Harpin' Boontling and VERY local slang words

I was having a discussion at work about high school cliques, and it reminded me that my New Jersey hometown’s word for the stereotypical “greaser” type – did drugs, wore Frye boots and flannel, worked on their muscle cars – was a “ginker.” As far as I know this word was used in a handful of neighboring towns and nowhere else. It has apparently made it into the Urban Dictionary (with a very detailed description and a side order of nonsensical etymology) and some local smartass has started Ginker Media. The co-worker I was talking to, who was from a different part of Jersey, said her town’s word for these folks was “Hessians.” Which strikes me as really bizarre – what’s the connection between owing a '72 'Cuda and being a German mercenary in the Revolutionary War? She is also from that small area that refers to the night before Hallowe’en (often called Hell Night or Mischief Night in other places) as “Goosey Night.”

It reminded me of a story I read about a town in Northern California called Boonville, where in the 19th century residents developed their own very odd and extensive slang vocabulary called Boontling. I personally think “zeese” is a great word for coffee that should replace “joe” in the mouths of hipsters everywhere.

Anyway, I was interested in other examples of what I guess you could call micro-regionalisms. Not what the whole South or New England calls a particular kind of sandwich, but peculiar words that (to your knowledge) are only used in a few towns or a small geographic region.

I went through Boonville once. Indeed the payphone at the local store said “Bucky Walter” instead of “telephone”, but was still in the AT&T (Bell?) logo format. There was a cafe called The Horn of Zeese. Weird.

You know it’s it’s funny but I bet there are quite a few terms for the ‘greaser’ type - I just have that feeling…

Up here, we called them “Skids” all the way through high school and it wasn’t until later when I was in college and described someone in that way that I realized that it was prrobably local.

As I’ve explained it to people: “Skid” probably comes from one of two things. The first is that these people would be the type to frequent bush parties where drinks are consumed while standing around a big bonfire listening to the loud music from someone’s truck. The bonfires are use wooden pallets, or as they are also known skids for fuel. I guess the people got associated with the parties and there by with the pallets.


It has to do with the term “Skid Row” or the band of the same name (who those people probably listen to)
BTW, let it be said that I harbour no ill will to any of those people. I’m just passing on what the word was.

Here in Southern Indiana (I am a Southern Indiana transplant, so I feel safe to make fun of it) we have a food called “Fiddlers”… which are fried catfish strips… Not full out filets, but not small nuggets either…

Growing up in the northwest, ‘Hessian’ came from the group usually wearing big blacks boots and black jeans and fondness for german industrial music that was reminicent of the neo-nazis.

Akron, Ohio has a pretty local bit of slang. The grass plot between your front sidewalk and the street out in front of your house. It’s a devil’s strip here. Sometimes called “devil strip.” This term doesn’t extend to Cleveland, 30 miles to the North. Nor does it extend more than a few miles in any direction.

And the “Hessian” label has been shortened to “Hesher”, and I’ve seen it in national print magazines. It’s a pretty common slam at those classic style metalheads.

in upstate NY (Albany area) the “greasers” were known as “heads”, I guess as in dead heads or as in head shop. Can’t say as I’ve heard it elsewhere.

Another recent transplant, in this case to Ohio: The slang term that I’ve heard here for poking your nose into others’ business is “nibshittin.’” I rather like it.

People here couldn’t figure out what I was looking for when I asked for “elastics.” Apparently it’s a Utah-ism for “rubber bands.” Another term that seems to be used only in Utah, and perhaps just in the region I hail from, is “jockey box” for “glove compartment.”

Known as “heads” in Kansas City, as well. Provided, that is, that when you say “greasers” you mean, “people who are awfully fond of marijuana”.

If, however, you mean “people who are very into their automobiles”, then yer talkin’ about “gearheads”.


