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25 Words That Have Different Meanings Across the United States

25 Words That Have Different Meanings Across the United States

Even though the United States are united (thanks Abraham Lincoln!), there are still regional differences in the way they speak. Some of the differences come from pronunciations, while some come from a regional dialect. This list gives a glimpse into 25 Words That Have Different Meanings Across the United States.

1. Mini river crustaceans

In the North: referred to as “crawdads” and “crayfish.”

In the South: “crawfish.”

These mini river crustaceans make delicious local dishes, though the word to describe them is still under debate.

2. A carbonated sweetened beverage

In the North: ask for “pop.”

In the South: “soda,” or generalized as “Coke.”

In the North you order your favorite pop, say Mountain Dew. In the South it is a Soda, or you might even order a Mountain Dew by saying, “I’d like a Coke,” after which you’d be asked: “What kind?”

3. A group of people

In the North: Hey, “you guys!”

In the South: Hi “ya’ll!”

This phrase is the great divider between North and South, and how you address a group of people determines your geographical heritage.

4. Pastie

In the North: a “pastie” is a hot pocket, filled with vegetables and a choice of meat.

In the South: a “pastie” is a covering women put over their nipples in order to be modest.

This one is a bit interesting, because although the word is spelled the same, pronunciation is what matters. In the north (especially Michigan) you say “past” with an “ie” on the end. The nipple covering is pronounced “paste” with a “y” on the end. I’ve made this mistake when ordering food in the North before, and the locals thought I was an idiot.

5. Sugar

In the North: sugar comes in 5- or 10-pound bags and is normally used for baking.

In the South: “sugar” can mean a kiss.

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If you ask for some sugar in the South, you might be surprised when you get a big peck on the lips! If you ask for sugar in the North, people will assume you are doing a lot of baking.

6. Bet

In the North: a bet is something that you place on a game of poker.

In the South: “bet” is a way to say that you agree.

The word “bet” in the south comes form the saying, “you bet you” or “you betcha”, which is shortened to “bet” as a way to say that you agree. In the North, if someone says bet, it’s generally in reference to gaming.

7. Pitcher

In the North: a photograph.

In the South:  a container for a beverage.

The word picture, especially is rural areas in the North, sounds more like “pitcher” when pronounced. In the South, this almost always refers to a big pitcher of sweet tea.

8. Dressing

In the North: something that goes on salad, ie. ranch.

In the South: a bread based side dish.

In the North, there is basically one salad dressing: ranch. In the South, if you asked for dressing on your salad you would probably get croutons –“dressing” is that tasty bread concoction that is normally stuffed in a turkey for Thanksgiving.

9. Tea

In the North: black tea.

In the South: This is a cold drink consisting of sugar and an aftertaste of tea.

Another divider between the North and South is how we like to drink our tea. The South is legendary for their sweet teas. If you go far south enough, tea at a restaurant is always sweetened, and if you ask for it unsweetened they instantly know you are an out-of-towner.

10. “The Lake”

In the North: this can mean any of the Great Lakes, if you’re close to one.

In the South: the local swimming hole.

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If you are a Midwesterner, when someone references “the Lake” it generally means one of the Great Lakes. In the South if someone references the lake, it usually means a local pond or quarry.

11. Fixing

In the North: something you do when your car is broken down.

In the South: getting prepared to do something, ie. “I’m fixing to eat some crayfish.”

Another great divivder of the Norther and Southern dialect is “fixing”. When my boyfriend says he is a fixing, it usually means he is working on a car. If someone in the South says this, it means they are getting prepared to do something.

12. Buggy

In the North: if you live near the Amish, a horse-drawn cart.

In the South: a shopping cart.*

*A “horse and buggy” has an entirely different meaning in the South.

13. Greens

In the North: a salad.

In the South: cooked collard greens.

If you ask for greens in the north, you will get a house salad. If you ask for greens in the south, you will undoubtedly get piping hot collard greens.

