Monday, May 19, 2008

More Chicago Vocabulary

Alderman: Elected official representating (male or female) one of the many wards in Chicago in the City Council. (Thanks Paul A.!)

The Alley: A popular store located on Clark, near Belmont Ave., where disgruntled youths can buy funky shoes, used military clothes, used Chicago Police jackets (tourists: awesome souvenir!), and other cool stuff.

Allstate Arena: New name of the former Rosemont Horizon.

Animal Stories: A regular segment on the radio show of Uncle Lar (Larry Lujack) and his sidekick Little Tommy. (Thanks Tom C.!)

Aragon Brawlroom: Nickname for the Aragon Ballroom because of its reputation for frequent mosh pits during concerts. Once was an elegant ballroom decades ago.

Argyle: Name of a east-west street on the northside, typically referring to the small Asian community in Uptown.

Bachelor's Grove: A haunted abandoned graveyard deep in a forest preserve on the south side.

Beef: Short for Italian beef sandwiches. "Gimme a beef!"

Berwyn: Western suburban town immortalized by the Son of Svengoolie. "BERrrwynNN!" (Thanks Myra!)

Blue Demons: DePaul's team.

Big Herm's: Nickname for Herm's Palace, a fast food and hot dog joint in Skokie on Dempster.

The Big Hurt: Chicago White Sox star Frank Thomas. (Although Bridget wrote that the slumping Thomas was more appropriately called "The Big Skirt." Yikes! Pretty harsh there! I don't think I'd say that to his face.)

Big Ten: Midwestern college sports conference, which includes the University of Illinois and Northwestern University.

Bleacher Bums: Regulars in Wrigley Field's bleacher section.

The Blues Brothers: Required viewing for any Chicago resident or anyone coming to Chicago. Great movie.

Blues Fest: 1) A free concert extravaganza at Grant Park where blues artists perform for several days. 2) A free concert for DePaul students in May, although blues music has become more of a rarity over the years.

The Boot: Short for the Denver Boot (yes, not a purely Chicago item), a nasty yellow metal device that locks a car wheel. Imposed by the city for repeated, unpaid parking ticket violations. Used in Chicago and other major metropolitan cities.

(Get) Booted: To receive a boot.

Boul Mich: Nickname for Michigan Ave. See Magnificent Mile.

Boys Town: A section on Halsted Ave., between Belmont and Addison, which is lined with gay bars on the west and east sides of the street.

Bozo's Circus: Children's TV show featuring Bozo the Clown, broadcasted by WGN-TV. Two or three generations have grown up with Bozo, dreaming of playing the one and only GRAND . . . PRIZE . . . GAME!!! (Thanks Paul A.!)

Brat: Short for Bratwurst. Pronounced "braht."

Brewski: Beer.

Bucktown: A developing neighborhood next to Wicker Park.

Buddy Guy's: Blues legend Buddy Guy's nightclub, "Buddy Guy's Legends."

Brandmeier: Jonathan Brandmeier, popular local Chicago D.J. who got dropped by the Loop 97.9 FM and is now on WCKG 105.9FM.

Cabrini Green: An enormous public housing complex on Chicago's near north side. Also referred to just as Cabrini.

Cal City: Calumet City.

Cal Sag Channel: Calumet Saginaw Channel, located on Chicago's south side.

Cashbox: Traffic reporter slang for tollbooths.

Cash Station: The major ATM network in Chicago

CBOE: Abbreviation for the Chicago Board Options Exchange. Pronounced "see-bow."

CBOT: Abbreviation for the Chicago Board of Trade. Also known as "The Board." (Thanks Tom C.!)

Char-dogs: Charcoal-grilled hot dogs, as opposed to your regular boiled hot dog. (Thanks Pat S.!)

Cheese and Sausage: For some odd reason, Chicagoans have to make sure their pizza order has cheese, even though I've never heard of pizza without cheese. (Thanks Koichi I.!)

"Cheezborger, Cheezborger": A phrase immortalized in a John Belushi sketch on Saturday Night Live. The phrase actually came from Billy Goat's Tavern, with its original location downtown.

