of “close the stool”. It’s just “put the lid down” here.

JLeslie's avatar

@downtide We use “lift” in the states also, at least I know for sure we do in NY, I never thought about whether it is used commonly everywhere here. I use it wherever I live, but I was raised by people who were raised in The Bronx. Lift would only be used if you were driving someone somewhere, if you were just escorting them, like walking a child over to the neighbors house, or taking your mom to the doctor using public transportation, lift would not be used. Not sure about carry?

YARNLADY's avatar

I believe I have heard of the word lift meaning elevator, also.

JLeslie's avatar

@YARNLADY You know English, one word can mean 10 things. LOL.

anartist's avatar

How commonly known is it that brand new senators and congressmen are referred to as “freshmen” or part of the “freshman class” of that particular Congress [every 2 years is a new Congress because faces and places change]?

YARNLADY's avatar

@JLeslie Ha, ha, boy do I know that. I was referring to the question. Some dialects call an elevator a lift.

anartist's avatar

Universal bar code “eighty-sixed” thrown out and barred from ever returning
International PNG’d thrown out of a country and barred from returning [persona non grata]

NaturallyMe's avatar


It means something like “damn, i can’t believe it, and i can find no other word to describe my thoughts on the matter right now”. It could have many other similar meanings too, but in short i’m sure it could be used just in place of “damn”. Hehe.

NaturallyMe's avatar

@downtide – nope, it’s from South Africa – i think the black folk made it up in their language, but now everybody uses it. :) or maybe it’s a real word in their dictionary, i dunno!

downtide's avatar

Ah. Maybe it’s from the Afrikaans side then. Dutch and German are similar sometimes. You guys must have been saying “Eish” a lot when the footy fans hit town!

NaturallyMe's avatar

Hehe…oh, well maybe they took it from Afrikaans then, but it’s the black people who made it a commonly used word now, haha. :) LOL, maybe those who watched the “footy game” used it more… :D

anartist's avatar

@jjmah Tim’s, Timmy’s, Timmy Ho’s, Timmy Ho-Ho’s— Tim Hortons doughnut chain; female employees of same are sometimes (affectionately) known as “TimTarts”.

Reassuring to know the female employees aren’t known as Timmy Ho’s

spykenij's avatar

Well, I am from Cleveland, Ohio and I’ve not heard anyone else say this stuff, but:

1 – “Their ass hurts!” – This means a store is carrying something too expensive
2 – “You’re shittin’ me?” – This means something similar to “for real or are you kidding me?”

Statements I have coined:

- I say “Bjork!” instead of vomit because…it kinda sounds like the act, but then reminds you of Bjork and its all better again.
– “Fairy Queef” instead of Dairy Queen and “Toxic Hell” instead of Taco Bell
– In the summer, I attended West Park, Ohio’s Irish “Hooley” which means party.
– Something that’s only said in my family is, “Relax…and say potato salad.” Apparently, my uncle came up with this to cool down a pissed off sister.

I could go on and on…

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