Chicago Slang

Chicago Slang

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The local language of Chicago has an etymology all its own. Whether you're visiting for the first time or you're hoping to impress a Chicagoan, you'll need an arsenal of Chicago slang to fit in. Here's a list of the 10 most unique Chicago slang terms I've discovered over the years:

1. Frunchroom
This word is the Chicagoan's substitute for "living room." It's a wacky pronunciation of "front room" and usually refers to the place where guests are entertained. Oftentimes, this is the room right off of the entryway in the traditional Chicago domicile, the bungalow. If you're invited to take a seat in one, it usually means you'll spend the evening sitting on a couch, quite possibly conversing or watching television. This term's rushed pronunciation follows in the tradition of grachki (garage key) and jeetyet (Did you eat yet?), other widely used Chicago slang terms.

2. Da
This definite article spelled "the" is used quite liberally in attribution, especially when it comes to Chicago landmarks and personalities. "Da Bears," an interjection and exclamation that found its popularity in an early 1990's Saturday Night Live sketch, offers just one example of how to use this Chicago slang term. Da Meyr (the mayor), Da Taste (the taste of Chicago) and Da Lake (Lake Michigan) are a few others.

3. Da El
A public transportation staple, this elevated-train system becomes Chicago's only subway for three short stops. Much urban legend surrounds the practice of stepping or peeing on the third rail; it's highly recommended you don't.

Chicago Transit Authority
, 312-836-7000

4. Da Bean
This Chicago slang refers to a remarkably odd bean-shaped object d'art and photo opportunity in the center of Millenium Park. Mayor Daley's pet project unfortunately failed to win the city the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Millennium Park Welcome Center, 201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60611; 312-742-1168; 6AM-11PM; Free

5. Sliders
This term refers to a cheap and greasy hamburger served up at White Castle, Chicago's most frequented 24-hour fast-food restaurant. They're aptly named, as the grease slides them around like lightning fast hockey-pucks on the griddle – and through your intestinal tract after consumption. If consumed after liberal amounts of alcohol, this effect intensifies.

6. Tree
This is not a plant that provides shade cover and the leaf-based photosynthesis that results in sweet-breathable oxygen. In every day local language, this Chicago term is the number that comes between two and four.

7. Winter and Construction
The only two seasons in Chicago are cold weather or unbearable traffic delays.

8. Expressway and Tollway

In the Windy City, there is no route called a freeway. You will pay for your commute in either money or time. Expressways, despite their misleading name, almost never move quickly.

9. Jewels
This word is Chicago slang for the local grocery store chain, spelled Jewel. It is commonly connected to a pharmacy chain called Osco. It's not a tender body region.

10. Field's
Field's, a local department store chain, is a place tantamount to Chicago's history. Unfortunately, the current building owners (also known as "Those New York $*#@$$") seem to think that the place is now called Macy's.

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