What Did You Just Say?

I am going to Bonnaroo tomorrow afternoon with a friend. As we bantered back and forth about what we’d need for the weekend, she asked me if I was going to bring a “book bag.” I said, “a what?” wondering why in the world I would take a bag full of books to a music festival. I work for a publisher and love books but that just seems WEIRD. She quickly clarified that she meant a “backpack.” She just grew up some backwards place where they call “backpacks” “book bags.” She preceded to tell me that she calls a “trunk” a “boot” which threw me for a total loop.

"Backpack" or "Bookbag"???

"Backpack" or "Book bag"???

This confusing conversation got me thinking about how regionally people use different words to describe basic things. The most common would be the whole “soda”, “pop”, “Coke” thing. (Be sure to check out this map that spells out the most common name for soft drinks by county.) But here are some others that just make me giggle:

“Purses” – “Pocketbooks” – Or the correct term used by department store buyers around the world “Handbags”

“Sneakers” – “Tennis Shoes” – Or my favorite “Kicks”

“Mayonaise” – “Salad Dressing”

“Stuffing” – “Dressing”

And this one that always bothered me. A “Rehearsal Dinner” is called an “After Rehearsal Dinner” in parts of the South. I mean why do you have to clarify that the dinner is actually after the rehearsal? Have you ever been to a “Rehearsal Dinner” that is before the rehearsal? And you certainly don’t say a “Post-Wedding Reception.” Or maybe you do?

What other funny words have you heard to describe a familiar object?

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  • Trunk = boot where I come from.

    Trash can = bin (or, more correctly, rubbish bin)

    Trash = rubbish

    (yes, we do say ‘throw it in the rubbish”)

    That thing in the car to put your gloves, documents, and guns in is called a ‘glove compartment’.

    The hood of a car = the bonnet

    Pants = trousers

    The fire department is the fire BRIGADE

    and finally, (that I can think of at this time of night)

    sneaker = trainers.

    oh, and a soccer field is called a pitch

    Oh, yeah, and soccer is called football due to the fact that you use your feet.

  • rebrev

    Okay, okay. Here’s one for the ages. When do you eat dinner? Is it mid-day or eveing (vs. lunch or supper). Or, is dinner like the “parlor” reserved for Sunday and special occasions (like Thanksgiving and Christmas)?

    When you do have dinner, what is the difference between sweet potatoes and yams, green beans and pole beans, loaf bread and white bread, butter beans and limas? Bonus question – ever eat “pot liquor” on a biscuit?

    Great post and shows we can all speak the language and still have no idea what is being said! 🙂

  • lindseyreadenobles

    Got another one – “Chicken Fried Steak” – “Country Fried Steak”

  • rebrev

    The juices of cooked vegetables, usually black-eyed peas or field peas – but I guess it could be any vegetable.

  • rebrev

    Another I discovered here in eastern NC is “nabs.” Those crackers that come in packs like cheese crackers with peanut butter, or wheat crackers with cheese. More specifically there are round nabs and square nabs. Name may come from the fact that Nabisco makes them but the term nab is generic.

  • Here’s the one that we battle in our house:

    shopping cart (me) vs buggy (my husband)

    A buggy is an old fashioned term for what you put a baby in, not a place where you put food… but you know our other grocery shopping battles 🙂 (BTW – there are a dozen boxes of Pasta Roni in the pantry from the last shopping excursion. Apparently they were on sale.)

  • Marcie Porterfield

    also the whole sofa vs. couch thing,,,,

  • Oh, I protest. Mayonnaise and salad dressing are NOT the same thing. Mayo can be used as a salad dressing, but it has many other uses and there are many kinds of dressings that have nothing to do with mayo.

    I grew up calling a couch a Chesterfield. My parents came from different parts of the country and I was growing up in yet another, so I have no idea where that came from. I suspect Western Canada. Couch was acceptable, but nobody said sofa.

    And sneakers were running shoes. Still are, for me.

  • rebrev

    Oh wait, don’t forget the sub, gyro, hoagie – whatever you call a footlong sandwich 😉

  • Chris

    My grandparents, who are Midwesterners, still call lunch “dinner” and dinner “supper.” Both meals are hot and substantial, as they need to be when one is a farmer.

    I don’t understand “might could.” You MIGHT do something or you COULD do something? Yes or no?

  • Richard Muske

    I grew up in Houston and apparently we are the only region in the world that calls the Frontage Road (or Access Road) “The Feeder.”

    I also know people that call tennis shoes “Tenny-Runners”. I think it’s a hill-billy thing 🙂

  • Kelly Valenta

    How about:

    “ice box” or “fridge”
    “cup towel” or “kitchen towel” or “hand towel”

    Hugs, Linds!


  • Kelly Valenta

    Oh and “up under”….

    As in, “it’s up under the sink” 😉

  • Kelly Valenta

    One more…. “a couple three”

    That one always drove me crazy – do you mean 2 or 3???

  • shawncita

    I have two additional idiosyncrasies:

    “I took and I…”

    ex. “I took and I went to the store last night…” or “I took and I told the fella he owed me five dollars.”

    The other is the oft-used “fixin’ to”

    ex. “I’m fixing to hop in the shower…” or “I’m fixin’ to break my foot off in your a$$ (a direct quote from Dad!)”

    Also can’t forget “icebox” versus “refrigerator.”

  • danateru

    chewing gum ….for “gum” …..is there another kind?

  • Marcie

    call us tonight