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10 Sep 2003 by Brad Hurley

Coke, Pepsi, and other fizzy soft drinks are generically called “tonic” in Boston, “soda” in New York City, “liqueur” in Montreal, and “pop” pretty much everywhere else in North America west of Utica, New York. What most people in the U.S. call “milk shakes” are “frappes” in Massachusetts and “cabinets” in Rhode Island. And the South’s “y’all” becomes “yins” in Pittsburgh and “youse” in Irish Boston (an artifact from the Irish language, in fact, which has a plural form of “you”). Where I grew up, 40 miles north of New York City, when it rained really hard we described it as “teeming.” A “traffic circle” in New York is a “rotary” in Massachusetts and a “roundabout” in Vermont (and in the UK). A drinking fountain in Massachusetts is called a “bubbler,” a police patrol car is called a “cruiser,” and the little chocolate or candy sprinkles that you put on top of ice cream are called “jimmies.” I love regionalisms, and it’s remarkable that many of them persist despite the forces of homogenization like television, radio, and movies. Do you have any favorite regionalisms?

100 comments so far (Post a Comment)

10 Sep 2003 | Bill Brown said...

I'm from Phoenix and have always lived in Phoenix. I can honestly say that my city has no regionalisms to speak of. We also have no accent. Reading your post, I really wish we did. They sound delightfully quaint.

I've encountered this subject before because we have a friend that's from New York (Albany) and she used to call the "turn signal" the "directional" and said "Yeah right" to indicate assent instead of skepticism.

10 Sep 2003 | Luke Andrews said...

Regionalisms are the spice of an otherwise McDonalds-Starbucks-Walmart existence.

Where I come from (Vancouver), those cheap rubber things you buy to wear on your feet at the beach or in the backyard are called "thongs", not flip-flops.

Did anyone else ever change into their "gym strip" for P.E. class? There is an amusing catalogue of similar Canadian regionalisms at Geist magazine.

I've gotten flack from people here (Montreal) for saying "food fair" instead of "food court". And nobody knows what I'm saying when I say "parkade." (Hint: it ain't margarine.)

In Montreal, English-speakers don't go to the corner store, they go to the "dep", shortened from the French "depanneur", which is in itself a term exclusive to Quebeckers. (Do they even have corner stores in France?)

10 Sep 2003 | Derek said...

In the south everyone calls sodas "coke". Whether it's a Dr. Pepper or a Mountain Dew or a Sprite, it's always a "coke" to most people.

10 Sep 2003 | Luke Andrews said...

Er, somehow that link disappeared from my post. It should be

10 Sep 2003 | ajr said...

In the South, I have heard my relatives call Crisco or something similar called "Oleo" or "olio" - I am not sure how it is spelled.

10 Sep 2003 | Darrel said...

I come from WI, where, at one time, any ATM was a Tyme Machine. So, anywhere you went, asking for a Tyme Machine was obviously asking for the cash machine.

After moving, I walked into a comic-book store in a strip mall as I was looking for a cash machine and wanted to ask the teller if there was one in the mall. Talking to the two kids behing the counter, I asked for a 'Time Machine'.

They just stared at me for a few minutes and then burst out laughing. It took me a minute to figure that one out. ;o)

10 Sep 2003 | Darrel said...

Oh...and those crazy canadians and their 'zeds'.

10 Sep 2003 | Brad Hurley said...

any ATM was a Tyme Machine

I lived for a couple of years near Greenwich, Connecticut, and there the ATMs were called "timeless tellers."

Oh, and ajr, it's Oleo, which I believe is an abbreviation of the original name for margarine: oleomargarine.

10 Sep 2003 | David Mabury said...

Here in Memphis I've learned the wonderful phrase "home training" to describe all those lessons in social interaction that your mama taught you (or should've taught you) as a child at home.

Then there's "bless his heart" or "God love him," which is how polite Southerners say "to hell with him."

So if some guy is a complete jerk, you'd say, "Bless his heart, he doesn't have any home training."

10 Sep 2003 | Martin (BBC) said...

In Scotland, we call drinks like Coke and Pepsi 'ginger'. A can of Coke would be known as 'a can of ginger'.

In Scotland, fizzy drinks are also sold in glass bottles that have a cash value return (20 pence in UK money - roughly 40 cents) - these are known as 'ginger bottles'.

A street fight in Glasgow is known as a 'rammy'.

In my home in Scotland (roughly ten miles from Glasgow) a 'ginger bottle' is also known as a 'rammy' - and a poor person who purchases items with a return-value ginger bottle is known as a 'rammy-poo'.

Scotland is the only country in the world where Coke is not the number-one selling soft drink.

Barr's Irn Bru is the biggest-selling soft/fizzy drink in Scotland:

10 Sep 2003 | Brad Hurley said...

In some parts of Scotland, a sack lunch is called a "piece." I once stayed with some friends near Strontian, and they bewildered me on my first morning there by asking if I would like a "piece" to take with me on my hike.

