America Week 2015

The Best Regional Slang Words From Around the Country

We as a nation have embraced all kinds of dumb slang, from "swag" to "hepcat." (Never mind, hepcat is awesome.) But some words never get out of specific pockets of America, where they easily weed out the locals from the transplants. Because we have an affinity for funny words and inside jokes, we rounded up a few of our favorites from all over the US. Brush up on your vocab before joining us at the "pre-funk."
 

Jawn

Philadelphia, PA
What it means: Almost anything. "Jawn" could be a person (i.e. "I was talking to this jawn..."), a song (i.e. "You hear that new Drake jawn?"), or even a collapsed building (i.e. this real news story).
Should we all start using it? Only if we want to confuse the hell out of the general public.

Bubbler

Wisconsin
What it means: A drinking fountain. The name supposedly comes from the local Kohler Co., which made fountains with a "bubbling valve" in the middle of the bowl in 1915. People started calling the things "bubblers," and the term was soon applied to any drinking fountain. (Also, while this is mostly a WI word, it pops up in Portland and pockets of New England as well.)
Should we all start using it? It's shorter and more whimsical than "water fountain," so sure, why not!
 

Cattywampus

The South
What it means: All out of sorts, askew, craaaazy.
Should we all start using it? If it's good enough for Mr. Krabs, it's good enough for us.
 

Pre-funk

Pacific Northwest
What it means: Pre-game. As in, drinking before another event that likely involves more drinking.
Should we all start using it? Obviously the rest of the country already has a word for that, but "funk" is more appealing than "game," so let's go for it.
 

Tump (over)

Texas
What it means: To tip, fall, or spill over. While some people peg this term solely to Texas, it also has a big following in Arkansas and other Southern states.
Should we all start using it? It is kinda funny that it's practically an onomatopoeia of the action (thump), and since we've been hung up on onomatopoeia since that one spelling bee, we're going to say yes.
 

Shoots

Hawaii
What it means: A general affirmative, like "yeah." Can be followed with "then" or "brah." One of the more all-purpose words from Hawaii's pidgin slang.
Should we all start using it? Shoots, brah.
 

Trixie

Chicago, IL
What it means: As we've previously explained, a "Trixie" is a former sorority sister who lives in Lincoln Park, organizes bar crawls, and dates a Chad (the male version of her).
Should we all start using it? It's incredibly specific to the area, so probably not. But you're welcome to try.

Leaf peepers

New England
What it means: Those tourists who come to take selfies with all the fall foliage. Sometimes it's used affectionately. Sometimes it's not.
Should we all start using it? The word "peepers" sounds downright filthy in any context, even if we're talking about trees. (Or the formal cat name, Mr. Peepers.) Please no.
 

Devil strip

Akron, OH
What it means: That little grassy area between the sidewalk and the street. One theory says the term was invented by West Virginian transplants who came to Akron to work the rubber factories. They told their kids the grass was the "devil's strip" so they wouldn't run out into the streets. Another theory maintains it was actually overworked WWII moms. They still supposedly made it up to scare their kids, though, so either way, dumb children are the root cause.
Should we all start using it? Yes. It'll make that very specific patch of grass so much more metal.
 

Ya mom’n’em

New Orleans, LA
What it means: Basically, your family. People will say, "How's ya mom'n'em?" instead of, "How are your folks?" You can also tell someone to, "Say hi to your mom'n'em for me," so go nuts, Mark Wahlberg.
Should we all start using it? It seems like a recipe for confusion, but also looks like fun to say. Maybe just bring it out on special occasions.
 

Upscuddle

Southern Appalachia
What it means: A loud fight.
Should we all start using it? If it's a serious brawl that demands intervention, then no, because everyone will laugh if you tell them the "upscuddle is getting out of hand." If it's not, by all means.
 

Pogonip

Nevada
What it means: A freezing fog that shows up in deep mountain valleys of the Western US. While Nevada tends to monopolize it as a term, you'll hear it in other parts of the West. Also, beware it.
Should we all start using it? Yes. It'll at least make talking about the weather more interesting.
 

Yinz

Pittsburgh, PA
What it means: A second-person plural pronoun. Think "y'all" or "youse guys" but with a "z."
Should we all start using it? People from Pittsburgh are awfully proud of this word, but it doesn't really sound anything like "you." It sounds more like a very small, shaky dog, and no one wants to be equated with a nervous Chihuahua.
 

Pinkletink

Massachusetts
What it means: A tiny frog. The little guy's known as a spring peeper (there's that word again) everywhere else.
Should we all start using it? Yes. We don't know how often specific amphibians come up in your everyday conversation, but seize every opportunity to casually drop the word "pinkletink."
 

Whoopensocker

Wisconsin
What it means: Something "extraordinary of its kind." That could mean a lot of things, but, as the Wall Street Journal noted, it's probably a big beer.
Should we all start using it? Are you kidding? It sounds ridiculous and can be used in bars. Yes. A thousand times yes.

Kristin Hunt is a staff writer for Thrillist, and can't read the word "jawn" without thinking of this. Follow her to alternate word readings at @kristin_hunt.