Phoenix Slang

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Phoenix Slang

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Renowned for its heat waves, towering palm trees, vast open skies and myriad of cacti, Phoenix is the country's 5th largest metropolitan area. Though a very friendly city, visitors can stick out like a sore, cactus-pricked thumb if they are not familiar with some unique southwestern word pronunciations. To help you feel more comfortable and avoid embarrassing miscues, we have compiled a list of 10 Phoenix slang terms you are likely to mispronounce.


1. The "pai" ending


Because of the rich Native American heritage in the southwest region, there are a number of words in Phoenix local lingo that end with the letters "pai," which means "a group of something." Although the letters "pai" look like they would be pronounced "pay," the correct pronunciation is "pie."


2. Prescott


Prescott is a city located approximately 100 miles northwest of Phoenix in Yavapai County with a population of 43,217. Many city names are pronounced differently by local residents than they are by visitors, and Prescott is no exception. The local pronunciation of Prescott is "Pres-kit," rather than "Pres-kaht," which is the more universal pronunciation by non-residents.


3. Piestwa Peak


Piestewa Peak is the second highest peak in the Phoenix mountain range, Camelback Mountain being the highest. Piestewa Peak was originally named "Squaw Peak" and has been re-named. In Phoenix slang, Piestewa is pronounced "Pee-es-chew-ah," though it is widely referred to by local residents as the "Peak formerly known as Squaw." Piestewa Peak hiking trails are open until 11pm.


4. Tempe


Tempe is a city located approximately 15 miles east of Phoenix with a population of 170,187. Tempe is pronounced "Temp-ee," and is home to Arizona State University.

Arizona State Tempe Campus
University Drive and Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85287
(480) 965-9011


5. Gila Bend


Located near the Mexican border, Gila Bend lies about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix in Maricopa County and has a population of 2,090. Due to its close proximity to Mexico, many Spanish words have become part of the local language. Certain letters are pronounced differently in Spanish than they are in English, and the letter "g" is one of those letters. The letter "g" in Spanish is actually pronounced with the same sound as the letter "h" in English. Gila Bend, therefore, is properly pronounced "Hee-la" Bend.


6. Estrella Mountains


The Estrella Mountains are situated slightly southwest of Phoenix in Maricopa County. Estrella is a Spanish word meaning "star" and the double "l" is pronounced in English with the sound of a "y." In the same way that the Spanish word "tortilla" is pronounced "tor-tee-ya" in English, the Spanish word Estrella is pronounced "Es-tray-uh."


7. Mogollon Rim


Stretching over 200 miles from just southwest of Flagstaff to the White Mountains, the Mogollon Rim is a breathtaking geological phenomenon characterized by impressive limestone escarpments dropping as much as 2,000 feet in some areas. The name is attributed to Juan Ignacio Flores Mogollon, Spanish Governor of New Mexico from 1712-15. Local residents say that the proper pronunciation of Mogollon is "Muggy-own."


8. Tuscon


The city of Tucson sits about 116 miles southeast of Phoenix and has a population of 486,699. Though the word looks like it might be pronounced "Tus – con," it is properly pronounced "Two-sahn," with the "c" being silent.


9. Carry Out


Ordinarily associated with food that is picked up at a restaurant and carried home, the phrase "carry out" has a very different meaning in Phoenix slang. In local parlance, "carry out" refers to the service of having someone carry purchases to your car from the local grocery store. Some grocery stores will even pack your groceries into your car for you. This service will usually be offered to you by the cashier. Carry out service is not obligatory and tipping is customary.


10. Apache


The word "Apache" was originally used to describe a collection of several culturally related groups of Native American peoples. The word is properly pronounced "Uh-pah-chee," and means "enemy." The Apache are natives of the Southwestern desert states of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
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