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

pickle-day-6_wm
Scenes from the Annual Lower East Side Pickle Day [PHOTOS]

Yesterday afternoon was the annual Lower East Side Pickle Day. The crisp autumn weather drove throngs of tourists to Hell Square. The three-block stretch of Orchard Street between Delancey and East Houston was jammed from noon to 5pm. So it wasn’t easy to purchase and/or consume any pickled goodness, unless patience for long lines is […]

Photo: Joan Vipper
Red Square Lenin Statue will Probably Return to the LES Skyline Next Month

The iconic statue of Vladimir Lenin that sat atop Red Square for 22 years has a new home. As first reported here last week, the communist leader will again greet the masses from the roof of 178 Norfolk across the street. The eighteen-foot Lenin will return to the skyline in short order. The Villager has it […]

raw-material-2
Black Tree on Orchard Street Rebounds as ‘Raw Material’

Christmas come early for team Black Tree. The sandwich shop closed its Orchard Street location earlier this month in anticipation of a December reboot. Well, chef-owner Sandy Dee Hall just reopened on Friday as something called Raw Material. And as the sandwich board notes, it’s in soft launch mode. Raw Material, according to the website, is […]

104delancey-new-allen-1_wm
‘The New Allen’ Moves to Samy Mahfar-donated Gallery Space on Delancey Street

SMA Equities (aka Samy Mahfar) is headlong into its conversion of 104 Delancey into a multilevel gallery dedicated to “low brow” art. The storefront is now enveloped in paint, as street artists UR New York spent the weekend buffing and spray-painting the exterior. You’ll recall that property owner Samy Mahfar donated the available real estate […]

nom-wah-nolita
‘Nom Wah Nolita’ Lunch Counter Soft Opens at 10 Kenmare Street

While the eye of consumerism was trained on a three-block stretch of Orchard Street (i.e. Pickle Day), the iconic Nom Wah Tea Parlor quietly opened its new satellite store on Kenmare. For Nom Wah Nolita, the interval from announcement to commencement was barely a week. The new lunch counter is currently in soft launch mode […]

  • 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!