Cheesehead: Anyone from Wisconsin.

Chgo: Abbreviation for Chicago

Chicagoans: Residents of Chicago. Not Evanston, not Tinley Park, not Elmhurst - CHICAGO.

Chicago Fest: The predecessor to Taste of Chicago, which took place at Navy Pier. (Thanks Michael B.!)

Chicagoland: The area which includes Chicago and its suburbs. "Greater Chicagoland Area" is redundant.

Chicago-Style Bungalow: Common design of single-family residences in Chicago's older neighborhoods.

Chicago-Style Pizza: Deep-dish pizza, originated by Pizzeria Uno in Chicago.

Chicago-Style Hot Dog: A hot dog coated in everything known to man. Some Chicagoans believe "everything" includes sauerkraut, while many agree that it does not include ketchup.

Chicago Transit Authority: 1) The public transportation system of Chicago. 2) The original name of the rock band "Chicago."

The Chicago Way: A quote from the movie "The Untouchables." "If he pulls out a knife, you pull out a gun. If he sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue - that's the Chicago Way."

Chi-Town: Nickname for Chicago.

Circle Campus: Old name for UIC.

City of Big Shoulders: Old nickname for Chicago.

City Council: The local city government, represented by the City's alderman and presided over by the Mayor.

Clincher: Name of the Chicago style 16" softball.

C.O.D.: College of DuPage.

Collar Counties: Counties surrounding Cook County.

Congress Expressway: Original name of the Eisenhower Expressway.

Continental: Bank of America, which acquired Continental Bank several years ago.

"Cooler by the Lake": Frequently said by TV and radio meteorologists, as the temperature usually is cooler by the Lake. It's also a catchy little phrase.

Cottage: Short for Cottage Grove, a north-south street on Chicago's south side.

Council Wars: A period during which the Chicago City Council frequently debated with Chicago Mayor Harold Washington.

Cow Tipping: The act of pushing over cows while they sleep. Do not attempt this. It is very dangerous for you and the cow.

Crain's: Crain's Chicago Business, a weekly business newspaper.

Cross-town Classic: The annual baseball game of the Chicago Cubs versus the Chicago White Sox. Once just for fun, these games now count in the regular season.

The CSO: Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

C.T.A.: Abbreviation for the Chicago Transit Authority.

Cubbies: Chicago Cubs.

Cut Rate Toys: Now further west from its original location, Cut Rate is a toy store located on Devon Avenue, best known for its tradition of great sales with full newspaper page coupons. As a former West Rogers Park kid, I more vividly remember the P.A. saying, "keep your children's hands off the toys or get them out of the store right now!" I think they've loosened up now.

Da Bears: Said only by suburban people who want to feel like Chicagoans, referring to the Chicago Bears. Originates from a Saturday Night Live sketch.

Da Bulls: Said only by suburban people who want to feel like Chicagoans, referring to the world champion Chicago Bulls. Originates from another Saturday Night Live sketch.

Da Coach: Former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka. Originates from a Saturday Night Live sketch.

Da Mare: Slang for The Mayor.

Dan Ryan: The section of the I-90/94 that runs on the south side of the city.

Dawg: Hot dog, the spelling sometimes used by hot dog vendors

Deep Tunnel: A system of tunnels underneath the city to reduce the impact of flooding in Chicago.

The Dells: 1) Wisconsin Dells, a tourist trap yet popular summer destination for families, complete with water parks, Tommy Bartlett's water show, and the Ducks. 2) Famous 50's doo-wop group from Chicago. (Thanks David W. for remembering the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame legends!)

Demon Dogs: A hot dog stand underneath the Fullerton El stop, adorned with memorabilia of the pop group Chicago.

DePaul: 1) DePaul University. 2) The section of Lincoln Park near DePaul University.

Detroit S*cks: A popular refrain at Hawks games against the Red Wings.
"Dipped?": Question from an Italian beef vendor, asking if you want the sandwich dipped in the sauce.

