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Photograph: Martha Williams

10 phrases that have a different meaning in Chicago

Written by
Clayton Guse

When you leave Chicago, you quickly realize people in other places speak a completely different vernacular. Residents of the rest of the world don't follow the proper food conventions, make the right weather references or adhere to other cultural customs Chicagoans know and love. Here are 10 phrases that have a completely different meaning when said anywhere outside of Chicago. 

"Sweet, hot and dipped"

Other places: A creepy approach to a stranger on Tinder.

In Chicago: A common way to order an Italian beef.

"The Hawk"

Other places: A predatory bird.

In Chicago: The wind.


Other places: A polygon with four right angles and four equal sides.

In Chicago: A cigarette.

"Good beer"

Other places: Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada or another mediocre beverage from a big-box brewing company.

In Chicago: A tasty pint from a nearby brewery that was canned a week prior to consumption.


Other places: A musical note.

In Chicago: A crisp $100 bill.


Other places: A description of someone from the eastern European country, Poland.

In Chicago: A hot meat stick covered in onions and mustard.


Other places: A psychedelic drug that induces an intense, self-reflective experience, man.

In Chicago: Lake Shore Drive.

"The Jewels"

Other places: A treasure that a pirate might seek.

In Chicago: An affordable grocery store chain.


Other places: A time when no one should be awake.

In Chicago: When the last of the bars close (except for a few 5am licenses on Saturdays). 

"Sales tax"

Other places: A small fee associated with a purchase.

In Chicago: A 10.25 percent shellacking of your wallet

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