10 Sep 2003 | Guy said...

Ok, some US to UK translations:

Sidewalk - Pavement
Faucet - Tap
Eggplant - Aubergine

I'm bound to think of some more soon...

10 Sep 2003 | Moe said...

I'm pretty sure that Minnesotans are the only ones who play a certain game called Duck, Duck, Gray Duck instead of the more common Duck, Duck, Goose.

10 Sep 2003 | mike m said...

I just made a very similar post last week on my website (the original posting is at about a survey conducted at Harvard where they had people answer questions about pronunciations, terms, etc they use based on where they live...

It has very cool breakdowns based on states, etc of what they call things or how they pronounce things... The original website is at

10 Sep 2003 | Matthew Aaron said...

I'm from Massachusetts, and it's all true. I'm very proud of all those regionalisms. Hailing from Cape Cod, I can let you know about another regionalism: "wicked." This positive adjective is very often coupled with "awesome" and seems to be a trend on the western side of Massachusetts only.

10 Sep 2003 | kev said...

in southern california, it's soda as well. i give my mother no end of shit now that we like in colorado and she's taken to calling it pop... one of the lamest words ever, at least in reference to soft drinks.

some not-so-glaring ones... in denver, you say highway instead of freeway (although freeway is making its way in), and you pronounce the letters in front of them : I-25, C-470, whereas in california, it's just "The 805, the 15, the 163" etc. when i was in high school in california, you said "cute girl" and i was appalled to hear that in denver's suburbs, it turned into the much more annoying "hot chick."

i've also heard east-coasters say "when waiting on line for a movie" whereas everywhere i've lived in the west (san diego and denver) it's "waiting in line."

10 Sep 2003 | Brad Hurley said...

Wicked awesome! I miss hearing that (I lived in the Boston area for 10 years).

When I was a kid, the analogous expression we used was "boss." Like, "wow, that's boss."

On pronunciation: if you say the letters P-S-E-S quickly, you now know how Bostonians pronounce "pierced ears."

10 Sep 2003 | old timer said...

Tillie was the name of ATM system for C&S bank long ago (which had a cool logo). I remember people called ATMs "Tillies" for a long time even after the bank became NationsBank

10 Sep 2003 | kev said...

brad, i believe "awesome" pronounced "oowh-sum" is a new jersey thing as well. i have fond memories of a friend who said that all. the. time.

i moved here saying "rad" and "hella" which were frowned upon by my small group of friends. "punk" to me in so-cal meant dyed blonde hair, skater clothes and pennywise. punk in denver's misaligned suburbs, i found, meant spiked hair, tight pants and piercings, and op ivy. my friend from another part of california has mentioned they used to add "zzz" to the beginning of something if they didn't mean it. "that was zzzzzrad, dude." i'm sure i'll come up with more.

10 Sep 2003 | Jase said...

Here in California, everyone I know uses the term "soda," so I guess "pop" stops somewhere near the state border.

Some people call the evening meal "dinner" and for others it's "supper." (It's the former with everyone I know locally, but the latter where I was raised.) Another one: The thing on the front/back of vehicles that I've always heard referred to as a "license plate" in the West and Midwest is apparently called a "tag" in the South.

Living with an Alabamian for 10 years, I've had many laughs at some wildly different terminology between Northerners and Southerners. But, after 10 years, he now uses "Coke" to mean the actual Coca Cola product and "soda" for the general class of bubbly stuff. Of course, I switched from "pop" to "soda," so we're even. :)

10 Sep 2003 | Thumper said...

Oleo is a term some use for margarine, not Crisco.

10 Sep 2003 | Stefanie Noble said...

I would refine "west of Utica, NY" to, at least, west of Syracuse, NY or possibly even Rochester. Being "of the area", I can safely say that I never hear people say "pop". It's always "soda".

My other favorite is the sub/hero/hoagie/grinder/po'boy/etc., which is often known as a michigan in northern portions of NY.

10 Sep 2003 | Benjy said...

Having grown up in Chicago, I still find myself calling ATMs "Cash Stations."

I've also found it interesting here in Chicago how we call all the highways by their names instead of numbers, even on the traffic reports. It's not I-94, I-55, etc. but instead the Kennedy, the Stevenson, the Eisenhower, the TriState. I've lived here for 20 of my 26 years and I'm still not sure what numbers go with what names...

10 Sep 2003 | Brad Hurley said...

would refine "west of Utica, NY" to, at least, west of Syracuse, NY

Yeah, I debated about that...I actually had Syracuse in my first draft but I lived in Herkimer for two years and I'm pretty sure I remember hearing someone in Utica or Rome refer to it as "pop." I'm think people in Rochester use "pop" and I know people in Buffalo do. To me, the definition of "the midwest" is the line where people start calling it "pop."

