Charlottesville Slang

Charlottesville Slang

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Charlottesville slang is dominated by slang terms and phrases that originated at and refer to the University of Virginia (UVA) (McCormick Road, 434-924-0311). Student-speak has caught on, and many of the following common colloquialisms can be heard throughout the city as well as in the classroom. Here is a brief rundown of the local lingo in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Don't get caught calling UVA's property a "campus" unless you want to look like an outsider. People in the know refer to it as the "grounds."

The Lawn: While you're at it, make sure you don't make the mistake of referring to anything as "the quad." At UVA, it's called "The Lawn," and it's practically a sacred place. It's the original center of the University (a.k.a. the Academical Village), as built by Mr. Jefferson (whom you should call President TJ if you really want to blend in with the local lingo). It is surrounded by the Rotunda, Old Cabell Hall, and the Lawn Rooms and Pavilions. A fun fact: if you want to see students strip down to their birthday suits, hide out by The Lawn in the middle of the night just before graduation. It's tradition for students to streak it before they graduate.

The College: This is a Charlottesville slang term that throws off a lot of visitors. If a UVA student says they're in "The College," they don't just mean they go to UVA. The College refers to the College of Arts and Sciences, at the liberal arts school. It differentiates these students from the undergrads in The Comm School (Commerce - don't ever call it the "business" school), The E-School (Engineering), The Ed School (Education), and The A-School (Architecture). On the other hand, when someone refers to The University, they are in fact referring to the University of Virginia as a whole. The pretentious bumper stickers with these words suggest that UVA is the ONLY university, or at least the only one that matters.

First-Year, Second-Year, Third-Year, Fourth-Year: Students at UVA aren't freshmen, sophomores, juniors, or seniors. If you are speaking Charlottesville slang, say First-Years, Second-Years, Third-Years, and Fourth-Years -- because President TJ saw learning as a never-ending process. Thus, it seems that if you'd prefer to be a life-long student, you can explain it to your parents in the context of Thomas Jefferson's vision. He'd be impressed by your six-year stint in college. Or maybe not.

Hoos: Officially, the name of UVA's athletics teams is the Virginia Cavaliers. Unofficially, it's Wahoos, or simply Hoos. A "wahoo" is a fish that can, supposedly, drink twice its weight in water. Some students take this and the "work hard, play hard" mentality of the school as a bit of a challenge. The scariest manifestation of this is the fairly recent tradition of the "Fourth-Year Fifth." On the day of the last home football game, participating Fourth-Years drink a fifth of liquor (750 ml), starting early in the morning and aiming to finish before kick-off time.

Professors: If you are visiting the University of Virginia, make sure you don't address the professors you meet as "Doctor" So-and-so. Unlike most schools, UVA doesn't use this term for teachers who have earned their PhD, just for medical doctors. Instead, call the professors Mr. or Mrs. X, or Professor X if you're not comfortable being so informal.

The Corner: In Charlottesville slang, the Corner is an area just barely off grounds on University Avenue behind the Rotunda. It houses a collection of shops, restaurants and bars, and is a popular spot during the day for lunch and shopping, as well as late at night for bar-hopping. The Corner is frequented primarily by UVA students, but it also welcomes a good number of locals and tourists. However, if you want to shop, dine, or drink with a more eclectic group, check out the Downtown Mall, which is not really a traditional shopping mall but more of an artsy pedestrian mall, filled with boutique shops, art galleries and excellent restaurants.

Foxfield: Foxfield, a term well-known in the Charlottesville local language, is a semi-annual steeplechase horse race in Albemarle County, which surrounds Charlottesville. The fall race is a family event, while the spring race attracts the college crowd. Make sure you know which one is being referred to because the atmospheres are totally different. If it's a college student throwing the term around, it's safe to bet they're talking about the spring races. They're probably not aware there is a fall race. Actually, they might not even be aware there are horses involved at all. For the UVA crowd, Foxfield is really just one giant outdoor party.

Rio Road: Rio Road is a major thoroughfare in Charlottesville. It's where you can find, among other things, Fashion Square Mall. Be careful, though. In Charlottesville lingo, the road isn't pronounced as you'd expect. It's not "Ree-o Road" -- rather, it's "Rye-o Road." If your goal is to sound like a local, just pronounce this right and you're in.

Dave: Unless you're 100 per cent sure they're talking about someone else, if you hear locals talking about "Dave" they're almost certainly referring to Dave Matthews, of the eponymous band. He's second probably only to Mr. Jefferson in local esteem. Although he's technically from South Africa, those from Charlottesville claim him as their own, since it was in their town that Dave started performing publicly and formed the Dave Matthews Band. By the way, if you don't happen to like DMB, I suggest you keep that to yourself when you're in Charlottesville.
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