The Boston accent has drawn attention from befuddled tourists, enamored fans, and the media. But what about slang words in Boston? Every region produced its own unique slang, and Boston is no different.
If you’re moving or visiting, you should get a head start on understanding Boston Top Slang Words. While nothing but careful listening will save you from the Boston accent, a little study can help you with Massachusetts slang. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
1. Bang A Uey
Picture it: you’re driving through Boston’s iconic cobblestone neighborhoods with some of your new friends. They’ve lived in Boston their whole lives and are giving you directions on where to go.
Suddenly, they tell you to ‘bang a larry’ or ‘bang a U-ey’. What are you supposed to do now?
In Boston parlance, bang a larry means to make a left turn. Banging a U-ey is making a U-turn. It sounds better in that iconic Boston accent!
2. Taking the T
It’s time to explore your new neighborhood. Whether you’re a new resident or a college student, Boston has plenty of charm and history. From colonial history to the Boston Red Sox, there’s a little something for everyone.
But how are you supposed to get around? If you’re a local, you’ll just take the T. That’s how Boston residents refer to their subway system!
Stupid in a Friendly Way
4. Wicked Pissah
Something that’s super, super cool.
5. Wearing A Johnny
If you thought this referenced wearing long johns, referred to as long underwear in some places, that’s understandable! Instead, this is what Boston slang calls wearing a hospital gown.
6. Avoid the Chowderheads
There’s a stereotype that comes along with Northern dialect—an aggressive attitude, a penchant for exaggeration, and a willingness to be insulting! While this isn’t true for everyone, it is for some people.
If you really want to embrace the lingo of your new home, calling someone, a chowderhead is a great way to do it. Just make sure you really mean it—chowderhead is the equivalent of an idiot!
7. Don’t Be A Masshole
Drop the M, and you have a curse word that’s known in every other part of the country! Adding the M means that you have a perfect insult tailor-made for someone who hails from Massachusetts.
This is usually an insult used for bad drivers, which Massachusetts seems to have more than its fair share of. The collision record in this state is no joke!
8. Getting Dunks
Want a cup of coffee or a quick donut in the morning? You should stop by the iconic national chain called Dunkin’ Donuts.
But that’s not what your friends or coworkers will likely call it. Instead, the name is often abbreviated to Dunks. It’s that simple!
9. Put Some Jimmies On That
You’ve successfully ordered a cup of coffee at Dunks. But what if you’d like a bite to eat? A chocolate donut with chocolate sprinkles is a great option.
Here in Boston, chocolate sprinkles are often called jimmies. The story goes that this started at a local ice cream company. At one point, they’d charge extra for putting chocolate sprinkles on it.
The extra charge for the sprinkles went to The Jimmy Fund, a local foundation.
10. Try A Fluffernutter
Trying to save some money? Packing your own lunches is a great idea. Sandwiches are a great, stable option to take along for work or school.
But packing your own lunch doesn’t mean you have to lose out on any local flavor. Make your sandwich a fluffernutter!
This unique combination means using marshmallow spread and peanut butter on your sandwich. After you try it once, you’ll never go back!
11. Taking the Rotary
Driving in Boston is not for the faint of heart! Defensive driving takes on a whole new meaning here.
If you do choose to drive, watch out for the rotaries. That’s what people call traffic circles or roundabouts. Make sure to yield and look both ways!
12. No Suh = no sir (expression of disbelief)
13. Scorchah – It’s Wicked Hot
Boston embraces all four seasons with equal passion. That’s great news for people who comes from other locales and want to experience it all.
If you want to describe the weather with Boston flair, use the word ‘wicked’ whenever you’d typically use ‘very’ or ‘really. Just don’t overdo it.
If you really want to know what Boston slang words are in, ask your townie friends. They know what’s up!
Townies is the word used to refer to Boston natives. They’ve grown up here their whole lives. If you want to be technical, this word is also specifically used to describe natives of Charlestown and Dorchester, depending on who you ask.
15. Going to The Packie
From college parties to a Red Sox win, there’s always a reason to party in Boston. And if you want to fuel that party with a kegger (‘pronounced ‘keggah’ if you’re a real Bostonian!), you’ll want to drop by the packie.
That’s what some people use to describe the liquor store! It’s a unique word that many use.
16. The Bubbler – AKA Bubblah
If you’re thirsty after that aforementioned kegger, why don’t you grab a sip from the bubbler? It’s the same thing as a water fountain in other states. Grab a refreshing sip and get back to partying with your new Boston friends!
17. Going Down Cellar – AKA Cellah
Cellar seems like an antiquated word, used to describe farmhouse stores of apples and potatoes. While this is true, many people still use it to describe their basements.
