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21 things New Yorkers say and what they really mean

21 things New Yorkers say and what they really mean
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Anthony Quintan

Like politicians running for office or characters in romantic comedies, New Yorkers don't always say what they really mean. (For instance: that guy's apartment is always in Harlem, never "the Upper West Side.") To help you with this, here are 21 phrases that you will most likely encounter around the city, along with handy translations of what your fellow citizens actually mean. Feel free to bookmark this page for future reference.

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1. “Wanna get brunch? I’m kind of in the mood for a Bloody Mary.” = “I would like to get wasted by 2pm today, please.” 

2. “If you don’t drive this cab to Queens, I will report you.” = “I’m about to get out of this cab, grab another and completely forget about this.”

3. “I’m like three blocks away!” = “I’m ten blocks and an avenue away.”

4. “I’m basically at the beach all summer.” = “I take the Beach Bus to the Rockaways four times a year.”

5. “Was this place a good deal?” = “Please immediately tell me exactly how much you pay in rent.”

6. “Have you seen his place? It’s huge.” = “His apartment has two rooms.”

7. “I was waiting for the F train for, like, an hour.” = “I was waiting for the F train for 15 minutes." 

8. “I never thought I’d say this, but I kind of want a dog.” = “I want a boyfriend.”

9. “We went upstate this weekend, it was so nice!” = “I was dragged to a cabin in the middle of the woods against my will, and the crushing silence filled me with an overwhelming sense of existential dread for three days.”

10. “OMG I love that bar!” = “I went to that bar once before.”

11. “They live in Murray Hill” = “They live in Kips Bay, Gramercy Park or Turtle Bay and I can’t really remember.”

12. “I went on a Tinder date late night with this really chill guy, he’s a bike messenger.” = “I went on a date last night with a drug dealer!”

13. “I live in Bushwick.” = “I live in Ridgewood or Bed-Stuy.”

14. “They have crazy cheap cocktails.” = “Their cocktails are $9.”

15. “I know I should break up with him, but there’s something about him I can’t let go of.” = “I’m dating a screw-up with central air.”

16. “I’ve heard they have kind of a tough door.” = “I didn’t get into that bar once because I was wearing flats.”

17. “This neighborhood has changed so much since I moved here.” = “My favorite bar was just replaced by a Walgreens.”

18. “Ugh, some show is filming on my street today.” = “Law and Order: SVU is filming on my street and I walked really slow past the trailer marked “Lucy” in a desperate attempt to make eye contact with Mariska Hargitay.”

19. “I went grocery shopping this afternoon” = “I picked up a pint of milk and eggs from the bodega on my corner this afternoon.”

20. “I’m seriously considering moving to L.A.” = “I might move to L.A. for a few years and move back to New York.”

21. “I’m seriously considering moving to Portland.” = “I’m never leaving New York.”



Gary Seven

Here's one you never hear:  "Which one of you is a trust fund kid?" (Translation, "can someone give me a loan so I can stay in Manhattan?").


I'm a native New Yorker (although I don't live there anymore, I'm still verse on the sayings) I can safely say just what A New Yorker would say to you.  "What is this guy smoking"   We all know what that mean!!!! Talk to a real New Yorker before you assume their way of living and talking.

Lindsey TJ H

Well, thanks for another shit post by a non native NYer


Aside from number 1 (lol), I can't relate to any of these. But I guess that's because I was born in New York. This shallowness? All the transplants.... smh

Emerson D

Time out used to be a reputable publication, and now this...

Null S

what is desireable about Bushwick to lie and say you live there? I'm fine in Bedstuy. Judge me.

R.D. F

I like him, he's screwy.

Jacqueline X

I'm under the impression that most New Yorkers have no qualms asking someone directly how much rent they pay.

Juan A

Please give me a list of things real New Yorker's say, not some transplant nonsense. What New Yorker wouldn't say they live/were from Ridgewood or Bed-Stuy?

Anthony P

#18... they never ever mark the trailer door with either the correct actor's name or the correct character's name...

Juan J

Funny. I love the creativity in NYC. I make videos on art displayed in public spaces throughout NYC. 

Rosie A moderator Moderator

@Juan J Hi Juan - love hearing your comments but we don't allow links, so that's been removed - thanks!