The Windy City is known for a lot of things: deep-dish pizza, jazz music, Al Capone, and the ever-famous Chicago Bean just to name a few. However, if you’re headed to Chicago you’re definitely going to want to brush up on your Chicago slang first.
As a Midwestern city, the accent here differs from other areas of the country, such as Texas, California, and definitely New York. If you’re a local, then you’ll probably fight like hell just to prove to out-of-towners that the accent and Chicago slang are simply the best version of spoken American English.
However, if you’re not from here, you might have some trouble making sense of it all. Here are ten Chicago slang words to sound like a local next time you visit the Windy City.
Parties in Chicago might be called parties, except when they’re not. Usually, you’ll hear someone refer to a chilled out, laidback house party as a kickback. If you’re visiting Chicago with friends or are studying in the city, you’ll likely hear this term a lot. “Hey man, we’re having a kickback at Pat’s if you want to come.”
This one would be a hard guess for virtually anybody who’s not from Chicago. Americans from other cities rarely guess what flodgin means, but in reality, it’s pretty simple. It just means to be lying. If you hear someone say “Stop flodgin, I now you stole my cash” then you might want to take a step back and defend yourself. Things are about to get heated.
A fin, a fiver, or even a sawbuck. It seems that Americans have lots of names for their cash, and when it comes to Chicago slang, they take it even further. If someone asks you for a fin in Chicago, they’re likely asking you for a five-dollar bill. If you’re going out a lot in the Windy City, you’ll probably use this one a lot. “Hey, can you spot me a fin for the drinks?”
Dibs isn’t really new when it comes to slang, but in Chicago, it means something pretty particular. Calling dibs in any slang means to claim your space before you actually get there. However, in Chicago, it usually means to claim your parking spot during the winter. Chicagoans will call dibs by placing anything from patio furniture to suitcases in a parking spot.
The Chicago slang word frunchroom sounds pretty much exactly what it is. It’s the front room of a house, usually where families keep their nicest furniture. This term is extremely popular in Chicago, seeing as traditional homes here are constructed in such a way that nearly every house has a frunchroom off the main entryway.
Merch is pretty popular in the music industry, as it’s usually used as an abbreviation of merchandise. In Chicago slang, however, merch means to ask for proof. If you tell your friend that you know her boyfriend is cheating on her, she might reply with “merch.” That simply means that she wants you to prove it.
7. Wear the Jacket
Yes, Chicago is cold, but wearing a jacket in Chicago might not always be a good thing. If you ever hear someone use the Chicago slang phrase wear the jacket, then they’re talking about taking the blame for something. This phrase dates back to the city’s gangster days, so it’s a little more severe than just taking the blame for something like stealing a drugstore lipstick.
8. The L
If you’re completely and totally new to the city of Chicago and have never Googled anything about the city, then you’ll definitely want to familiarise yourself with The L. It’s the popular public transit system runs throughout the city above the streets. If you’re visiting Chicago, you’ll definitely want to ride The L a time or two.
There are no prairies anywhere near the city of Chicago, so what the heck could this Chicago slang word mean? A prairie, at least in Chicago slang, is an abandoned lot, usually where the neighbourhood kids gather to play. A kid might tell his mom, “Hey mom, I’m going to the prairie to play with Mark.” This means he’s just going to the local empty lot to kick around for a bit.
Soda, Coca-Cola, Coke, and pop are all terms that Americans use to describe carbonated soft drinks. In the midwest, you’ll find that nearly every state calls it pop. So, if you’re at dinner and you want to ask for their list of soft drinks, ask for their list of pop. “What kind of pop do you got here?”