29 Obscure Regional Phrases We All Should Start Using


The Dictionary of American Regional English, or DARE, contains all of the weird and wonderful words and phrases that make up the vocabulary of the 50 states. First published in 1985, the catalog of regional nuances is an ever-evolving document of American English as it’s spoken—but recently, DARE has fallen into danger due to lack of funding. A campaign is underway to raise $25,000 to help the organization retain its employees and continue its mission. To celebrate DARE and the treasures it contains, here are 29 words that should really extend beyond their regions.

1. acknowledge the corn (v.) // Midland

It’s difficult to acknowledge the corn ... depending on what kind of drunk you are. To acknowledge the corn is admitting you’re three sheets to the wind, or to cop to any wrongdoing or mistake.

2. aginner (n.) // unspecified region

We all know aginners. They’re the ones who live to be contrarian, whether it's about a specific issue or simply something different or new.

3. blue norther (n.) // Texas

When a frigid wind from the north causes Texas temperatures to plummet, they call it a blue norther.

4. bombazine (n.) // unspecified region

We’re definitely all calling umbrellas “bombazines” from now on.

5. elbedritsch (n.) // southeastern Pennsylvania

A mythical, imaginary animal used as a practical joke on a naive hunter. Definitely something my older brothers would have told me lived out in the woods.

6. flug (n.) // unspecified region

A word to describe the dust or lint that makes its way into the nooks and crannies of our lives. Also a word that feels more satisfying than “lint,” as in, “Ugh, there’s flug in my pockets.”

7. futz (v.) // North

My mom used to always tell me to not futz around, but alas, I was an expert at wasting time.

8. goozle (n.) // South, South Midland

It makes some sense that a world so similar to “guzzle” refers to the throat in general or could also refer to the gullet, windpipe or Adam’s apple.

9. honeyfuggle (v.) // unspecified region

Someone who engages in honeyfuggling is aimed at deceit, trickery, or swindling. It also kind of adequately describes what one’s head might feel like after they’ve been honeyfuggled. Also obviously super fun to say. Honeyfuggle.

10. hooky bob (v., phr.) // Northwest

Remember in Back to the Future when Marty is being such a dreamy cool-guy and he grabs onto the back of a car while on his skateboard to catch a ride? He was hooky bobbing, sort of. The verb means to grab onto a moving vehicle to be towed over snow or ice, but the idea is the same.

11. hosey (v., n.) // Maine, Massachusetts

If you walked over to a chair and declared it yours—and you also loved rhyming—you might say you mosied and hosied. To hosey is to reserve or stake a claim.

12. jugarum (n.) // Northeast

The sound a bullfrog makes from its jugular.

13. lagniappe (n.) // Louisiana

If you’ve been to New Orleans, it’s almost guaranteed you’ve heard this word, which means a small gift, bonus, or something thrown in for good measure.

14. larruping (adj.) // Oklahoma, Texas, West Midland

Most commonly used to emphasize the deliciousness of food (such as “That cake is larruping good”), which seems like a pretty necessary word in these regions.

15. noodle (v.) // Ozarks

Noodle is a pretty chill, and even silly word for this awesomely hardcore action: catching fish or turtles with your bare hands.

16. nebby (adj.) // Pennsylvania

Someone who’s sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong or snooping is being nebby.

17. mulligrubs (n. pl.) // South

A state of being sulky, in low spirits, or with a bad temper. Or a “vague or imaginary unwellness.” This term could apply to me anytime I’m hungry.

18. parrot-toed (adj.) // Middle Atlantic, South Atlantic

You say parrot-toed, I say pigeon-toed—we both mean the same thing.

19. quill pig (n.) // North, Northwest

Quill cat is also used to mean porcupine, and both are wonderful.

20. pungle (v.) // West

To cough up, plunk down, shell out, throw down, toss in, pay up, or whatever else you say to mean spend money.

21. punee (n.) // Hawaii

The superior (or at least more fun) word for a couch or sofa.

22. pogonip (n.) // Nevada

This word describes weather you might not immediately associate with the Silver State: thick, icy fog or an intense snowstorm.

23. pipjenny (n.) // Delmarva, South Atlantic

Hopefully teens take some solace in being able to refer to their blemishes as pipjennies instead of boring old pimples.

24. saddy (exclam.) // Pennsylvania

A way of saying thanks, often taught to children.

25. toad-strangler (n.) // Gulf States, South Midland

Toad-choker and toad-floater are also used to describe a sudden, extremely heavy rain.

26. whang (v.) // Midland

There’s something slightly onamonapeia to this verb, meaning to sew, make, or mend quickly in a makeshift way.

27. yagger (v.) // Kentucky

This wonderful word can mean to talk too much or too loud or angrily ... or, if you’re an animal, to bark or growl in a threatening manner.

28. yee-yaw (v.) // unspecified region

Fatigued or tipsy drivers are prone to yee-yaw, which means to lurch, sway, or swerve.

29. zori (n.) // Hawaii, West

I wonder if flip-flops would get a little more love if everyone called them zoris instead.