There are a variety of states that contribute to East coast slang, but many people may forget that New Jersey is one of them. This state rose to nationwide fame in the late 2000’s with the advent of the reality TV show Jersey Shore, which highlighted a subset of the state’s population. However, if you look past the culture depicted in Jersey Shore, there’s a rich and diverse state culture that deserves recognition, as well.
In this guide, we’ll be listing some New Jersey slang words and phrases. We’ll use them in sentences to give you a better idea of how to use them properly. Should you visit the state of New Jersey, you’ll have a better idea of what the locals are saying.
New Jersey Slang Words and Phrases (in Alphabetical Order)
- (Noun): In many other states, AC means air conditioning. In NJ, though, it means Atlantic City.
- Example: “We went to visit her family in AC.”
- (Expression): Something you say to excuse something else or accept an apology. It basically means, “it’s okay.”
- Person 1: “Sorry I accidentally spilled my drink on you.”
- Person 2: “All good, I was going to change my shirt, anyway.”
- (Noun): A generalized term referring to people that descend from New York or northern New Jersey to spend time on the shore, usually in an obnoxious form of tourism. This is an insulting phrase. The individual letters in it stand for Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, and New York.
- Example: “Look at that benny tossing trash on the ground over there.”
- (Noun): A uniquely New Jersey insult that’s kind of like calling someone a fool or an idiot.
- Example: “Learn how to drive, bozo.”
- (Noun): A contentious term referring to the middle of New Jersey. People from outside Central Jersey will say it doesn’t exist, but those who live there will insist they’re from Central Jersey.
- Example: “I don’t care what you say, Central Jersey is a thing.”
- (Noun): Consider this the New Jersey take on poutine. Disco fries are French fries smothered in cheese and gravy.
- Example: “Will you split an order of disco fries with me?”
Down the Shore
- (Expression): Although New Jersey is known for its beautiful beaches, locals don’t call taking a trip there “going to the beach.” Instead, you say you’re going down the shore.
- Example: “My family went down the shore this weekend.”
- (Noun): Calling this a slang term might be generous, but people in New Jersey will always tell you how to get to their house by explaining which exit you need to take to get there.
- Example: “Her house was off exit 11.”
- (Noun): Have you ever heard the phrase, “everything but the kitchen sink” in reference to a food? That’s essentially what a fat sandwich is: a sandwich that includes pretty much everything on the menu. It’s popular in New Brunswick.
- Example: “I swear to god, I got chest pains after eating that fat sandwich.”
- (Verb): Other states may refer to filling their car up as pumping gas. In Jersey, though, you say you’re going to get gas instead.
- Example: “My car’s running on empty, so I need to stop and get gas.”
- (Verb): In any other state, you’d likely say you’re going to another location when you’re traveling. Many people in New Jersey will say they are going by some destination in their own unique turn of phrase.
- Example: “I’m planning on going by my parents’ this weekend.”
Hit the MAC
- (Verb): Running out of cash? Then it sounds like you need to hit the MAC, also known as going to the ATM.
- Example: “Let’s hit the MAC before we go to the store. I don’t have any cash on me right now.”
- (Noun): In South Jersey, you may hear people calling sub sandwiches hoagies.
- Example: “That place on the corner makes the best hoagies.”
How You Doin’?
- (Expression): A common greeting you may hear throughout Jersey. You don’t even necessarily need to respond when you hear it; in some cases, it’s like the polite smile you may get if you make eye contact with a stranger you’re walking past.
- (Expression): If you’re visiting someone and they want to know if you’re hungry they’ll ask, “j’eet yet?” It’s an accented way of saying, “did you eat yet?” It’s also much faster.
- Example: “J’eet yet? I was thinking about getting a hoagie.”
- (Noun): Most people in NJ don’t refer to their home state by the whole name. Instead, it is affectionately shortened to Jersey.
- Example: “This is a guide to slang words you might hear in Jersey.”
- (Noun): If you’re into horror or cryptozoological creatures, you’ve probably heard of the infamous Jersey Devil, a mythical monster that allegedly lives in the Pine Barrens in Jersey.
- Example: “My brother tried to go searching for the Jersey Devil last week. Spoiler alert: he didn’t find it.”
- (Noun): A dangerous maneuver you can make while driving by swerving your car all the way from the left lane to the exit ramp on the right.
- Example: “The Jersey Slide is risky, but it’s definitely the way other people drive around here.”
