Table of Contents
Welcome to Pennsylvania – A Brief Historical Background
Home of the Liberty Bell, the Philidelphia Eagles, and Philadelphia Flyers.
We also have the Amish, Pennsylvania Dutch, The Pocono, Allegheny Mountains, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. When you think of Pennsylvania most people think of two things.
They are Philadelphia and the Amish. Contradictory to what people believe the entire state is not Amish, or Mennonite and Philadelphia is not the whole state.
It is just a city that is part of Eastern Pennsylvania.
This means that there is slang from all different areas throughout the state.
Furthermore, in this article, it’s time to learn some Pennsylvania slang terms to know. There is more to the state than what most people think.
Including the dividing line between Eastern Pennsylvania slang and stereotypes and Western Pennsylvania slang and stereotypes. In Eastern Pa, you have cities and places such as Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley, Pa Dutch/Amish, and Lancaster Pa.
In the middle of the state, Allegheny Mountains run through. If you keep driving straight on the Pennsylvania turnpike then eventually you will hit Western Pennsylvania. This is home to the 412 or as it is well known as Pittsburgh.
Whether you visit or live in Pennsylvania you come to learn certain slang terms depending on where in the state you live.
The same word has three to four meanings depending on who is saying it and wherein the state you are located at.
To describe pop, Coke or soda are examples of words that are the same in meaning but said differently across the state.
Eastern Pennsylvania Slang Terms
Starting with the well known most eastern city in Pennsylvania…. Philadelphia.
Philadelphia, known as Philly or the city of brotherly love. It is synonymous with the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Rocky steps, and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Slang terms of this area are cheesesteak- this has the most literal meaning. The meaning of this slang term is a long sandwich filled with chipped steak, sauce, onions served open-faced.
Philly is known for their cheesesteaks and while there is some local competition for who makes the best cheesesteak between Pats and Geno’s just ask a local and they will send you somewhere else to get one that’s just as good if not better. First off when you order know what you want and have your money ready.
- “Yous” – it is the eastern pa way of saying you all.
- Mac – Money Access Center, it is just an older way of saying an automated teller machine or ATM. An example of this is, going to the MAC machine, going to tap mac.
- Let’s go birds – referred to the professional football team the Philadelphia eagles
- Soda – Soda is the ultimate reference for any kind of drink
Some advice for people who are going to Philidelphia, do your research on the areas that you are going to visit or want to visit in the city.
Like most cities, there is a good part of Philly and a not so good part of Philly. North Philly is one of the more dangerous places to go in the city.
Every city blocks dynamic changes one part can be nice and safe while the next block can be a little rougher.
Lehigh Valley Slang Terms
Once you are done with Philadelphia and go north you will come across the Lehigh Valley, this is Allentown and Lehigh.
This area has some infusion of cultures from the PA dutch and Amish which are located south of the Lehigh Valley. In addition to some influence from Philidelphia and the Pennsylvania dutch.
Here are some Pennsylvania Slang Terms to Know about the Lehigh Valley.
- Grutzy- cranky and tired
- 22- Refers to Route 22, take 22 to the right or the left.
- Say or Say now- means what about doing this or something else. Also used instead of hey now or to begin a conversation with someone. ” say now what if you wore blue shoes instead of the red ones.
- The plural of hair is hairs- Did you get your hairs cut today at the salon
- Musikfest– a music festival that happens once a year in the Leigh valley that runs a week.
- Shush- Shusssh, quiet down, or be quiet.
Pa Dutch/ Amish and Lancaster
Now moving to the southwest across the state you come across Lancaster next.
Here Lancaster is known for tourism and the Amish. This is Pa dutch county where the portions are big and everything is closed by nine on the week and five on the weekends.
In this section, here are some Pa Dutch/ Amish and Lancaster Pennsylvania slang terms to know.
- Road apples- horse poop normally found in the middle or on the side of a country road
- Peachy keen- it is all good, it is cool
- Firehouse wedding- a wedding and reception inside of a fire station. Native to the small towns in this area and local townspeople.
- Longjohns this word has two meanings that are very different from each other.
- They are a type of doughnut, that is a long and rectangular shape. It has icing on the top normally in one of three flavors chocolate, vanilla, or peanut butter. Achenbachs is the premier brand of longjohns.
- Longjohns are also the type of pants that you wear over the top of your underwear but below your jeans or sweatpants. They are normally brought our during the cold winters to keep people warm during there time outside. Also can be fleece-lined or a thick thermal material like flannel. Normally used whether that be working outside, or playing in the snow. Also known as thermal underwear in stores.
- Courting season- it is a specific time of the year when the Amish boys try to impress and date the Amish girls. This season normally lasts the course of a few months during the summer and into fall. When it is over big Amish weddings happen.
- Barn raising- this is when a bunch of Amish all get together over the course of a few days and they build a barn or a house for someone in their community.
- A Buggy- also known as a horse and buggy. It is what the Amish use to travel around and get where they need to get.
Amish Slang Food Terms
Here are some well-known Pennsylvania slang terms for food.
- Scrapple- a combination of pork fat and trimming with flour and seasoning baked in a loaf.
- Faustnaut-. A special type of doughnut made only for Fat Tuesday or Shove Tuesday. It’s specifically sold by the half dozen and dozen. The powdered kind is the best.
- Dippy eggs- it is eggs that you can dip your toast in
- Coke/soda- is soda or any other drink that one can be offered.
Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania Slang Terms
When traveling westward across the state you come across mountain towns that are built into the Allegheny mountains. Keep driving west and eventually, you will hit the city of Pittsburgh. Further on you will land in Ohio, to showcase how far west Pittsburgh is.
This section is all about how to talk like a Pittsburgh local and the western Pennsylvania slang terms to know.
City of Pittsburgh Slang
- Pittsburgh, located in western pa and uses the word yinz
- Yinz – the Western pa way of saying you all
- Yinzer- The people of Pittsburgh and surrounding areas
- Sweeper- is another word for vacuum
- Creek – pronounced crick it is a body of water
- Stillers- The western way of saying steelers. The local professional football team the Pittsburgh steelers.
- Jagoff- its an insult to someone who is being mean or annoying
- Pittsburgh salad- a salad with fries inside of it.
- Primanti’s- Going to Primanti bro’s and getting a sandwich. French bread, meat, fries, coleslaw, tomatoes. People might look at you weird if you take items off the sandwich.
- Let’s go Pens- cheering on the Pittsburgh penguins the professional hockey team, they play at PPG paints area.
- H2P- Hail to Pitt, this is the university of Pittsburgh slogan, along with the Panther Pit.
- Buggy- its a shopping carts
- Gutchies- it’s underwear, gender-neutral old school phrase
- Pop- another word for soda. All soda is pop and all pop is soda.
Locations in Pittsburgh
- Point – refers to Point State Park that is located in downtown Pittsburgh. It is also the home to fort Pitt. Has beautiful water features and a fountain
- North shore – it is referring to the part of the city where the Steelers play at Heinz Field.
- Southside – it’s where a road of bars are located at.
- The Strip- It is like a farmer’s market with stores and restaurants. Wholey’s is a well-known fish market that sells all types of meat, seafood, and other good, also known as Robert Wholey & Co
- Take the T-The underground train that you can ride for free around the city and go places out of the city for a low fare.
- Downtown – refers to the entirety of downtown Pittsburgh
- PPG Paints- it is the sports area where the Pittsburgh Penguins play
- 412-the area code for phone numbers and people in the area
- Parking chair- a chair that designates that a parking spot has been claimed by someone else. Also saving a spot for someone else to come by and join your group of people.
- The incline- There are two inclines in the city of Pittsburgh one is the Duquesne Incline and the Monongahela Incline. They both take you up Mount Washinton and give you a breathtaking view of the city from above. It is the best at night to see the city all lit up.
Pennsylvania Stereotypes to Know
They are not necessarily accurate but however everywhere in the world has them for good or for bad.
In addition, a good part of them started through the silver screen.
- In Pennsylvania movies and television shows, you see people and local attractions. These form stereotypes of the people and areas of people. The common stereotype is that everyone is Amish, Mennonite, or lives next to one. Women wearing plain colored dresses and men dressed in muted colors with a hat.
- Despite what you see on television and movies not everyone is this way this is just part of the population of the surrounding towns. In true fashion women and girl’s hair will be in a bun or pinned back with a bonnet on it. Men grow beards after they get married.
- Single men and young men will not have any facial hair.
Everyone being Mennonite is any other stereotype of the area and they dress similarly to the Amish, except for some more mainstream clothing brands. Mennonite women also are more likely to wear long skirts and wear ponytails and braids in their hair.
There is a part of the town where all the tourists go. The locals here do not eat at buffets and smorgasbords all the time, nor do most people go to the gift shops.
See Related: Why Traveling is Important
One of the other types of stereotypes in Philadelphia is that they are big flyers fans as it is the locals’ professional hockey team, some are even die-hard fans for their team. The Italian guido type of person is another common personality you will see in the city.
Everyone wants to run up the same step that Rocky did at the Philadelphia museum of art. Although many movies were shot in Philly including Rocky, National Treasure, and Silver linings playbook, the city is very different than what is showcased in films that feature different parts of the city.
The nice part of Philly is by Rittenhouse square is the rich part of the city. There are also a lot of museums in that area.
See Related: SeatGuru Review
Furthermore in Pittsburgh, everyone does not yell yinzer at each other while eating perogies and waving a terrible towel. People are die-hard fans and extremely passionate about the local football team the Pittsburgh Steelers.
If you walk around downtown on game day before the game subsequently you will hear the Pittsburgh black and yellow song, as well as a few other Pittsburgh, themed songs.
Other Fun Facts and Pennsylvania Sayings Terms to Know
In addition here are some general fun places fun Pa slang terms to know
Weird town names and how to pronounce them:
- Schyuky- pronounced school-cool
- Bird in hand- its town that has some great food. There is also a bakery, a smorgasbord, hotels, and cafes. It is a tourist Amish town.
- Intercourse, blue balls, paradise are all towns and you have to drive through intercourse to reach paradise.
- Kitchen Kettle Village– a little real town designed to be an old colonial type of town. People in outfits and lots of homestyle types of food.
- Reading- pronounced (red) ing, the past tense of reading
- Jim Thorpe-known as little Switzerland of Pennsylvania
Now you know how to talk like a local Pennsylvanian and have learned all the important Pennsylvania Slang Terms, it’s time to learn some other states’ slang.
Via Travelers is a modern travel blog focused on helping you learn the best travel tips, travel hacks, and itineraries to explore the world. Find your wanderlust.