We’ve written quite a few guides discussing slang in specific states, such as Minnesota and Alabama. But sometimes, slang can get even more unique based on the particular city you live in – especially in large cities.
Detroit is one city with a small vernacular of its own that locals know and love. With so many famous artists tracing their roots back to the city, it’s no surprise that it has developed a slew of slang phrases.
In this guide, we’ll list some Detroit slang words and phrases we discovered. Let’s show you what we found…
Detroit Slang Words and Phrases (in Alphabetical Order)
- (Numeric): The area code for the city of Detroit. Many people use it simply to refer to the city itself.
- Example: “I’m representing the 313 right now.”
- (Noun): Another nickname for Detroit itself.
- (Noun): A person or place that’s unsafe or risky.
- Example: “Don’t smoke here – it’s bait.”
- (Adjective): Slang word for bad. It may come from “bogus,” which also means bad.
- Example: “I’m sorry that happened to you. That’s bogue, bro.”
- (Noun): A neighborhood in west Detroit.
- Example: “I live out in Burton.”
- (Noun): Someone who buys and uses recreational drugs from dealers.
- Example: “Don’t date her – she’s a custo.”
- (Noun): Another neighborhood in Detroit, located in the southwest.
- (Noun): One of the stray dogs wandering the streets of the city.
- Example: “I saw a Detroit dog outside my apartment last night.”
- (Noun): A term that refers to the Detroit metro area.
- Example: “I took a bus out of Detwa after work.”
- (Noun): The night before Halloween. It’s become a tradition in which people go out and do all kinds of pranks, ranging from harmless ones like ding-dong ditching to more dangerous ones like vandalism or arson.
- Example: “Noah went out for some mischief on Devil’s Night.”
- (Noun): Slang word for money.
- Example: “Do you got some dundoes on you?”
- (Noun): A certain street in Detroit that became well-known after a movie of the same name. This street is generally regarded as a boundary separating poorer and richer communities.
- (Noun): See Custo.
- (Noun): A nickname for the Detroit Free Press, a newspaper in Detroit.
- Example: “Did you read the freep this morning?”
- (Verb): To go crazy, often as a result of anger. To freak out.
- Example: “I’m about to go ham up in here.”
- (Noun): Word to describe anyone who’s a jerk.
- Example: “My ex is a real gurnack.”
- (Noun): Detroit slang for pistol.
- Example: “Watch out, he’s got a heat stick on him.”
- (Noun): A hip hop radio station in Detroit.
- Example: “She listens to JLB in the morning on the way to work.”
- (Noun): Slang term for marijuana.
- Example: “Got any krud with you?”
- (Noun): One mayor of Detroit, serving from the late 70’s to early 90’s, famously called himself the MFIC, which stands for “motherf*cker in charge.”
- Example: “Are you the MFIC? I need to speak to you.”
- (Noun): Another nickname for the city of Detroit. This one likely references the booming automobile trade that once existed in the city.
- (Noun): Another name for Detroit.
- (Noun): A word for partner. Someone who’s a trustworthy friend.
- Example: “How’s it going, pawtna?”
- (Noun): Detroit’s own hockey team. Many people abbreviate the name and just call them the Wings.
- Example: “Did you catch the Wings game last night?”
- (Verb): Driving with illegal drugs on your person.
- Example: “Don’t let the cops catch you ridin’ dirty.”
- (Expression): Although this isn’t specific to Detroit, you’ll hear a lot of Michiganders saying this. Remarkable situations of any kind, whether bad or good, are often referred to as “some sh*t.”
- Person 1: “Did hear that my cousin won the lottery?”
- Person 2: “Well, ain’t that some sh*t.”
- (Noun): Slang for bags of marijuana.
- Example: “I’m not going carry spice packs with me. Are you crazy?”
- (Noun): A type of electronic music that originated in Detroit.
- Example: “House isn’t techno. They are two different kinds of music entirely.”
- (Noun): In other parts of the country, you might hear someone saying this in reference to a penis. In Detroit, however, it’s often used as a name for the city.
Read Also: Slang Words for Penis
- (Adjective): When something is in a state of disarray or disorganization.
- Example: “Her clothes were tore up after she went out last night.”
What Up Doe/Wat Up Doe
- (Expression): Casual greeting that’s common in Detroit. It’s the equivalent of “what’s up” or “how’s it going?”
- (Noun): A huge fan of the Red Wings.
- Example: “My boyfriend is a massive wingnut who never misses a game.”
- (Noun): See Dundoes.
- (Noun): Common Detroit slang term for Cartier glasses.
- Example: “He’s got his yays on today.”
Slang tends to develop based on regions and people that regularly interact with each other. That’s why common terms vary widely even just from city to city in the same overall region. This may change as more and more people are online, causing slang to rise, spread, and die even more quickly.
If you want to see even more interesting slang, read our list of New York Slang words and meanings. Much of the state’s slang comes from the massive and diverse New York City.