10 Sep 2003 | JF said...

I've also found it interesting here in Chicago how we call all the highways by their names instead of numbers, even on the traffic reports. It's not I-94, I-55, etc. but instead the Kennedy, the Stevenson, the Eisenhower, the TriState. I've lived here for 20 of my 26 years and I'm still not sure what numbers go with what names...

I thought I was the only one! I agree, this is confusing.

10 Sep 2003 | David Mabury said...

Soft drinks in the mid-South are "cokes." If you order a coke at a restaurant, they'll ask what kind. Then you say "Diet Coke" or "Mountain Dew" or whatever. Coca-Cola itself is "regular coke."

Only people with no home training order Pepsi, bless their hearts.

10 Sep 2003 | Tibloto said...

I grew up outside Chicago, and I always brought my lunch to school in a paper "bag." I went to college in Iowa, and it took me a while to stop smirking every time a store clerk asked me if I wanted a "sack."

10 Sep 2003 | Graham Hicks said...

In Pittsburgh they also call rubber bands "gum bands."

And they often leave out the words "to be," so instead of "my car needs to be washed" it's "my car needs washed."

Silly yinzers.

10 Sep 2003 | Steven said...

And does anyone not from the South know what a "glove box" is?

My wife (who grew up in the Army, though both her parents are from the South) still laughs at me for saying "washing powder" instead of "detergent" for the powdery stuff used to wash clothes. And don't get me started on "fixin' to"!

10 Sep 2003 | the poster formerly known as fajalar said...

The only one I can think of, growing up in Alaska, is "Outside." That is the term for everything outside of Alaska, but generally refers to the "Lower 48."

For "turn signal" I grew up calling it a "blinker." One other interesting one: Catwalk. This was the term we all used growing up to describe a pop-a-wheelie, or wheelie. I am sure I have heard it called something else. It was riding a bike on the back wheel, with the front wheel up in the air (description for those who haven't heard the other terms).

To tie this into design and usability, visiting with users is an important thing to do because you get to hear how they term the work they do. On a recent visit, I kept hearing the term "Work Object" used by the users. But the Business Analysts called it an "Application." Work Object may or may not be a design point in the new system, but it was interesting to note.

And, oh yeah, in Alaska houses are igloos, and dogs are polar bears. ;P

10 Sep 2003 | Rich said...

In the UK (particularly England) we go to 'university' to get a degree, not to 'college'. College over here is somewhere you go to study when you're 16-18 years old.

And we would describe Grand Central Station as a 'railway station' as opposed to a 'train station' or 'railroad stop' or whatever the term in North America might be.

10 Sep 2003 | dayvin said...

Growing up in Connecticut, it was parking garages. Now, living in the Mid-Atlantic, it's parking decks.

I think "wait on line" might just be a New York thing. Everybody I know back home uses "in line."

10 Sep 2003 | Brad Hurley said...

The only one I can think of, growing up in Alaska, is "Outside."

But don't you also refer to snowmobiles (called "Ski-doos" in some parts of the country) as "snow machines"?

10 Sep 2003 | Matthew Oliphant (formerly fajalar) said...

But don't you also refer to snowmobiles (called "Ski-doos" in some parts of the country) as "snow machines"?

Oh right! I forgot about that. I haven't lived there in 5 years, and most of that stuff is so innate that it is difficult to think of specific terms.

I just remembered another one. "Got any tape," means got any duct tape.

10 Sep 2003 | Heather said...

One I don't often see mentioned - corner stores in Boston are called 'spas'. You might say corner store, but the name above the door says "___ Spa" - Medford Spa, Vinnie's Spa, etc. The door is always on the corner, never the front or side (hence 'corner store' I assume)

I've lived here all my life and I've never known where it comes from.

For Lucky - my friends and family always use to call flip-flops 'thongs', but maybe it's not a regional thing? Until thongs came to mean underwear - now they're flip-flops.

10 Sep 2003 | Mike said...

Brad, you lived in Herkimer?


Haha, I grew up around the Utica, NY area, graduated from Whitesboro HS... and gladly say things like "dude, that's wicked awesome", "that's hot", "Do you have any soda?"

All my friends are like that, the wicked awesome thing definitely extends into Upstate NY right on into the Utica/Rome region.

My lifetime goal is to take a vacation to the part of the country where they call carbonated syrup "coke", no matter what kind it is. Lemme give you an example:

Waitress: "What can I get you to drink tonight?"
Me: "Um... I think I'll have a coke"
Waitress: "What kind of coke do you want?"
Me: "Sprite"

Priceless ;)

Oh, to try and clear up the "pop" and "soda" specifications from a true Upstate New Yorker, the term soda extends right on through Upstate NY along I-90 into Rochester.