14. Shredded cabbage served with a milk-based cream

In the North: ask for “coleslaw.”

In the South: “slaw” will suffice.

The different between these words is minor, but again, Southerners seem to have a way with getting to the point when it comes to food.

15. When it is sunny while raining

In the North: this weather phenomenon is commonly referred to as a “sun shower.”

In the South: they say, “The devil is beating his wife.”

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This saying speaks for itself, and for the vivid imagination that Southerners have.

16. Dope

In the North: generally a slang term for drugs, or to say something is “cool.”

In the South: toppings that you put on your ice cream sundae.

Again, Southerners have a great way of getting to the point when describing food. I will make sure to ask for dope on my sundae in the future.

17. BBQ

In the North: a sweet sauce made from tomatoes, garlic, and Worcestershire that you slather on ribs.

In the South: a process of cooking meat slowly over fragrant wood.

The different in BBQ between the north and south is rather significant — one is a marinade and the other is a form of cooking.

18. Peninsula

In the North: this either means Upper Michigan, or the Mitten of Michigan that is covered on all three sides by lakes.

In the South: Florida.

Geographical heritage plays a major role in where the peninsula is located. Northerners will unanimously say Michigan, once you get south of the Ohio River, it is always Florida.

20. Butter

In the North: the condiment you put on bread.

In the South: the basis of all cooking.

Southerners (Paula Dean for example) use an excessive amount of butter to cook, well, everything. In the North, butter is more often a condiment.

21. Football

In the North: this means “the Big Ten” or, more specifically, Ohio State.

In the South: The Sec or, more specifically, ‘Bama.

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This played out perfectly in the 2015 Sugar Bowl.

22. Shorts

In the North: a garment that is worn as soon as it 40 degrees.

In the South: a garment that is worn as soon as it is 70 degrees.

A big difference between the North and South is our wardrobe. In the North the first day that is warmer than 40 degrees, girls are wearing hot pants. In the South, the girls are a bit classier and hold off until it’s at least 70 to put on the daisy dukes.

23. Rustbelt

In the North: the area of cities along the lakes that were part of the industrial boom and bust, now populated with mostly hipsters.

In the South: a belt that is rusty.

Midwesterners fondly call the old industry areas the Rust Belt. In the south, a rust belt would probably be something on a chain saw that has sat out the whole rainy season..

24. “Bless your heart”

In the North: a way of showing sincerity and appreciation.

In the South: a way of telling someone they are an idiot.

I have heard plenty of northerners say “bless your heart” and generally it came off as a way of saying “thank you,” but in the South it basically means the opposite.

25. Snow

In the North: white precipitation that comes in increments of feet and might cause schools to close when there is a wind chill of -40.

In the South: white precipitation that causes entire states to close down with a total snowfall of 2 inches.

Another example of geographic differences — the winter of 2013/14, the South was shut down several times when they received 1-2 inches of snow. In the North, I drove 20 miles to work in -40 degree weather, with close to a foot of snow on the ground.

Featured photo credit: Leo Reynolds via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 20, 2018

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

A new year beautifully symbolizes a new chapter opening in the book that is your life. But while so many people like you aspire to achieve ambitious goals, only 12% of you will ever experience the taste of victory. Sound bad? It is. 156 million people (that’s 156,000,000) will probably give up on their resolution before you can say “confetti.” Keep on reading to learn why New Year’s resolutions fail (and how to succeed).

Note: Since losing weight is the most common New Year’s resolution, I chose to focus on weight loss (but these principles can be applied to just about any goal you think of — make it work for you!).

1. You’re treating a marathon like a sprint.

Slow and steady habit change might not be sexy, but it’s a lot more effective than the “I want it ALL and I want it NOW!” mentality. Small changes stick better because they aren’t intimidating (if you do it right, you’ll barely even notice them!).

