We Americans love our slang. Winky terms like terrific and awesome are now so ubiquitous that they barely even qualify as slang anymore. We wear bling to parties and have a blast; we goof off and then catch some z's.
Despite the pervasiveness of slang, however, there are deep reserves of regional slang that we haven't yet taken mainstream. Texas isn't the only English-speaking region with some killer phrases begging for nation-wide popularization. What about the quirky terms used only in NorCal, the U.P., or Boston -- just for starters?
Here are 9 useful -- and fun -- regional slang terms we should all start using as soon as possible:
Used in: Northern California and the Pacific Northwest
Example: “These kimchi tacos are hella good.”
Why should Northern Californians -- and Gwen Stefani -- have all the fun? Using hella instead of very evokes a laid-back surfer vibe that can make any conversation seem more chill.
Used in: New England
Example: “These tacos are wicked good.”
In today’s hyperbolic culture, the words very and really have become really, very overused. We need all the colorful alternatives we can lay our hands on.
Used in: The South
Translation: "you all"
Example: “When are y’all going to get tacos?”
Try as we might, we can’t come up with a more succinct, gender-neutral term to address a group. You guys? All of you? You all? None has quite the effectiveness and simplicity of y’all. This needs to catch on outside of the South already.
Used in: Eastern Wisconsin, eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Australia
Translation: "drinking fountain"
Example: “Eating that taco made me so thirsty. I really need to find a bubbler.”
Not only is this one of the original patented terms for the device, it’s cute, descriptive, and much easier to say than the cumbersome drinking fountain.
Used in: Canada
Translation: "garbage disposal"
Example: “If you’re not going to finish that taco, just put the rest down the garburator.”
Okay, so this clever word only saves you one syllable -- but that isn’t nothing. And aside from being faster to say, garburator just sounds neater and more gadgety than garbage disposal.
Used in: Britain
Example: “Does this taco place have a loo I could use? Too many margaritas!”
We’ve had toilets for decades, but Americans don’t yet seem to have a good euphemism for them. Bathroom? Powder room? Restroom? Little boys’ room? Crapper? None possesses the ideal combination of brevity and delicacy. We need a loo.
Used in: Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
Translation: “compress or tamp down”
Example: “I’m gonna pank more kimchi down into this taco so each bite is spicier.”
Who wouldn’t get a lot of use out of this word? Every day we’re panking down the garbage so we can fit another night’s leftovers in there, or we’re panking down the laundry into the hamper. Okay, maybe people who do their chores in a timely manner won’t use it as much, but it’s still a solid addition to the language.
Used in: Pennsylvania
Example: "What kind of bufflehead doesn't like kimchi on his tacos?"
Don't get confused: Bufflehead can also refer to a "buoyant, large-headed duck," which is more of a scientific term. But if someone snippily calls you a bufflehead, they probably mean that you're a fool -- it just sounds way funnier.
Used in: Wisconsin
Translation: "a superlative instance of something; something wonderful of its kind"
Example: "This taco is a real whoopensocker! I'm going to eat at this taco truck every Friday."
This delightful term, which really sounds like what it means, got a fair amount of press when it was included in The Dictionary of American Regional English several years ago. And yet we're not yet hearing it all over the country. Try to catch up, people.
CLARIFICATION: The post has been updated to reflect that the term "bubbler" is also used in Rhode Island and Australia.