The Most 'Chicago' Things Chicagoans Say

Quizzical bartender surprised at bar guest
ABulash/Shutterstock (Edited)

You can tell a lot about a city by its common language. Chicagoans have cultivated their very own speech patterns through the kinds of questions we ask, what we nickname different parts of our city, and even the uniting phrases we repeat year after year to endure crappy weather and crappier playoff losses. Listen up and you’ll eventually hear your fellow citizens say the following.

"Chicago's actually safer than you would think.”

Like any city with more than with more than two stop signs, we've got crime issue. No one with any sense is proud of our "Chiraq" moniker, but it's not all a war zone.

"We can walk it."

It's just a couple, two, three blocks away, right? 15? Still not bad.

"I'm going down by... "

Rather than “I’m going down to” as in “I’m going down by City Hall to give Rahm a big hug.”

“What neighborhood are we in?”

Short of being a master cartographer, Chicago has enough hoods, sub-hoods, and community areas, a few with anecdotal boundary lines, to trip you up at times.

"[Expletive of choice], Bus Tracker."

As two no. 22 buses roll up 20 minutes later.

"[Even bigger expletive of choice], red light camera ticket!"

Still gonna contest it...

"Do you have a parking permit?"

Make nice with the residents of Wrigleyville... or anywhere else permit parking is at a premium.

"Should we take LSD?"

Google says Lake Shore Drive really would be much faster for this trip.

"Hop on the Dan Ryan."

Chicago expressways are usually known by their name, get 'em straight: the Dan Ryan (part of I-90 and I-94, then separately I-57), the Edens (I-94), the Stevenson (I-55), the Kennedy (1-90), and the Eisenhower or the Ike (I-290).

"This weather is nothing."

Often said to someone from outside the Midwest, by someone who moved here 10 years ago from Michigan. We're busting out the shorts and sandals at 35 degrees.

"Tom Skilling said it'll be warm this weekend!"

If chief meteorologist Tom Skilling says it'll be warm...THEN IT'LL BE WARM

"This isn't nearly as bad as the storm back in [furthest year back you can remember]."

The blizzards of 1967, 1979, 1999, 2011, and 2015 come to mind.

"Chicago’s got two seasons."

Yeah, yeah, we get it, winter and construction.

“Shovel your goddamn sidewalk”

Shovel shame is real. Everyone’s responsible, non-shovelers are on the same plane as dog poop-leavers.

"But the summers here are amazing."

Our summers really are as great as we say they are, plus it's really the only way we can rationalize the other 265 days of unreliable weather. Here, summer is spring, spring is winter, fall is nearly winter and winter is extreme winter.

"You’ve never tried Malört!?"

Love it or hate it, the gasoline tasting liqueur has a cult following. Chicago natives will get a certain look in their eye when they find a newbie who doesn't know any better willing to try the Malört-filled super soaker you’ve rigged up.

“This place is BYOB?!"

All of these restaurants will let me bring my own booze? Finding a BYOB ethnic eatery or cool new restaurant waiting on a liquor license is one of the great joys in life.

"Gimme a braht wit kraut.” ("You wanna canna pop wit dat?") “Yeah.”

Dat’s how you order at dis place.

“Nah, we had tacos for lunch, let’s do burgers.”

Part of a well-balanced diet.

Goofy man holding blowup doll
Flickr/Erin Nekervis (Edited)

"Which [insert recreational sport] league do you play in?"

Kickball, volleyball, softball, soccer, dodgeball... your athletic skills matter little here, it's all about the friendship and post-game flip cup, bro.

"The Taste used to be so much better."

Back in the good ol' days, people actually went to the Taste of Chicago festival.

"Is there a street fest going on?"

Give it a couple blocks.

"There's always next year."

Did any '80s flicks predict a 2016 Cubs championship by chance?

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Nicole Bruce is a contributing writer for Thrillist. She remembers her first shot of Malört like it was yesterday because the taste is still lingering. Give her a shout on Twitter at @nicoleabruce.