Have you ever traveled to a different region within the U.S and been shocked to hear words you couldn't understand? All 50 states speak English, but most states have their own unique jargon and words that sound strange to outsiders. It's not just your accent or the way you stress your syllables that gives away where you've grown up and learned to talk. In certain states words are so commonly used that they become ingrained in the minds of their residents, but to people from outside the state boarder, the same words are as foreign as a completely different language.
1. Hoagie, Northeast
Different regions across the U.S have their unique ways of referring to a submarine sandwich — "a sandwich served on a large Italian roll and filled with Italian meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and sprinkled with olive oil and spices." The word "hoagie" was originally used in Maine, but has spread across many Northeastern states including Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, and is the word is especially common in the Philadelphia area. A hoagie, identical to a grinder, po' boy, wedge, hero, torpedo, or zeppelin, is just one of many ways to describe the same foot-long sandwich.
2. Hella, Northern California
The word "hella" is now used across the Pacific Northwest, but its origins lie in Northern California. Hella, an intensifier and contraction of "hell of a," is used in place of common words such as "really," "a lot of," and "very." Hearing the word evokes the image of a California "surfer bro" with long-flow-wearing board shorts and a tight V-Neck T-shirt.
3. Creamies, Vermont
Most of America calls it soft-serve ice cream, but if you're from Vermont you most likely refer to this sweet treat as "creamies." Don't ask for sprinkles on top when you're in Vermont. Use the local term "jimmies" instead if you want to be understood at the ice cream shop.
4. Cabinet, Rhode Island
Mainstream America has dubbed the combination of milk, ice cream, and flavored syrup a milkshake, but the smallest state, Rhode Island, has adopted a different nomenclature. If you're looking for a milkshake at an ice-cream shop in the Ocean State, order a cabinet. Rhode Island is even an outlier from the rest of its New England neighbors who call the desert drink a frappe. Other words that Rhode Islanders claim in their unique lexicon include "jimmycakes" (corn meal cakes), "steamers" and "quahogs" (clams), "grinders" (submarine sandwiches), and "bubblers" (water fountains).
5. Gumband, Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh is a proud city, and they have their own "Pittsburghese" jargon to prove it. Wipe out the word rubber band from your vocab when visiting The Steel City, where the citizens have replaced the traditional word with another — "gumband."
6. Alligator Pear, New Orleans
As bizarre as the phrase might sound, Alligator Pear is actually a common name to refer to an avocado. It is common jargon in New Orleans, Louisiana. The etymology of the fruit's Spanish name, aguacate, has lead to the common idea that avacado trees grow in areas populated by alligators.
7. Lagniappe, Louisiana and Mississippi
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a lagniappe is "a small gift given a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase" or "something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure." The term is commonly used, however, throughout Louisiana (New Orleans, especially) and Mississippi to refer to a little something extra.
8. Sneetered, Kentucky
If you're using the word "sneetered," you're probably from Kentucky. And sneetered is something that you don't want to be. The word is a verb meaning to be tricked, duped or hoodwinked.
9. Wicked, New England
"Wicked," when recited with a Boston accent, is one of the most recognizable (and also most commonly mocked) regional jargon phrases. The word is used as an adjective to express something cool or exciting — "that's wicked awesome" or "wicked pissah" — and it is a dead giveaway that the speaker hails from New England.
10. Bojangler, Virginia
A Bojangler, a term used most commonly in Virginia but also throughout the surrounding Southern states, refers to a time-waster, dilly-dallier, or person who lacks motivation. The word may also be transformed into a verb, such as in the phrase "Stop bojanglin' around."
11. Brat, Wisconsin
Brat, (pronounced braht) is the word that cheeseheads use to refer to bratwurst, a German sausage. Due to the large original German immigrant population that settled in Wisconsin, it's a word that gets thrown around often. Wisconsin even hosts the world's largest "Bratfest" every year.