I can personally attest to Pennsylvanians leaving out the words "to be" ALL THE TIME.

"The siding needs warshed" -> "The siding needs to be washed"

10 Sep 2003 | Brad Hurley said...

One I don't often see mentioned - corner stores in Boston are called 'spas'.

And dry-cleaners or laundry services are often called "cleansers" instead of "cleaners."

Brad, you lived in Herkimer?

Actually I lived across the river in Mohawk, but I went to HCCC for two years, in their environmental science program. That was a long time ago...1978-79.

10 Sep 2003 | COD said...

Here in DC, the interstate bypass (I-495) is called the "beltway." I've never heard that term used for a road anywhere else. And they don' talk in terms of directions either. You're on either the inner or outer beltway. It's takes quite a while living here to understand a traffic report!

10 Sep 2003 | Michael Spina said...

That's how Philadelphia is. The Schyulkill and the Blue Route are the major highways, but you'll never see a sign for either.

10 Sep 2003 | aliotsy said...

in california, it's just "The 805, the 15, the 163"

Actually, it gets more regional than that. In SoCal, they call it "the 5," but up here in NorCal (Sacramento area, anyways), it's "I-5, I-80, etc."

10 Sep 2003 | Ben Langhinrichs said...

Here in Cleveland, everyone seems to say "on accident" when what they mean is "by accident", or at least that is what we said in Buffalo, NY and later in Philadelphia. Very disconcerting.

10 Sep 2003 | Corey Miller said...

A little offtopic, but I grew up and lived until recently in Chicago, and I've always had trouble explaining this to people:

Besides the fact that the Kennedy and Dan Ryan and physically the same road, which is confusing enough, directionally they're labelled a little bizarrely also. From Chicago one takes the Kennedy (travelling virtually straight north parallel to the lake) WEST to Wisconsin. And one drives south from the city on the Dan Ryan Eastbound toward Indiana.

10 Sep 2003 | brian said...

in california, it's just "The 805, the 15, the 163"

Actually, it gets more regional than that. In SoCal, they call it "the 5," but up here in NorCal (Sacramento area, anyways), it's "I-5, I-80, etc."

Even more regional yet. In the bay area it's just the number. "Take 101 to 280 to 880" But the state highways are referred as Highway 17, Highway 1, Highway 9 etc.

10 Sep 2003 | One of several Steves said...

Actually, pop is pretty much a midwest thing. Up and down the west coast, it's primarily soda. Someone already mentioned "coke" as the generic term in the south.

Interesting things on highways: I've lived in Chicago and Southern California (where I am now) and I quickly became accustomed to calling things the Kennedy, Ike (it's rarely even the Eisenhower, but some old-timers still call it the Congress), etc. No in LA, I call everything the 5. When I was living in Minneapolis, it was just 94, 35-W, etc. In Texas, I noticed, it's always I-10, I-35, etc.

In Chicago, everything in Illinois outside Chicago is "downstate," even places like Rockford that are further north.

In Minneapolis, you went "up north" for the weekend. That was pretty much any place in the state, with the exception of straight south. (And I wasn't aware that Minnesota was the only place it was duck, duck, gray duck.)

I'm not sure where the breakdowns are, but in someplaces in the States it's a paper bag, and in others it's a paper sack.

Sofa, couch, davenport.

UK/US: lorry/truck, pram/baby carriage (or stroller), air con/AC (for air conditioning), spanner/wrench, torch/flashlight.

And Americans are the freaks when it comes to the last letter of the alphabet. Every other English-speaking country calls it "zed."

10 Sep 2003 | Dane Carlson said...

In Southern California, they call San Francisco "Frisco" whereas in Northern California we call it "The City."

10 Sep 2003 | One of several Steves said...

Actually, I hear San Francisco referred to as "SF" more than anything down here.

A corollary to regional expressions is regional pronunciations. I challenge anyone not from Minneapolis (where I grew up) to pronounce these "correctly": Wayzata, Nicollet, Nokomis - hell, even Minneapolis isn't pronounced the way it's spelled.

10 Sep 2003 | Brad Hurley said...

A corollary to regional expressions is regional pronunciations

This is another one where Massachusetts serves as a good example. There's a town called Woburn that's pronounced "Wooburn," and a whole slew of towns whose names end in "ham" that are pronounced inconsistently. On Cape Cod there's Eastham, in which the second syllable is pronounced "ham" as in sliced ham, while just down the road there's Chatham, which is pronounced "Chat'm." Waltham is pronounced like Eastham, but Dedham is pronounced like Chatham.

And then there's Worcester, which is pronounced Wustah or sometimes Woostah, and Leominster, which is pronounced "Lehminstah"

It was always fun to listen to out-of-state news announcers and disk jockeys mangle the pronunciation of those town names.

