a toboggan is a hat.

Monday, November 14, 2011


during my first winter in nyc i walked into american apparel and asked for a toboggan. i got a weird look and the reply "we don't sell sleds." i grew up in kentucky and to me a toboggan is a winter hat. little did i know that a toboggan is also a sled.

did you know these snafus are called regionalisms? ed and i have been trying to think of as many (american) regionalisms as we can. here's all we got:

firefly and lightning bug
tennis shoes and sneakers 
soda, pop, coke (in the american south it's a coke even if it's a dr. pepper)
sprinkles and jimmies 
thongs and flip flops
highway and freeway

your turn. 

ps: did you know new yorkers say "next on line" instead of "next in line" while waiting at the movies, etc.

ps again: say P-S-E-S out loud. that's how you say pierced ears in boston.   :)

54 comments:

janis said...

interesting! in canada, we say toque for a winter hat!

homestilo said...

This post made me chuckle. But now I know about 'jimmies'. On another Canadian note: My best friend, who is Canadian, calls them runners instead of sneakers.

rebecca said...

homestilo-
runners! i like that one best.

Erin said...

Half of my family is British and still lives in England, so our regionalisms are never-ending. Trainers vs sneakers. Take away vs takeout. But being from Philly, the sprinkles vs jimmies debate is one that I am most passionate about. If they are rainbow, they are jimmies. End. of. discussion.

Ashley said...

I wish I could remember all of the names for a sub sandwich i've heard around here... Hoagie, Wedge, submarine, grinder, hero... Po boy... .

Vanessa said...

Italian ice vs. water ice.

I second Ashley. I grew up calling it a hoagie (which we all know is CORRECT!), but in New York everyone seems to call it a sub.

The "on line" thing drives me nuts. If I ever start saying that, slap me.

And yes, being from Philly, you've gotta say "jimmies."

insideology.com said...

Let's just say a 'fanny' is something entirely different here in the UK and it never ceases to tickle us when we hear an American talking about theirs so publicly :)

Oh and 'pants' cause us much amusement too!

Amanda Blair said...

I have literally been laughing out loud for 5 minutes over the P-s-e-s trick. I will now tell everyone I know about this...thank you!

Summer said...

Love this! I dated a yankee from Connecticut (and that's where Webster of Webster's Dictionary is from so they have the "perfect accent" I was told. Insert eyeroll.) and we had this problem all. the. time.

Pocketbook vs. Purse or Handbag and was another source of tension. It does not fit in my pocket, nor is it a book. He's who had to break the news about toboggan to me, too. I also still don't believe in "jimmies," "pop," or "davenports."

The Boston comment also makes me laugh. My friend who's dated a Boston guy for 6 years gave me the best way to speak "Boston": Any word that ends with a vowel is pronouced ending with an r, but any word that ends in a r is prounced ending with the vowel. For example, "Put yer brar back in the drawa'."

rebecca said...

summer-
now i wanna know what davenports are.

love the boston advice. :)

rebecca said...

this has nothing to do with regionalisms, but new york bagel shops always give me grief over toasting my bagel. why would i NOT want a bagel toasted? some places even charge for it!

Rachel said...

We don't actually call every soft drink/soda/pop/whatever "coke" in the south. People down here like to claim they do, but we don't. There's just not really a common, over-arching term that's used, other than "something to drink."

rebecca said...

rachel-
proof from an inside source! i used to call any carbonated drink a coke but i only remember doing so when i was very young. maybe it's an old southern regionalism.

Mary said...

What a great post! Very entertaining. I am from New York, grew up in North Carolina, married a boy from Connecticut, and we live in Boston. I have heard it all! I think I now need to move to England for a while to expand my vocabulary even farther. The Boston advice is spot-on, unfortunately - all those misplaced 'r's drive me crazy! I use soda, sprinkles, purse, sneakers, flip-flops, and highways. My husband is a jimmy man. Wonder what my kids will say...

jen said...

Grew up & still live in NC - I definitely call it a toboggan! Though, as more northerners move down here, things are changing! We have a LOT of New Yorkers down here now.

For the record:
lightning bug
tennis shoes
i call it soda, though a lot of smaller towns and older folks call everything carbonated a coke. then you have to specify which kind of coke you want (dr.pepper, etc).
sprinkles
flip flops (my mom who is from west US, calls them thongs)
highway

another one - we call shopping carts "buggies"

la domestique said...

Great post. Now I'm racking my brain trying to think of southern regionalisms. I grew up in Arkansas where we called everything a coke regardless of what type of soda it was.

laura said...

I grew up in California, and after moving to New York I remember telling a story at a group dinner where I used the word "tanbark"--the wood chips used in lots of school playgrounds. Everyone was so confused by that word until I explained it, but in 25 years I had never realized that wasn't the official name.

