How Well Do You Know Midwest Slang?

By: Staff Author

What do Midwesterners call a big inter-state road?

It's an interstate, a highway, or a freeway elsewhere in the USA. But in the Midwest, it's an expressway!

What do Midwesterners call a public water dispenser?

A bubbler is just a water fountain, anyplace else. In the Midwest, it has a much more fun name!

What do Midwesterners mean if they say someone has "the holler tail"?

There's an old superstition in the area that cows that were sick literally had hollow tails. Hence, a holler tail is what you have if you're not well.

What do Midwesterners call a vacuum cleaner?

A sweeper is a vacuum cleaner. It's really a fancy modern broom, hence the origin of the name.

What do Midwesterners call a chocolatey-peanutty rice cereal snack?

Puppy chow is not dog food. It's a regional snack involving rice, peanut butter, chocolate and a lot of deliciousness.

What do Midwesterners call a carbonated beverage?

Pop doesn't just mean Coke, Sprite or any specific drink. It's the generic term for any fizzy or soft drink in the region.

How does a Midwesterner ask you if you have already had a meal?

Just say "did you eat" quickly enough and eventually you will get to "jeet?" If a Midwesterner is trying to feed you, this is what they'll say.

What do Midwesterners call a game played at summer barbecues?

Cornhole is a bit like boules mixed with hackeysack. It's a summer game played on a lawn at parties in the region.

What do Midwesterners call shoes that you wear for sporting purposes?

Gym shoes are the shoes you wear at the gym. Of course, these days you might wear them almost anywhere.

What do Midwesterners call a casserole?

Hotdish is a kind of casserole that has a mushroom cream sauce. You can vary the other ingredients according to what you prefer. One of the classics uses tater tots.

What do Midwesterners say to indicate they've made a mistake?

This is a contraction of "oops". It's what a Midwesterner says to indicate that they realize they have screwed up!

What do Midwesterners call a pastry filled with meat?

In the UK, a pasty is the same thing as it is in the Midwest. It isn't the rather cheeky thing that a New Yorker might think it means!

What do Midwesterners say to indicate that someone is very drunk?

If you're schnookered, you're very drunk. This is reminiscent of how, in snooker, you are possibly unable to function if you are in fact snookered.

What do Midwesterners call a traffic signal?

It's a light that tells you when to stop, and when to go. Thus, it's a stoplight or a golight!

What do Midwesterners say to express surprise?

It comes from a Norwegian expression meaning "goodness me!" This is most common in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

What do Midwesterners call the bathroom?

A restroom is a gender-neutral and entirely G-rated way of saying you need a bathroom. It will also be understood across the rest of the USA.

What do Midwesterners call the game "duck, duck, goose"?

This is mainly a Minnesota term. It's a more literal translation of the original Swedish name of the game.

What do Midwesterners call the living room?

It's a term that will be understood in most of the USA. However, "front room" is mostly only used in the Midwest.

What do Midwesterners say should be knee high by the Fourth of July?

Corn should be knee high by the Fourth of July so that you can harvest it on time. Plus, it looks good in the barbecue pictures!

What do Midwesterners call it when you win enough meat to feed your family for some time?

This is a tradition from local farmers' markets and fairs. It's not very common these days, which is a shame.

What do Midwesterners say to invite you someplace?

Leaving out a few keywords is a regional idiosyncrasy. Don't worry if you don't remember the missing word after a while; people will understand you.

What do Midwesterners call a traditional hotdog with chili, mustard, and onion?

A coney can mean a rabbit or an island off New York City. It also means a particular kind of hotdog!

What do Midwesterners say when they see a car with a missing headlight?

This nonsense word is part of a local superstition. You're supposed to say it while you pat the roof of the car. Last one to do this is in trouble

What do Midwesterners call a delicious Polish donut?

This delicious snack or dessert is basically the same as a donut. However, its name shows the Midwest's strong Eastern European cultural legacy.

What do Midwesterners call the grassy strip between the sidewalk and the street?

The devil's strip is named because it belongs to no one. One of the things that makes froniter life work - which the Midwest once was - is knowing who owns what, so you don't fight over it and someone takes care of it. Hence, unclaimed land is a place bad things happen.

What do Midwesterners say to indicate that something is very adorable?

"Oh, for cute" is similar in construction to a variety of other Midwest sayings. For example, if something is very fun, you might say "Oh, for fun!"

How do Midwesterners say "tough luck"?

Tough tomatoes are bad luck because tomatoes shouldn't be tough. It means you picked them before they were ripe, which is a shame.

What do Midwesterners call a pointless prediction that won't be accurate?

A forecast usually just means the weather. In Indiana in particular, it means a prophecy that is not going to come true.

What do Midwesterners call a tiny freshwater lobster?

Crawdads are freshwater crayfish. They look like sea lobsters but they are much smaller. They are just as yummy, though.

What do Midwesterners call a harmless little insect that lights up?

A lightning bug is actually the same thing as a firefly. However, in the Midwest, it has this even more awesome name. Fortunately, it's just pretty and doesn't bite.

What do Midwesterners call a yard sale?

A rummage sale is what you do when you're thinning out the useless things in your house. It's a great way to get rid of stuff you don't need and remember that your trash may be somebody's treasure!

How do Midwesterners pronounce caramel?

Caramel has only two syllables in the Midwest, with the first being emphasized. It tastes the same however you say it, of course!

What do Midwesterners call an elastic cord used to tie back hair?

A hair binder is the same thing as a hair tie. It's just a slightly more descriptive way of saying the same thing!

How do Midwesterners say, "Put that away"?

It's similar to "put up or shut up". If you put something up, you've put it away - which ironically means you probably had to put it down too!

What do Midwesterners call literally everyone?

This is a gender-neutral expression that people all over the US understand. It's most common in the Midwest, however.

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About This Quiz

The Midwest is one the least politically predictable parts of the United States. It's a blend of different communities, some of them extremely diverse and others more monochrome. In the Midwest, some of America's most important cities swim in a sea of corn. The Midwest has some of the most economically vibrant parts of the nation, with cities like Chicago and Cleveland where the opportunities just keep growing. It's also tragically home to many of the towns most ravaged by the economic downturns of the last generation, as the industrial manufacturing base that once provided the economic engine of the region was outsourced to the Far East and elsewhere. On the upside, new technologies like renewable energy and the rise of the internet have brought new jobs and businesses to the region.

Despite the variety of people within the region, there are some slang terms that cover several Midwestern states, or perhaps even all of them. They're sometimes used in other parts of the USA, but many are specific to the Midwest alone. That means you'll need to know them if you want to travel or even move there and make yourself understood. It's time to check your Midwestern slang knowledge. Let's get started!

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