"Back east" and other regionalisms

I don’t know how far this spread, but in California, you can hear people refer to most of the country as “back east”. Depending on the speaker, this “back east” region can start anywhere from the middle of Arizona to the Mississippi River. Anything east of the Mighty Miss is definitely “back east”, I would think, and it’s all lumped together in a “who cares, it’s all the same mass somehow” attitude: “He’s flying in his cousins from back east for Christmas”, despite the fact that it’s 10 people from 6 states.

So, got any other "you’ll only hear this in my area phrases? Yes, you furriners can chime in, too.

You guys are mainlanders.

That particular one is used even in Tennessee for any place further eastward, which is mostly North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Other references are Up North, Out West and Down South. When I was living in Alabama anywhere north of Birmingham was Up North. From Tennessee, Georgia is more South even if it’s not all that Down, and Florida is definitely Down: I cannot recall anybody ever saying they were going (from here) Back to Florida; always Down. Anything north of Virginia, whether east or not is Up North, which would include Kentucky and the Midwest.

The Midwest has always been a mysterious region (directionwise) for me. In some usages it starts at Ohio and goes all the way to Minnesota and includes Missouri and Kansas and maybe even Nebraska. Iowa I’m not so sure of but probably more Midwest that West. I guess the Rockies establish West even though Texas and Oklahoma are West to me.

The Northwest may start in Idaho but stops at California going southward.

I get the impression (from various sources) that to New Englanders and New Yorkers (maybe even Pennsylvanians) that Down South starts in Maryland.

Out West seems to begin at the Mississippi unless the speaker is himself/herself further west that that.

The one I’ve always had a fascination for is Mainers’ Down East. After visiting the Maine coast not so long ago it did make some sense in that from other parts of the state the coast is both Down (South) and East. I’m just not sure if people in Portland and other places in the southernmost sections of the state also refer to Bar Harbor as Down East. That would be quaint.

Some other threads that delve into this issue include:

Up To or Down To The Capital

Down/Up/Over/Out/Back/etc. in Giving Directions

Down East, used by Bostonians to refer to Maine. Also apparently used to refer to the entire coast of Maine, according to the linked Wikipedia article.

“Goin’ down the ocean, hon.”

For Baltimoreans (hi, Dave!) it’s what’s said when you’re heading down to Ocean City or Rehoboth or somesuch.

Down east is the northern part of the Maine coast, according to my boyfriend who grew up in Old Orchard Beach. I loved it when I was in California trying to explain to a group of friends that Down East Maine, while being east, is down only in respect to Canada.

And I am very glad to be “back east” now that I left California. Although we use that phrase in Boston, generally to refer to people who came back east of trying the west coast.

A young Down East pilot named Sanger
Got a girl alone in his hangar
When she asked where in Maine
He was flying his plane
He said he was going to Bangor!

In B.C. and Alberta, “back east” is Ontario and Québec.

I thought we all said that out west. :smiley:

I’m from Bangor, Maine originally and live in RI and I’ve never heard Down East described this way. To me, it’s definitely Northern coastal Maine, as described by people from Maine. Bar Harbor is “Down East”. Down East magazine seems to be about all of New England though. Or is that Yankee magazine? At any rate, no way is all of Maine called “down east”.

Properly pronounced “Gain daowney ayshun, hun.”

Being from Philadelphia, at this time of year I enjoy “water ice” rather than “Italian ice.”

This limerick only works if you’re not from Maine. It’s one of those places were the residents pronounces it wrong. They say it Bang - gore.

Anybody but New Yorkers use downstate? Or upstate, as far as that goes?

Minnesotans occasionally use outstate to refer to anywhere inconvenient to Da Cities.

Marylanders may go Downy Ayshun, but Jerseyites go Donna Shaw.

And just where in the hell is up the country?

Most of my life I’ve been aware that Dinah Shore was from Nashville, but it’s just today that I have begun to wonder if she got her name from somebody in Jersey! :smiley:

We use Down East in Ontario when referring to the maritime provinces in general.

Of course anything west of here is Out West, also Down South and Up North.

We use ‘up’ a lot here.

As in - “Are you going to come up to the mountains?”

I guess ‘down’ works the same way.

As in - “We are coming down next weekend”.

Yup. Chicagoans refer to everything in Illinois south of Chicago as “downstate”. We also talk about going “up north”, which generally means Wisconsin. When I lived in Michigan, people would talk about going “up north” a lot, but I was always a little vague on exactly what that meant - you could go “up north” and still be on the LP (lower pensinsula).

If you’re only familiar with California through the movies, you might think “the Valley” refers only to the San Fernando Valley, but actually, only Angelenos do that. To everyone else in California “the Valley” is the Central Valley.

In the Bay Area, you have the North Bay (the areas north of the Golden Gate), the East Bay (Oakland, Berkeley, and environs), the South Bay (San Jose and its suburbs), the Peninsula (everything south of San Francisco that’s on the peninsula there), and The City (SF).

I started using back east when I moved to CA from Ohio. Most people in LA seem to view the world as Los Angeles and Everything Else with really no concept of the space that lies between the coasts. When I would just say 'I’m from Ohio", more often than not I’d get a response like ‘Oh, I know someone from Atlanta. you probably met them.’. (Actually happened) never mind that it’s a 10 hour drive between those places…back east just became easier to say.

Oh, I thought of another one that I will never understand. My roommate from college grew up in central Mass, up near NH. Everyone there talked about going up to the Cape (Cape Cod). They were most certainly not down from the cape in any respect. We always said down the the cape, which isn’t quite right either, as it’s more east than anything else.

For us growing up, “back east” was Chicago, Milwaukee, and the Twin Cities. My mother was born in Chicago and raised in Milwaukee, and my cousins and uncles, at various times, continued to lived in all those places. It was a specific reference with meaning to the family. We didn’t travel a lot when I was a kid, but I’m sure that if we had gone to, say, New York or Philadelphia, we would not have described it as “going back East”.

And certainly we wouldn’t call Arizona “back East”, either.

We go “up north” in Minnesota too, though not to Wisconsin. To go “up north” generally means heading to northern Minnesota to “da lake.” Never mind that there’s 10,000+ of them. We’re going to the lake.