Disco Demolition: 1979 publicity stunt at Comiskey Park, where disk jockey Steve Dahl was supposed to blow up disco records. Instead, people stormed the field and destroyed the records (and parts of the field) themselves.

Dog Beach: A small sandy area near the Lake on the north side, where dog owners will let their pets free to play.

Doing Donuts: Spinning around in circles while driving, caused by snow.

Double Nickel: Trucker slang for I-55, more commonly known as the Stevenson. (Thanks Lisa!)

Downstate: To Chicagoans, any city, town, or area in Illinois, but outside of the Chicagoland area.

Downtown: 1) To Chicago residents, the Loop area and Michigan Ave. May also include adjacent areas such as iver North, West Loop, and South Loop. 2) To suburbanites, may be area within the Chicago city limits.

"Do you want to come with": Means "Do you want to come with (me/him/her/us.)" There is no need to properly identify with whom, as the phrase simply ends with "with."

The Drive: Lake Shore Drive.

Eagleman/Eaglewoman: The mascot found in Eagle Auto Insurance commercials, best known for their bad acting.

East Side: While east would mean somewhere in the middle of Lake Michigan for most of Chicago, there actually is an east side, specifically towards the south side of the city. The East Side is actually the name of Chicago's most eastern neighborhood, bordering the Indiana State Line.

Eddie and JoBo: Morning DJs on B96, once fired by the same station for their on-air shennanigans.

The Edens: I-94 on the north side of the city, after it breaks from the Kennedy.

Ed's: Short for Ed Debevic's, a popular 50's-style restaurant in the downtown area.

The Eisenhower Expressway (a.k.a. The Ike): I-290 expressway.

EIU: Short for Eastern Illinois University. (Thanks Stephen R.!)

The El: The Chicago elevated train system. See "The L."

Empire Carpet: A carpet dealer, known throughout Chicago for its catchy jingle ("5-8-8-2-3-hundred, Em-pire!") and frequent TV commercials with the Empire Carpet guy.

Emerald City: Nickname for the Lower Wacker Drive tunnel, when its lights were shaded green. (Thanks Cat!)

F.I.B. (F***ing Illinois B*st*rd): The name people from Wisconsin will call you if you call them a Cheesehead. Plural form: FIBs (pronounced "fibz").

Field's: Marshall Field, a prominent Chicago department store.

The Fire: 1) The Great Chicago Fire which decimated Chicago. 2) The major league soccer team (Thanks Erin!)

Flames: UIC's team name.

Flat: Units in a residential building, usually used for buildings with 2 to 6 units. For example, instead of saying that a house is a duplex, Chicagoans say it's a 2-Flat. Other examples: 3-Flat, 4-Flat.

Frangos: Frango Mint candies, a trademark confection from the department store Marshall Field.

The Fridge: Nickname for Chicago Bear William Perry.

The Friendly Confines: Wrigley Field. A sign inside the park says, "Welcome to the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field."

Front Room: The living/family room, so named because it is in the front section of the house. (Thanks Lisa!)

Gangway: The walkway between two buildings, typically residential buildings.

Gapers: People staring at an accident in traffic with their mouths "gaping" open.

Gapers' Delay: A delay in traffic caused by gapers, which are drivers stopping to stare at an accident.

Garden Apartment: Basement apartment.

Gisbon Sl*ts: Slang for women who hang out around Gibson's Steakhouse in search of wealthy men. Ouch. (Thanks Tom C.!)

Goes: Past or present tense of the verb "say." For example, "He goes, 'you cheesehead!'"

Goethe: A difficult street name to pronounce in the Gold Coast area, named after the German writer. Correctly pronounced "Gerta."

Gold Coast: A glitzy, expensive area near downtown, now more commonly referred to by their individual neighborhoods, such as River North and Streeterville.

Goofy: Adjective used to describe anything bad or silly, which Chicagoans are apparently more likely to use than others.

Gool: A safe place where you cannot be tagged out while engaged in the playground games of johnny, johnny tag, bismarck, and the like. Otherwise called "base" or "safe" in other areas. (I've lost the email for the guy who sent this in, but thanks! One of my favorite obscure ones.)

