Daily Archives: March 24, 2009

Regional words

Most of us know that various regions of the United States have different terms for the same thing. I was reminded of this when the local newspaper  did an article titled, “Americans say the strangest things.” It references the just completed book titled Dictionary of American Regional English. (Looks like it is available for sale at the online booksellers)


I guess I first became aware that people from other states or areas of the country labeled common items by different names when I enlisted in the Air Force. The one I remember most (and is mentioned in the newspaper) is “soda” verse “pop.” Growing up in Iowa, we drank bottles or cans of pop. My friends from the eastern U.S. called it soda. To us, soda had a dip of ice  cream in it. Now, in Colorado, I hear a mix because people have migrated here from all over. To confuse things, I also learned of an “egg cream.” This is chocolate syrup, milk and seltzer water.


Still on the subject of drinks, we also debated the word “malt”,or malted milk. This was a rare treat for us as kids. My buddies from the east part of the U.S.A. alluded to a frappe, which they considered similar. The web says a frappe is more like a fruit smoothie.


The newspaper article also listed the different terms for a submarine sandwich. Some call the same sandwich a “hero”, “hoagie” or “grinder.” It says in Florida, it is known as a Cuban sandwich. Where the po’ boy sandwich fits in is not clear to me. I guess most are too young to call it a “Dagwood” sandwich.

It seems some places use the term “bag” and others use “sack” for a container to hold or tote things. I was reminded of this when I worked in a grocery store. We were called baggers or bag boys (no girls allowed at the time) but some called this position a sacker. Somehow, I don’t like the word “caddy” to apply to the young men and women who do the same task.


I also found a discrepancy on the use for the carts used to hold groceries as I shop. I have heard them called “buggies”, which seems odd to me.


Lastly, the terms for our daily meals has blurred. I ate breakfast, lunch and supper growing up. As I traveled around, I found some called the noon meal or the evening repast dinner. Hmmm.

Share your regional terms or labels with us 

Flicrk indio1

Flicrk indio1