Get us in your inbox

boston triple decker
Photograph: Shutterstock

40 Boston slang words and expressions you should know

They're wicked useful, kid.

Olivia Vanni
Written by
Olivia Vanni

Bostonians truly have a way with words—and you might not understand them all. Whether you’re a college student with four years ahead of you in our fair city, or are simply here for a short visit, you could always use a crash course in our local vernacular. From our colorful descriptors to the nicknames we’ve bestowed unto our neighborhoods, there’s so much more to speaking Boston slang than dropping the occasional “R.” So as you ask for directions to the best things to do in Boston or rub elbows with locals at our best bars, keep an ear out for these expressions and you might actually know what we’re all saying.

Bang a uey (v.): to make a u-turn, likely an illegal one because that’s just how we do.

Bubbler (n.): a drinking fountain.

The Cape (n.): Cape Cod, where tourists and preppies flock during the summer months, causing hours of traffic delays south of the city. 

Carriage (n.): a shopping cart that you use to get your groceries, most likely at Market Basket. 

The Charles (n.): The Charles River, which is no longer flowing with its infamous “dirty water”... but you should still probably close your mouth ASAP, if you ever fall in. 

Clicker (n.): the remote control; pronounced “click-ah.”

The Dot (n.): Dorchester, where that stereotypical Boston accent basically originated.

Dungarees (n.): denim jeans (you’ll usually only hear people over the age of 50 using this word). 

Dunks (n): our most cherished coffee chain, Dunkin’ Donuts, founded down in Quincy in 1950.

Eastie (n.): East Boston; probably the only reason you’ll ever take the Blue Line. 

The Garden (n.): TD Garden, where the Celtics and Bruins play.

Hosie (v.): to call dibs on something.

I could care less (int.): how we like to say that we couldn’t care less about something. 

Jimmies (n.): chocolate sprinkles for your ice cream.

Kid (n.): a term of endearment that you use to address your closest friends.

Masshole (n.): a derogatory term for Massachusetts residents that Bay Staters have reappropriated.

Nor’easter (n.): A winter storm that we get at least once a year, prompting us all to freak out and ravage the grocery stores for milk, eggs and bread. 

No suh (int.): no sir; no way.

OFD (adj.): Originally from Dorchester (i.e. The Wahlbergs); a badge of honor for townies.

Packie (n.): a liquor store; short for “package store.”

The Pike (n.): the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90), which runs between the city and Western Mass. 

Pissa (adj.): awesome.

Pockabook (n.): a purse; just how we happen to pronounce “pocketbook.”

The Pru (n.): The Prudential Center, a mall in the Back Bay.

Regular (n.): a coffee with cream and sugar, presumably ordered from Dunks and iced, even when it’s below freezing out.

Ripper (n.): an insane party.

Rotary (n.): a roundabout; traffic circle; vehicular death trap.

So don’t I (int.): me, too. (We like to throw in negatives when they aren't necessary).

Southie (n.): South Boston, a historically Irish-American neighborhood where well-paid yuppies and townies now coexist.

Space-saver (n.): any large household object (i.e. a lawn chair, a barrel) used after a winter storm to prevent anyone from taking your painstakingly shoveled, on-street parking spot.

Supper (n.): the third meal of the day.

The T (n.): the MBTA, our public transit system and favorite thing to complain about.

The Town (n.): Charlestown; see Southie.

This fuckin’ guy (int.): a stranger who’s pissed you off; conversely, a friend you’re pleased to see.

Tonic (n.): soda. 

Townie (n.): a city native who’s never left the neighborhood they grew up in, still hanging around in all of the same places with the same people. 

Triple decker (n.): A popular three-floor apartment building, where each unit has a front porch/balcony, so people can sit outside, yell to their neighbors and rip butts. 

Wicked (adv.): very.

Yah huh (int.): yes way; indeed.

You guys (pro.): plural form of you.

More on city identity

    Latest news