Later, an informal poll revealed that people from the Bay Area called it that, but no one else did.

rebecca said...

jen-
yes! i used to call it a buggie too.

Alexandra said...

Haha I was wondering in the title what you were getting at...that American Apparel story is too funny! Love these pics, your doggy is so cute.

Alexandra xo


http://tovogueorbust.com/

Lindsay said...

OMG...my bf (a native NY-er) always says "on line" and it drives me bonkers! I always tease him now that he's not in the world wide web.

Mandy Koster said...

Great post! Never knew this..!

X from Germany!

Mrs. Parker said...

Hilarious post! I'm married to a Hawaiian so there's lots of fun changes there!
Another option for flip flops/thongs is...slippers (courtesy of the Hawaiian islands). :)

la petite coquine said...

P-S-E-S absolutely CRACKED ME UP. Hysterical!

Johanna said...

This post made me giggle. P-S-E-S...saying out loud on the couch all by myself! Tee hee!

Felicity said...

Now here comes the spin, I'm an Aussie reading this and found it very revelatory!
Just about choked reading 'insideology.com's' note on fanny as it has quite the opposite meaning here.

In Australia we have regionalisms too and it really discerns which State you're from.
Coming into summer and living by the beach, the big thing for us and our house guests is what you call your swimming apparel - togs, swimmers, boardies, trunks the list goes on.

Happy day my friend, I'll be popping back in to see what other gems are sprinkled [or should that be jimmied] here.

Felicity x
PS: SW may like to pop by my space today as he'll be in excellent company.

Ashley said...

My friend from Maine says it's a "quarter of seven" instead of "quarter after seven". But to me that sound like it could mean 6:45!

Clare said...

This post is so funny! I grew up in Wisconsin and one regionalism I know we have is calling drinking fountains "bubblers." I've never heard them referred to as bubblers by anyone from any other state. People also have weird ways of expressing their verbs there for certain things and since my parents aren't from WI, it sounds really weird to me even having grown up there. For example, instead of saying that someone is a truck driver, they'll say he "drives truck," or "rides bike." It's bizarre! I also know some of my relatives from St. Louis pronounce some words funnily, too, like Sun-duh for Sundae.

Little quirks in language are so interesting.

One thing I've always wondered is how long it took for English settlers in the American colonies to develop distinctly different and American accents. A generation? Two? Several? I'd love to know!

SJ said...

we call juice boxes 'poppers' in australia. juice box is probably a more practical name since they are indeed boxes of juice but we're crazy here in oz and name them after drugs instead.

Kay G. said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog on my post on Stone Mountain! How did you find me?
Love your post here on different expressions!
There are different expressions from different parts of Georgia. I was born in Toccoa and there are certain words that we used there, that are the same that my husband from England uses! For example, growing up we would say "boot" of the car, instead of "trunk", and that is what they say in England!

rebecca said...

clare-
i like bubblers for a drinking fountain. never heard of that one!

Lulu said...

Awesome post!
I'm from Louisiana particularly around New Orleans. A lot of ppl here say "making groceries" (especially the older folks) instead of grocery shopping. Comes from the french Faire du... I also call all carbonated drinks 'coke'.
Also
-snow ball vs. sno cone
-pocket book vs. purse
-house coat vs. robe
-neutral ground vs. median

The Rigolosos said...

My mom always says toboggan for a hat. We also say buggy instead of shopping cart. True South Alabamian, here.

Gaby [The Vault Files] said...

Love the colors on your outfit! A toboggan is a hat? Didn't know that one!

And yes I said it out loud, hahahaha totally right! "left my keys in the KAH"

In Australia they call their flip flops "thongs". We have a funny story about a friend telling my husband that he was cooking on the bbq wearing some thongs.....My husband was picturing something else and had to yell STOP IT!!!! ha!

Gaby [The Vault Files] said...

Oh! and Aussies call a 7UP a lemonade! Have another story about that one too but it's not funny ;)

Victoria said...

Since moving from Atlanta to Rhode Island I have found out the water fountain vs bubbler conversation worked into too many of my days.

alexandrasnyder6 said...

I'm from Kentucky too! (And until I moved to Philly, I always referred to any sort of soda as coke...even though I never drink Coke!) Rebecca, what part of Kentucky are you from?

Bill, I am. Not. said...

Spotting these little differences can be so funny. I know I have picked up the bookbag/backpack difference in certain places. However, I can't decide if bookbag is just an "old school" term for backpack or if it is a true regionalism. Maybe a little of both?

On a random note: Your dog is absolutely precious!!

Poet Whale said...

Nobody drinks tonic anymore?

Summer said...

