Endangered American Slang Needs Your Help

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Won’t you consider adopting a word or two?

If you’re from Delaware, Maryland, or Virginia and think having shat fall from your pinetrees is abnormal, then we have news for you: you are among the many Americans losing touch with your historical regional dialect. And let’s be frank: can our language, our literature really afford to lose fleech, fogo or goose drownder?

Okay, poop jokes aside, the Dictionary of American Regional English views the potential extinction of 50 American words and phrases as no laughing matter. DARE and the global podcasting platform Acast have joined forces and are starting a campaign to bring these colloquialisms back to “their former glory.” The game plan is for hosts of various programs on Acast’s network to start using these at risk words, in hopes that their millions of listeners will adopt them into their vocabulary.

This is not a bad strategy considering the growing popularity of podcasts in the U.S. The president of Acast, Karl Rosander, believes “learning through audio is a hugely effective educational method,” and “vummed” that there will be a vernacular revival.

And what about the written word? Well, readers, study up, make a point of using a few of these expressions in your own writing. Let’s all of us do Faulkner proud.

Here’s the full DARE list of endangered words and phrases:

Barn burner: a wooden match that can be struck on any surface. Chiefly Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Maryland.

Bat hide: a dollar bill. Chiefly south-west.

Be on one’s beanwater: to be in high spirits, feel frisky. Chiefly New England.

Bonnyclabber: thick, sour milk. Chiefly north Atlantic.

Counterpin: a bedspread. Chiefly south and south midland.

Croker sack: a burlap bag. Chiefly Gulf states, south Atlantic.

Cuddy: a small room, closet, or cupboard.

Cup towel: a dish towel. Chiefly Texas, inland south region.

Daddock: rotten wood, a rotten log. Chiefly New England.

Dish wiper: a dish towel. Chiefly New England.

Dozy: of wood, decaying. Chiefly north-east, especially Maine.

Dropped egg: a poached egg. Chiefly New England.

Ear screw: an earring. Chiefly Gulf States, lower Mississippi Valley.

Emptins: homemade yeast used as starter in bread. Chiefly New England, upstate New York.

Farmer match: a wooden match than can be struck on any surface. Chiefly upper midwest, Great Lakes region, New York, West Virginia.

Fleech: to coax, wheedle, flatter. South Atlantic.

Fogo: An offensive smell. Chiefly New England.

Frog strangler: a heavy rain. Chiefly south, south midland.

Goose drownder: a heavy rain. Chiefly midland.

I vum: I swear, I declare. Chiefly New England.

Larbo: a type of candy made of maple syrup on snow. New Hampshire.

Last button on Gabe’s coat: the last bit of food. Chiefly south, south midland.

Leader: a downspout or roof gutter. Chiefly New York, New Jersey.

Nasty-neat: overly tidy. Scattered usage, but especially north-east.

Parrot-toed: pigeon-toed. Chiefly mid-Atlantic, south Atlantic.

Pin-toed: pigeon-toed. Especially Delaware, Maryland, Virginia.

Popskull: cheap or illegal whiskey. Chiefly southern Appalachians.

Pot cheese: cottage cheese. Chiefly New York, New Jersey, northern Pennsylvania, Connecticut.

Racket store: a variety store. Particularly Texas.

Sewing needle: a dragonfly. Especially Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Massachusetts.

Shat: a pine needle. Chiefly Delaware, Maryland, Virginia.

Shivering owl: a screech owl. Chiefly south Atlantic, Gulf states.

Skillpot: a turtle. Chiefly District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia.

Sonsy: cute, charming, lively. Scattered.

Spill: a pine needle. Chiefly Maine.

Spin street yarn: to gossip. Especially New England.

Spouty: of ground: soggy, spongy. Scattered.

Suppawn: corn meal mush. Chiefly New York.

Supple-sawney: a homemade jointed doll that can be made to “dance”. Scattered.

Tacker: a child, especially a little boy. Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania.

Tag: a pine needle. Chiefly Virginia.

To bag school: to play hooky. Chiefly Pennsylvania, New Jersey.

Tow sack: a burlap bag. Chiefly south, south midland, Texas, Oklahoma.

Trash mover: a heavy rain. Chiefly mid-Atlantic, south Atlantic, lower Mississippi Valley.

Tumbleset: a somersault. Chiefly south-east, Gulf states; also north-east.

Wamus: a men’s work jacket. Chiefly north-central, Pennsylvania.

Whistle pig: a groundhog, also known as woodchuck. Chiefly Appalachians.

Winkle-hawk: a three-cornered tear in cloth. Chiefly Hudson Valley, New York.

Work brittle: eager to work. Chiefly midland, especially Indiana.

Zephyr: a light scarf. Scattered.

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