Like every other large cultural center, New York City has slang words, jargon, and abbreviations that are unique to the Big Apple. Learning the meaning of those words and phrases will be helpful if you are planning on visiting the city for any length of time. Also, some of them are just for fun. So take a look at our growing list of New York City slang, jargon, and abbreviations, and learn how to talk like a New Yorker.
NEW YORK SLANG, JARGON, AND ABBREVIATIONS (PART II)
By Lucas Compan, a guest storyteller
Wanna talk like a New Yorker? Then you gotta know the lingo.
Bodega – This is where you buy your coffee in the morning. And your egg-and-cheese when you’re hungover. And also your munchies at 4am. And toilet paper and soap when you run out. Okay, this is where you do all of your shopping.
Bodega is the Spanish word for "warehouse." When Spanish-speaking people began arriving in New York in large numbers during the first half of the 20th Century, they brought this word with them to describe small stores selling a variety of items including packaged food, beverages, cigarettes, newspapers, and candy. When prohibition was repealed, these stores also began stocking beer. Some also sold fresh and prepared food like sandwiches, produce, milk, flowers, and eggs.
These stores are usually small and often (but not always) on a corner. Inside we are not surprised to find a resident cat, slightly dusty groceries, and a few neighborhood guys bullshitting about current events
Deli – Deli is short for "delicatessen", which is a German word (borrowed from France), meaning "delicacies." Originally used to refer to the food itself, it began to be used to describe the stores selling the food. It arrived in New York with the German immigrants after the Civil War, and reached its fullest expression when used by Yiddish-speaking Jews to describe restaurants selling corned-beef and pastrami sandwiches, among other items. These are now referred to by New Yorkers as "Jewish Delicatessens" or "Kosher Delis." Katz's and The 2nd Avenue Deli are prime examples.
Flying rat – A pigeon.
Hun – hundred. As in, “I’m going to a party up on a hun’sixteenth street.” New Yorkers almost never say the entire word.
Pie – In the rest of the country, this may be mean apple, pecan or cherry. Here, pie means just one thing: pizza. Glorious, glorious pizza.
Schlep, oy, schvitz, etc. – If it’s Yiddish, we say it. Your religion, ethnicity or state of origin doesn’t matter—all New Yorkers are a little bit Jewish. Similarly: agita, mozzarella, prosciutto, etc., because all New Yorkers are also a little bit Italian.
Yooz – A plural form of you. Sometimes takes the form: “yooz guys.”
Schmear – A lot of cream cheese. As in, “Can I getta a bagel with schmear?”
Northwest corner, southeast corner, etc. – Manhattan’s nearly perfect grid system means that, when meeting friends, we get very specific. There’s no “I’ll come get you on the corner of 14th and Broadway,” because guess what? There are four corners there.
Triborough Bridge, Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, etc. – Proud New Yorkers refuse to refer to renamed landmarks by their new names. The Triborough will never be the RKF (no disrespect, Bobby). The Hugh L. Carey Tunnel? We say nay. The Ed Koch Bridge? We’ve already got two choices—the 59th Street and the Queensboro—and we like them just fine, thanks. Extra points if you still call the FDR the “East River Drive” and Kennedy Airport “Idlewild.” You, my friend, are a retro rock star.
The city – Manhattan. For example, you go into the “the city” on the weekend to pick up towel rods from Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
On line – in line. As in, “I waited on line for seven hours to get Shakespeare in the Park tickets. It was totally worth it.”
Fuhgedaboudit – A speed-up pronunciation of “Forget about it.” Meant to mean “No way!” or “Definitely!”
Wanna know more slang? Check out Part "New York City Slang, Jargon, and Abbreviations" – Part I
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