Ha, davenport is a couch/sofa. I'm not sure where it's used, but I think the midwest?

Ah, I've never met other people who use buggies! I LOVE it! We also call remote controls "punchers" or "clickers".

I grew up just 100 miles east of Arkansas, and we just specified which soda we want by it's brand. However, I was in Texarkana one time having lunch and the lady behind the counter told me they had "Coke, Sweet Tea, Peach Tea, Raspberry Tea..." etc, and I wondered why they only offered Coke and so many teas! Ha! I realized after I'd ordered tea that she was using Coke in the general sense. Whoops.

rebecca said...

summer-
learned something new. davenport sounds so fancy.

alexandra-
i grew up in western kentucky.

Diane AZ said...

Hi, These regionalisms are fun. I didn't know toboggan was also a hat. I grew up in California where a sofa is often called a couch, and my in-laws from Wisconsin call it a davenport. :)

Kari said...

I'm in Texas, and all soda is coke to me! My grandma is from a small Texas town, and she has a thick accent. She said that it's common to say something like, "Can you carry me to the store?" instead of take me/give me a ride.

vitaminA said...

Lol! Awesome post! When we moved out to CA from NY (where I'm originally from) I used the word diesel and my friend looked so confused. Diesel = Buff. But you can use diesel in so many ways, not just in he's diesel! But also, that sandwich is diesel (big)! Or that car is diesel (muscle car)! Or that book is diesel! Endless possibilities! And btw, your toboggan is super cute. And new yorkers do stand on line...it only makes sense doesn't it? ;)

THE-LOUDMOUTH said...

Such an adorable little post. I'm from Michigan, now living in LA. I'm still learning the lingo! ;)

tinyparticlesoflight said...

Ha! I loved the P-S-E-S one - so funny. I actually never knew that Toboggan was a hat! I think we just call them beanies around here in CA. ;)

p.s. Iggy is adorable.

xo
cortnie

Naomi Bulger said...

Oh boy do I relate to this, as an Australian living in New York, I had to learn a whole new language! (Or so it seemed). For example (Aussie version first):

Bin = trash can
Paddle pop = popsicle
Foot path = sidewalk
Lift = elevator
Loo = restroom
Biscuits = cookies
Scones = biscuits

And there are so many more. Like pizza being a "pie" - what the? Waiters would ask "Do you want the whole pie" and I'd imagine a whole lot of pizza filling encased in pastry top and bottom.

kitchu said...

1. sam just got WAY cuter. cuz i didn't know he was short. omg. FREAKING CUTE. i mean, i think all prior photos i have observed he has been up close or lying down or something but clearly not walking next to a human.

2. now i can't stop hearing my own warped boston accent in my own head saying that i have PSES.

Bekah said...

coming late to this party, but i just can't resist!

i had a roommate in college who was more than a little perplexed when i asked if she wanted a "sucker". i grew up in colorado but went to school in massachusetts. apparently in the northeast, the terminology is "lollipop"

Anonymous said...

In MN I grew up making a pan of bars for a party. This means anything besides cake from brownies to lemon bars to seven-layer bars.....

Kim said...

Shopping Cart and Shopping Carriage
Hot dog rolls and hot dog buns.

Tiffany Scharbrough said...

When I took French in high school, we discussed a study that revealed that Appalachian English is the closest American form to Olde English. Settlers (heavily Irish, btw) came to Appalachia, settled and stayed the heck away from anyone else. Living in Kentucky, I helped my grandma with her 'pocketbook' and got her groceries from the 'boot' of her car.

We call soda 'pop' around here, but that varies from county to county or region to region.

Tiffany Scharbrough said...

When I took French in high school, we discussed a study that revealed that Appalachian English is the closest American form to Olde English. Settlers (heavily Irish, btw) came to Appalachia, settled and stayed the heck away from anyone else. Living in Kentucky, I helped my grandma with her 'pocketbook' and got her groceries from the 'boot' of her car.

We call soda 'pop' around here, but that varies from county to county or region to region.

Kristy Cohn said...

I'm from GA but live in NY and my bff is English. I was raised saying toboggan referring to a cap. Also remember saying pocketbook and handbag. Grew up saying buggie while my friend says push cart. We say stroller and they say pram. Also we say garbage and they say rubbish (my personal favorite). I had never heard of boot of the car which my friend says as we said trunk. I also said sack vs. bag growing up. We say fired or let go and my friend says sacked or made redundant. Having lived in NoLA (New Orleans) they said divan and I was raised saying couch. Keeps things interesting to choose different ways of referring to things...

Footsy Fan said...

In England, a large pullover sweater is a jumper. Here in Texas, we still, routinely say we're "fix in' to". It means we're about to to, or getting ready do do something.

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