Charleston Slang

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Charleston Slang

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Charleston, South Carolina has a unique culture and its own version of a local language, including words that people from out of town just won't understand. Knowing a few words of Charleston slang will help you make the most of this enchanting city. If you have plans to visit, take a minute to get familiar with Charleston local lingo with the help of the quick guide below.



And remember, if you find yourself confused by any Charleston slang terms or slang phrases - particularly when it involves food or local attractions - don't be afraid to ask for clarification from a local.


Ennit
Charleston slang for "isn't it?" For example: "Hey, Bobby, them's new shoes you got on, ennit?"

From off
In Charleston local lingo, this means someone is from out of town. For example: "They're not from Charleston, they're from off."

Shag
The official state dance of South Carolina. Do not confuse this with the British term "to shag," popularized by the Austin Powers movie. If someone asks if you want to shag, it is simply a request to dance.

Ya'll
You or you all. This term can be used to address many people, a few people, or just one person. For example: "Are ya'll finished with your dinner?" or "Hey, ya'll finished with your homework?"

Dey-ah
There. For example: "How ya'll doin' dey'ah?"

Chirren
Young people, anywhere from birth to eighteen years of age. For example: "Is them's ya'll's chirren runnin' around out dey-ah?"

She-Crab Soup
One of South Carolina's finest culinary creations, this dish is made with crab meat, crab roe, and sherry. When done right, ain't nothin' better!

Bald Peanuts
Boiled peanuts, a southern delicacy.

Shrimp n' Grits: Another of the region's greatest creations, this dish can be found in many downtown restaurants. If you haven't had shrimp n' grits, you haven't eaten! Beware, though: only a few chefs get it right.

Bowhead: A girl from one of the many local sororities.

Chucktown
Charleston itself, also known as "The Chuck" in Charleston local lingo. Please do not confuse Chucktown with Charleston, West Virginia or Charleston, Illinois.

The Holy City
Charleston is known as "The Holy City" due to the proliferation of church steeples one sees when viewing the city skyline. Throughout history the city has enjoyed a reputation for religious tolerance.

Geechie/Geechee
People of African descent whose ancestors were brought over from Sierra Leone, Senegal, Gambia, and Liberia. Residing in coastal South Carolina and Georgia, these folks have been a part of Charleston history for generations. The largest active Geechie community is located right here in Charleston and the surrounding region. Geechie people still speak a language known as...

Gullah
A Creole language that combines African words and sentence structure with the English language. It is still spoken by many African American people in the area. The language was created by slaves who were required to learn English by their masters. One suggested reason for this mixture of languages was that slaves did not want to give up their native tongues. Another suggested reason for the new language is that slaves deliberately invented it so that masters would not understand what they were saying to each other.

El Cid
High up in the list of Charleston slang terms for local buildings, this refers to The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina. The Citadel is the home of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets, a major source of pride for the locals.

Rivers Avenue U
An affectionate Charleston slang term given to Trident Technical College, a two-year junior college/technical school located on Rivers Avenue in North Chucktown.

S.O.B.s
Those who live South of Broad Street in Charleston. To have an address South of Broad is fairly prestigious.

S.N.O.B.s
Those who live Slightly North of Broad Street, which is almost as prestigious, but not quite. You may also hear this used to refer to an excellent restaurant of the same name on East Bay Street.

Piccolo Spoleto
Charleston's nationally renowned arts festival, held annually in May and June. Founded in 1979, the festival includes art displays, music concerts, theater performances, and other activities.

Spolidiots
A rude Charleston slang term for badly-behaving tourists who have come "from off" to attend the Piccolo Spoleto festival.

Spoletians
Locals and polite, courteous tourists who attend the Piccolo Spoleto arts festival.

Taj Mahal
The behemoth building that houses the Charleston County School Board on Calhoun Street. It doesn't look exactly like the Taj Mahal but it does block out the sun.

The Joe
The Joseph P. Riley Ballpark, where our local single-A Yankees affiliate, the Riverdogs, play. The park was named for Charleston's perpetual mayor Joseph P. Riley.

The Slave Market
An open-air market where vendors hawk their wares to tourists. The Slave Market is a must-see when visiting Charleston. Though it is often referred to as the Slave Market, it never was used to buy or sell slaves. Constructed in 1807, it was originally used as a farmer's market where the locals could purchase produce, meat, and fish. Now, however, you can purchase t-shirts, souvenirs, candy, Charleston confections, and much, much more.

The Recent Unpleasantness
Those "from off" know it as the Civil War, or the War Between the States.

The Washout
In Charleston local lingo, this refers to a popular spot for surfers on Folly Beach. It's also known as "The Edge of America."

Sweetgrass basket
Gullah women have been making sweetgrass baskets for generations. The women once lined both sides of Highway 17 North, as you traveled out of the city. You won't find them on the highway now, but they are still found downtown at the market making wonderful baskets and other items from sweetgrass.

Palmetto bugs
This is one Charleston slang term you hope not to hear! These are giant flying cockroaches up to two inches long.

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