Raleigh Slang

Raleigh Slang

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No matter where you live, there are probably words or phrases that you take for granted everyday. You hear the lingo and think nothing of it, until someone from out of town pronounces the words differently or uses them in the wrong context. Now a long term resident in Raleigh, NC, I've noticed that the true natives have a Raleigh slang all their own. Here's a cheat sheet to help you avoid the "out-of-towner" label if you're ever in the area.

Places to go:

"State" - Wikipedia outlines up to 15 colleges and universities in the Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill Area (aka the Triangle). But when it comes to sports, there are only three local schools that really matter: UNC Chapel Hill (aka Carolina), Duke and NC State. For Raleigh residents, NC State is the only option (affectionately dubbed "State" by the locals), and the other two are just meant to be hated.

North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695

"Walnut Creek"- Presently, this piece of local lingo refers to the Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion of Walnut Creek (formerly known as Alltel Pavilion and Hardee's Walnut Creek). While the name has changed several times, locally it's only known as Walnut Creek. This is because the amphitheater currently sits on the west bank of (drum roll please)....Walnut Creek.

Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion of Walnut Creek
3801 Rock Quarry Road
Raleigh, NC 27610
Box Office Hours: Mon-Fri 10AM-4PM, show days 5PM-9PM

"42nd Street"- This generic address refers to the 42nd Street Oyster Bar - a Raleigh must do since it's one of Raleigh's most famous eateries. The classic restaurant features a menu of great seafood and wonderful cold beers. But here's the confusing part: it's not on 42nd Street. 42nd Street is actually located on the corner of Jones and West Streets. So why name it the 42nd Street Oyster Bar? Legend has it that back in the 1930's, a group of patrons attended a medical convention in New York City and devoted a good bit of their time there to drinking beer in an establishment off of 42nd Street. When the group of men returned to Raleigh reminiscent of their trip, they said, "Let's meet at 42nd Street Oyster Bar after work!" (code for let's have some beers), and the name became part of the local language.

42nd Street Oyster Bar
508 West Jones Street
Raleigh, NC 27603
Mon-Wed 11:30AM-10:00PM
Thurs, Fri 11:30AM-11:00PM
Sat, Sun 5:00PM-11:00PM

Things to do:

"Bar-B-Que"- Not to be mistaken for "grilling," Bar-B-Que in Raleigh means one thing: pork. More specifically, this is defined as the whole hog, slow cooked for 8 hours or more. BBQ is sacred in Raleigh slang terms. This traditional Raleigh delicacy is served chopped or pulled with a simple sauce of vinegar, salt, red and black pepper. Any other sauce is strictly forbidden. Why is our sauce so simple? Because we ain't got nuthin' to hide!

"Pig Pickin'"- This is the Raleigh lingo used to refer to the gathering of people to eat the previously mentioned delectable Bar-B-Que.

"Might-Could"- The words, "might" and "could" can be used separately to express a possibility. But in the vocabulary of Raleigh slang, it's very common to use the two together. For example, one might say, "You might-could meet up downtown after work." But be careful when using this local lingo even in jest - it can be quite addictive. Before you know it, you might-could end up talking that way!

"Do What?"- "What" is a common response to a query. But in Raleigh, a good way to gauge whether or not a person is paying attention to what you are saying is to count the number of "do what's?" employed throughout the conversation. A typical conversation could go something like this: "I'm going to the store," a wife says to her husband as he watches television on the couch. "Do what?" the man says. The woman leans down next to his ear, "I'm going to the store!" "Alright, no need to shout."

"Down Yonder"- Where the heck is down yonder? When I first moved to Raleigh, I took a job at a construction site. I was the only non-native on the crew, so it was a crash course in slang terms for me. One day, as we were relocating a large sewage pump, I was charged with picking up a one hundred pound hose dripping in raw sewage. I held my breath as I walked past the foreman. "Where does this go?" I asked. "Put it down yonder" he barked. As I was pinned between the weight of the hose and the awful smell, I asked in desperation, "Where's that?" "I said put it down yonder!" he scoffed at me, becoming increasingly impatient. "Where's down yonder?" I asked with panic in my voice. "Just throw it over there by that pump!" I eventually found the pump, but I have yet to find "down yonder." It could be close, it could be far. My advice is to just keep walking until you get there.

Gettin' Around:

"Duraleigh Road"- (pronounced Dur-alee). Note that it is not pronounced Du-Raleigh (this is a sure fire way to spot someone from out of town). I can't mention Duraleigh Road without addressing another unofficial Raleigh staple: roads that "turn into" other roads. When I first moved here, I was trying to find I-40. I was on Glenwood Avenue and was directed to take Duraleigh - simple enough. After a few miles, I discovered that I was on Blue Ridge Road – not where I wanted to be. Convinced that I simply missed a turn, I drove back, found Duraleigh, pulled another U-turn and found myself on Blue Ridge Road once again. How did this happen? Let me save us both some time: roads in Raleigh turn into other roads in Raleigh, and unless you live there or someone tells you, you would never know. Here's the breakdown: Millbrook Road "turns into" Duraleigh which "turns into" Blue Ridge Road. 70 "turns into" Glenwood Avenue which "turns into" Morgan Street (Downtown)...and the list goes on! Even now, I'm still trying to figure out how to make my way through Raleigh!

"The Beltline"- This Raleigh slang refers to the chaotic Inner and Outer Beltline/440. In 2002, the inner/outer designations were removed because the system was one of the only beltways in the country that did not have standard compass directions (i.e. east and west). Even the locals couldn't figure this out! And due to the fact that not all of the signage has been replaced yet (some still refer to inner and outer), we're just as confused as you are. Good luck, folks!
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