Words Native to New York City

Posted on: April 25th, 2011 at 6:28 am by

Back in November, we published an article about the oft-overlooked, yet no less significant, contributions of the Bowery to our collective lexicon. The infamous Bowery Boys (nay, B’hoys) of the nineteenth century pioneered a unique way of slang-speak that is still quite prevalent in today’s discourse. Words and phrases like chum, pal, or going on a bender, were all birthed on our beloved thoroughfare long before the luxury.

Which brings us to this little item that cire_e unearthed over on Nonetheless. Apparently there’s a Dictionary of American Regional English (and Wikipedia) mapping out geographical dialects, and the New York City-specific vocabulary section is rather extensive. Herewith, a sampling of words and phrases native to the city:

  • Kill – a small river or strait, in the name of specific watercourses; e.g. Beaver Kill, Fresh Kills, Kill Van Kull, Arthur Kill (from Dutch)
  • Scallion – spring onion
  • Stoop – a small porch or steps in front of a building, originally from Dutch
  • Rent Party – a party concept whereby tenants hire entertainment to raise money for rent.  The idea originated in Harlem during the Jazz age of the 1920s.  The word Boogie was sometimes used as a noun to describe such parties.
  • Catty corner – on an angle to a corner
  • Dungarees (archaic) – jeans
  • Egg cream – a mixture of cold milk, chocolate syrup, and seltzer
  • Hero – submarine sandwich
  • Potsy – hopscotch
  • Punchball – a baseball-like game suitable for smaller areas, in which a fist substitutes for the bat and a “spaldeen” is the ball

What are some of your favorites?

And speaking of native to New Yawk…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMjwiP29cg4

Recent Stories

Photo: Eater
‘Mission Cantina’ Goes Under After 3 Years on Orchard Street

Mission Cantina – chef David Bowien’s kitchen chameleon at 172 Orchard Street – is reportedly donezo. The three-year-old restaurant has been closed of late, its Caviar page deleted, and phone line disconnected. Patrons have also shared their farewells on social media over the last week. Bowien’s luck on Orchard Street hasn’t been the best. You’ll […]

van-gogh-mural-7th-stb9022
Clayton’s Corner: Around and Around the LES [PHOTOS]

I walk and a nod around the community, taking in the odd smile and moments of lamenting. First, there’s Michael Lydon, a musician player for a number of years on the street with the 9th Street Stampers; he lives on 9th Street… …And here’s the legendary Sock Man, who’s returned with a new location 99 […]

Photo: Commend
‘Commend’ Record Shop Introduces Collaboration Effort on Forsyth Street

Just a little over a year after Salvor Projects’ shuttering, a record store-meets-community space has filled the void at 172 Forsyth Street. Commend is the physical manifestation of record label RVNG, and has recently started a series of artist collaborative efforts. The latest being “COMMEND See.” COMMEND See is an endeavor that identifies artists working in different […]

Photo: Cooper Square Committee
Toldedano Tenants Hold Banks Accountable for ‘Predatory Lending’ to Slumlords

Predatory Equity: the harmful practice of investing equity to buy rental apartment buildings at inflated prices. Predatory equity investors calculate that they can replace poor and working people with new tenants willing to pay much higher rents—thus bringing higher profits in a hurry. Utilizing predatory equity is one of the main tools in the slumlord […]

232eastbroadway-painted
Sorry, Flight of the Conchords, Your New Zealand Consulate will be Demolished

Hate to be the bearer of bad news, Bret (present) and Jemaine (present), but there won’t be any more band meetings with Murray at 232 East Broadway. Yup, your (fictitious) New Zealand Consulate (in HBO’s beloved cult series “Flight of The Conchords“) will soon be razed. You’ll need to find a new location for those Flight of […]

  • Tenement

    tenement tenement tenement

  • Babyphat523

    You killed me with Spaldeen!!

    My favorite is – “Saloogie” or “Salugi” – The game of “Keep Away”. Example, snatching someone’s baseball cap off their head and tossing it back and forth between you and another friend, while the said snatchee tries unsuccessfully to retrieve it.

    Susy

  • sir Hoot the benevolent owlkin

    How about the more modern inventions? For example, as a native Angelino, I’m taken aback every time I hear someone talking about how long they waited ‘on line’ for something. And here I thought the internet was all about speeding up our lives!