Goose Island: 1) Name of the only island in the Chicago city limits. 2) A popular microbrewery in Chicago.

Great America: A large Six Flags (formerly owned by Marriot) amusement park located in Gurnee, IL.

Great Lakes: 1) The five lakes consisting of Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior (my teacher always said to use the acronym "HOMES" to remember that.) 2) Great Lakes Dragway in Wisconsin (Thanks Ralph G.!) 3) Great Lakes Naval Training base in the northern 'burbs.

Green Limousine: Old slang for CTA buses, when they used to be green. They're now mostly white and blue.

Guys: Used when addressing two or more people, regardless of each individual's gender.
The Hancock: The John Hancock Building, one of the city's tallest buildings, located on Michigan Ave.

Harold's: Harold's Chicken Shack, which has a number of locations primarily on the south side. Great chicken.

Hawk: 1) A cold blast of wind. (Thanks Bos!) 2) Nickname for Cubs legend, Andre Dawson.

Hawks: Short for Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago's NHL professional hockey team

"Hey Hey": A trademark phrase from the late great Cubs announcer Jack Brickhouse when the Cubs hit a home run. Also was a Sox announcer.

Hillside Strangler: The traffic congested area of the western suburb, which includes the Eisenhower Expressway, East-West Tollway, Tri-State Tollway, and Roosevelt Road.

The HIP: Short for Harlem-Irving Plaza, a local mall on Chicago's northwest side.

Hizzoner: Slang for the mayor, as in "His Honor." Used on occasion in print editorials.

"Holy Cow": A trademark phrase from the late great Cubs (and former Sox) announcer Harry Caray.

The Horizon: The Rosemont Horizon, now known as the Allstate Arena, located in the suburb Rosemont.

Hot or Mild?: Question at Harold's Chicken Shack, asking which sauce do you want? !)

Hyde Park: A popular, crowded neighborhood on Chicago's south side, whose inhabitants include U of C people.

Hubbard's Cave (a.k.a. The Cave): A tunnel on the Kennedy just to the north of downtown, near Hubbard Street.

IDOT: Abbreviation for Illinois Department of Transportation. Pronounced "eye-dot."

IIT: Short for Illinois Institute of Technology.

ILL: Old three-letter abbreviation for Illinois (as opposed to the now more common IL), like abbreviating Florida as FLA (FL).

Inbound on the . . . (name of highway): Headed into the city.

Indian Boundary: A large park in the West Rogers Park area, which also has (had?) a very, very small zoo.

Inner Drive: The inner stretch of Lake Shore Drive.

IPASS: A electronic system placed in your car through which you can drive through tollbooths without tossing change. Pronounced "eye-pass."

Iron Mike: Mike Ditka.

ISU: Abbreviation for Illinois State University.

Italian beef: An underappreciated delicacy in Chicago of sliced beef in fresh bread, drenched in au jus. See beef.

Italian beef and sausage combo: A sandwich featuring the two meat combination of Italian beef and Italian sausage.

"It might be, it could be, IT IS!": A trademark phrase from the late great announcer Harry Caray, said when the Cubs would hit a home run.

Jay's: A brand of potato chips made by the Chicago company, Jay's.

Jeweler's Row: A concentration of small jewelry stores along South Wabash Ave. in the Loop.

The Joan: Nickname for U.S. Celluar Field (the former Comiskey Park), used because of U.S. Cellular's use of Joan Cusack in ads. (Thanks to the person who sent this in!)

Joe: A person, equivalent to "man" or "dude" in other areas. (Thanks to BeatmasterCHI and everyone who has sent this in!)

The Junction: The point on the north side of the city at which the Kennedy and the Edens meet.

The Kennedy: The section of the I-90/94 on the north side of the city.

Kitty-Corner: Located diagonally across the street. The equivalent of the expression "catty-corner" in other parts of the country.