- (Noun): A type of turn on the road. Jug handles make it possible for you to go left from a highway exit by turning right onto a ramp that curves into an intersecting road. If that sounds confusing, you can watch this video to see how they work. Jug handles are common in Jersey.
- Example: “These jug handle turns make me so confused.”
Mischief Night/Cabbage Night
- (Noun): The night before Halloween, in which people often make mischief by doing things like egging houses or TP’ing trees. You may it called either Mischief Night or Cabbage Night.
- Example: “Did you go out on Mischief Night?”
- (Noun): Fresh mozzarella cheese.
- Example: “They make pie using only the best mutz.”
- (Noun): The meaning of this one can vary based on which part of the state you’re from. Some use it to refer specifically to an airport of the same name, others mean the city in NJ. It’s also important to note that it’s not pronounced the way it looks; locals often combine the syllables, so it sounds more like “Nork” than “New-ark.”
- Example: “Can you drop me off at Newark for my flight tomorrow morning?”
- (Noun): This is another one that might vary based on where you’re located. In the north part of the state, Penn refers to a specific train station. In the south part, it refers to a university.
- Example: “If you’re from Central Jersey, what do you think when someone talks about Penn?”
- (Noun): A somewhat rude term for the people who reside in the Pine Barrens.
- Example: “You might not want to call her a piney to her face. She always gets offended.”
- (Noun): In Jersey, if you want a cheese pizza, you might want to ask for a plain pie.
- Example: “Plain pies are so boring. There are so many good toppings to try.”
- (Noun): A popular sandwich in Jersey made with Taylor brand ham.
- Example: “The best breakfast you can have is a pork roll.”
- (Noun): If you live in North Jersey, you’re probably familiar with the ripper, which is a deep-fried hotdog. It gets its name from the fact the casing rips during frying.
- Example: “If you ever go by her house, make sure you stop and get a ripper on the way.”
- (Noun): This is the South Jersey equivalent of Benny. It’s for people who travel to the shore to visit and are generally annoying tourists.
- (Noun): Salt, pepper, and ketchup – typical additions to a sandwich. Usually said so it sounds like one word, which is written as SPK.
- Example: “A pork roll is tasty by itself, but it’s even better with SPK.”
- (Noun): In Central or North Jersey, a hoagie is often called a sub instead.
- (Noun): Slang word for tattoos. This is a particularly common term among Italian Americans.
- Example: “My brother is covered in tats.”
Related Article: Italian American Slang Words
- (Noun): A specific brand of ham that’s often found on the shelves of NJ grocery stores.
- Example: “Why don’t they have any Taylor ham in the stores here?”
- (Noun): In other regions of the United States, saying “the boss” might conjure up various mental pictures of different people. In NJ, though, the phrase pretty much always means Bruce Springsteen.
- Example: “My playlist is mostly just the Boss. Don’t judge me.”
- (Noun): It depends on the person, but in Jersey, saying “the city” usually means either Philadelphia or NYC.
- Example: “I was talking to that benny over there, and they said they’re from the city.”
Read Also: New York City Nicknames
- (Noun): Popular in Trenton, NJ, a tomato pie is like a pizza that’s more about the sauce than the cheese.
- Example: “My mom makes the best tomato pies I’ve ever had.”
- (Noun): When someone in Jersey says turnpike, they’re referring to a system of highways that crisscross the state.
- (Expression): It’s important to note here that in NJ, people don’t pump their own gas. When they pull up to the pump, if they want to put $20 worth of gas in their tank, it’s common to say “twentyregularcash,” all in one word.
- Example: “I’ll take twentyregularcash, please.”
- (Noun): This slang is more specific to South Jersey and Philadelphia, but it’s essentially a nickname for Italian shaved ice. This is a frozen snack made from shaved ice, sugar, and a flavoring syrup.
- Example: “I wish they made water ice where I live.”
- (Noun): A convenience store chain in Jersey. You can get both gas and groceries there!
- Example: “Are you getting gas at the Wawa? Will you run in and get me a hoagie?”
- (Expression): The Jersey equivalent of the south’s “ya’ll.” This is how you address a group of people.
- Example: “You guys, listen to me.”
- (Expression): See You Guys.
If you’re from New Jersey, you’ve probably heard a lot of these phrases before. If not, then you’ll understand exactly what locals are saying the next time you visit.
We should mention that younger kids in Jersey often share slang with New Yorkers. You might also want to read our list of slang used in New York to get a feel for even more slang terminology that you may encounter in Jersey.