55 Chicago Slang Words & Phrases to Sound Like a Local

Known to have many innovations around the city, Chicago is the perfect place to visit if you want to try something new. Chicago is home to many famous landmarks like the Willis tower. Also, spray paint was invented there as well.

If you are a fan of the Twinkie, it was also invented in Chicago! To top it all off, the Chicago river is the only river in the entire world that flows in the opposite direction. This was made possible because of extraordinary engineering that was recognized worldwide.

So, if you are planning to visit Chicago soon, make sure you know the slang words the locals commonly use. This way, you’ll have a smooth time there and you’ll get to enjoy every historical place, grand structures, and delicious food! Therefore, let’s learn Chicago slang words below!

55 Chicago Slang Words & Phrases to Sound Like a Local (In Alphabetical Order)

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16-inch

  • Meaning: (Noun) 16-inch is a softball game played in a smaller space. This game was invented in Chicago and is played there as well.
  • Example: Most people are by the field watching a 16-inch. Wanna go?

A

A couple, two, three

  • Meaning: (Phrase) Native Chicagoans use the phrase “a couple, two, three” when they are referring to “a few.”
  • Example: I only got a couple, two, three on me. I don’t think this is enough.

B

The Bean

  • Meaning: (Noun) The famous Cloud Gate sculpture in Chicago has a name of its own that locals use. The sculpture is called “The Bean” by locals.
  • Example: Have you seen da bean? You should check it out while you’re here.

Bungalow belt

  • Meaning: (Noun) The bungalow belt is an area on the Northwest and Southwest side of Chicago that is far from the lake. Residents in these areas differ from the rest, since they segregated themselves to avoid other races in the city.
  • Example: I don’t know many people from the bungalow belt. But the guy I met yesterday seems like a regular guy.

C

Chicago dog

  • Meaning: (Noun) The Chicago dog is an all-beef hotdog that’s a local food trend in Chicago. The hotdog is served in a bun with vegetables and celery salt.
  • Example: When you’re here in Chicago, you shouldn’t miss the Chicago dog. It’s one of our signature dishes. You’ll see a sign for Chicago dogs everywhere.

Chi-town

  • Meaning: (Noun) Chi-town (pronounced like Chai tea) is another term locals use in place of Chicago. Some locals pronounce Chi like “shy.”
  • Example: Are you visiting Chi-town this Christmas? I’ll be preparing one of our two flats so your whole family can be comfortable.

Clout

  • Meaning: (Noun) A clout is a person, usually a politician in Chicago, with a significant influence that can avoid following rules and regulations that a regular person follows.
  • Example: I’m not a fan of clout. People like that annoy me and I stand by my views even when there is great debate over this.

D

Da

  • Meaning: (Determiner) The word “the”, when pronounced with a Chicago accent, will be pronounced as “da.”
  • Example: Da guys are asking if we could have a small get-together this weekend.

Dese, Dem, Dose

  • Meaning: (Demonstratives) The words dese, dem, and dose are a few demonstratives locals tend to use often. These words are originally pronounced as these, them, and those but pronounced with a real Chicagoan accent.
  • Example: Are you going with dem to watch Chris Farley? Bring dese donuts I got at Jewel Osco and give dose to your friends.

Dibs

  • Meaning: (Verb) The term “dibs” is an action wherein a person claims a parking spot.
  • Example: Dibs! I always use this street parking spot.

Didja

  • Meaning: (Expression) The term “didja” means “did you?” and is said with a Chicago accent.
  • Example: Didja go to the Sears tower with your friends? You should visit lake shore drive too and try Italian beef.

Dip

  • Meaning: (Verb) The Chicago slang “dip” is the locals’ way of saying they are leaving.
  • Example: I’ll dip in a few. I need to go to Lake shore drive.

Drill

  • Meaning: (Noun) Drill is a hardcore hip hop category in music that originated in the city.
  • Example: You listen to drill music? Great!

E

Er what?

  • Meaning: (Expression) The expression “er, what?” is a popular appendage in a Chicago accent and is added at the end of a sentence.
  • Example: Didja leave your shoes and bags in the front room, er what? I told you to bring them straight to your room.

F

Fields

  • Meaning: (Noun) The Chicago slang “Fields” is a term used for Macy’s Street store, a local department store, that was first named “Marshall Field’s.”
  • Example: I’m going to get some things in Field’s today. Want to come with me before da bears game starts?