K-Town: 1) A section of Chicago's southwest side where there a lot of north-south streets that begin with the letter "K." The streets are also on the northside, but I believe it refers to the Lawndale neighborhood. ( 2) A predominantly Korean-American area on Chicago's north side.

The "L": Nickname for the CTA's elevated train system. While most of this system is above ground, the term applies even when the train goes underground. The "L" represents its origins as the train system that "looped" around downtown. See Loop.

The Lake: Lake Michigan.

Lake Effect Snow: Snow caused by the Lake. Water retains heat better than land. In winter, when a cold, dry wind from land blows across a large body of water, the wind picks up the warmer, wetter air rising above the lake. When the wind reaches the land on the other side of the lake, it cools back down. Since cooler air can hold less humidity than drier air, the resulting precipitation is usually heavy snow falling on the land adjacent to the lake. Some places near the water may receive many inches, while a town just a few miles inland will receive only flurries. (Whew! Thanks Scott!)

Lakeview: A very crowded neighborhood on Chicago's northside, home to clubs, bars, and theaters.

The Land of Lincoln: Motto for Illinois.

The Lighthouse: A lighthouse along Evanston's beach.

Lincoln Park: A crowded northside neighborhood home to yuppies, Lincoln Park Zoo, Tower Records, and DePaul.

The Lincoln Park Pirates: Nickname for Lincoln Towing, who lovingly tow your car and charge you well over $100 to get it back. The term was originally coined in a song by Steve Goodman.

The Loop: 1) Downtown Chicago, named as such because the El "loops" around the area. The actual street boundaries of the Loop are: Lake St. to the north, Wabash to the east, Van Buren to the south, and Wells to the west, but it's usually defined as a little larger, specifically the Chicago River to the north and west, either Congress or Roosevelt (thanks Carl F.) to the south, and Michigan Ave. on the east. 2) Name of radio station WLUP 97.9 FM.

Lotto: The local lottery. Spend a buck for a chance to become a millionaire.

Lower Wacker Drive: A stretch of road underneath Wacker Drive in the downtown area, used by local buildings to load and unload goods.

Loyola: 1) Loyola University. 2) The section of the Rogers Park neighborhood near Loyola University. 3) Loyola Academy, the high school where Chris O'Donnell went.

LSD: Abbreviation for Lake Shore Drive, which runs along Lake Michigan.

The Magnificent Mile (a.k.a. Mag Mile): Michigan Avenue, specifically located south of Lake Shore Drive and north of the Chicago River. Known for the glitzy stores that line both sides of the street.

Mancow: Chicago-based, nationally-syndicated morning radio disk jockey.

Maxwell Street: A Chicago street, best known for its street vendors and flea market atmosphere. Now a fraction of what it once was thanks to UIC and eminent domain. (Thanks Kron and others!)

The Mart: Merchandise Mart, one of the world's largest office buildings, located to the north of the Chicago River.

Medusa's: Legendary under-21 nightclub, which used to be located at School & Sheffield. Now long since gone. (Thanks Jane O.!)

The Merc: The Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

The Met: WMET 95.5FM, an album oriented rock station in the 70's and early 80's. The frequency is now known as WNUA, a smooth jazz/new age station.

Metra: A railroad service that helps surburbanites get into and out of the city.

Midway: Chicago's second largest airport.

MJ: Michael Jordan.

Monkey Wards: Slang for department store Montgomery Wards.

Monsters of the Midway: Nickname for the Chicago Bears. Originated from when they played near the Midway Plaisance by the University of Chicago. The term "midway" which is the part of a fair where sideshows and amusement shows are located also came from the same area.

Montrose Beach: A beach near Montrose Ave., best known for its great view of the Chicago skyline as seen in many movies. Also known as a prime make-out place at night.

Mr. Cub: Cubs legend Ernie Banks.

Mrs. O'Leary's Cow: The legendary bovine which kicked a lantern, causing the Great Chicago Fire. Mrs. O'Leary and aforementioned cow were recently exonerated by the City Council from any wrong-doing.

"My Kind of Town": Frank Sinatra's classic song about the great city of Chicago.

