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

Uncapped: Beneath the Paint with the Legendary AUDIE U5

This latest installment of Uncapped is more than a year in the making, and we are stoked to have Audie U5 join us. BOWERY BOOGIE: Audie U5. Welcome to the series. Instead of the cherished and/or default “what do you write?” how about, why do you write “Audie?” Audie U5: Always Undeniably Dope In Everything!  Nah, […]

Man Jumped to His Death from Ludlow Street Rooftop

A man jumped to his death from a Lower East Side tenement rooftop Wednesday night. The unidentified man, believed to be in his twenties, took the plunge from atop 175 Ludlow Street at about 11:45pm. The suicide victim reportedly lived alone in a studio apartment there, according to a report in the Daily News. An […]

Here’s a Map Showing How the Lower East Side Voted in the City Council Election Last Week

With more than a week having elapsed since the general election, the above map plots the results of the City Council District 1 race. It was a heated campaign that saw incumbent Margaret Chin fighting for her life against the upstart Christopher Marte. Chin defeated Marte by nearly 3,000 votes to secure a third term […]

Cafe Henrie Shutters on Forsyth Street After 2 Years

Cafe Henrie, the artsy eatery founded by nightlife maven (and street artist) Andre Saraiva on Forsyth Street, closed earlier this week. Thus capping two years on the block. All elements of the establishment are gone, replaced with token brown paper in the windows. In retrospect, the writing was on the wall back in the summertime […]

What’s it Like Living or Working in Hell Square? [SURVEY]

What’s it like to live and work in Hell Square? That’s the question behind the second phase of the Hunter College graduate program study that analyzed public health and safety risk of liquor density on the Lower East Side. No, this isn’t a farce. It’s a legit effort to figure out a way to make […]

  • 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!