The United States, being such a large country, has a lot of geographical spread between members of its population. It’s this very spread that allows different dialects and accents to develop.
There are a handful of regions in the US famous for their exaggerated accents, but none is quite as famous as the stereotypical New York accent. In this list, we’re going to take a look at a bunch of New York accent words and phrases that New Yorkers say differently.
While this is by no means a list of every single word in existence that would sound different in a New York accent – that would be thousands of words – it will give you a comprehensive idea of what the accent sounds like.
Key Features of the New York Accent
Let’s start by describing what makes a New York accent distinctive. If you ever want to attempt to imitate it for any reason, there are a few sounds common to the accent that you’ll need to learn.
The first sound you’ll need to get the hang of is the exaggerated “aw” sound New Yorkers use in place of many words that would have a short ‘o’ sound. An example is the word “on,” which becomes something that sounds like “awn” in a New York accent.
New Yorkers also say their ‘r’ sounds quite a bit differently. If the ‘r’ is at the end of the word or right before a consonant, it gets dropped. One example is the word “water,” which a New Yorker may say like “waw-tah.”
When the letters ‘ng’ are together in a word, New Yorkers pronounce it with a very hard ‘g’ sound. Long Island, for instance, sounds like, “lawn-guyland.”
Sometimes, ‘th’ sounds get pronounced like the letter ‘d.” As an illustration, a New Yorker might say “dat” instead of that – although this is becoming increasingly less common with time.
If you want more tips on how to sound like a native New Yorker, click on the video above. You might also want to take the time to learn some more New York slang.
New York Accent Words
If you’re taking a taxi to the airport in NYC, you might hear your driver say it this way: “ayuh-paut.” This comes from the unique ‘r’ sound we discussed above.
New Yorkers don’t have time to dwell on individual syllables. That’s why all right becomes a much quicker word to pronounce, sounding like “ah-rite.”
This one’s just like all right. Drop the hard ‘l’ sound and mix it with the second half of the word to get “ah-ready.”
Words with that short ‘o’-like sound in them, like awesome, sound totally different in New York. You need to really emphasize the “aw” sound at the beginning of the word.
Bacon Egg and Cheese
Bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches (also sometimes affectionally called BEC in New York) aren’t pronounced drastically differently. However, the speed at which this phrase is said is the different part; New Yorkers say it really fast, so it sounds like one word: “baconeggandcheese.”
When you get two t’s in a row in a word, you often get a hard ‘d’ sound instead in the New York accent. Combined with the ‘er’ at the end of the word, better becomes something that sounds like “beddah.”
Traditionally, some ‘er’ sounds in New York became more like ‘oi’ sounds. That mean words like “bird” became things that sound like “boyd.” This isn’t necessarily as common nowadays, but you’ll still hear it when someone is parodying a New York accent.
This is another example of an “ah” sound becoming “aw.” Call sounds more like “cawl” instead because of this.
Coffee is one of the most stereotypical New York accent words out there. The ‘o’ in the middle takes on the ‘aw’ sound to become “caw-fee.”
The word “dog” has the same thing going on as “coffee,” and sounds like “dawg.” It’s really hard to describe this sound unless you hear it out loud first. You can hear a good example in the above video.
Remember, if an ‘r’ comes right after a vowel, New Yorkers tend to drop the ‘r’ sound. That’s why fear sounds like “fee-ah” in a New York accent.
A New Yorker doesn’t carefully enunciate the second ‘f’ in the word “fifty.” Instead, it becomes a sound like two t’s or even d’s in a row: “fitty” or “fiddy.”
Forget About It
Forget about it is one of New York City’s most famous phrases. A true New Yorker will mash it together into one word like this: “fuhgeddaboutit.” You can read more about it and get an example of how to say it in our guide to forget about it in New York slang.
Saying “here” is just like saying, “fear” in the New York accent. It’ll sound like “hee-ah.”
Huge is an interesting one, because it’s not like all words that start with ‘h’ get pronounced the same way. Stereotypically, the ‘h’ in “huge” turns into a ‘y’ sound, so it sounds like “yooge.”
This is another prime example of New Yorkers mashing words together, so they are both quicker and easier to say. The phrase “let me” turns into the much faster-sounding, “lemme.”
Here is another phrase famous for its heavily accented sound in New York. As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, the ‘ng’ sound is much harder, so the whole phrase is pronounced like “lawn guy land.”
A person from New York will even say the name New York differently. The ‘aw’ sound will come into York, turning the phrase into “New Yawker.”
This is another example of the ‘r’ before a consonant getting dropped. Nurse may sound like “nuhse” to the observer.
On is a nice, short example of the infamous ‘aw’ sound. In New York, the word sounds like “awn.”
The words “out of” get combined into one word in New York. You’ll hear something that sounds like “outta” instead.
If you were to visit New York City and head to Central Park, you might hear locals call it something that sounds like the “pak.” Again, the ‘r’ sound is dropped.
In words that start with ‘re,’ New Yorkers don’t pronounce the beginning like “ree.” Instead, they say something that sounds like ‘ruh,’ so the word “regardless” becomes “ruh-gardless.”
A similar thing happens with the word “remove.” You might hear a New Yorker say it like “ruh-move.”
If you want to hear what the New York accent sounds like, ask a New Yorker to say, “river.” They’ll likely drop that second ‘r’ again, so it sounds like “riv-ah.”
A Minnesota speaker might say the word “sauna” the traditional Finnish way: as “sow-nah.” In New York, the more common US pronunciation is used, so the word sounds like “saw-na.”
In other US states, the word “sure” might sound like “shoo-er.” In New York, however, it sounds a lot more like “shore.”
The famous ‘aw’ sound comes into play again. It makes the word “talk” sound like “tawk.”
You’ll need to drop the ‘r’ at the end of teacher to say it like a New Yorker. It should sound like “teach-ah.”
The word “that” is an example of ‘th’ becoming a ‘d’ sound in the traditional New York accent. You’ll hear something that sounds like “dat.”
This one is similar to “that.” The ‘th’ in the beginning becomes a ‘d’, turning the word into “da.”
These will also start with a ‘d’ sound. A New Yorker may say it like “dees.”
Finally, there’s “this.” In a New York accent, it will sound like “dis.” Turning ‘th’ into ‘d’ is becoming less and less common as time goes on, but the stereotypical New York accent did it.
The ‘h’ sound gets passed over in the word “three.” Because of this, it sounds more like another word: tree.
People in New York love to save time, especially if they’re from the big city. That’s why the two words “want” and “to” become one word: “wanna.”
Water is another word that’s famous in the New York accent. You’re getting two different unique sounds in, so it becomes “waw-tuh.”
What Do You
New Yorkers aren’t just good at combining pairs of words. In this example, they can deftly combine three different words, turning “what do you” into “whaddya.”
The New York accent is a very distinct and iconic accent in the United States. When people from outside the country think of how Americans sound, this is usually one of the first accents they imagine.
The accent is far from the only interesting thing about New York, though. New York City has a ton of interesting nicknames with historical backgrounds. Read our list of New York City nicknames to learn more.