New Town: Old nickname for the Lakeview neighborhood.

Night Game Parking: Certain streets where parking is not permitted, due to a Cubs night game, unless you have a permit.

NIU: Short for Northern Illinois University.

North Shore: Affluent suburbs north of Chicago, such as Winnetka and Lake Forest.

Northside: Anywhere north of Madison Ave. Stereotyped by southsiders as where the yuppies live. (As Dan G. reminds, it's often pronounced "nortside.")

Northsiders: Residents of the Northside.

Oak Street Beach: Chicago's most popular beach, located near Oak Street and the Lake.

O'Hare: Chicago's main international airport and one of the busiest in the country.

O'Hare Field: Old name for O'Hare Airport.

Old Chicago: Name of an indoor amusement park that has now been closed for many years.

Old Comiskey: The original Comiskey Park, where the White Sox played until the new stadium opened in 1991. The Old Comiskey, across the street from the current Comiskey, was torn down and turned into a parking lot, though a small marker identifies where home plate used to be. (Thanks Doug!)

Orchard Place: Original name of the airport before renamed O'Hare. This is the reason why O'Hare's code is still ORD. (Thanks Rob P.!)

Outbound on the . . . (name of highway): Headed outside of the city.

Outer Drive: The outer stretch of Lake Shore Drive.

Pershing Road: A Chicago street, but closely associated with the Chicago Board of Education, once headquartered on this street.

The Picasso: An unnamed piece of art by Picasso that stands in Daley Plaza in the Loop.

Pip: Former Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen.

A Polish: A Polish sausage.

Pop: A soft drink. Don't say "soda" in this town.

Poplar Creek: Former outdoor music venue, now housing. (Thanks John "Skachman"!) The Plaza: Evergreen Plaza, a popular shopping mall on Chicago's south side. (Thanks Bob!)

The Point: Area along the Lake near 55th St., marked by a small house. An outstanding view of the Chicago skyline and Navy Pier.

Prairie: An empty neighborhood lot. (

Pudge: Nickname for Chicago White Sox great Carlton Fisk.

(Casmir) Pulaski Day: A local holiday in early March (and a day off for school kids and city offices) in celebration of Casmir Pulaski, a general and war hero from the Revolutionary War. Chicago has a large population of persons of Polish ancestry.

Pullman: Southside neighborhood named for railroad tycoon George Pullman, who created the first industrial town there in the late 19th century.
Punkin' Donuts: The Dunkin' Donuts at Belmont & Clark (near The Alley), which used to be frequented by many punk-ish, leather-clad, black-hair-coiffed individuals in the 80's/early 90's.

Ramblers: Loyola University's team name.

Ravinia: A summer outdoor venue in the northern suburbs for watching the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, opera, jazz, and other arts. Great time. (

The Reader: A free newspaper that comes out every Thursday listing the coming weekend and following week's music, theater, and other events, as well as articles and classifieds. Available at most record stores and nightspots.

Resurrection Mary: A legendary ghost that has been known to hitch rides with men, get out of the car, and run into the cemetary.

Reversibles: Express lanes on the Kennedy, which reverse direction depending upon the time of day.

Richie: Mayor Richard M. Daley. Comes from when he was called "Richie" or "Little Richie" during the time his father, Richard J. Daley, was mayor. (Thanks Kim!)

The Riv: The Riviera Theater, located near the Aragon in the Uptown neighborhood.

The River: Chicago River.

Riverboat Gambling: Casinos on a riverboat. There is no gambling in the city (unless you count Lotto), but casino-style stuff can be found in the riverboats of outlying cities like Elgin.

River North: A neighborhood to the north of the Chicago River and home to Planet Hollywood, Ed Debevic's, and other popular restaurants and nightspots.

Riverview: A long gone amusement park that used to be located at Belmont & Western. Now home to a shopping center and police station.

Rock 'N Roll McDonald's: Located in the River North neighborhood, this McDonald's with a rock 'n roll theme is one of the world's busiest.

