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Andrew / August 11, 2006 1:28 AM

Suggested by Jennifer.

We're talking about words, phrases or slang that's specific to Chicagoland here; this list might come in handy if you're having trouble.

You can probably guess what mine is.

dan / August 11, 2006 3:11 AM

why, the most beautiful word in the English language...


amyc / August 11, 2006 5:47 AM

I've always loved "Chicagoland." Growing up near Detroit, the suburbs were just called "the Metro area." Chicagoland sounds like there might be cotton candy and roller coasters involved.

Also: "a couple two tree."

ahn / August 11, 2006 7:52 AM

cooler by the lake
chicago-style hot dog

"chicagoland" is also pretty great

vit / August 11, 2006 8:03 AM

Referring to all our expressways by their names. That really throws visitors for a loop (no pun intended). I remember listening to the radio with someone and hearing a traffic report, and that person turned to me and asked "do you understand anything they are saying". I did.

And apparently calling them all expressways it a bit of a local affectation, at least according to one girl from California I met a couple years back who seemed to have plenty to say about the local vernacular.

Oketo! / August 11, 2006 8:17 AM

How about the Loop? There's a good one.

I like King Richard, too.

ap / August 11, 2006 8:25 AM

Anything to do with the Scrubs ...
*Wait 'til next year.
*Believe or leave.
*Reverse the curse.
*Right field sucks.
Ah, this shows that Chicagoans sure are dreamers.

Mikey / August 11, 2006 8:48 AM

Jag off is decidedly Chicagoan...

So is sauseege

and on a darker side, Peoples and Folks...

mike / August 11, 2006 8:56 AM

Over by dare.

(Near there.)

Sandor / August 11, 2006 8:58 AM

I'm fond of the Jewel.

printdude / August 11, 2006 9:02 AM

Actually, it's "The Jewels"

My fave is "Garachky"

it's that thing you use to get access into the small building where your car is kept.

Fruchrume is another.

sten / August 11, 2006 9:05 AM

"youse," as in "On the Southwest Side, youse always has a friend!"

The "expressway" thing is great, too- especially when people call LSD an expressway.

Annie / August 11, 2006 9:18 AM

Don't forget about SoldierS Field. And 'the two ah youse'. As is "The two ah youse! Knock it off!"

adam / August 11, 2006 9:22 AM

I was saying "jag off" in Pittsburgh in the early 70s, but it's still good.

My favorite is actually "we don't want nobody nobody sent". Sums up the Daley eras (both of them) and generally how things work.

Rakove, Milton L. We Don't Want Nobody Sent: An Oral History of the Daley Years. (1979)

vit / August 11, 2006 9:24 AM

the 'youse' thing sometimes gets me in trouble after a couple of drinks (growing up in the south burbs with relatives from nyc and boston I was in the center of a non-standard speech trifectca, however nobody can figure out where I'm from), when I was on the west coast last year and blurted out 'would the both of youse cut it out' (or something along those lines), much laughter at my expense ensued.

w / August 11, 2006 9:31 AM

While I don't like Fox news (local), I love "Fox New CHICAGO" as opposed to, say "Fox news LA" or whatever. It just sounds cooler.

Also, "Sammitch", "LSD", "Gym Shoes", "Crosstown Classic", and how people pronounce "Goethe" wrong because it's too gay to pronounce right.

mary / August 11, 2006 9:34 AM

"*Wait 'til next year.
*Believe or leave.
*Reverse the curse."

these arent chicago specific, boston used the phrases as well.

i think its nuts that we refer to the expressways by name. i have no idea what names go to which numbers.

Lody / August 11, 2006 9:37 AM

• da coach
• da bears
• da bulls
• Sammich
• Lower Wacker (people from other places just look at us like - what?!)
• chicago style hot dog
• the lake (always means lake michigan for us)
• the El
• the junction

ahhh, I miss home.

Amy / August 11, 2006 9:49 AM

All I can think of is the Pop vs. Soda thing...

OTOH my Uncle had an affinity for 'Road Pops'...(beer).

Oh how I miss the 80's when open liquor in a car was still slightly accepted (this is why I take public transportation).

kellyg / August 11, 2006 9:54 AM

I don't know if anyone else has encountered this but alot of older Chicagoans will use the words "yet" and "still", interchangeably.

For example, my Grandma will say: "Is she in school yet?"

..but what she means is "Is she still in school."....

strange, but definitely Chicago...

