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Updated: October 16, 2019 @ 12:59 pm
The Northeast has a language all its own. Here are a few of the region’s more unique words and phrases.
The region isn’t particularly sinful, but in New England you’ll hear this word far more often than other parts of the country. It’s used interchangeably with “very” or “really.” Someone who just ran the Boston Marathon might say the race was “wicked hard” (or, more accurately, “wicked haahd”).
Better get used to hearing this if you ever visit Maine. It's a simple affirmative that means "yes." Just make sure you start it with a long "A" sound. Pronounce it with a short "A" (or, heaven forbid, an "I" sound), and you might get an eye roll from a Mainer.
If you’re getting directions from a Bostonian and you’re instructed to “bang a uey,” it means that you need to make a U-turn. But don’t just make that U-turn, bang it decisively. Otherwise you might miss the tip-off of the Celtics game.
No, not a carriage of the horse-drawn variety. We’re talking about a shopping cart. Some New Englanders refer to it as a “carriage” and load it up with Fenway franks, B&M brown bread, Cape Cod potato chips and other staples of grocery stores in the region.
A circular intersection, known as a roundabout in other parts of the country, is called a “rotary” in New England. Nice to see that the word is still being put into use somewhere now that rotary phones are virtually extinct.
In most of America it’s known as a drinking fountain, but in New England — and oddly, in Wisconsin, too – it’s referred to as a “bubbler.” Well, in Wisconsin it’s a bubbler. In New England it’s a “bubblah.”
If the Red Sox are losing 10-2 in the fifth inning, you might be tempted to grab the clicker and put something else on the television. Why waste an extra syllable calling it a “remote control”? You push a button, it clicks through the channels — it’s a “clickah.”
This is the term a lot of New Englanders use for a hospital gown (and you might hear it pronounced as “jawnie”). Although the term has uncertain origins, it might be connected to the open back of the gown, which provides easy access to “the john.”
Residents of New England tend to take colorful fall foliage for granted. The tourists who invade New England every autumn to take in the spectacular scenery are referred to (not flatteringly) as "leaf peepers," or sometimes just "leafers."
This word is now included in the Oxford English Dictionary, defined as “a term of contempt for a native or inhabitant of the state of Massachusetts.” Locally, the term is often used to describe an aggressive driver. A popular Massachusetts bumper sticker reads: “If you drove like a Masshole, you’d be home by now.”
This is a reference to a basement, usually worded in a way that describes where people are or where they should be. “If you kids ahh gonna make so much noise, go down sellah!”
In Massachusetts, a state trooper is often called “a statie.” Mind your speed on the turnpike, or you might be pulled over by a statie.
Marblehead is a coastal town of about 20,000 people located 18 miles north of Boston. We're sure the sunrises there are beautiful, but that's not what this expression is about. It's used to describe a moment of understanding. When a dense person finally grasps something after having it explained several times, a friend might exclaim, "Light dawns on Marblehead!"
Pay attention, inlanders, because ordering a milkshake in New England is tricky business. In fact, you probably don’t want to say “milkshake” when placing your order unless you just want milk with flavored syrup. If you want the blended ice cream treat, you’ll have to order a “frappe.” And the “e” is silent, by the way. It’s pronounced “frap.”
In some parts of the country, liquor stores have long been called "package stores" because of laws requiring that liquor and wine must be packaged after being purchased and could not be openly carried. In New England they're simply called "packies," and the term is associated with a quick visit to a liquor store: "I'm gonna make a packie run."
A time-saver for New Englanders ordering their morning coffee at Dunkin' Donuts or anywhere else, "coffee regular" means coffee with cream and sugar. Out-of-towners might mistakenly think "regular" means either "black" or "with caffeine," and they will be in for a surprise.
It's amazing how many different terms people on the East Coast have for a sub sandwich. In New York it's a "hero." In Philadelphia it's a "hoagie." In various other places it might be a "blimpie" or a "spiedie" or even a "zeppelin." In much of New England it's a "grinder," a word referring to either the slang term for an Italian dock worker or the fact that it took some rigorous chewing to break apart the hard bread of the sandwich.
This versatile interjection can be used to express enthusiasm ("That Bruins game was pissah!") or frustration ("George, you're a pissah"). In the former instance, it's often paired with "wicked" for maximum effect.
This expression is fairly common in New England, though it's more common in the eastern part of the region, and one survey indicated that it's used more often by women than men. In the local lexicon, it means the same thing as "so do" or "me too." This expression is a pleonasm: a phrase that uses more words than necessary to express an idea.
In other parts of the country it might be called "chili mac" or "macaroni and beef." New Englanders evoke Chinese cuisine when they enjoy this combination of elbow macaroni, ground beef and tomato sauce (cheese and onions optional).
What's in a hamburger? Ground beef. New Englanders make it easy and refer to ground beef as "hamburg." You're probably going to want some hamburg in your American chop suey.
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