The Rocks: Area along the Lake near Belmont, so named because of the rocks along the shore. (Thanks to the many of you who submitted this one!)

Roof: Pronounced "rough" in true Chicago pronunciation.

The Rush: Chicago Rush, the local arena football team.

Rush Street: Usually only means the section of Division, east of LaSalle St. and west of Rush St., near downtown, aligned with singles bars on the north and south side of the street.

Ryno: Chicago Cubs great Ryne Sandberg.

's: Use of "'s" is commonly added to most store names. For example, Jewel, a major grocery store chain in the area, is often referred to as "Jewel's," Carson Pirie Scott, a major department store chain, is called "Carson's," etc.

Sammitch: Pronunciation in deep Chicago slang for "sandwich."

Samurai Mike: Chicago Bears legend and newly-inducted Hall of Famer Mike Singletary.

S-Curve: The dangerous curve along Lake Shore Drive that weaved between Monroe and Ontario, which was later straightened a bit.

Second City: 1) Old nickname for Chicago, when it was the nation's second largest city. Others have argued that the Second City title is actually because the city was rebuilt after its destruction by the Great Chicago Fire. 2) Legendary comedy club on the northside, where many Saturday Night Live legends, like John Belushi and Bill Murray, got their start.

SIU: Short for Southern Illinois University.

Six Corners: Nickname for the Chicago intersection of Milwaukee, Cicero, and Irving Park.

Skitching: The dangerous act of hitching a ride on the rear bumper of a car when there's ice or slick snow. Do not attempt to do this potentially fatal act. Southsiders may pronouce the word as "skeetching." (
Sliders: Nickname for hamburgers from White Castle, a popular Midwestern burger chain.

Smelt: A fish commonly caught by fishermen along Lake Michigan. (
Softball: Similar to baseball and the "softball" played in the rest of country, but Chicago-style softball is played with a 16" ball, instead of a 12" ball, and none of the fielders wear mitts.

Son of Svengoolie: Host of a weekly local TV show showing old horror movies. (I used to have nightmares about some movie with mushroom people.)

South Shore: 1. Developing southside neighborhood at the southern end of Lake Shore Drive. 2. Commuter railroad line between Chicago and Indiana.

Southside: Specifically anywhere south of Madison Ave. Stereotyped by northsiders as being dangerous. (As Dan G. reminds, it's often pronounced "soutside.")

Southside Irish: Persons of Irish ancestry on the southside.
Southsiders: Residents of the Southside.

Southtown: A newspaper targeting southwest Chicago and its suburbs whose slogan is "People Up North Just Don't Get It"

Sox Park: Comiskey Park, where the Chicago White Sox play.

The Stadium: Chicago Stadium, now gone, the former home of Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks. Feel the roar! (Thanks John "Skachman" and Murph!)

Stateville: Illinois prison located in Joliet, IL.

The Steel Bridge: A highway bridge on the south side; a common landmark used by traffic reporters. (Thanks Bob B.!)

Steve and Garry: A popular DJ team on the Loop at one time, but now feuding. (Thanks Lauren!)

The Stevenson: I-55 expressway. Stony: Short for Stony Island, a north-south street on Chicago's south side.

Stoop: Stairs in front of a house.

Streeterville: A neighborhood located to the north of Chicago River, east of Michigan Ave.

Streets & San: Nickname for the Department of Streets and Sanitation. (Thanks Kristen and Daniel!)

Streetwise: A newspaper sold by members of Chicago's homeless population.

"Sweet Home Chicago": a) Song composed by blues legend Robert Johnson. A favorite for any blues set in Chicago. (Thanks Paul C.!) b) Name of the 2001 attraction where furniture was painted by local artists and placed outdoors on city streets.

"Sweet or hot?": Another question from an Italian beef vendor, asking if you want sweet or hot peppers on your Italian beef.

Subway Series: A fantasy that has gone on for decades that the World Series may someday be the Chicago Cubs versus the Chicago White Sox (thus, being able to commute via the subway from the Cubs games to the Sox games).

