There is not enough time to get you up to speed to understand all of the nuances of Boston. So I will just concentrate on the verbiage you will hear on the street as you are lost wondering the streets because the signage completely sucks. Even the natives get lost because you never know where you are or all the new construction popping up that detours you into a one way, going the wrong way (of course).
*DO NOT ask someone a random person or bartender to repeat the phrase – Pahk the cah in Harhvad yad, (park the car in Harvard yard). We get it, we only have 25 letters in the alphabet. You talk funny to us and we don’t bring it up. And don’t try talking like you have a Boston accent, we can tell you are trying and no, it’s not working for you. If you think I have an attitude, please read my early post on Boston and it explains it all.
bang – to make a left turn (often, “bang a left”; also used often as “bang a U-ie” – make a U turn); sometimes used interchangeably with hang
barrel – trash can
The Basement – Filene’s Basement, a department store in Downtown Crossing, This store does not exist any more but many people still use it as a landmark
Beantown – Boston (never used by Bostonians unless we are making fun of visitors. If you want to blend, do not ever use it)
breakdown lane – right margin or shoulder on highways used for broken down vehicles.
bubbler [pron. bubblah] – water fountain, drinking fountain
The Cape – Cape Cod (there is a Cape Ann but when you hear some one say they ‘went to the Cape’ they are referring to Cape Cod. Cape Ann is just as beautiful)
chowdah [chowder] – New England clam chowder, or occasionally fish chowder. There is no other chowdah, so if you want that red Manhattan stuff, don’t even bother coming here.
The Common – Boston Common. There is only one Common. If you are getting directions, don’t ask, which one. We will give a big sigh and begrudgingly give you the rest of the directions, and may be not the correct ones. Just the way it is.
frappe [pron. frap] – a milkshake; the term milkshake has a separate use. Frappe and milkshake cannot be used interchangeably. Milkshakes are flavored milk of a sort, frappes are super thick with icecream and rock. Try sucking one through a straw and get back to me on your headache.
The Gahden – a reference to the Boston Garden or the TD Banknorth Garden, home of the Boston Celtics and the Boston Bruins.
grinder [pron. “grind-ah”] – A submarine sandwich or Hoagie for you in the Philly area. Some insist that a grinder is toasted, while a sub is not.
Hoodsie – A small cup of vanilla and chocolate ice-cream from the HP Hood Company. Eaten with a thin wooden spoon that comes with the Hoodsie. Beware the splintered tongue.
Massholes – derogatory term for residents of Massachusetts, especially of Boston drivers (popular in New Hampshire). Yes, I am a Masshole. I will admit it, a little proud of it too.
“No suh!” [No sir, compare “no sirree”] – “No way!”. The appropriate response is “Ya huh!”
packie (also package store) – liquor store. Back in the day, we called it a packie because laws prohibit walking in public with an alcoholic beverage in plain view and a bag was required.
The Pike – the Massachusetts Turnpike, also the Mass Pike
pissa – cool, good: “You hit the Lottery? That’s pissa man.”; less commonly it can be used instead of pissed to mean drunk: “I had ten beers last night. I was wicked pissa!”
Salt and Pepper Bridge – Longfellow Bridge. Yes it is a longer to say Salt and Pepper Bridge but if you saw it, you would too. Look it up.
sketchy – A term used, most often by teenagers, referring to something strange or out of place (such as a suspicious person).
skally – a driving cap or an cap that has snap button front.
So don’t I – pleonasm, used to agree with a statement; a replacement for “me too”; (“I like the Red Sox.” “So don’t I.”) I would be shocked to find out that other places do not use this term. Please comment.
Southie – South Boston; also used for residents of the area. Not to be confused with the actual South Boston, two different places, go figure.
spa – neighborhood shop that sells groceries, soda fountain drinks, sandwiches. A mini mart of sort but owned by a family not a chain.
The T – the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority; also used for services run by the MBTA, particularly the Subway. Taken from the MBTA’s logo, a block-letter T within a circle.
townie – In the strictest sense, a resident of Charlestown, Massachusetts; I do not recommend you using this term unless you are from the area. You may get your butt handed to you.
triple decker – a three-story, three-family house, also called a “three decker”.
The Vineyard – Martha’s Vineyard
wicked – very; or occasionally cool. Used indiscriminately, can modify anything (e.g.: “Wicked good.” “Wicked bad.” “Wicked boring.”, etc.). Almost always used as an adverb, rather than an adjective; some Bostonians feel it is grammatically improper not to put an adjective or verb after “wicked”.
wicked pissa – awesome, very cool
The above are excerpts from the online dictionary http://www.aboutlanguageschools.com/slang/boston-slang.asp because I didn’t want to overlook any but I am sure there are plenty more to list.
Did I miss some? If you are from town or visited and need clarification, please ask.
Coming to Boston? I wish you luck. Say good bye to your family you may end up in Canada.
Think about the town where you currently live: its local customs, traditions, and hangouts, its slang. What would be the strangest thing about this place for a first-time visitor? Daily Post
I think Rhode Island has the same “problem”. I had to re-learn how to speak so that other earthlings understood! But it was hard to get rid of the accent.
I dated a man from Pawtucket and there were some words I couldn’t understand! And what is with the coffee milk? That is all RI 🙂 thank you for posting!
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Moving from NJ to FL was culture shock. ‘Pacific’ means that particular one: I like a pacific brand of coffee. ‘Pin’ is something you write with. What?? You mean ‘pen?’ No, down here they mean, ‘Pin. You know, an ink pin.” I totally give up. But I love that you can listen to a person to find out where they are from. And never, never–when I tell you I’m a Jersey girl, say, ‘Oh, Joisey.” Fighting words! Great post, Giselle.
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Grest point! I remember talking to a young woman many years ago, and “pin” was a huge obstacle for me…caught me off guard every time. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment 🙂
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If you come to Galway City (Ireland) looking for a Galway Hooker, you will be presented with a traditional sailing vessel. Or as they say in Boston, you could just have your butt handed to you 🙂
My boyfriend is Irish, I will ask him when I get home from work and see what he says about that! 😉
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