10 Sep 2003 | Wesley said...

In the hollows of Appalachia where I grew up, rather than drive grandma to church, we'd carry her, and instead of hitting keys or typing, we mashed buttons.

Anything from a can that wasn't alcoholic was still a fountain drink, and if you were lucky enough to have access to paved interstate, you simply referred to it as The Big Road.

10 Sep 2003 | Nathan said...

My girlfriend, who is from southern Texas, told me she was going to "make a pallet" for the kids. It took me about 10 minutes and 50 questions to realize that she was putting a blanket on the floor for the kids to lie on.

10 Sep 2003 | Michael Brunetto said...

Also close to Boston is the town of "Summavull", or Somerville to those of you not from the area. And it could just be me, but I found that the term 'kid' is fairly common as a generic term for the person you are talking to:

Summavull Townie #1: Kid, did you go to that kegga last night?

Summavull Townie #2: Kid, it was wicked pissa. I drank like 12 beers kid....

I have found that 'Wicked Pissa' is a common term witht he Jocks here in Massachusetts.

10 Sep 2003 | Benjy said...

I just thought of one from my years living in the South. Whereas we yankees call it a grocery cart, southerners call them buggies.

10 Sep 2003 | One of several Steves said...

Ah, another one: In the UK, trolley. In the States, cart (or, buggy, apparently).

10 Sep 2003 | Keir said...

As posted above the UK has many regionalisms. The one that springs to my mind are the terms to describe the humble bread roll. Depending on your locality this can be referred to as a roll, cob or bap. What doesn't change is the reaction you get when you come out with the wrong term, normally one of hilarity on the part of the local!!!

10 Sep 2003 | RS said...

What Chicagoans call the expressway is called 'the I' or the Interstate in southern Wisconsin.

10 Sep 2003 | Mike said...

This might be a community thing, but myself, my family and all of my friends (Upstate NY) pronounce complimentary and elementary with the long 'a' sound on "ary"...

"ELL - uh - MENT - air - ee"
"COMP - leh - MENT - air - ee"

Am I just weird or can others attest for this as well?

10 Sep 2003 | sn said...

Growing up in the SF Bay area, we always said "soda pop" until eventually it got shortened to just "soda."

I think the strangest regionalism I've heard is that in North Carolina a brown lunch bag is called a "poke."

Living in NYC now, I always have to explain the word "bodega" (for little corner grocery) to my family in California.

One thing I miss from CA: calling freeways by just numbers. (I-5, 680, etc.) Here in New York each freeway has multiple names and it can get damned confusing.

10 Sep 2003 | eleven47 said...

St. Louis Area Regionalism - pronounce "or" like "ar"

Highway 44 = Highway Farty-Far
fork = fark
or = are
corn = carn
George = Garge
shorts = ...I think you get the point

"Garge, do want to get those sharts in a size farty, are a farty-far?"

And if you're Catholic, this is what you hear on Sunday mornings...."(priest)...We pray to the Lard.....(crowd)....Lard hear our Prayer."

It seems like you only contract this accent after you turn 30. You never hear some kid in elementary school with it. It's my goal in life NOT to succumb to the St. Louis accent. :)

10 Sep 2003 | Eccentric Gardener said...

Highway 44 = Highway Farty-Far

Speaking of farty-far (sort of). Our kids' babysitter called it "puffing a fluff" when one of the kids passed gas. I don't necessarily think that's a regionalism, though, just local or familial weirdness.

And on a related note, I'm glad to see that we haven't spiraled down into posting about regionalisms for body parts. Although...

10 Sep 2003 | ChrisShaddock said...

Being rather new to Edmonton - Gaunch instead of underwear confused me for a while. A friend of mine came up with "titch" witch we use when we worked in the kitchen as a unit of abstract measurement. A titch of salt or are you drunk? Just a titch!

11 Sep 2003 | One of several Steves said...

One thing I miss from CA: calling freeways by just numbers. (I-5, 680, etc.) Here in New York each freeway has multiple names and it can get damned confusing.

Must be a northern CA/southern CA thing again. Down here, you hear San Diego Freeway as often as the 405, the Long Beach Freeway as the 710, etc.

The fun thing is that the San Diego Freeway doesn't go to San Diego.

11 Sep 2003 | Brian Peddle said...

In response to Michael and Somerville ...

The term, 'kid' is pretty common in Somerville, Everett, Malden, Saugus, Medford, Charlestown and the like.

It is used more often when talking about someone with your friends.

Brian: You know Robbie?
Alan: Yeah, he is a good kid.

Robbie could be 40 years old - he still is a kid. My wife is from the south and I would always use that term and she thought I was hanging around with 8 year olds.

For the full breakdown of Boston terms visit:

11 Sep 2003 | One of several Steves said...

Just thought of another one. In Minnesota, a dish that's served in a casserloe is not called a casserole. It's a hot dish. That one always drove me nuts. Growing up around there, it also drove me crazy if people asked me, "Can you borrow me a couple bucks for lunch?"