Elizabeth / August 11, 2006 9:57 AM

Not sure how Chicago-specific it is, but my favorite is "gangway."

tony / August 11, 2006 10:03 AM

I'll go with "gaper's block" or any of its variants. It's one of those things that every place has, yet Chicago's the only place where you'll hear the term.

I don't believe referring to expressways by name is necessarily specific to here... quite a few places do, I'd imagine.

Alison / August 11, 2006 10:23 AM

Before I moved here, my college roommate who was from Melrose Park would always talk about going to Johnny's Beef to get "one beef, extra wet." So that was my first impression of Chicago talk, and I loved it.

s / August 11, 2006 10:25 AM

I like how no one actually from or in chicago calls it "chi-town" only visitors or people who live really far away call it that.

Mike / August 11, 2006 10:29 AM

"the show"

ABF / August 11, 2006 10:34 AM

I still rember the first time I heard someone say this after moving to Chicago from central Illinois in grade school. To me it's pure Chicago vernacular.

go with - as in "You're going to the store? Can I go with?

Linda / August 11, 2006 10:41 AM

As a ol northsider--when you got off in Jefferson Park you got off in Jeff--really throws visitors for a loop.

Mikey / August 11, 2006 10:45 AM

Although no longer in use, I fondly remember when I was younger, that any CTA bus was referred to as the big green limo.

Josh / August 11, 2006 10:49 AM

I'm going with Elizabeth on this one..."gangway". Ran through so many of them in my youth.

jen / August 11, 2006 10:55 AM

"cooler by the lake" is not a chicagoism - it really is true, and i remember hearing it as a kid in ohio.

obviously, LSD and the El

and i COMPLETELY second the names for the expressways crap... i refuse to learn it - there are so many damned names (for different parts of the same highways, no less!)

Marilyn / August 11, 2006 10:57 AM

I alway liked "the whatever hundred block" of some street. Someone once said the 1,000 block to me, and it sounded so weird.

I also think "clout" is uniquely Chicago, as in, "I'll clout you tickets to the show."

I like "Hubbard's Cave," too.

Terminal Verbosity / August 11, 2006 10:58 AM


I hate Chi-town. What an unimaginative nickname.

Not an -ism, but I love the way Chicagoans who meet for the first time will ask, "What parish are you from?" regardless of their religious upbringing.

jgs / August 11, 2006 10:58 AM

In our singular alleys there's a singular sign:
"speed hump ahead".

Marilyn / August 11, 2006 10:59 AM

I absolutely hate local TV news producers who are trying to kill "cooler near the lake" by using "lakeside."

Emerson Dameron / August 11, 2006 11:02 AM

Before I moved here, I'd never seen a pizza puff, nor was I aware that "North Shore" is a euphamism for "spoiled." But I've never completely misunderstood Chicago patois. My native Chicagoan girlfriend, on the other hand, can barely deciper lifelong North Carolinians.

TV has largely sterilized regional slang, I think. But I'm sure the pop/soda/Coke debate will rage on.

Emerson Dameron / August 11, 2006 11:05 AM

In a similar vein, I no longer need to say "boring," "naive" or "the banality of evil" anymore. Now I've got "Shaumburg."

k / August 11, 2006 11:06 AM

re: jag-off.

how about just "jagg"? as in, "that guy from jeff park is a freekin' jagg." i've only heard that here.

Greg / August 11, 2006 11:07 AM

"Trixie." Lincoln Park or otherwise.

Though it probably hasn't been said in over 70 years (if ever), I always liked James T. Farrell's use of alderman to mean a paunch.

(Paulie: Say, you're getting a bit of an alderman there.
Studs: I'll work it off.)

jaymce / August 11, 2006 11:11 AM

i concur with printdude about "the jewels", it is one of my favorites, but another i love is... when telling a story, there is THIS lead in...

"so, i says to the guy, i says..."

ps - it's 'pop'

kellyg / August 11, 2006 11:28 AM

Right on Jaymce!!!
I was just going to add that one to the list dad does that all the time...hilarious! ha ha

printdude / August 11, 2006 11:29 AM

As a proud Chicagoan, I cannot say where I got the usage of "soda". It wasn't in my upbringing, as all my relaltives call it 'pop'. Yet, somewhere in the last ten years, I started calling it 'soda'.
Now I have been asked if I am Canadian four times in the past month, each time after saying 'soda' in the previous hour.
Connection, or not?

kate / August 11, 2006 11:40 AM

My grandpa used to say this and it's sort of found its way into the younger generation.

