Minnesota can feel like a whole other country. Steeped in Native American and Scandinavian culture, there are tons of slang words and phrases you’ll hear in this northern state that you won’t really find anywhere else.
You’ve probably seen Minnesotan speech and accents parodied in media before. Perhaps one of the most famous examples is Fargo, a movie and TV shows that takes place in the north.
But there’s so much more you won’t learn from Fargo alone. In this post, we’ve gathered 30 Minnesota slang words, sayings, and phrases that you can try out in your neck of the woods.
Minnesota Slang Words (in Alphabetical Order)
- (Adjective): A way to describe subzero temperatures. It refers to the temperature being below 0 degrees.
- Example: “Dang, it’s 20 below today. Guess it’s not a shorts day.”
- (Noun): The Canadian border. We added this one to the list because “border” has a completely different meaning in Minnesota from the rest of the country.
- Example: “I’ve got my passport with me so I can drive up to the border today.”
- (Noun): An insulting way of referring to an overprivileged/rich person. Possibly comes from the phrase, “have your cake and eat it, too.”
- Example: “That’s a cake eater school. All the kids there have rich parents.”
- (Noun): Refers to people from Wisconsin or fans of the Greenbay Packers. People in Wisconsin may also use this term to refer to themselves.
- Example: “He lives in Duluth, but he’s really a cheesehead.”
- (Adjective): It refers to temperature on a more extreme scale. Usually, a Minnesotan person will say it’s “cold” when the temperatures are subzero.
- Example: “It’s -15 out there, so it’s a bit cold. Wear lots of layers.”
- (Adjective): An exclamation of frustration or incredulity. It’s basically like saying, “crap.”
- Example: “Oh, crapola! I just got a parking ticket.”
- (Phrase): An accented way of saying, “don’t you know?” You add this to end of the sentence when you’re making an obvious statement.
- Example: “It’s pretty cold outside, dontcha know.”
Duck, Duck, Gray Duck
- (Phrase): Many sources claim that this is what Minnesotans call the game of “Duck, Duck, Goose.” But this is more specific to southern Minnesota – northern Minnesotans still say “Duck, Duck, Goose,” and will get mildly irritated if you say otherwise.
- Example: “The kids played Duck, Duck, Gray Duck at school today.”
Halloween Blizzard of ‘91/Blizzard of ‘91
- (Noun): This one is fairly obvious – it refers to a huge blizzard that occurred on Halloween in 1991. There are plenty of Minnesotans who weren’t even alive for this event, but they all still hear about it and talk about it, anyway, because their parents and grandparents remember it.
- Example: “I still remember the blizzard of ’91…nothing compares to it.”
- (Noun): A casserole. Basically any combination of foods that is combined in a casserole dish and baked in an oven for a period of time. This is a sacred Minnesotan tradition found at many tables during the holidays and other gatherings.
- Example: “Did you try Barb’s hotdish at the church potluck? It was delicious!”
- (Noun): A type of burger that has cheese inside the patty. It was invented in Minnesota but has been gaining popularity around the country.
- Example: “I ordered a juicy lucy for lunch.”
- (Noun): An extremely divisive Norwegian dish made from dried fish that is pickled in lye. You either love it or you were at one point in time traumatized by it.
- Example: “I’ll never forget the smell of lutefisk. I still have nightmares about it.”
- (Phrase): A general belief that people in Minnesota are nicer or more polite than your average American.
- Example: “So many people in the Midwest are Minnesota Nice.”
- (Phrase): An extremely long, drawn-out departure from a gathering. Minnesotans will often announce they are going to leave, then spend several minutes talking at the door, then spend another several minutes talking out on the porch, then spend another several minutes talking at their car door before actually leaving.
- Example: “I went through the Minnesotan Good-Bye when I left my mom’s Christmas party.”
- (Noun): An abbreviation for Mall of America, a huge mall located in Bloomington.
- Example: “I’m planning on taking a trip to the MOA this weekend.”
- (Adjective): Not to be confused with Minnesota Nice. This is a single word that can have a lot of meanings. Minnesotans can say it sarcastically to show something isn’t nice, neutrally to indicate boredom, or enthusiastically to indicate happiness.
- Example: “Just got a flat tire on the highway. Nice.”
- (Phrase): This is an accented way of saying “oh, for.” You’ll usually hear it in phrases like, “Oh, for cute.”
- Person 1: “Look at this picture of my baby granddaughter.”
- Person 2: “O-fer cute!”
- (Phrase): An exclamation that’s similar to “oops.” Usually used when Minnesotans accidentally bump into each other or when they’re trying to get around each other.
- Example: “Ope, I’m just gonna squeeze right past you…”
- (Noun): Carbonated drinks or soda.
- Example: “Would you like some pop with your burger?”
- (Noun): A person from Wisconsin. Can also be used to refer to the state of Wisconsin itself.
- Example: “She’s a sconnie. She was born in Madison.”
- (Noun): A Finnish word meaning grit or determination. It’s like saying, “chutzpah.”
- Example: “I really admire my mom’s sisu.”
- (Noun): A sport in which people on skis are pulled by dogs.
- Example: “Did you watch the skijor race this weekend?”
- (Phrase): The Norwegian word for “cheers.” Minnesotans typically use it to cheer for and celebrate their football team, the Vikings.
- Example: “The Vikings finally made it to the Super Bowl! Skol!”
- (Noun): Use this to refer to Minneapolis and St. Paul. All over the state, Minnesotans just refer to them as “the cities,” because they are the largest population centers in the state.
- Example: “He’s from the cities.”
- (Noun): An ambiguous statement that can be used to refer to any of the 11,842 lakes in Minnesota. As a rule of thumb, though, it’s usually at least one of the lakes close by.
- Example: “This weekend, I’m going to take my family fishing on the lake.”
Top the Tator
- (Noun): Dip that’s made from sour cream, chives, and a mixture of seasonings. Everyone in Minnesota is familiar with the bright green plastic jar of Top the Tator.
- Example: “My favorite snack is chips with Top the Tator.”
- (Phrase): An exclamation that can indicate satisfaction, pain, stress, or exhaustion based on your tone of voice. (Note: it’s pronounced like oof-dah.)
- “I just finished a twelve-hour shift at work. Uff-da!”
- “I ate so much of the hotdish, that I had to unbutton my pants. Uff-da!”
- (Noun): This is kind of like saying “the lake.” It can refer to any location in the state that is farther north than your current location.
- Example: “I’m planning on driving up north to my cabin on my vacation.”
- (Phrase): Can indicate passive agreement, yes, or even disagreement when used sarcastically.
- Person 1: “Bob, can you take my mail in for me while I’m gone?”
- Person 2: “Yeah, sure, you betcha.”
- (Phrase): Another way of saying, “you bet.” This is usually said in agreement with something or as a way of saying yes.
- Person 1: “Did you catch the game this weekend?”
- Person 2: “You betcha!”
Minnesotan phrases are very largely based off Scandinavian heritage. This is part of what makes them so interesting, especially if you’re unfamiliar with Scandinavian culture.
If you’re not from the Midwest, try using some of these slang terms in your conversations. You’ll get to enjoy the momentary confusion it causes and teach someone a new word.
Slang is often specific to different regions. You can learn even more terms by checking out our master list of New York slang words.