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

85 Bowery Landlord Responds to Vacate Order, Alleges Illegal Conversion of Apartments to SRO

The controversial landlord of two Chinatown tenements is now responding to the ongoing drama with the embattled tenants of 83-85 Bowery. You’ll recall that last Thursday evening, as part of the ongoing legal case between the two parties, the State Supreme Court ordered an inspection of 85 Bowery. An alphabet soup of city agencies and […]

‘Spitzer’s Corner’ Closes for Renovations

For the first time in a long time, the southeast corner of Rivington and Ludlow Streets is relatively quiet. Ten-year-old Spitzer’s Corner closed this week for a slight makeover. Signs announcing the onsite renovations appear in the doorway of the establishment. This is an expected development. As previously reported, hated Hell Square operator Rob Shamlian is […]

Saying Goodbye to the Sunshine Cinema Before its Imminent Demolition

Ain’t no sunshine when it’s gone. Nor light from that fabulous marquee. Landmark Theaters’ Sunshine Cinema ended its Lower East Side tenure Sunday night after nearly two decades on East Houston Street. We paid a visit on the penultimate night, and it was mobbed with moviegoers getting their last licks before another neighborhood favorite meets the wrecking […]

‘La Caverna’ Nightclub Heads to SLA for its Multilevel Expansion on Rivington Street

When La Caverna first proposed its concept for Rivington Street in 2002, it was presented as an Italian restaurant. In fact, it was a bait-and-switch club that still has some Lower East Side residents are still coping. Now ownership hopes to expand La Caverna with a multilevel experience. Fooled once, yes. Not again. Fifteen years […]

Chad Marlow Resigns from CB3 After Removal from Committee Chair Position Over Liquor Density Fight

Newly appointed Community Board 3 chair Alysha Lewis Coleman stepped into controversy last week when she reportedly sacked member Chad Marlow from his post as Transportation committee chair, a seat he’s held for little more than a year and a half. And today he is completely resigning from the advisory board. The major bone 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!