Sunshine Delay: Slower traffic caused by bright sunlight. As rush hour morning traffic typically means travelling east towards the rising sun and evening traffic means travelling west towards the setting sun, delays can occur because of blinded drivers. (Thanks Richard R.!)

Sweetness: Chicago Bears legend Walter Payton. Rest in peace, #34.

The Swift: Short for the Skokie Swift, a train system that links Skokie residents to Chicago's El system. (Thanks Murray!)

The Taste: The annual Taste of Chicago Festival, a huge extravaganza in Grant Park featuring samples of Chicagoland's fine cuisine. Takes place around and before the Fourth of July holiday.

"Through and Through": Police slang for a shooting in which the bullet comes out the other side. Pronounced "True 'N True."
Times: Short for the Chicago Sun-Times, one of Chicago's major newspapers.

Top of the Cock: Top of the John Hancock Building.

The Trib: Short for the Chicago Tribune, one of Chicago's major newspapers.

The Two Jerrys: Nickname for Chicago Bulls manager Jerry Krause and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, blamed by many for ending the world champion team's dynasty.

The UC: The United Center, which is the stadium where the Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Bulls play.

U of C: Short for University of Chicago, one of the city's best and most expensive universities.

UIC: Abbreviation for University of Illinois in Chicago.

Uncle Bobby: The late Bob Collins, who was a radio personality on WGN AM radio. (Thanks Deanna D.!)

Valpo: Valparaiso University

Viagra Triangle: New nickname for the Clark/Division/Rush area, home to many bars and restaurants. (Thanks to Stephen J. and others!)

Victory Autowreckers: Long-time auto junkyard (in "Bensenville, near O'Hare") that has run the same commercial on TV for years. "That old car is worth money" is their opening phrase. (Thanks Midwesty -- didn't have your real name!)

"Vote early and vote often": A quote from Al Capone regarding Chicago's electoral system.

Water Tower: 1) A Chicago landmark, specifically the only structure to survive the Great Chicago Fire. 2) Water Tower Place, a mall located on the Magnificent Mile near Water Tower - the landmark.

Wet or Dry?: Question from an Italian beef vendor about whether you would like it dipped in the juice or not. (Thanks C. Anania!)

Wiener Circle: Name of hot dog stand at Clark and Wrightwood. Has been referred to on TV show "ER."

"Where you always save more money": The long-time sales slogan of Celozzi-Ettelson, a car dealership with frequent TV commercials.

WIU: Short for Western Illinois University.

Wicker Park: One of the largest artist communities in the country, located on the northwest side of the city.

Windchill Factor: The temperature that the weather actually feels like. Because of the wind, the temperature may feel colder. As a result, it's possible to have a temperature of 32F, but strong winds make it feel close to 0F.

The Windy City: Nickname for Chicago. While the winds are quite harsh in the city, the nickname is over a century old, originating from when Chicago and New York were competing for the World's Fair. A New York journalist mentioned Chicago's blowhards and windbag politicians. (Thanks Amy!)

Winter and Construction: Punchline to the joke, "what are the two seasons in Chicago?"

Wolfpack: A patrol of several city tow trucks that tour neighborhoods and haul a bunch of cars in one swoop.

Woodfield: Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, IL. An enormous indoor shopping mall with more retail space than Mall of America.

The World: The Tweeter Center in Tinley Park, formerly known as the New World Music Theater. Best known for its crap sound system which has even been specifically named by musicians (e.g., Grateful Dead) as being truly awful.

The Worm: Former Chicago Bulls star Dennis Rodman.

The Wolves: The Chicago Wolves, a professional hockey team that plays at the Rosemont Horizon

Wrigleyville: The neighborhood that surrounds Wrigley Field, where the Chicago Cubs play.

XRT: WXRT, 93.1 FM, known for its history of playing "alternative" music for years.

Z95: Popular pop music radio station in 1980's. Has since undergone format changes and is now a mostly classic rock station known as CD 94.7.

Hey Chicagoans and former Chicagoans! Got any more phrases? Write to with more additions to this page!


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