11 Sep 2003 | Mathew said...

If you travel down the east coast of Australia, your swimming costume might be called togs, cossies, swimmers, bathers, sluggos and more. The less refined might go with "budgie smugglers".

And obviously remote regional areas are called 'outback' here.

11 Sep 2003 | Mathew said...

Oh, and if you are an American (particularly a woman) and talking to Australians, you don't want to mention how you "root for" whatever team. Not the same meaning at alll....

11 Sep 2003 | Brad Hurley said...

Oh, and if you are an American (particularly a woman) and talking to Australians, you don't want to mention how you "root for" whatever team.

Likewise, when traveling in Ireland you don't want to ask for a "ride" when what you really want is just a "lift." Otherwise you might get more than you bargained for.

11 Sep 2003 | Stefanie Noble said...

Hee. Herkimer is all over the place here. I was born in Syracuse, but I grew up in Herkimer and lived there since about 2 years old until going to college. So much has changed there in the past few years.

11 Sep 2003 | kev said...

re: one steve: they must just be named after the same guy. but it does go to san diego if you take it to the 5. :) also, that main lane running down the 405 in places is called the carpool lane. in denver, they're called (for unfathomable reasons) the HOV lane. I still have yet to figure that one out..nicknamed by some the "Lexus Lanes" because the local government was considering making them toll instead of carpool.

11 Sep 2003 | Mike said...


Ya it has, we've got an Applebees now, a massive Wal-Mart (largest in the area), and lots of old Italian people... oh wait... we had that before ;)

11 Sep 2003 | scottdye said...

Being from the South, I have always said "Coke" for any carbonated beverage. And I was always under the impression that Northerners said either "Soda" or "Pop".

When I went to Michigan to visit my Fiances family, they kept trying to mock me by asking me if I wanted a "Soda", because they thought that's what Southerners called it instead of "pop"!

I was very confused...I understood the sarcasm in their voice, but couldn't understand how they were trying to make fun of me using a Northern term...

11 Sep 2003 | jedrek said...

Regionalisms are really widespread here in Europe. Poland, which is the size of New Mexico, has a lot of regional terms in almost every major city. The west has a lot of german (and german-sounding) words, the east is more influenced by russian. Don't get me wrong, we all understand each other - but a lot of times, you're asking for clarification.

11 Sep 2003 | mick said...

In Cincinnati we say "please?" instead of "huh" or "what did you say?"

11 Sep 2003 | Brad Hurley said...

Mike, if you go over to Mohawk and look for 37 Main Street, and then look down the driveway, you'll see my old apartment: it's a filthy old cement block garage with four rooms on top. I shared it with three other guys, and it was a pit.

11 Sep 2003 | Mr eel said...

A few from Australia. Apologies if any of these have been mentioned. There are so many comments to comb through :)

The evening meal is often referred to as tea. "C'mon it's tea-time".

Telephone poles are known as stobie poles.

Coke et al are called soft drinks.

Ahhh, the ute. Shorted from utility. It's a type of car.

Dollars described as bucks, smackers, and my dad's favourite; skins.

Pavement/side-walk = foot path.

Hell... more I probably use each day, but just can't remember.

11 Sep 2003 | JFR said...

In Chicago, God is pronounced D-I-T-K-A.

11 Sep 2003 | JFR said...

Cheeseheads call the DRINKING FOUNTAIN a "bubbler".


11 Sep 2003 | Brian Peddle said...

It is called a bubbler in Massachusetts as well. But it appears it did originate out there:

11 Sep 2003 | DrStrangelove said...

JFR: Very funny... And God's second in command is "King Daley the Second".

11 Sep 2003 | DrStrangelove said...

I grew up and have lived in Chicago my entire life, so here's my two cents:

Chicagoland -- as childish as it sounds, refers to Chicago and its suburban sprawl

Des Plaines -- the "s" is not silent

The thing over your head is pronouced "rough" not "roof".

One waits "in line", not "on line" or "queued."

Since most of the big highways in Chicagoland are some form of "90", using their names is more explicit. Believe it or not, 294, 90, 94, 90/94, and 194 (out of O'Hare) are all different roads.

Highways that are even-numbered (90) run east-to-west (and vice-versa), even if they run north-to-south near the Loop.

11 Sep 2003 | Ben said...

11 Sep 2003 | nancy homemaker said...

Technically oleo is the name for any fat use for cooking that is solid at room temperature. So rendered fat, butter, margarine, Crisco. or lard.

11 Sep 2003 | Mike said...


Weird how such a small town could be the interconnector between two random people who visit the 37svn blog lol.

