A guide to Greater Boston slang you should know

Downtown Boston, seen from East Boston's Orient Heights. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Downtown Boston, seen from East Boston's Orient Heights. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

If you’re new to the region, you’ll probably notice quickly that some Bostonians sound a bit different. But it’s not just the Boston accent that’s often imitated (somewhat poorly) in movies and TV shows. Across Massachusetts, locals also commonly use expressions, slang and other lingo to describe everything from streets and neighborhoods to food and drinks.

To save you some time Googling these phrases, we've crowdsourced a list of lingo from our newsroom and social media followers. So, here’s a not-so-definitive glossary of terms you'll likely hear Bostonians or other Massachusetts residents say: 

All set: Good or done. "I’m all set," means I’m good or I’m all done with something. When asked: “Are you all set?” you're being asked if you're OK or if you're done with something. And when asked: “Is that all set?" you’re being asked if something (like a task) is done.

The B's: The Boston Bruins

Bang a U-ey: Make a U-turn in traffic.

Beantown: Bostonians don’t really use this nickname for the city of Boston with a straight face. And some really hate it. (Here's a deep dive on the origins of the term.) Still, it's possible you might hear someone utter "Beantown" in reference to the city; just know that it's mostly visitors who say it with earnest.

Blinker: Your vehicle's turn signal. Also pronounced "blinkah."

Bostonian: A person from Boston.

Bubbler: A drinking fountain. Also pronounced "bubblah."

The C's: The Boston Celtics

Carriage: Shopping cart

Clicker: TV remote

Comm Ave.: Commonwealth Avenue

Dot: A nickname for Dorchester, Boston's largest and most diverse neighborhood.

Dot Ave.: Dorchester Avenue. This major roadway is over five miles long and runs through Dorchester into South Boston. It ties together several diverse residential areas and business districts.

Dunks: Dunkin' (formerly Dunkin' Donuts). By the way, if you order a "regular" coffee, you're getting a coffee with cream and sugar. Some folks call it "Dunkies."

Eastie: A nickname for the neighborhood of East Boston, which is home to Boston Logan International Airport.

Elastics: Rubber bands

Fluffernutter: A sandwich made with peanut butter and Fluff, a marshmallow creme.

Frappe: What the rest of the country calls a milkshake, though older residents here will tell you "milkshakes" in New England do not have ice cream.

I'm hip: I already know, or I'm aware. So, someone might say, "I just got hip to the local music scene." Or if someone asks you about something you already know about (e.g. "Do you know the local music scene?"),  you would respond with, "Yeah, I'm hip."

It's brick: It's cold, or it's freezing. Someone might say, "It's brick out."

It's lookin' slow: The place in question looks empty or not fun.

Kid: A term of endearment that doesn't only apply to children. For example, you might say: "Nah, kid, I went to the store next door." Can be used kind of like "dude" or "this guy." Those with a Boston accent will say it like "kehd."

Mass.: Massachusetts. People often shorten our state's long name when talking about it. Also, The Associated Press used to abbreviate state names in its style guide so many news outlets, including WBUR, still use this shorthand.

Mass. Ave.: Massachusetts Avenue. This major roadway runs 16 miles from Boston's Dorchester neighborhood through other communities, like Cambridge and Arlington, before ending in the town of Lexington, northwest of Boston. The street crosses through several business districts, college campuses and neighborhood squares.

Nor’easter: A storm along the East Coast. Usually comes with heavy rain or snow, coastal flooding and gale force winds.

Nosuh: A rushed version of "No sir!" As in, "You're kidding me. No way!" Used to express surprise, and often pronounced as one word.

On Dead Dawgs/Dogs: I'm serious, or a way to emphasize the truthfulness of one's previous statement.

Package store: A liquor store or establishment where you can buy alcohol. (It's often shortened to "packie," but people should keep in mind that term is pronounced the same as a British slur.)

Parlor: Living room, or a beauty parlor

Pats: The New England Patriots

Pocketbook: A purse or handbag

Pissa or Pissah: Awesome. Sometimes combined with "wicked" to get "wicked pissah!" Bostonians are divided on whether people actually say "pissah," according to It's often said in jest or sarcastically.

The Revs: The New England Revolution soccer team

Rotary: Often used interchangeably as a term for roundabout or traffic circle. Technically, however, a rotary is the bigger, more chaotic cousin of a roundabout.

So don't I: So do I. For example, if someone says to their coworker, "I have a dog." And the coworker replies, "Oh, so don't I" — this person also has a dog.

Southie: A nickname for South Boston, a neighborhood long associated with Boston’s Irish immigrant community that was famously depicted in the movie "Good Will Hunting."

Space saver: An object — usually a household item, sign or something peculiar — that’s used to claim a parking spot you've shoveled out after a snowstorm. This is a city tradition that's done to prevent anyone else from parking there after you did all that work.

Staties: State police

Storrowed/storrowing: Typically, an annual spectacle during the city's unofficial move-in day (Sept. 1), where someone crashes a too-tall moving truck into a bridge or overpass on Storrow Drive. (It can also happen on Soldiers Field Road in Boston and Memorial Drive in Cambridge). The incidents usually cause costly damage and traffic jams. The state even made a PSA about it. Be sure to read the height limits and warning signs on the roadways so you don't get 'storrowed.'

The Cape: Cape Cod. When you're going there, you say "I’m going down the Cape," or "I was on the Cape last weekend."

The Charles: The Charles River

The Hub: Boston. Because it's the hub of everything and center of the universe, duh. Fun fact: The phrase was coined by Oliver Wendall Holmes back in 1858.

The Pike: The Massachusetts Turnpike, also known as the Mass Pike and I-90.

The Pru: The Prudential Tower. It's located in Back Bay and is part of a mall called the Prudential Center.

The T: The MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority), our public transit system. Here's a guide to getting around Boston.

Tonic: Soda

Tractor-trailer: A semi-truck

Triple-decker or three-decker: A three-story apartment building. Usually each floor is its own apartment, and they tend to have front and back porches. You'll see a lot of these around Boston, especially in Southie and Dorchester. They date back to the mid- to late 19th century, when they were originally built to accommodate immigrants coming from Europe.

Wicked: Very. This is used as an adverb, not an adjective. It's basically like saying the word “very.” For example, “This doughnut is wicked good." Occasionally, people also use the word as a synonym for extreme. As in, "I took a wicked header coming down the stairs and had to get stitched up."

Woop: Far away. So if something is a woop, it means it's far away. For example: Worcester is a woop from Mattapan.


Headshot of Zeninjor Enwemeka

Zeninjor Enwemeka Senior Business Reporter
Zeninjor Enwemeka is a senior business reporter who covers business, tech and culture as part of WBUR's Bostonomix team, which focuses on the innovation economy.



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