When giving directions:
"You wanna head north on Western, then you wanna make a right..."

Anyone else familiar with the "you wanna"?

Dave! / August 11, 2006 11:48 AM

I love "Hubbard's Cave" and you cannot go wrong at Johnny's Beef with a beef, extra wet! Gaper's Block is another good one... :)

paul / August 11, 2006 11:51 AM

I second "over by dare".

Youz guyz isn't exclusive to Chicago, although the guys in Jersey or the Bronx on Arthur Ave. pronounce it differently.

Also "Beef, hot and wet!" can only be heard in Chicago (at least as it relates to food).

Mister C / August 11, 2006 11:57 AM

"Chi-town" is a lot like the nickname "Cali," which only tourists visiting California use.

Many great Chicagoisms have been mentioned: "jagoff" and "youse guys" especially, but my favorite is "hunnert." As in "Dat jagoff owes me a hunnert dollars!" or "I live on da turtty-tree hunnert block a' Addison."

Tip: Police scanners are great for experiencing the Chicago dialect.

One Chicagoism that I don't like is "shmoo," which is old school code for "The N Word." Whenever I encounter some jagoff with a black dog named Shmoo (which I have on several occasions), I just want to smack him upside the head 'bout a hunnert times.

Marilyn / August 11, 2006 12:03 PM

"You wanna" is one I know and love, too. Some Italian Chicagoans I know used to say about putting out a cigarette, "die it out." I've never heard anyone else say it, though.

The "L" is so much a thing here that we forget it's a Chicago expression, too.

"I'll meet you under the clock" would be known by most Chicagoans as the Marshall Field's clock on State. But now it's going to be the dreaded Macy's. Boycott!!!!!!

vit / August 11, 2006 12:10 PM

printdude - probably because you pronounce it with that funny 'o' like a lot of people in the northern midwest do. I'm convinced that half of the US is deaf because when I went down to school in southern Indiana for school I was asked if I was from Chicago, Canada, Boston, and New York on more than one occasion during my tenure down there ... how in hell can you get those four places linquistically confused, inquiring minds want to know?

wapp / August 11, 2006 12:13 PM

"the crotch" meaning the six corners intersection in Wicker Park.

ahn / August 11, 2006 12:21 PM

the rosemont horizon, rolling my eyes at people who think they're actually in chicago when they have a layover at o'hare. (okay, technically, i know..)

Dean Clean / August 11, 2006 12:26 PM

Yes, "Chitown" is to Chicago as "Frisco" is to San Francisco.

I've always wondeed how it is that you can have a Chicago native with a thick "dese, dems and dose" accent while the Chicago native next door has no accent.

The worst accent: Baltimore and Philly's rolling a's and o's.

"It's late. I'm gaoing haome."
"Turn the light aoff."
"I've got a Bitchin' Camaraoe."

skinnyfoodie / August 11, 2006 12:26 PM

Not to start an anti suburban rant but I hate when suburbanites ask if I live downtown meaning Chicago proper. Like the 'burbs are the real neighborhoods of Chicago.

Dunl / August 11, 2006 12:28 PM

verbs + "with"

ABF already mentioned "go with," but there's also "come with," "bring with," and probably more.

The sometimes Germanist in me speculates that this structure is borrowed from the German language's (maybe combined with other Germanic languages') "separable prefix" verbs (a bit on them under "German verbs" at wikipedia).

In particular, there's a Geman verb "mitkommen," which is probably best translated quite literally at "to come with." It's part of regional (Chicago, also Milwaukee) English -- thanks -- I bet -- to mass German immigration in the second half of the 19th Century.

C / August 11, 2006 12:33 PM

I wince every time I'm on the Red Line and they say "North and Cly-burn." But it seems like everyone else says "Cly-born." Where does that come from?

d4ve / August 11, 2006 12:36 PM

Marilyn said:
I alway liked "the whatever hundred block" of some street.

I'm only now at 35 starting to understand what neighborhood is named what. Growing up i always navigated by the hundreds.

Mike / August 11, 2006 12:40 PM

For a good listen to chicagoisms and the "chicago accent" listen to >93XRT's Regular Guy movie reviews.

Them's good for a chuckle.