If you go across the bridge into Herkimer, take a right at the fourth light (S. Bellinger St.), go straight past the stop sign, my house is the 5th on the left lol.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Herkimer or Mohawk (NY), anywhere you want to go and anything you want to do in these two towns is within walking distance ;)

I think one of the few claims to fame for the area is that HCCC (Herkimer County Community College) is continuously ranked #1 in the country for Junior College soccer and lacrosse. The next town over, Ilion, has one of the few remaining Remington Arms manufacturing plants which has kept the village afloat all these years.

Also, if you want a quick map based off of Ben's link, check out this carbonated-beverage regionalism map generated by Matt Campbell its great!

11 Sep 2003 | Zac Wasielewski said...

Mike, Ill vouch for you on the elementary/complementary thing. Im from Upstate NY (a bit north of Utica) and Ive never heard anyone pronounce it any way except "airy." Except for on TV. I always assumed it was a British thing to do otherwise.

Very cool to see other SVN readers who live (or have lived) somewhat nearby. Ive never lived in Mohawk or Herkimer, but I've been to both at least a million times. Any chance youve heard of Holland Patent?

Matthew, Brad: around here, youre most likely to hear a snowmobile referred to as a regular old sled - depending on how far back into the woods you go. ;)

11 Sep 2003 | Brad Hurley said...

Mike, that map is amazing, and what's even more amazing is that someone(s) took the time to create it.

11 Sep 2003 | One of several Steves said...

HOV lane = High Occupancy Vehicle lane

11 Sep 2003 | kirkaracha said...

They're also called "HOV lanes" in acronym-friendly Washington, DC, but in San Francisco (sometimes referred to as "SFO," from the airport code) they're called "diamond lanes," from the symbols on the roadway.

How about 32-ounce bottles of beer? We called them "bumpers" in northern Virginia.

11 Sep 2003 | Mike said...

Zac, have I heard of Holland Patent? Sure have, I graduated from Whitesboro ('01) so we played them in all the sports, I'm trying to remember some names from the area but they seem to be escaping me lol.

Even though Upstate NY rarely breeds a web-conscious person because of the extreme lack of technology companies in the area, its fantastic to find some people that read SvN and have remotely heard of Utica, let alone live near it ;)

11 Sep 2003 | Mike said...

Brad, as soon as this SvN entry was posted, I knew that I had seen an unbelievable map about the "soda" vs. "pop" controversy somewhere, but for the life of me couldn't remember the url. Its a good thing Ben posted it because I was going crazy lol.

12 Sep 2003 | ~bc said...

Being a relative newcomer to Boston, I can't say I've heard of of almost any of those regionalisms in current use. Except for kid, wicked, pissah. Spa is a term from Europe, I'm pretty sure, and we've certainly had a few Euro immigrants 'round here. It took me a while to learn to pronounce any town name. I've learned *how* to figure out how to say things before hearing them: just say the towns name as fast and loose as you can. Example: "Peabody." The whole world calls it "PEE-body," pretty simple. Growin up in CT, the middle of the state pretty much sounds like the people who deliver the national news, so we think we speak American-English correctly. But silly me! There's no "body" in Peabody. It's obviously "PEE-bdee" Or WoooooBern (Woburn), or WUUh-steh (Worcester), or I'm still comfused on Waban: WAH-BAH-N? Lemonster? That's spelled Leominster. And the *hams? Dedham=DeadM. I needed to take a freakin class.

One thing I was used to was the 'Pike. I'm surprised no one has mentioned "Turnpike" as a highway. In CT I-95 was once called The CT Turnpike, I take the NJ Turnpike to see my fam, and on that, I pass the PA Turnpike.

12 Sep 2003 | Nathan said...

I spent a year teaching English at a bilingual elementary school in central Honduras with another central Texan and two young ladies from England. We soon realized that in order to understand one another, we'd need an English-English dictionary to complement our English-Spanish ones (or perhaps, and English-American one).

At the time that I left, we'd accrued nearly 70 entries, including words that were used exclusively in our respective regions and for which there was no ready translation. Unfortunately I no longer have the dictionary, but I recall the following (American / English):

diaper / nappy
truck / lorry
elevator / lift
line / queue
eraser / rubber
trash / rubbish
closet / wardrobe
apartment / flat
bathroom / loo, toilet, W.C.
proctor / invigilate (for exams)
candy / lollies
crossing guard / lollipop lady
police / bobbies
stroller / trolley
trunk / boot
cigarette / fag
planning period (meeting) / spare
horny / randy
drunk / pissed
pants / trousers
underwear / knickers
suspenders / braces
fight / row
tests / exams
backpack / rucksack
garter belt / suspenders
"do you think" / "do you reckon"
check marks / ticks
grades / marks
crackers / biscuits
french fries / chips
chips / crisps
theater / cinema
movies / films
field / pitch
college courses / college papers

...and a few others that have already been mentioned.