If you have a lot of bad habits today, the last thing you need to do is remodel your entire life overnight. Want to lose weight? Stop it with the crash diets and excessive exercise plans. Instead of following a super restrictive plan that bans anything fun, add one positive habit per week. For example, you could start with something easy like drinking more water during your first week. The following week, you could move on to eating 3 fruits and veggies every day. And the next week, you could aim to eat a fistful of protein at every meal.

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2. You put the cart before the horse.

“Supplementing” a crappy diet is stupid, so don’t even think about it. Focus on the actions that produce the overwhelming amount of results. If it’s not important, don’t worry about it.

3. You don’t believe in yourself.

A failure to act can cripple you before you leave the starting line. If you’ve tried (and failed) to set a New Year’s resolution (or several) in the past, I know it might be hard to believe in yourself. Doubt is a nagging voice in your head that will resist personal growth with every ounce of its being. The only way to defeat doubt is to believe in yourself. Who cares if you’ve failed a time or two? This year, you can try again (but better this time).

4. Too much thinking, not enough doing.

The best self-help book in the world can’t save you if you fail to take action. Yes, seek inspiration and knowledge, but only as much as you can realistically apply to your life. If you can put just one thing you learn from every book or article you read into practice, you’ll be on the fast track to success.

5. You’re in too much of a hurry.

If it was quick-and-easy, everybody would do it, so it’s in your best interest to exercise your patience muscles.

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6. You don’t enjoy the process.

Is it any wonder people struggle with their weight when they see eating as a chore and exercise as a dreadful bore? The best fitness plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life. The goal isn’t to add stress to your life, but rather to remove it.

The best of us couldn’t bring ourselves to do something we hate consistently, so make getting in shape fun, however you’ve gotta do it. That could be participating in a sport you love, exercising with a good friend or two, joining a group exercise class so you can meet new people, or giving yourself one “free day” per week where you forget about your training plan and exercise in any way you please.

7. You’re trying too hard.

Unless you want to experience some nasty cravings, don’t deprive your body of pleasure. The more you tell yourself you can’t have a food, the more you’re going to want it. As long as you’re making positive choices 80-90% of the time, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence.

8. You don’t track your progress.

Keeping a written record of your training progress will help you sustain an “I CAN do this” attitude. All you need is a notebook and a pen. For every workout, record what exercises you do, the number of repetitions performed, and how much weight you used if applicable. Your goal? Do better next time. Improving your best performance on a regular basis offers positive feedback that will encourage you to keep going.

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9. You have no social support.

It can be hard to stay motivated when you feel alone. The good news? You’re not alone: far from it. Post a status on Facebook asking your friends if anybody would like to be your gym or accountability buddy. If you know a co-worker who shares your goal, try to coordinate your lunch time and go out together so you’ll be more likely to make positive decisions. Join a support group of like-minded folks on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere on the internet. Strength in numbers is powerful, so use it to your advantage.

10. You know your what but not your why.

The biggest reason why most New Year’s resolutions fail: you know what you want but you not why you want it.

Yes: you want to get fit, lose weight, or be healthy… but why is your goal important to you? For example:

Do you want to be fit so you can be a positive example that your children can admire and look up to?

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Do you want to lose fat so you’ll feel more confident and sexy in your body than ever before?

Do you want to be healthy so you’ll have increased clarity, energy, and focus that would carry over into every single aspect of your life?

Whether you’re getting in shape because you want to live longer, be a good example, boost your energy, feel confident, have an excuse to buy hot new clothes, or increase your likelihood of getting laid (hey, I’m not here to judge) is up to you. Forget about any preconceived notions and be true to yourself.

  • The more specific you can make your goal,
  • The more vivid it will be in your imagination,
  • The more encouraged you’ll be,
  • The more likely it is you will succeed (because yes, you CAN do this!).

I hope this guide to why New Year’s resolutions fail helps you achieve your goals this year. If you found this helpful, please pass it along to some friends so they can be successful just like you. What do you hope to accomplish next year?

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