Regional expressions you didn't always realize were not widespread

Used to be—maybe still is—that in the Boston area a convenience store might be called a “spa”. Apparently because the early forms of the bubbly drinks you got at such stores in the old days were considered “tonic” or “spa water” health beverages.

Also in Minnesota, we don’t use the term “upstate”, just “up North” or “Up to the cabin*”.

But we do say “outstate”, referring to the mostly rural or small-town part of the state outside of the 7-county Twin Cities metro area, which contains more than half the population of the state. But ‘outstate’ is now considered ‘politically incorrect’, the proper term is “greater Minnesota”. But most normal people still say ‘outstate’.

*But the ‘cabin’ can be anything from a one-room hunting shack with an outhouse to a multi-bedroom house with a 2-car garage.

Yes, Pacific NW. It’s when sunlight breaks through the cloud cover.

Also parts of New Hampshire, though we don’t use the term exclusively. I don’t know anyone who’d be confused if someone said water bubbler even if they use water fountain themselves.

When I was a senior in high school, shortly before the internet exploded in both popularity and availability, we acquired a Spanish teacher from New Jersey. She shocked my Spanish IV class by asking us if we were aware that wicked was a regionalism. Not only were we not aware, at first we didn’t believe her!

I think the usage originate in port cities, where the commercial and business district was at the seafront or river-front, and the residential areas tended to be some distance away and, therefore, on more elevated ground.

The earliest citation for the term in the OED dates from 1770 and refers to Boston.

Yep. When kids in school said their folks had a cabin in Rhinelander or Door County you were never sure if they meant an old time hunting cabin or a small vacation house.

My friend in Merrill uses hot dish, but to her it’s specifically tater tot casserole (her recipe is delicious).

I’m originally from Madison (well, Shorewood Hills), and to me Wausau is Northern Wisconsin. Everyone there promptly corrected me. Wausau is Central Wisconsin.

In Montreal, if someone says they are going “up North”, you know immediately that they are going for a one-hour drive to their summer cottage or to a ski hill - no other reason. The area is dominated by the Laurentian “mountains”, and hundreds of small lakes.

I didn’t realize the origin of the word “dumpster” until I recently read an article about the invention and its inventor. Meet George Dempster.

Heh, reminds me of the Thomas Crapper story, except it’s not so much a case of the thing getting named after the man, as people think, as just happening to have a name that predicted his destiny-- like Usain Bolt being the best sprinter of all time.

When I lived in NYC, the term “Tri-State Area” was fairly common, meaning New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Since then, I’ve learned that it’s a nearly universal term, for any area where three states meet.

I never got used to New Yorkers saying they “waited on line” when they meant “waiting in line.”

I always thought ABC referred to the Florida chain, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits (Florida is not an alcoholic beverage control state). Until just now I never realized ABC stores in other states were separate.


In the New York metro region circa mid-1980s, the regional system was NYCE — "New York Cash Exchange — and only later did the logos for Cirrus and other everywhere-you-go systems supplant that. Asking where the nearest “nice machine” is wasn’t much better than asking the whereabouts of a “time machine” :slight_smile:

Yes, and “waiting on you,” instead of “waiting for you.” (not merely a NY thing).

Actually, “waiting on” to mean “waiting for” was only introduced to NYC about 20-25 years ago, in my experience - it seems to be a Southernism that “caught on”, possibly via AAVE channels, because I remember being annoyed by its proliferation around that time.

For someone to wait “on” a line though has been true my entire life (I’m a 50 year old native New Yorker). In particular, if you come to a place where there are multiple lines for different things, as for cash registers as a supermarket or (in olden days) at a movie theater (ticket holders vs. ticket buyers lines), the common use of this formation would be to ask, “which line are you on?” or “are you on the ticket holders or buyers line?” Where saying “which line are you in” would seem very strange to me (would anybody say that?).

Or, complaining by saying something like “I’ve been on this line for 45 minutes and it hasn’t moved at all”, do non New Yorkers say “I’ve been in this line for 45 minutes”?

Speaking as a Midwesterner – yes, absolutely, “I’ve been in this line for 45 minutes” would be how it’d be said here.

Not trying to make any point, just reminded me of this song…

Yes, I know that song is earlier, but I would say the Stones are echoing the Southern and/or Western US speech patterns there

FWIW, the first time I heard the Stones song I also found the phrasing grating at first.

Me too. The line is made up of people, and I am one of those people, so I am in the line.

We would use “in” in all those situations. I’m from Chicago, but the “on line” usage I’ve only encountered from folks from the New York area. It sounds extremely odd to my ears.