10 Things Only Bostonians Say

When Bostonians have conversations with out of towners, they often find themselves with a lot of explaining to do. Boston and New England slang is notorious for making others scrunch their eyebrows in bewilderment and ask, “what did you just say?” as we sigh and refer to our Boston dictionaries for help. Being from the Boston area is kind of like being born into an exclusive club. We say things and use expressions that you’re just not cool enough to say yourself. Here we put together a vocabulary list of 10 words that only Bostonians understand:

1. Wicked

Excited Boston Red Sox Fans

Photo courtesy of Movie Writer NYU

This one is probably the most obvious Boston slang word on this list. If you say wicked to anyone not from Boston, they will without a doubt interrupt you and either start mocking you or laughing at you. It has been so ingrained in my daily vocabulary that I don’t think I could stop if I tried.

Example: “I don’t think I’m going out tonight, I’m wicked tired.”


2. Bubbler

Not a drinking fountain or water fountain but a bubbler

I don’t care what anyone says, a bubbler is a water fountain. Why take the time to say “drinking fountain” or “water fountain” if you can just say “bubbler?” Besides, saying bubbler is way more fun than not saying bubbler.

Example: “Ugh, I’m wicked thirsty, do you know where the closest bubbler is?”


3. Rotary

Rotary or roundabout

That’s one big rotary.

One of my biggest pet peeves is how the iPhone GPS tells me take the first exit at the roundabout. It’s not a roundabout, it’s a rotary, and it would be awesome if people learned how to drive in one. I mean, even the road signs in Mass say “ROTARY” in big block letters, so it must be right.

Example: “Hey buddy, why don’t you learn to drive in a rotary!”


4. Clicker

Clicker, television remote control

I’m pretty sure people from other states say clicker too, but they especially say it in the Boston area. I rarely hear people asking for the remote control around here. It’s similar to bubbler in the way that “clicker” is much more fun and easier to say than “remote control.”

Example: “Hey, do you know where the clicker is? We’re missing the Pats game!”


5. Frappe

Frappe, not milkshake

Photo courtesy of Serious Eats

This word signals mass confusion at the ice cream window for visitors and tourists. What’s the difference between a milkshake and a frappe? Is it pronounced frap or frap-ay? Well, a frappe (pronounced “frap”) is a blended concoction of milk, ice cream and sometimes syrup or malt powder while a milkshake is just a shaken mixture of milk and flavored syrup. Basically, if you’re from New England, you know a frappe has ice cream while a milkshake does not.

Example: “I’ll take an extra thick chocolate frappe with an extra scoop of chocolate ice cream, please.”


6. Worcester or Woostah

Worcester Sign near Boston

Photo courtesy of The Pulse Mag


I’ve heard that the pronunciation of this city, located just west of Boston, really drives non-locals crazy. I even have a friend from Ohio who got lost because her GPS told her to take the exit for “Wooster” but all she saw were signs for “Wor-chest-er.” We understand that the city’s spelling is very misleading, but yes, it really is pronounced “Wooster.”

Example: “I got a wicked good frappe in Woostah the other day.


7. Pisser or Pissah

Wicked pissah

Photo courtesy of Chowdaheadz

I find that mostly just the older generation still uses this term and they almost always have a thick Boston accent to go along with it. The actual spelling of the word is “pisser” but it’s often spelled or sounded out as pissa or pissah to express a Boston accent. It’s just another way of saying something or someone is super awesome or outstanding.

Example: “That new flat screen TV is lookin real pissah.”


8. Jimmies

Chocolate sprinkles aka jimmies

Okay, it has recently come to my attention that people from Philly also say jimmies, but they obviously stole it from us. When a New Englander or Bostonian (or Philadelphian?) asks for jimmies on their ice cream, you best believe their cone is gonna come out covered in chocolate sprinkles. There’s some heated debate surrounding where the slang word came from, but everyone knows you have good intentions when you’re talking about sprinkles and ice cream.

Example: “Can I have three scoops of coffee ice cream with jimmies, please?”


9. Room as Rum

Bill Belichik wants you to stop calling out his Boston accent

I didn’t even know this was a thing until I was in New York and told my friend my phone charger was “in my rum.” When she started laughing and through her giggles asked me, “it’s in your what?” I realized my regional dialect had once again put me on the spot.

Example: “Oh my gahd, I can’t believe how small my dorm room (rum) is.”


10. Packie

Liquor Store aka Packie

This is a shortened way of saying “Package Store,” a place where you go to buy liquor in a package, commonly referred to as a liquor store. You’ll often hear Massachusetts residents saying they have to go to the packie for a quick alcohol run.

Example: “I gotta get a case of beeah at the packie for the pahty latah.”  


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