Mighty Red Pen

July 29, 2009

That’s a wicked good frappe

Filed under: Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 7:09 pm
Tags: ,

Check out  “Regional Dictionary Tracks the Funny Things We Say” about the Dictionary of American Regional English.  According to Celeste Headlee:

The DARE project, as it is known, was initiated in the 1950s by Frederic Cassidy, a well-known linguist who sent field workers out across the country in “word wagons” to interview people. Cassidy’s catalogers talked to nearly 3,000 people over six years, making recordings along the way in order to capture pronunciations.

The first volume of the DARE was released in 1975, with additional volumes following in time. But the final volume still had not been published by the time of Cassidy’s death in 2000, and the linguist’s tombstone reads, “On to Z!”

Now, after five decades of research, “S to Z” of the DARE will be published next year. Joan Hall, the book’s chief editor, says the dictionary is unique because it tells us how we speak, rather than how to speak.

Here are some examples of the words you’d find in DARE:

honeyfuggle (v) To swindle or dupe; to intend to cheat or trick. (Usage: scattered)

hookem-snivey (adj) Deceitful, sneaky. (Usage: scattered)

mulligrubs (n) A condition of despondency or ill temper; a vague or imaginary unwellness. (Usage: scattered, but especially the South)

Round these parts, popular regionalisms include packy (liquor store), scrod (whitefish that may be haddock or may be cod), bubbler (water fountain), frappe (milkshake—a milkshake is something else entirely), and my personal favorite, wicked (totally exceptional). What’s your favorite regionalism?

Hat tip to our friends at Ducks and Drakes.



  1. Hi there, Red Pen!

    My Google Reader seemed to think I’d like your blog, and it was right; I do! Glad to have found it. I posted on DARE a while back too. So exciting!

    Anyway, when it comes to regionalisms, I happen to love “yins,” which is the plural form of “you” in parts of Pennsylvania.

    Comment by Ray Gunn — July 30, 2009 @ 7:23 pm | Reply

  2. New Englanders have the *best* words for everyday objects, especially food and drink. Order a coffee “regular” (or as a Bostonian might say, “regla”) and you get it with cream and sugar. I grew up calling any soft drink a “tonic.” In some neighborhoods (especially those with a large Italian-American population), spaghetti sauce is “gravy.” In Rhode Island, clam cakes aren’t disk-shaped like crabcakes, but little fried spheres of yumminess.

    Loved this post. It was a wicked pisser.

    Comment by Laura — August 3, 2009 @ 12:21 pm | Reply

  3. Jimmies/Sprinkles.

    I worked with a woman who used the term dressing to refer to stuffing, I was quite confused by that and it took a couple of minutes to understand what she wanted on her chicken sandwich.

    Comment by Molie — August 3, 2009 @ 7:51 pm | Reply

    • Stuffing is the stuff that’s cooked inside the turkey. If you’ve made too much of it for the bird, you put it in a casserole and bake it — that’s what New Englanders call dressing, though many don’t make the distinction and refer to either as dressing.

      Comment by Laura — August 3, 2009 @ 10:37 pm | Reply

  4. @Laura — Don’t you mean “wicked pissah”? 🙂

    Comment by mighty red pen — August 3, 2009 @ 8:06 pm | Reply

    • I must be retahded. Or maybe I’ve been away from Boston for too long.

      Comment by Laura — August 3, 2009 @ 10:41 pm | Reply

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