Mike / August 11, 2006 12:46 PM

Regular Guy Movie Review Archive

Mister C / August 11, 2006 12:46 PM

I think you're on to something there, Dunl. I've often speculated that the Chacaga "hunnert" comes from the German pronunciation (hunnert).

If you're as obsessed with regional dialects and accents as I am, this site over by dere will gobble up hours of your time.

BTW Dean Clean- I was visiting a cousin in San Francisco who went on this long disquisition about how he didn't mind that people called it "Frisco," but then he got apoplectic when I used the term "streetcar" instead of "cable car." Go figure.

eep / August 11, 2006 1:14 PM

"Go with" is the most prominent Chicagoism I can think of, and has been the bane of my existence ever since I was a child. I moved here from Florida, and one of my classmates asked if I wanted to "come with." And in all honesty I replied, "With what?" To this day it sets me on edge whenever I hear it. To make things worse, over the past five or ten years I've heard this phrase pop up a lot in television dialogue, which means it's only going to spread. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was particularly bad about using this Chicagoism. I always wondered if one of the writers was from here.

Dunl, thanks for your explanation, though. "Mitkommen" is a perfect explanation of why "come with" exists. Maybe now it won't drive me quite so bonkers.

sarah / August 11, 2006 1:21 PM

i had no idea that "going with" was a chicago thing. i thought everyone said that.

i love chicago, but i feel compelled to complain about my least favorite chicagoism: the drawn out, short "a" sound, i.e.: look ayat dayat, over by der, dayat guy with the beef sayammich is freakin' fayat.

y a j / August 11, 2006 1:28 PM

Almost all my favorites have been listed already, but here's a few more.

How about churchkey? My dad used it to open his pop bottles.

My aunt taught me the plural of youse is 'allayas', used like this:
"go outside and play, allayas!"

And even though I lived all over the north and west sides for 15 years, my family still insisted on saying I lived downtown. I think downtown started north of 35th st.

Mikey / August 11, 2006 1:40 PM

While attending college at NIU years ago, we would constantly argue over the proper pronunciation for grabbing the back bumper of a car when there was snow/ice on the ground and taking a ride...

We (the Northsiders) pronounced it skitch, while the Southsiders insisted it was skeetch...

Rudiger / August 11, 2006 1:42 PM

I like how, say, Damen is "twenty hundred west," Irving "forty hundred north." It must sound kind of uneducated to outsiders.

I try not to go in for that "Chicago-er than thou" douchebaggery, but "Chi-Town" absolutely makes my skin crawl. So does "downtown" used to describe the whole city. Is the Green Mill simultaneously in Uptown and downtown? How paradoxical.

Dave / August 11, 2006 1:45 PM

Gapers block!!


Allan / August 11, 2006 2:06 PM

My favorite Chicagoism has got to be "butt-fuck". When I was in New York the term came up when I was ordering in a restaurant on the Lower East Side and the waitress was all like."Where are you from!" I was like "I am from Chicago and we all talk like this". I didn't know it was a regional thing.

NSH / August 11, 2006 2:10 PM

Gleek - to spit through your 2 front teeth like a lizard. (might be more of a blue islandism though)

ivy / August 11, 2006 2:10 PM

C said:
I wince every time I'm on the Red Line and they say "North and Cly-burn." But it seems like everyone else says "Cly-born."

Actually, this announcement changed a few weeks ago when they added all the cross streets (i.e. "this is Grand and State").

Now the announcer says "Cly-born."

C / August 11, 2006 2:17 PM

Ivy, what a mixed blessing: to lose "Cly-burn" and "This is grand!"

esskaycee / August 11, 2006 2:45 PM

Gleek is not a Chicago-specific term, though -- we used it growing up on the east coast.

I forgot about "the show" -- when i first heard a coworker say that i had no idea what she was talking about. that's a great one.

shechemist / August 11, 2006 2:45 PM

'Cash Station' for ATM. I never knew it was a Chicago thing till I moved to Seattle and said I needed to hit a cash station only to get blank looks.

I think 'Chode' is another Chicagoism that I love.

printdude / August 11, 2006 2:51 PM

We definately "Skitched"
I thought Skeetched happened when you drove too close to the Gun Club on LSD.

That Jaaaaag-off nearly skeetched me on my way to the Jewels over by deres to pick up a coupla two tree sammiches.

esskaycee / August 11, 2006 3:02 PM

sorry to be the east-coast naysayer, but "chode" -- which we spelled "choad" -- was being used at least 10 years ago in NY.

fluffy / August 11, 2006 3:04 PM

"what do you have a taste for?" ...Everytime we order lunch, our office manager asks me this, so she knows what I'm in the mood for, food-wise. Not sure if this is a Chicago thing....I hadn't heard it before.