In my area of Texas, it's only natural to use "fixin' to" to denote an action that is about to occur, as in:

"The sun's fixin' to go down."

12 Sep 2003 | Brad Hurley said...

Another thing about Texans is that I've noticed many of them pronounced the word "mischievous" as "miss-CHEEV-ee-us" instead of "mischivus." I've also heard that pronunciation in other southern/southwestern states, and even once from an old farmer in New York, who had lots of odd expressions like:

"he was so dumb, he couldn't piss a hole in the snow if a dog started it for him."

"he was shiverin' and shakin' worse than a hound dog shittin' razor blades on an electric fence"

"her mouth moves faster than a whipporwill's ass in berry season."

14 Sep 2003 | Leon said...

Weird. "Poke" isn't just understood by people from North Carolina; a poke is a bag in Scotland as well.

"A pig in a poke is concealed in a sack from the buyer. The noun pokemeaning a bag or sackdates from the 14th century in English. In many parts of Scotland poke means a little paper bag for carrying purchases or a cone-shaped piece of paper for an ice-cream cone. The Oxford English Dictionary gives similar forms in other languages: Icelandic poki, Gaelic poc or poca, and French poche." says Bartleby. Also, a "piece" is any sandwich, really.

"Youse" isn't just an Irish-derived Bostonian thing; it's also pretty common in Scotland. That said, i don't know whether it originated in Scotland, was trasnferred to Ireland by immigration, and hence to America, or whether it started in Ireland and made its way to Scotland via immigration, since there was substantial traffic in both directions for most of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Best insult in Glasgow for someone who you think is being an idiot: "ya nugget."

As for chip shops... in England you ask for, say, "sausage and chips" or "fish and chips." In Scotland, it's "sausage supper" or "fish supper." If you just want something without chips, then it's a single. I.e. a "single fish" or a "single sausage" (which is, confusingly, actually two sausages, unless you live in Edinburgh, where they're a bit stingy).

Oh, and this is more of an accent thing than a regional terms thing, but in Dundee, people don't say "I" or "Aye," the say "Eh". Hence, a pie becomes a peh. And you might say "Eh'm goin' doon the shops."

14 Sep 2003 | Brad Hurley said...

Youse" isn't just an Irish-derived Bostonian thing; it's also pretty common in Scotland.

Not surprising, since I'm pretty sure Scots Gaelic also has a plural form of "you," which would translate directly into English as "youse." Probably all the Gaelic languages (Scots, Welsh, Breton, Irish, Manx) have it.

15 Sep 2003 | One of several Steves said...

The linguist part of me wants to point out one nitpick: technically speaking English does have a plural pronoun for the second person. It's "you".

Oddly enough, everyone thinks of "thou" as horribly formal these days, but in reality it was the informal singular form of you in early modern English (modern English, for linguistic purposes, is considered to be from about Shakespeare on). It was the equivalent to "tu" in French or "du" in German. "You" was the polite and plural form, equivalent to "vous" in French and "Sie/ihre" in German (German has a polite form that covers singular and plural, and an informal plural form).

Eventually the plural/formal "you" came to be used in all cases, leaving us now with no good plural form. Although, interestingly, y'all is becoming more widespread in American English. It's one of the few cases of southern dialect words infusing northern speech.

16 Sep 2003 | TL said...

When I was in college there was a band called Gapers' Block.

Nobody from the East coast ever seemed to know what it meant.

If only they had been called the RubberNeckers...

19 Sep 2003 | Joe said...

I'm from Missouri. I think it's interesting that the west side of the state (mainly Kansas City) calls a soft drink "pop", while the east side of the state (including St. Louis and the southeast, where I'm originally from) calls it "soda." Most states north of here refer to it as "pop." However, Arkansas and many states in the South call it "Coke," no matter what brand it is.

20 Sep 2003 | Natalie said...

I'm working on a research paper "Lexical & stylistical peculiarities of regionalisms (west coast)". If you guys know some more of the terms or some interesting expressions spread in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Ca mostly, that would be a great help for me :)
By the way, i enjoy this forum. I've got so much cool info already!!!!!
Brad., thanks for starting it!

21 Sep 2003 | Martian said...

Here in Canada, there is a difference between College and University. Universities are post secondary institutions that have the traditional programs that "College's" in the States have. Colleges in Canada don't offer full degrees and are often used as stepping stones to University.

23 Sep 2003 | Ken said...

In Cleveland, Ohio, the patch of grass between the sidewalk and the street is known as the "tree lawn" regardless of whether there are trees on it or not.

In many places in the midwest, when parking your car in a large parking lot you park in a "structure" or a "ramp" while in the east and south, you would park in a "garage."

19 Dec 2003 | diseo web said...

here, we call the coke, coca cola :D ...

31 Jan 2005 | compatelius said...

bocigalingus must be something funny.

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