The Weirdest Regional Slang Across America
February 20, 2019
But if use these phrases, these slang terms aren’t weird at all
America is a massive, eclectic country. Because of this, there are many different ways of life in different parts of the nation. This wide regional diversity not only means different cuisine, etiquette practices and stores — it also means that people speak differently. No, we’re not talking about accents. We’re talking about regional slang, youse guys.
From frappes in Massachusetts to bubblers in Wisconsin to the hella crazy West Coast, you’ll find baffling, peculiar regional slang all across the United States. Unless, of course, you’re from a region where that bit of grass between the sidewalk and the street is referred to as a devil strip. Then, these particular phrases are completely and totally normal.
There are a lot of things only people from Hawaii say. Among them is “auntie.” In the Aloha State (and other regions across America), your auntie and uncle aren’t necessarily your parents’ siblings. They can be older family friends or just elders you respect.
If you’ve ever visited America’s easternmost state, or simply read a Stephen King novel, you might know that folks from Maine have another way of agreeing or saying yes: “ayuh.” Just be sure, for true accuracy, to pronounce the “A” as if you’re saying the name of the letter.
No, a banana belt isn’t hanging fruit from your waist. This phrase actually refers to the warmest region of an otherwise frigid area. Leave it up to the Alaskans for having a phrase for that!
If you find yourself in New York City and someone tells you that it’s “brick” outside, you’re going to want to layer up. That means it’s so freezing you’ll feel like a brick of ice.
Southerners have a lot of regional slang and phrases. While you may need a translator to find out a lot of their meanings, “cattywampus” means pretty much what it sounds like: something that’s a little crooked and a little out of whack. It’s the perfect word to describe all those back roads in Alabama.
If you’re binge-watching Netflix and shoving microwave popcorn down your gullet with someone from the East Coast, they may ask you to pass the clicker. That would be the remote control to most Americans.
You know that little bit of grass between the sidewalk and the street? What’s that called? In Akron, Ohio, it’s referred to as a “devil strip.”
Those in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest may take for granted the glorious, rich shades of gold, red, and orange that leaves bring to the landscape in the autumn. But in New England, this phrase refers to city dwellers (often New Yorkers) who travel up the coast to take in some of that sweet, sweet fall foliage.
Midwesterners are known for being friendlier than you, so if you bump in to them (or if they ram in to a chair), you’ll hear them exclaim “ope!” For the uninitiated, this phrase is somewhere between “oops” and “nope!”
A pack mule? A package delivered from UPS? Nope. In New England, a packie is a common term for a package store, aka a liquor store.
This phrase, spoken by those in Indiana, is what it sounds like: A dinner where all diners bring a dish. Most of the U.S. calls this a potluck, but certain regions call this party a scramble dinner (Illinois), carry-in (Midwest) or a tureen dinner (New York). No matter what you call it, be sure to bring these dishes.
Wow! Or, if you’re from Kansas, you may say “shucky darn!” This expression is used to exclaim awe, wonder, frustration or anything in between.
If your parents ask you to sweep the living room and you’re from Ohio or Indiana, you know to leave the broom in the closet. In certain regions of the Midwest, a vacuum is called a sweeper, and you don’t vacuum up those cookie crumbs, you sweep them up. Ohioans just can tell the difference between a sweeper and a broom from context.
No, you’re not going to a luau. People from Miami refer to the often irritating sound of typing on a keyboard or texting with the volume on your phone turned up as a “tiki tiki.”
If you’re going to the TYME Machine in Wisconsin or the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, you aren’t traveling to another era, you’re just withdrawing some cash. TYME Machine stands for “Take Your Money Everywhere” and is used by banks in the region for what is commonly called an ATM in other parts of the country.
Adopted by Scandinavian-Americans living in the Midwest from a similar phase of Norwegian origin, “uff da” (or huffda, uff-da, uffda, oofda, or numerous other spellings) is used to express sensory overload, as well as emotions like surprise, astonishment, exhaustion, relief, dismay, and basically pretty much anything else. Uff da! That’s a lot of uses!
You eat in a cafeteria, and you do your laundry in a washateria. At least, that’s the case if you grew up in Texas. What most people call a laundromat, Texans refer to by this fun portmanteau.
English is a deeply flawed language, because it has no standard plural version of the word you. While “y’all,” “you guys,” and “youse” are pretty well known across America, those in Western Pennsylvania and Appalachia have defaulted to referring to multiple people as “yinz.” But these aren’t the only regional terms in America — check out the funniest slang phrase from every state.
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