Chads, trixies, 'the show' instead of going to see a movie, downtown, instead of 'the city', the way 'sausage' and 'bag' are pronounced....

I wouldn't say these are my favorites, just the ones I've favorite Chicagoism is 'bike lane'- there haven't been that many in any of the other cities in the US I've lived in before.

Avril2080 / August 11, 2006 3:16 PM

"The Show" is a regional saying. I used to live in Michigan and folks from Detroit always said "the show."

"I says" was extremely popular in Michigan too. (Unfortunately!)

YAJ / August 11, 2006 3:37 PM

Is running bases a Chicago thing or just a southside thing? My friends from Michigan call the base running game you play with 3 people, 2 bases and 1 ball "pickle", but we called it running bases where I grew up.

Patrick / August 11, 2006 4:02 PM

Referring to a public restroom as a "washroom."

I've lived in Arkasas, Texas, Tennesse, Ohio and Missouri, and only in Chicago have I heard the phrase "Can you please tell me where the washroom is?"

karen / August 11, 2006 4:19 PM

so, i'm getting into this one late, but either i'm crazy or people have forgotten about this...


i'm from southern illinois originally, and we always said "catty-corner."

this has blown my mind for years. and, while on the subject of "downstate," it really chaps my ass when people call peoria downstate. there is a heckuva lot more to illinois south of there, kids.

B1299 / August 11, 2006 4:21 PM

The term "buggy" for a shopping cart. Is that Chicago, or just midwest?

vit / August 11, 2006 4:24 PM

B1299 -- nobody I know in Chicago says buggy, you must be hanging out with transplanted southerners.

Chico / August 11, 2006 4:27 PM

Kitty-corner: Located diagonally at an intersection. I've heard catty-corner elsewhere, but that's pure Chicagoan.

That and "da Jewels".

"You wanna go down ta da corner, it's kitty corner from da Jewels..."

vit / August 11, 2006 4:36 PM

Chico - hey, I remember the first time I heard Catty-Corner I was in my late 20's and I thought 'what on earth is that supposed to mean' and then realized that poor person was trying to say "kitty corner" ;)

Alice / August 11, 2006 4:37 PM

YAJ: I grew up on the NW Side, and we called the game running bases, too.

Mikey: I also remember when the CTA bus was the "green limousine."

Beth / August 11, 2006 4:43 PM

I used kitty-corner growing up in M'waukee (land of the bubblers, speaking of regionalism). It might be because my mom was from Chicago, but really, I rarely, if ever, heard catty-corner (still sounds weird).

shermann / August 11, 2006 4:43 PM

Jewels - refering to the grocery store....It Jewel people.

mike / August 11, 2006 4:44 PM

Running bases was awesome. Especially when you were using trees as bases. Nothing like sliding in under the tag and jamming your ankle against the trunk of an oak.

JB / August 11, 2006 4:53 PM

"Butt-fuck" is a Chicaoism? Not to be naive or vulgar, but I thought people did that everywhere.
Also, in what context could that phrase EVER come up when ordering in a restaurant?

Allan, do tell.

karen / August 11, 2006 4:53 PM

i just cant say "kitty-corner"... it's too weird for me. and i'm tired of the "what the heck did you just say?" commenting, so now i defer to "diagonal."

i mean, i'm already drinking pop on my way to da Jewels... what more do you people want? :)

**the buggy thing... the whole reason my 100% southern dad goes to the grocery store is so he can "push the buggy."

Benjy / August 11, 2006 5:33 PM


YAJ / August 11, 2006 5:38 PM

Have any of you ever played "baaags"?

I think some people also call it cornhole..that bean bag tossing game?

My southside family calls it baaags.

Mikey / August 11, 2006 7:39 PM


We call it baggo, sometimes bags, but still refuse to call it cornhole...

Some more? How about deep dish pizza? I don't think anyone has mentioned that one yet...

I've also heard some people, when ordering a true Chicago-style hot dog, ask the vendor to take my dog for a walk through the garden, referring to all of the requisite vegetables...

Where you always save more money! should be on this list too...

Was the childhood game, kick the can, a Chicago thing, or was it played elsewhere too?

Mikey / August 11, 2006 7:46 PM

For that matter...

