Local Slang: A Guide to Being “Wicked Smaht”

by Kerry Ryan

Who are the mysterious people that hang around with some Green Monster? They keep their Red Sox jerseys tucked in neatly as they mosey about with their daily Dunkins styrofoam cups. They can even be spotted throwing their Bruins caps as they yell that you are going wicked slow around the rotary. They are indeed a mysterious group, fleeing annually to their secret summer location down the Cape.

“Who are these people, and WHY do they park their cars in Harvard Yard?!” you might ask. The answer is simple: these are Boston-area locals. As a longtime member of this infamous bunch, I was unaware that I constantly use local slang, only comprehensible to other fellow Bostonians. I only became aware of how unique these terms were once I got to college, asking fellow Bentley students where the bubbler was. Not only did they not know where to find a bubbler, they also thought I was insane. For all of the newcomers to Massachusetts, here are a few local terms:

  • Dunkins or Dunks: Dunkin Donuts. NOTE: A regular coffee in Boston means much more than merely a caffeinated cup of Joe. A regular (or regulah) refers to a cup of caffeinated coffee with one cream and one sugar.
  • The Cape: Cape Cod, one of the most popular Massachusetts vacation spots. However, it is never fully referred to as “Cape Cod,” as that would require too much effort.
  • Rotary: A roundabout or traffic circle. Bonus Fact: Bostonians are known for being some of the most ruthless people on the road. That includes pedestrians! Speeding, forgetting a blinkah, and spontaneously dodging traffic on a crosswalk are all common occurrences around these parts. Some call them laws; Bostonians call them suggestions.
  • Bubbler: The bubbler is another name for a water fountain, but allows you to show off that swanky new Boston accent of yours.
  • Wicked: There must be a law in Massachusetts in which citizens will be fined if they use the term “very” instead of “wicked.” Wicked is practically the hub of all Boston slang. It’s commonly used to intensify a situation, similar to the use of “very.” It’s rarely used to describe something evil, as you might think. Some common descriptions include “wicked cool” or “wicked awesome.” It is also common to hear the expression “wicked pissah,” which is—surprisingly—a compliment, meaning something is awesome.
  • Worchester, Gloucester: “Woo-ster” and “Glaw-ster” are the actual pronunciations for these Massachusetts cities. Practice makes perfect with these ones.
  • Beanpot: The Beanpot is not actually for cooking, and is rather a highly anticipated event for hockey fans around the area. The Beanpot is a hockey tournament for Division 1 college hockey teams around Boston, including BU, BC, Harvard, and Northeastern. Games are even played at our very own TD Garden!
  • The T: The “T” is more than just a letter for Bostonians, folks. The T refers to Boston’s subway system, which connects riders to all parts of the city. The T has multiple lines, including the red (which is located right in Harvard Square for interested Bentley students), green, blue, orange, and silver lines.

Slip these words into conversation, and you will sound “wicked smaht” in no time!

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