Four plus one

  • Meaning: (Phrase) A four plus one is a worn-down apartment with the ground level or first floor acting as a common entrance and parking space.
  • Example:

Frunchroom

  • Meaning: (Noun) The Chicago slang “frunchroom” is a place in a house for receiving and entertaining guests. This word was derived from “front room.”
  • Example: Your guests are waiting in the frunchroom. Are you going to see da bears play?

Fly the W

  • Meaning: (Phrase) The phrase “fly the W” is done when the Chicago Cubs win a game. This gesture was done centuries ago and when the team loses, they would wave a flag with the letter L on it.
  • Example: Yes! We won again! Fly the W!

G

Gangway

  • Meaning: (Noun) A gangway is a small space in between two houses. This term is used by the native Chicagoan and can only be heard in the city.
  • Example: Why are you squeezing yourself on this gangway? The street is just there.

Gaper’s block

  • Meaning: (Phrase) The phrase “gaper’s block” means there is heavy traffic and there is little chance of movement.
  • Example: The news says there’s a gaper’s block. Let’s stay home for now and order a deep dish pizza.

Gaping

  • Meaning: (Verb) Gaping is when a person slows down past a traffic accident. Gaping causes a gaper’s block.
  • Example: I’ll be riding the elevated train today. There is a lot of gaping because there was an accident near the two flats near the east coast of Chicago.

Goes

  • Meaning: (Expression) The word “goes” is used differently in Chicago. The word is used as a past or present tense for the word “say.”
  • Example: He goes you need someone to drive you around the city, so he sent me over. Wanna see da lake afterward?

Grabowski

  • Meaning: (Noun) A Grabowski is a native Chicagoan slang for a person, mostly a blue-collar worker, who is dedicated and hard-working.
  • Example: Even a Grabowski like you needs rest. Don’t overwork yourself fixing that patio furniture.

Grachki

  • Meaning: (Noun) Chicagoans refer to their “garage key” as “grachki.” Many Chicagoans use this term because this is their natural way of pronouncing the words.
  • Example: Help me find the grachki or we’ll be late for Saturday night live.

Gym shoes

  • Meaning: (Noun) Gym shoes is a slang term used by Chicagoans for sneakers, tennis shoes, and other athletic shoes. This term is only used by Chicago locals.
  • Example: Where are your gym shoes? I thought we were going to play on the street.

H

The hawk

  • Meaning: (Noun) The hawk is used to refer to a chilly wind blowing through Lake Michigan.
  • Example: I can’t stand the hawk today. let’s head to jewel osco and buy snacks before we go home.

Hunnert

  • Meaning: (Noun) Hunnert is a name for measurement only Chicagoan locals use. This term is used to measure distances from one house to another.
  • Example: We are 52 hunnert from the next store.

J

Jeet

  • Meaning: (Phrase) The term “jeet” is a phrase that means “did you eat?” but is shortened because of the Chicago accent. Therefore, the question sounds like “jeet.”
  • Example: Jeet your lunch? I put yellow mustard on your sandwich because it’s your favorite.

Jewels

  • Meaning: (Noun) Jewels is a popular grocery chain only found in Chicago.
  • Example: Grab some milk and cheese when you go to Jewels. Just park in the street level parking to avoid delays.

The Jokes

  • Meaning: (Noun) The Jokes is the comic part of a newspaper. In Chicago, they call it The Jokes because most comics made for the newspaper are comedies.
  • Example: Sorry, I was reading the jokes when we were traveling to Sox Park. I did not notice that you went north instead of south.

K

Kickback

  • Meaning: (Noun) Kickback is a term used in Chicago for parties.
  • Example: I hear someone will bring a Chicago handshake in the kickback this Friday night. Just go over to the garden apartment by the north of Lincoln Park and you’ll see the party.

L

The L

  • Meaning: (Noun) The L is Chicago slang for the elevated train, right above the streets in Chicago, that runs throughout the city. The L is the most popular public transit system.
  • Example: I took the L today, so I’d arrive early.

Labbies

  • Meaning: (Noun) Labbies is an elite school where children of politicians and celebrities go to.
  • Example: Did you make friends at the labbies today? I hear the children there are friendly, especially those who came from the North.

The Lake

  • Meaning: (Noun) The Lake is another name for Lake Michigan. It is one of the most popular places to visit in Chicago because people are greeted with the most beautiful view of the city there.
  • Example: We’re planning to go visit the lake next weekend.

The Lost world

  • Meaning: (Noun) The Lost World is a highway underneath Chicago named Lower Wacker Drive.
  • Example: Are we passing the Lost World or are you going to take another route?