Green River, as in the soft drink, is also quite Chicago...

rebecca / August 11, 2006 8:43 PM

the Punkin Donuts

Referring to the Dunkin Donuts at the corner of Clark & Belmont where all the "punk" kids who enjoy shopping at The Alley stop at (and where they boot your car at the drop of a hat)

rebecca / August 11, 2006 8:46 PM

Are Chads & Trixies just a Chicago thing?

Allan / August 11, 2006 9:47 PM

JB ,
It is a dull, dull story but basically when ordering I said to my friend "Hey butt-fuck" what are you gonna get" and the very sexy waitress though that was hilarious because I guess she never heard that before so she asked where I was from. Basically when I moved to Chicago one of the people I became really good friends with grew up on the North-West side of town and said this all the time and it rubbed off on me. It is one of the distinct memories I have of first moving here and I have used it ever since. I even lost a job over the term. Word to the wise if in customer service refrain from using the Chicagoism "butt-fuck" especially when the calls are being monitored.

DebO / August 12, 2006 12:17 AM


"Washroom" is not a Chicagoism. I know they say it in Canada. ( I once got corrected by a lady in Vancouver who was offended by my asking directions to the bathroom.)

Allen / August 12, 2006 12:34 AM

Growing up on the northwest side, we played running bases and something called jailbreak, which was kind of like a late-night capture the flag, but we ran through all the neighbors' yards. Also: Whoopskidawg, third rail, The Hip and "boof."

p / August 12, 2006 8:53 AM

vacant lots= "prairies".
big propers for all who embrace the "green limousine".
also a "bust down"= promiscuous lady, adding "joe" at the end of a sentence, calling pulaski "crawford avenue" or any other streets' previous name is old school gangster, fronchroom...

vit / August 12, 2006 9:03 AM

Calling them Are Chads & Trixies may be, but I'm pretty sure every city has their own version of this 'unique' species.

p / August 12, 2006 9:04 AM

running the bases was cool but "block It", in which one block's kids played anothers and were all It as a team. The boundaries would be a block and you would root out all the opposing kids. You would switch terrain almost every night and you could go around challenging other blocks. Summer time woopydee woop. I must now go to trow baags, drink millerss, and watch the good guys get a win.

eep / August 12, 2006 9:18 AM

"The show," kitty-corner, Green River, kick the can, and washroom aren't necessarily Chicagoisms. My relatives from Michigan and Ontario use these phrases. But I think they're probably specific to the Great Lakes region.

tl / August 12, 2006 9:35 AM

I don't think kitty-corner is exclusively Chicago -- I heard it growing up in New Hampshire (catty-corner was used, too, but much less often).

"Everything" -- meaning all seven condiments but never ketchup. And, of course, sport peppers.

vit / August 12, 2006 9:52 AM

tl and eep -- Good points, just because you heard a word for the first time in Chicago doesn't make it a Chicagoism.

nutsackylacky / August 12, 2006 11:33 AM

Wet beef, combo beef and SOSSAGE, Biffs (beefs), drag it tru da garden wit sport paypersss, ROOZ-a-velt Road, goin' to the show, pop, Stinkney, Berrrwyn, Cal City, Scummit, Shishero (Cicero), hey guy, Fields, Hillside Strangler, goin' to my COTTAGE in Wisconsin, backing someone up (at a bar), Alphabet City, Kazimir Pulsaki Day, Dog (Old) Style, beersss, Chicagoland...

winediva / August 12, 2006 12:43 PM

Oh how I love to be greeted in the frunchroom of someone's home.

Justin / August 12, 2006 2:37 PM

How about "Dom-niks"?

"I don't got none".

Using "TITS" as an adjective.

"Frontroom" and "backroom".

Chris / August 12, 2006 3:42 PM

I'm originally from Michigan, and from a very large and very Polish family. Now, I'm not saying the polacks of Saginaw, MI are 100% right and the nice people of Chicago are 100% wrong, but I had NEVER heard the name "Pulaski" pronounced with SUCH a nasally inflection until I moved here.

We had a Pulaski Hall where all the old men went to drink every weekend (and most weeknights), and the "a" in Pulaski was pronounced more like the "ah" in "Blah." "Puh-lah-ski." Not "Puh-laaaaaaaaaa-ski."

More more info on this fascinating subject, consult the Chicago Language Tape by Yuri Rasovsky. Or check your local library.