Down here in Southen Alberta we also say Skid, but I was always told it’s a derivative of “steet kid”, elastics made it up here from Utah. I’ve got a funky Canadian/Australian mix of slang going on, ergo I wouldn’t be much of a cross section for my area. Slang off hand, “church key” for bottle opener, “donga” for shed, “deke” to shirk something, “Cow-Town” for Calgary, “The Chuck” for Edmonton, “fuck the dog” to do nothing (I fucked the dog all weekend), “gonch” for underwear, “choda” the bit of skin between your balls and cornhole, “Hogtown” or “Taranna” or “T dot” for Toronto (also Mot-Fu {Middle of the Fuck’n Universe}), “hoser” “douche” for idiots, “the patch” for the oil field, “ripper” or “peeler” for stripper, “swish” for moonshine, “thongs” for sandals, “sketchy” for not-all-there.

Tis all I’ll remember tonight.

Yep, a busybody is a nibshit, though I didn’t know that was an Ohioism.

Not in the Cleveland area.

I know someone who owns a business in Boonville. The impression that I get is that, while Boontling has its origins in a real language, it’s being artificially propped up by the Anderson Valley Brewing Company. Not that there’s anything wrong with that per se. It seems that the majority of Boontling resources (web-based, at least) can be traced back to AVBC. I have no problem with that – they’re taking an aspect of local color and running with it, and the locals seems far from perturbed by the fact – but I’m not sure how lively Boontling would be without AVBC’s support. Their bottled beer is available throughout the SF Bay Area, and it’s always nice to see a “foreign language” on the label, but the impression I get is that if the Brewery closed down completely, Boontling would die out (except as a local joke) within one generation.

We’ve tried to come up with local slang words several times, but then you guys end up using them. Lather, rinse, repeat.

My 8th-grade English teacher from Montreal said that’s what they call rubber bands up there, too.

That’s a “taint” here. See above. (We tried to keep it to ourselves and then everyone else started using it.)

I use “sketchy” to mean shady and/or dubious, usually describing people or causes. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I picked it up in Arizona and people only understand it here because it’s pretty self-evident.

Around Chicago, “greaser” was a hoodlum type…black leather jacket, duck tail, pack o’ smokes rolled up in the t-shirt sleeve, etc. He drank beer and went out with girls who had their hair ratted “up to there” and wore too much eyeliner.

Gear head was a guy who loved his muscle car. You could be both a greaser and a gearhead simultaneously.

A “head” was a dope-smokin’ hippie type guy.

A “duper” was a kind of dorky guy in a Madras shirt, white socks and penny loafers.

This is back in the '60s and '70s. Might be different these days.

This one I really like. The Devil’s Strip! Like all kinds of arcane evil happens on that yard-wide rectangle of grass. 'Cause it’s close to the street. I may start calling those sneakers that get hung up on power lines The Devil’s Laundry.

For some reason I never connected “hesher” and “Hessian.” I guess it sort of makes sense as an insult in areas where the Revolutionary War was fought (there are still descendants of the Hessians kicking around Jersey), but why would this be so widespread?

This I’ve heard in New Jersey and New York, your others are all new to me.

I’m sure you’re right, the slang seems a little too ornate to have survived on its own. I’m trying to come up with another company that aggressively markets local weirdness, but I can’t think of any. You’d think NYC would be full of that kind of thing.

Raise your hand if your locality has a Mixmaster interchange. Dallas got one in 1958; Des Moines (where I’m from) in 1967.

Klempt = hungry - “aw were fur klempt”.
Tup = headbutt.
Babby’s head = steak suet pudding like you get from a fish and chip shop.
Skriking = crying - “shut yer skriking”.
Marrer = friend - “alreet marrer”.
Mard = soft - “stop bein so mard”.
Slummy = loose change, copper coins.
Barm cake = bread roll.
Wigan kebab = meat pie on a barm cake.

All from Wigan or the surrounding towns.

Broadway has given the world the phrase “nose candy” (cocaine) and I think the concept of “cheesy” originated there.