15 things people say that show they’re not from Seattle

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15 things people say that show they're not from Seattle

Alex Halverson, 

March 30, 2020Updated: Sep. 17, 2020 4:59 p.m.

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For a list of words, phrases, and pronunciations that make those not from here stick out like sore thumbs, click through the gallery. >>>

Elaine Thompson/AP

Washington and Seattle also have their own words and phrases, which you can find in this glossary. A personal favorite is telling someone to go eat a bag of Dick's - which is anything shy of an insult here. The names of towns and animals in the Puget Sound region are also a bit tricky too. Don't pronounce Spokane as Spo-cane, and maybe practice a few times before you take a stab in public at Puyallup. For a list, and quiz, of funky Washington pronunciations, click here. To see the words, phrases and pronunciations that make those not from the Emerald City stick out, scroll down.2of34

Washington and Seattle also have their own words and phrases, which you can find in this glossary. A personal favorite is telling someone to go eat a bag of Dick’s — which is anything shy of an insult here.

The names of towns and animals in the Puget Sound region are also a bit tricky too. Don’t pronounce Spokane as Spo-cane, and maybe practice a few times before you take a stab in public at Puyallup. For a list, and quiz, of funky Washington pronunciations, click here.

To see the words, phrases and pronunciations that make those not from the Emerald City stick out, scroll down.

George Rose/Getty Images

Despite being surrounded by mountains - with mountain lions in them - if you call them this, we know you're an outsider. In Washington we call these big cats cougars.3of34

Despite being surrounded by mountains — with mountain lions in them — if you call them this, we know you’re an outsider. In Washington we call these big cats cougars.

Daniel Hernanz Ramos/Getty Images

This one is exclusive to Californians who have settled here. Most of Washington's biggest cities, aside from Spokane, are along Interstate 5, so we refer to it as much as Californians do. However, in Washington we just call it I-5.4of34

This one is exclusive to Californians who have settled here. Most of Washington’s biggest cities, aside from Spokane, are along Interstate 5, so we refer to it as much as Californians do. However, in Washington we just call it I-5.

JORDAN STEAD/SEATTLEPI.COM

This one is accent-based rather than being a cultural idiom. The maybe mythic Washington accent has people pronounce bag as beg at times.5of34

This one is accent-based rather than being a cultural idiom. The maybe mythic Washington accent has people pronounce bag as beg at times.

Martin Leigh/Getty Images

Some states -- Rhode Island, Wisconsin and Massachusetts -- call this a bubbler. But if you're in Seattle, referencing a bubbler will probably end with someone asking if you want to get high. In Washington, we call this a drinking fountain.6of34

Some states — Rhode Island, Wisconsin and Massachusetts — call this a bubbler. But if you’re in Seattle, referencing a bubbler will probably end with someone asking if you want to get high. In Washington, we call this a drinking fountain.

Scott Eklund/Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Other states call large roads expressways or whatever a turnpike is. As ours have no tolls - except for a couple that go across bridges - we call them freeways. While a freeway and a highway are technically different, there's not a distinct difference when speaking about them.7of34

Other states call large roads expressways or whatever a turnpike is. As ours have no tolls — except for a couple that go across bridges — we call them freeways. While a freeway and a highway are technically different, there’s not a distinct difference when speaking about them.

Courtesy Of The Seattle Municipal Archives

OK, this one is a bit of a joke. But some Washingtonians with roots deep in the Pacific Northwest have trouble not adding a slight 8of34

OK, this one is a bit of a joke. But some Washingtonians with roots deep in the Pacific Northwest have trouble not adding a slight “r” to Washington to make it “Wershington,” “Worshington” or “Warshington.”

Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

We have no idea who 9of34

We have no idea who “Pike” is, but he or she is sure getting a lot of credit for the largest public market in the country. If you want to blend in after recently moving to Seattle, drop the “s” and just say Pike Place Market.

Genna Martin/seattlepi.com

You know the high school dance where the girls ask out the boys? For some reason, in Washington that's called Tolo.10of34

You know the high school dance where the girls ask out the boys? For some reason, in Washington that’s called Tolo.

City of Seattle Municipal Archive

Sports announcers, broadcast journalists and radio personalities always say 11of34

Sports announcers, broadcast journalists and radio personalities always say “Washington” when referencing the sports teams of the University of Washington. But to avoid any Washington confusion across the country, we simply say UW.

Karen Ducey/Getty Images

Again, those talking sports in Southeast Washington reference the college as if they're referring to Florida State or something else. Nope. Here, it's always pronounced Wazzu (WSU).12of34

Again, those talking sports in Southeast Washington reference the college as if they’re referring to Florida State or something else. Nope.

Here, it’s always pronounced Wazzu (WSU).