BsAs / August 12, 2006 5:01 PM

Perhaps this is too off the mark, but Chicago Avenue Discount´s long-running commercial slogan has always been my favorite Chi-centric saying:

"If you can´t afford to shop here, you can´t afford to shop!"

jj / August 13, 2006 10:48 AM

In another great lakes city, Buffalo NY, they also refer to the expressways by name: "You take the Dewey to the Youngman, then on down to the Kensington...". I think alot of the way things are said here have similarities to other cities along the great lakes, accent, inflection etc.
My fave bygone phrase has to be "Step down Please", which the clerks at walgreens/osco etc would scream at you when you were the next in line. Stranglely formal and completely impolite. Essence of Chicago

jj / August 13, 2006 10:52 AM

Also, "708er", the pre-'97 word for Schaumberger et al.

vit / August 13, 2006 4:29 PM

jj - re 'step down please', that was just yelled to me at the Walgreens on Madison St. Friday afternoon.

lara / August 13, 2006 4:40 PM

paul-eye-na street.

anywhere else it would be paul-ee-na.

Cheryl / August 13, 2006 4:48 PM

The use of 'the' as if the thing we're talking about is the only one in existence--the Picasso, for instance. We know we mean the statue in front of the Daley Center, but use the phrase in front of people from elsewhere, and it confuses them.

Michelle / August 13, 2006 7:18 PM

Saying "Out please" instead of "excuse me" when leaving the train or bus. When I moved here a decade ago that suprised me and pleased me with its economy and politeness. But I don't think people say that as much as they used to, though.

Thomas / August 14, 2006 12:05 AM

The following might just be young, ghetto slang, but referring to Chee-tos flamin hots as "hot flamins", uh, pronouncing sausage as "shawshish", pronouncing the streets Honore and Throop as honor-e and troop, adding the word extra to anything "extra late, extra dirty, extra tall", and always giving the distance somewhere in minutes. Words like Mild Sauce, the low end, out south/west, jew-town, adding ass to anything to describe it "that dusty ass car, yo tall ass and also saying words like "theiving" and calling someone a lie rather than a liar.

Marilyn / August 14, 2006 8:07 AM

I still say and hear "Out, please."

Moh Zart, not Moat sart.

Sport peppers. Most people outside Chicago have no idea what those are.

Lori / August 14, 2006 8:26 AM

"Hi dere, thanks fer comin out toda Galewood Montclare neighborhood association movie night. We got some vizers ferda kids. And now.."Back toda Future!"

and sure enough, there were visors ferda kids. white plastic, with "galewood montclare neighborhood association" printed on the front in a no nonsense, sans serif font.

Amy / August 14, 2006 9:21 AM

I remember my neighbor calling it the frunchroom and never understood that. Is it supposed to be front room?
However my favorite is Italian Beef dipped with sweet peppers.

slb / August 14, 2006 10:18 AM

Gool! I was glad to see that on the list - brought back a lot of memories.

I didn't know that "come with" or "go with" were chicagoisms. interesting.

since butt-f*ck was mentioned earlier - i don't know if it's a chicagoism, but i've certainly heard that used as an adjective meaning "the middle of nowhere" a lot... "he lives over in butt-f*ck schaumberg," for example.

slb / August 14, 2006 10:22 AM

also, is "From here" a chicagoism? meaning, from chicago.

"Where you from?"

"I'm from here."

i've taken most of these previously mentioned terms for granted as regular english, and now i'm searching my vocabulary for what may be chicagoisms...

annie / August 14, 2006 12:44 PM

I grew up on the south side and we say frontchroom and we use a buggy at the grocery store. My favorite is ending any question with at "Where are you at?" "What time is that party at?"

Matt / August 14, 2006 12:47 PM


B1299 / August 14, 2006 12:59 PM

Thanks for the confirmation Annie! I knew I had heard the term "buggy" for a shopping cart around the city.

Terminal Verbosity / August 14, 2006 1:04 PM

I was about eight or nine and a few friends and I were playing in my buddy's back yard. His dad comes out and says, "Why don't you kids have a race. The winner gets a soda."

I ran my little legs off, thinking I was getting some sort of ice cream sundae or milk shake. I didn't win, but he gave everyone a "soda."

When he handed me a can of RC Cola, I was so pissed.

Also, I grew up in the abonimable 'burbs, but all my cousins grew up in Beverly. Whenever we played "it," there was a safe place where the person who was "it" couldn't tag the others. My cousins and I fought relentlessly over whether this safe place was called "glue" or "ghoul." I called it the latter, and I have no idea why.

