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

cafe-habana-prince-protest
The Cuban Corn Crisis on Prince Street

The corner of Prince and Elizabeth Streets was noticeably quiet yesterday as Cafe Habana’s lunch patrons were met with a locked door instead of the trendy cafe’s signature Cuban grilled corn. Throughout the day, would-be patrons who normally loiter outside while waiting for tables or chomping down on corn, appeared confused at the closure. That […]

against-nature-closed-chrystie
‘Against Nature’ Boutique on Chrystie Street Shutters After 6 Years

Fashion flight hits Chrystie Street. Against Nature, the men’s boutique that debuted back in 2010, shuttered this week. It rolled up and consolidated with the flagship store on Christopher Street. Not entirely unexpected. A few weeks ago, the Lee & Associates brokerage installed an enormous leasing banner on the facade. What we often call tombstone […]

3essex-masks-2
How about this New Essex Street Funhouse?

In the years since its sale, 3 Essex Street has remained remarkably intact. No demolition. No changing hands. No real activity. Until this week, when the tenement became a funhouse of sorts. In a display more befitting Halloween than Valentine’s Day, each of the upper windows dons a ghoulish mask. Topping it off is a […]

Le-pain-bleecker-1
Le Pain Quotidien Unveils its Second Bleecker Street Outpost

Le Pain Quotidien just planted another flag downtown. The Belgian-style bakery is poised to open its umpteenth city location in the kink of Bleecker Street, where American Apparel previously outfitted NYU students. Now it’ll fatten them up. The teaser signage was recently scraped away to reveal the bi-level innards. No word just yet on opening […]

essex-crossing-gateway-2_wm
Phase 2 of Essex Crossing will Break Ground in June with More Affordable Housing

Essex Crossing is firing on all burners. Full throttle. Two of the four new buildings are topped out, with the balance reaching skyward each day; the 24-story “Gateway” (Site 2) and 242 Broome Street condos (Site 1) are currently sporting some major heft. But this is a rolling process, and, recent progress notwithstanding, sights are […]

  • 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!