Posted by: Jack Henry | April 8, 2021

Editor’s Corner: Hey Youse Guys from Chicago!

Good morning to you!

My friend and colleague, Mary F., asked me to look into the phrase go by, which some Chicagoans say instead of go to, as in “I’ll go by the grocery store after work.”

Well, Mary’s right. Many Chicagoans do use that phrase, but it’s only the tip of a very interesting iceberg. I found a great article called “The Chicago Accent & Slang” on the Owlcation website. It talks about the city’s nicknames, the unique accent, and the often hilarious slang. I thought I’d share a little bit of the article with you today.

You probably know that Chicago is often referred to as the Windy City; we’ve all heard about or experienced the infamous windy weather there. And you’re probably aware that it is also often called the Second City.I know this nickname mostly because of the Second City improvisational group (that gave us greats like Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Steve Carell, and many more). But did you know that it’s actually called Second City because it had to be rebuilt after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871? At the time, it was also the second largest city in the U.S., after New York.

But enough history, let’s talk about the distinct Chicago accent. First, we should know how to pronounce the city name itself. If you’re a Northsider, you’d say Chi-CAW-go but if you’re a Southsider, you’d say Chi-CAH-go. And now that we’ve got that straight, let’s look at this table from the article; it gives a clearer picture of the Chicago accent (and may remind you of a famous SNL skit).

The Chicago Accent Deconstructed

Chicago Accent Instead of… …We Say
"th" becomes "d" this, that, there, "the Bears" dis, dat, dare, "da Bears"
short "o" becomes short "a" hot dog, pop, mom haht dahg, pahp, mahm
short "u" becomes "aww" but, cut bought, caught
"ctu" becomes "ch" picture pitcher
double "tt" becomes double "dd" little, bottle liddle, boddle
"th" becomes "t" (South Side) three tree

And now for the slang. I hope it makes you smile. (For a more complete list, see the article.)

  • Couple, two, three: This unique phrase describes "a few." If you ask your friends how many beers they’ve already had, you might hear "A cuppa, two, tree."
  • Dibs: Dibs is a notoriously awful parking situation that comes from a mixture of a lack of parking and a ton of snow. If you shovel the parking spot in front of your house, you may call it yours. Therefore, you have dibs on it.

  • Do You (or Didja) Wanna Come With?: [dbb – A couple months back I wrote about the phrase “come with.”
    Chicagoans share this phrasing with folks from Wisconsin and Minnesota.]
    Chicagoans like to end some of our questions with prepositions:

o Where’ya at?

o Where should I meetcha at?

o Are’ya comin’ with?

  • Frunchroom: This is how Chicagoans refer to the living room or parlor. Linguists believe it may have its origins in the term "front room."
  • Graj or grodge: This is where you park your car if you’re lucky enough to have one. It’s not pronounced "ga-rage." That’s just way too many syllables for a fast-talking Chicagoan.
  • Grachki: Related to the above, this is a garage key.
  • Washroom: Don’t ask for the restroom or the bathroom—and definitely don’t ask for the powder room! In this town, it’s the washroom.
  • Youse:The plural form of "you," as in "where are all youse goin’?" Also frequently paired with "guys," as in "what do youse guys wanna do?”

That’s it for today! Hang loose, friends!

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

Pronouns she/her/hers

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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