Mikey / August 14, 2006 1:32 PM

We always pronounced the safe place as ghoul also, and I'm not sure why. I always thought it had something to do with the fact that we called our variation of "it," ghost in the graveyard...

C / August 14, 2006 1:41 PM

I don't know if this is a Chicagoism or a Great Lakes "regionism" but whatever it is, it's getting more popular: budda (as in "but uh"). It seems to be a conversational transition word that means nothing inparticular. I've caught myself saying it a few times, and I get annoyed once I start hearing it from someone else, because then I can't not hear it!

missmolly / August 14, 2006 2:16 PM

i grew up in South Eastern Wisconsin(Racine - about 90 minutes north) and most of these things are really common sayings up there, too.

probably because we had both Milwaukee and Chicago stations for CBS/NBC/ABC etc. and the vernerable #9.

588-2300 was the second phone number i ever knew. I used to get mad because we couldn't order carpeting from there - too far north :)

brian / August 14, 2006 2:26 PM

you're thinking of gool,

and whats with turning bigweels over saying your making ice cream, I never understood that?

mary / August 14, 2006 2:49 PM

empire carpet has expanded. i went to school in NH and the first time i heard those magical numbers i almost dropped dead.

i also love the luna song...
773-202- (boop boop boop boop) LUNA!

Marilyn / August 14, 2006 3:07 PM

The best local commercials have to be for Moo & Oink.

"It's MoooooOOOO and OOOOink."

winediva / August 14, 2006 5:03 PM

And that poor Tile Outlet Girl has to be in her 50's by now right? Forever frozen in time with bad 80's hair.

Dave / May 29, 2007 10:58 AM

Audey Home. Every kid growing up in Chicagoland was threatened to be sent there if they didn't "straighten up". I am from the Northwest 'burbs and my wife is from Oak Park - both sets of parents used this scare tactic. Gotta admit, have used it on my kids once or twice

Heinie Manush / July 1, 2007 3:13 PM

I have lived in Minnesota all my adult life. Recently I called a baseball a "league" and people looked at me askance.

When I was a kid near Marquette Park we played two stick and ball games: softball and league.

"Wanna play ball?" "Sure, softball or league?"

I guess you had to be there.

PW / May 2, 2008 8:57 AM

I'm always wondered, do native Chicagoans pronounce the first two letters of their city's name like the first two letters of SHIFT or actually and literally like the first two letters of CHILD?

westideterri / July 10, 2008 7:10 AM

I grew up on the west side (Austin District)
Anyone remember Kiddid Land? CLOSED FOR SEASON,REASON,FREEZIN!...We used to hang out at the forest preserves in forest park.
And the Audey home did SUCK! (Spent four weeks there myself). A lot of people have told me that I use the words "ya know?" a lot at the end of my sentences. I think it's from there....And just one more, I worked at 19 east chestnut st. At wabash and chestnut st's. At a restaurant called "Dino's Grotto,(Pizza in a Pan). MY FAVORITE PLACE ON THE FACE OF THE WHOLE EARTH. I HAVE THE FONDEST MEMORIES OF THAT PLACE AND THE PEOPLE AND ALL OF MY EXPERIENCES OF IT. I miss uncle Freddie and Uncle Mike. and The Black lady cook, and her two sons who also worked there. HEY, BOOTZILLA'S HERE! I'M A RHINESTONE, ROCKSTAR DOLL BABY-BUBBA!

MoeMom / September 4, 2008 12:26 PM

Personally for me "Gapers' Block" is the ultimate chicagoism, because even though they occur elsewhere, this is the only place it's actually called what it truly is!
I married a non-Chicagoan and have lived out of state for many years. The first time I said to my husband, "It's snowing, but it doesn't look like it will stick," he laughed hysterically, saying that snow isn't sticky. So I guess that would be another unique Chicagoism!

JonathanL / November 21, 2008 11:05 PM

Why do Chicagoans refer to Interstate highways by name and not number? Perhaps because the first of what would be called expressways was the Edens, which opened in 1951. The Interstate highway numbering system wasn't developed until 1957. By that time, there were already several expressways in Chicago, including the Kingery Expwy (I-80/94). The names predated the numbers and Chicagoans have a long memory.

More info here:,-87.736816&spn=0.422544,0.54657&z=11

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