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


12 responses to “Regional words

  1. Diana Nollen

    Southeast Iowans say:
    Breakfast, lunch, supper EXCEPT on Sunday, when it’s breakfast, dinner, supper
    Maid-rites (for loose-meat sandwiches)
    Crik (for creek, unless Creek is part of the title)
    Sack of groceries, bagged by baggers
    Warsh (until you move out of the area and get made fun of)

  2. Hi Diana
    I like yours. I played in Indian Crick in CR as a kid. Also graduated from WaRshington High there. HA.
    Yes maid-rites! We have one Maid-rite here in Loveland, CO but used to have two.
    Hope all is well at the Gazette.

  3. Woody Woodward

    Ask someone from the state of New York to define their strange, slang term, “going to make”. I remember this line, that probably few understood, was used by Daniel Stern in “City Slickers”. I will leave the interpretation to your New York friends.

  4. Thanks Woodman

  5. I grew up on the West Coast and we always said “soda pop.” How’s that for confusing!?

    A friend of mine from Michigan calls dumpsters, dipsy-dumpsters. Never heard that one before or since, but she claims Michiganders would know what she was talking about!

    I love this topic.

  6. I may have an answer for you on the dipsy dumpster. I think there was a company that made dumpsters (Dempsy), and the word may have gotten mispronounced over the years. I will have to go Google dempsy or dempsey after I shovel

  7. A few years ago someone sent me a web site that was a test. You were to answer the questions on how to pronounce words as to how you learned to pronounce them as a child. The test was very long, but in the end “they” could place me as being from eastern Iowa!

  8. Kris
    I wish I could see that survey. It sounds like it was about pronounciation of words. I got some replies on creek vs. crick, etc. One that I am still bad at is our old high school Warrrrrrshington. HA
    Thanks for reading my blog

  9. Here is one that I have heard a lot:

    catty-corner vs. kitty-corner(Chicago area)

    Both are taken from catercorner. I have always said catty-corner, and I’m pretty sure kitty-corner came about because of the animal (cat).

  10. Thanks Michael. Growing up in Iowa, I can relate. Others have mentioned creek vs. crick. My wife says garaJ and I say garage.
    Keep reading–I post twice a week.

  11. I once heard a woman from the East say that she had “landed out,” meaning she had arrived at a place. I’m from the Midwest and we always say, “ended up.” I’d love to hear more about this from other people’s experiences. I speculated at the time that “landing out” was something having to do with being from the coasts…there you literally come to the end of the land, which, of course, is not something we do in the center of the U.S.! Another interesting regional term is to stand “online,” whereas in the Midwest we stand “in line.” Is standing “online” now changing due to being online in the internet?

  12. Prariefields: No, “on line” (two words) is NOT because of the internet! It’s just a thing that New Yorkers (and those from the vicinity) say.