So if you’re asked to go down cellar to grab something, just head down to the basement! Be careful, it gets cold down there.
18. Grab a Grinder – AKA Grindah
There’s nothing like a good hoagie for lunch. After all, you’re in the general vicinity of the Philly cheesesteak, New York City cuisine, and so much more!
If someone offers to pick up some grinders for lunch, don’t think twice about it. They’re just talking about hoagies!
19. It’s Suppertime – AKA Suppah
Depending on what part of the country you come from, this word may not be terribly common. It used to be back during colonial times, which is where some of Boston’s culture still stems from.
Supper, dinner … it’s all the same! If you’re looking to blend in with your Bostonian hosts, call it supper. It will make you sound like more of an insider.
20. The Hub
Only die-hard Bostonians would describe their city as the center of the universe! The Hub is just another term for the city of Boston itself.
It’s said to originate from a famous 19th-century poet describing the state house of Boston as the center of the solar system. It stuck, and people still call Boston the Hub!
21. Yah Huh
If you’re telling a tall tale to your friends in the bar, you might be met with some disbelief. If someone calls you on your story, what should you do? Double down in true Bostonian style!
“Yah huh, it did!” is the best way to do this. Saying ‘yah huh’ with enough conviction will make it sound better than it otherwise would.
22. Take the Pike
The Massachusetts Turnpike features in some drivers’ nightmares. It’s definitely not for newbies, but armed with defensive driving skills, you’ll do just fine!
The turnpike helps connect the state, and it’s often the fastest way to get anywhere. For short, people tend to call it the Pike.
23. Throw It In the Barrel
Taking the trash out is a task that most of us dread. But it’s relatively simple—you’ll just put it in the can, the dumpster, or the barrel if you’re from Boston.
Before laws cracked down on this unsafe, environmentally unhealthy practice, many people burned their trash in a barrel. The term still lives on today, even if many choose other ways to deposit their trash.
24. Find the Clicker
When you’re sitting around watching a show, an annoying commercial could come on. You might want to switch channels, adjust the volume, or do something else.
If that’s the case, you’ll need to have the clicker—or the remote—close at hand. It’ll save you time looking for it!
25. Take the Carriage
You might be thinking of a traditional horse and carriage, usually reserved for princesses in fairy tales. Or, you could be thinking of a baby carriage, which is usually called a stroller in modern parlance.
Both of those are wrong if you’re in Boston! Using a carriage is a grocery cart at the supermarket. Just make sure to put it back when you’re done!
26. Look Out for Staties
If you’re driving on the Pike, look out for staties! Otherwise, you might get bagged. While that’s a lot of Boston slang to fit into two sentences, knowing what staties are is important.
It’s the typical term used for state troopers, out patrolling highways, and keeping a watch on drivers.
27. Taking A Boston Left
If you want to avoid the staties, a Boston left isn’t such a good idea. If you listen to born-and-bred Bostonians, though, you may think it’s the only way to get anywhere.
Here’s the concept behind a Boston left. You’re waiting in the left-turn lane. The light turns green.
Now, if you were taking your driver’s test, you would wait. The green light means that traffic can start coming. There is no green arrow, so your left-hand turn is not protected.
You should wait until the traffic clears and you can safely make a left-hand turn. If you slam on the gas and make a quick turn before oncoming traffic accelerates, you just completed your very first Boston left.
Boston baked beans are a staple, depending on where you’re from. The popularity of beans could account for Beantown, a colloquial term used for Boston in general.
Depending on who you ask, this term is either common or terribly cringy. Use it wisely!
29. Drink Some Tonic
Want some Coke, Pepsi, root beer, or Sprite? In Massachusetts slang, all sodas are categorized under one catch-all name: tonic.
As more young people move to Boston, the word tonic has lost popularity. But in Boston’s classic old neighborhoods, the term is still alive and well!
30. Green Monstah
Left Field Wall at Fenway Park
31. The Cs – The B’s – The Pats
No guide to Boston slang words would be complete without a nod to their sports teams.
The B’s – Boston Bruins Hockey Team
The C’s – Boston Celtics Basketball Team
The Pats – New England Patriots Football Team
Boston Harbor or Bay located adjacent to the city of Boston, Massachusetts
Learning Slang Words in Boston
Slang words in Boston may seem overwhelming. After all, there are so many! Remember that knowledge is power, and know that no one expects a newbie to know everything at first.
After all, it’s slang. Slang words aren’t universally agreed upon. Some old-timers might say that no one calls soda tonic, while others emphatically disagree. That’s the great thing about the English language—there’s so much room for interpretation!
If you’re moving to Boston, you should feel prepared. By knowing the slang, having a place to live, and getting insurance set up, you’ll feel much better. Contact us today to take care of all your insurance needs!