LSD

  • Meaning: (Acronym) LSD is not a substance but a place in Chicago. This acronym stands for “Lake shore drive.”
  • Example: Hey, if you’re going to LSD, can I come with you?

M

Ma

  • Meaning: (Noun) Chicago locals tend to call their mothers “ma.” It is a shortened version of “mom.”
  • Example: Ma, can I go to my friend’s house? It’s in Dan Ryan but I’ll come home before dark.

Merch

  • Meaning: (Expression) The term “merch” in Chicago does not mean merchandise. In the city, when a local says “merch,” it means “prove it.”
  • Example: Are you saying you’re better than me because your house has a lake view? Merch.

O

Oke doked

  • Meaning: (Phrase) The term “oke doked” is the Chicagoan way of saying a person is tricked into doing something.
  • Example: I was oke doked into going to Cellular field even when it was not allowed. Now, the Guaranteed rate field authorities are holding me until my parents come.

Out South

  • Meaning: (Noun) The term “out south” is used to call the South side or suburbs in Chicago.
  • Example: Did I hear a friend say she saw you out south last night? You and a girl were sitting on lawn chairs getting snuggly. Who was she?

Over by there

  • Meaning: (Phrase) The term “over by there” is a term used when a person is pointing in a direction or location of another person, thing, or place.
  • Example: Just head over by there and then turn right. Then, you’ll be on Lake shore drive.

P

Pinners

  • Meaning: (Noun) Pinners is a street game in Chicago that uses a rubber ball and passes it from one player to another. It compromises of two teams competing against each other.
  • Example: I miss playing pinners on the streets when we were younger. I hear there’s a new group of kids there.

Pop

  • Meaning: (Noun) In the Windy City, the word “pop” is used for soda or soft drinks. Pop was one of the first brands that made soda, and the name stuck with locals in Chicago and turned it into slang.
  • Example: What can I get you while you’re here in Dan Ryan? Coffee, tea, or pop?

Prairie

  • Meaning: (Noun) In the Windy City, a prairie is a vacant lot in a neighborhood.
  • Example: Some kids are going on the prairie near the school to hang out.

S

Sammich

  • Meaning: (Noun) Sammich is the slang term for “sandwich” and is used by locals all the time.
  • Example: I’ll just bring a sammich for lunch today.

Show

  • Meaning: (Noun) The word “show” is used as another name used in Chicago for “movie.”
  • Example: Other cities are now releasing the newest show while we’re still waiting for the show to play here.

Six Corners

  • Meaning: (Noun) The name “Six Corners” is used to call several roads in Chicago. These roads are Irving Park Road, Cicero Avenue, and Milwaukee Avenue.
  • Example: Can you turn on this street so we could drive to Six Corners?

T

The Taste

  • Meaning: (Noun) The Taste is another name for the Chicago Festival named The Taste of Chicago.
  • Example: I saw a sign for the taste. I am excited to have a Chicago handshake and hear someone rambling about how delicious the food is.

Two/Three Flat

  • Meaning: (Noun) The term “two flat” and “three flat” is used for the multi-unit buildings throughout the city of Chicago, that is made of bricks. These buildings have a common entrance to the street. In other cities, these types of buildings are called a condominium.
  • Example: Oh, you live in a two flat? My whole family lives in two flats too!

U

Usta

  • Meaning: (Phrase) The term “usta” is a shortened version of “used to” that is pronounced with a Chicago accent.
  • Example: I usta live in a garden apartment, far from the train lines. Then life happened, and I needed to move into one of the two flats here.

W

Washroom

  • Meaning: (Noun) In the Second City, bathrooms or comfort rooms are called “washrooms” since we go in there to wash our hands and other body parts.
  • Example: I need to go to the washroom before we leave. I got grease all over my hands because of the Italian beef sandwich we ate.

Wear the jacket

  • Meaning: (Expression) When a person is said to “wear the jacket,” he or she will take the blame instead of the person who has done wrong.
  • Example: Why would you wear the jacket for him? Will he do the same for you?

X

Xavs

  • Meaning: (Noun) The term “Xavs” is what Chicagoans call St. Xavier University. This university is a small college in the Southwest side of the city.
  • Example: I hear someone is going to Xavs next year. Let’s celebrate and buy the nicest furniture for your dorm room!

Y

Yous

  • Meaning: (Noun) In Chicago, locals use “yous” to show that a person is talking to everyone.
  • Example: Yous needs to get out of here this instant.

Yuppie

  • Meaning: (Noun) A yuppie is a derogatory word used by locals in Windy city to call a young professional.
  • Example: There are plenty of yuppies in downtown Chicago.

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