It’s no secret that Americans pride themselves on the unique culture of their home states. But just how much of that individuality boils down to differences in dialect? A new survey from the gaming company PlayNJ just might have the answer.
According to the survey, 41 percent of Americans claim that their state has specific words or slang that people from outside their state just wouldn’t understand. In fact, 72 percent of natives from one particular state (Louisiana) felt that their state’s language was often misunderstood by other Americans. (To be fair, with popular foods named “gumbo” and “jambalaya,” that’s a bit reasonable.) According to them, here are the top slang words for every state. And for more state-centric trivia, don’t miss The Strangest Law in Every State.
Alabama: “Hot minute”
Despite what you might believe, this term actually has nothing to do with temperature. It’s used describing a “longish” amount of time. For more fun facts specific to each state, check out The One Thing People in Every State Can’t Live Without.
This outlandish word is meant to make you feel like you have no idea what’s going on. Alaskans use it to describe the newbies to their state who know nothing about living in “The Last Frontier.”
This is the affectionate term Arizonans use to refer to their state’s wide-eyed visitors from the colder regions “up north.”
Trust us, you don’t want someone to call you this. It’s apparently reserved for people who display less-than-keen tendencies. (So: idiots.)
Bomb: something that’s really, really cool.
New to the slopes? This is what Coloradans call first-time skiers.
Like regular pizza, but better. The New Haven slang for everyone’s favorite Friday night take-out.
Delaware: “Baggin’ up”
An expression for when someone’s joke causes you to get a stitch in your side from laughing so hard.
You know tiny, annoying bugs that you swat at miserably but can never seem to lay eyes on? That’s a no-see-um.
No, this is not a peculiar type of Southern cuisine. “Chitlans” refer to your children.
Hawaii: “Shark bait”
All you SPF 70-users, this one goes out to you. “Shark bait” is what Hawaiians call tourists who are so pale that they just might attract the notice of area sharks when they brave the waves.
Idaho: “Potato drop”
The New Year ball drop, Idaho style. (Apparently involving an actual potato.)
Nope, not what you’re thinking. This is Illinois shorthand for a stretch of road—Lake Shore Drive, to be precise.
Someone who lives, breathes, and adores all things Indiana.
Iowa: “Pork queen”
A coveted title bestowed upon the winner of a state beauty pageant.
Kansas: “Get loaded”
The turn of phrase for when you visit your local bar and have a few too many.
Kentucky: “Hot brown”
An open-faced sandwich served piping hot and smothered in Mornay sauce, first created and served in a Louisville hotel circa 1920. (Mmm, scrumptious.)
Louisiana: “Pass a good time”
To partake in a good time. Mardi Gras, anyone?
Maine: “Get ‘er dun”
Described as a “redneck phrase” of encouragement, meant to inspire someone to go out and complete a task. And for more from our most eastern state, check out where you should visit based on the 50 Destinations So Magical You Won’t Believe They’re in the U.S.
Farther than a hop, skip, and a jump. Marylanders use this word to describe a distance longer than what they can comfortably travel.
Massachusetts: “It’s brick”
What you say if it’s very cold.
“Yooper” is what Michiganers call their fellow citizens who hail from the uppermost peninsula of the Great Lakes State.
Minnesota: “You betcha”
A much more fun way to say that you agree with someone’s statement.
No, this word has nothing to do with repairing a leaky faucet. Instead, it’s the standard substitution for the word “about,” as in “I’m about to do something.” Example: “I’m fixin’ to cook dinner.”
Missouri: “Put out”
Vernacular reserved for when you’re angry or annoyed with a situation.
Montana: “Cowboy up!”
No spurs or lassos involved here. This phrase simply means to pull yourself together and handle the situation in an adult manner.
Nebraska: “Red beer”
A special concoction of beer brewed with tomato juice. For extra pizazz, Nebraskans sometimes add a splash of hot sauce. And to learn about the best brews in each of the 50 states, see The Best Craft Beer In Every U.S. State.
No, not the bird. In true Las Vegas fashion, this describes a desperate attempt to throw money at one’s losses, hoping to turn them into a win by some stroke of fortune. If you want to boost your winnings, though, learn The Easiest Way to Double Your Money in Vegas.
New Hampshire: “XYZ”
Not-so-discreet instructions to double-check that your fly is zipped. (Translation: eXamine Your Zipper).
New Jersey: “Benny”
A quick, somewhat derogatory way to refer to all Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, and New York residents who invade the Jersey Shore during the summer months.
New Mexico: “Christmas”
No string lights or jolly, bearded old men associated with this word. Instead, “Christmas” describes what kind of chili you want with your meal—not just red chili or green chili, but both!
New York: “Deada**”
A word meant to emphasize that you’re being completely serious.
North Carolina: “Dime”
“Dime” is a descriptor for a very attractive person.
North Dakota: “Uff da!”
A catchy exclamation of puzzlement or concern.
An unpleasant word to describe a situation where you unflinchingly insult someone to his or her face.
A much quicker way to determine if someone has already eaten a meal. Translation: “Did you eat?” And for more of our state-related compilations, don’t miss The Best Joke Written About Every U.S. State.
A descriptor for expensive, high-value items.
No, not the Charlie Brown canine. This is what Pennsylvanians call those people who push the many foods they don’t like around and around in circles until it’s scattered across their plate; in other words, a picky eater.
Rhode Island: “Awful awful”
The opposite of awful, actually. The name of a delectable milkshake native to “The Ocean State.” (To make things painfully clear: milkshakes are the furthest thing from awful.)
South Carolina: “Chunk”
Slang meaning “to throw or toss an item.” Example: “Let me chunk this football to you.”
South Dakota: “Kattywampus”
A far more complicated way to describe something located in a diagonal direction. Can also mean when someone is very discombobulated.
Tennessee: “Meat and three”
A good old-fashioned Southern dinner, constituting a meat complemented by three side dishes.
The phrase for the final and most persuasive reasoning in an argument, packed with a Texas-sized punch.
The word to describe when you make a completely embarrassing spectacle of yourself.
A multi-use word to characterize someone who is a little slower—or just plain mean.
A whimsical expression to describe a distance rather than a location. Example: “See that mountain peak? It’s just over yonder.”
You might call it the pre-game, or pre-party, but Washingtonians shorten “pre-function” to “pre-funk” to refer to the drinking that occurs before attending another gathering.
West Virginia: “Peck”
A West Virginian word to illustrate a substantial amount.
A term that’s more noise than word and can be interjected without warning into any sentence.
What Wyoming natives dub their visitors from Colorado, in tribute to their neighboring state’s green-colored license plates. And for more fun facts about everyday speech and the intricacies it contains, don’t miss the 40 Everyday Slang Words That Were Invented Online.
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