Joshua Trujillo/Seattle Post-Intelligencer

As the notorious Seattle Freeze has taught us, Seattleites aren't necessarily the most outwardly friendly to strangers.13of34

As the notorious Seattle Freeze has taught us, Seattleites aren’t necessarily the most outwardly friendly to strangers.

Mint Images – Tim Pannell/Getty Images/Mint Images RF

If it's a case of 24, in Washington it's called a rack. And a case of 12 is, you guessed it, a half-rack. The term is even more unanimous when referring to Rainier Beer.14of34

If it’s a case of 24, in Washington it’s called a rack. And a case of 12 is, you guessed it, a half-rack.

The term is even more unanimous when referring to Rainier Beer.

P-I file

In Washington, these delicious french fry alternatives are called jo-jos.15of34

In Washington, these delicious french fry alternatives are called jo-jos.

Pinghung Chen / EyeEm/Getty Images/EyeEm

A true Washingtonian has at least five euphemisms and synonyms for rain. In Washington we get light drizzles, misting, slight showers and sometimes sprinkles, but rarely do we get downpours in the city.16of34

A true Washingtonian has at least five euphemisms and synonyms for rain. In Washington we get light drizzles, misting, slight showers and sometimes sprinkles, but rarely do we get downpours in the city.

Genna Martin/seattlepi.com

What's your favorite Washington jargon word? Did we miss it? Let us know in the comments. Also see... Seattle quiz: How do you pronounce Puget, Salish or Renton? Tolo, jojos and S.L.U.T.: Words only Seattleites know How well do you know the history behind Seattle's landmarks? Take our quiz Seattleites need these 16 items to survive in the Emerald City These are the mistakes people make when they first move to Seattle 13 items every Seattleite must carry in their car to thrive in the Emerald City17of34

What’s your favorite Washington jargon word? Did we miss it? Let us know in the comments.

Also see…

Seattle quiz: How do you pronounce Puget, Salish or Renton?

Tolo, jojos and S.L.U.T.: Words only Seattleites know

How well do you know the history behind Seattle’s landmarks? Take our quiz

Seattleites need these 16 items to survive in the Emerald City

These are the mistakes people make when they first move to Seattle

13 items every Seattleite must carry in their car to thrive in the Emerald City

Elaine Thompson/AP

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“The mountain is out”

You can see Mount Rainier from the city. If you say “The mountains” are out, then that means the Cascades and/or Olympics are visible as well.

GENNA MARTIN/SEATTLEPI.COM

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“Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest”

A mnemonic for remembering the ordering of the streets that make up downtown Seattle (some say he made it “under pressure”). Jefferson, James, Cherry, Columbia, Marion, Madison, Spring, Seneca, University, Union, Pike, Pine.

JORDAN STEAD/SEATTLEPI.COM

A rack of beer A case of beer.20of34

A rack of beer

A case of beer.

P-I file

I-5 Interstate 5. (Never 21of34

I-5

Interstate 5. (Never “The 5,” like Californians say it.)

GRANT HINDSLEY/SEATTLEPI.COM

Jojos Wedge French fries. Apparently the rest of the world just calls them 22of34

Jojos

Wedge French fries. Apparently the rest of the world just calls them “wedge fries” or some such nonsense.

 

Tolo A Sadie Hawkins dance. Though some think it's an acronym which stands for 23of34

Tolo

A Sadie Hawkins dance. Though some think it’s an acronym which stands for “Taps on Ladies Only,” the word originated from the UW’s Motor Board, which picked the Native American word “tolo” to title their chapter. As a fundraiser, they held dances where the women asked the men. 

Most people from Seattle know both words as the same concept, but didn’t know “TOLO” was unique to us. 

GENNA MARTIN/SEATTLEPI.COM

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“Ride the SLUT”

Funny failure of the decade: Before city officials could get ahead of the story, the new trolley running into downtown from South Lake Union became known as the South Lake Union Trolley they were very insistent on the name until people pointed out that the initials were S.L.U.T. Though the official name has been changed to South Lake Union Streetcar, the acronym stuck.

 

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“U-Dub”

Local university University of Washington (UW). Never called “the U” as some other places affectionately call their local universities.

JOSHUA TRUJILLO/SEATTLEPI.COM

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“Eat a bag of Dick’s

Cannot stress this enough: Seattle loves to joke about the name of its local burger establishment, and whenever you’re going you are obligated to joke about them. Nobody even laughs, it’s just a way of life. 

Kevin Alexander/Thrillist

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“The Counterbalance”

The Queen Anne Avenue hill connecting lower Queen Anne to upper Queen Anne.

GRANT HINDSLEY/SEATTLEPI.COM

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“Filthy”

Cool, awesome, etc. Used to be a bit more of a culture shock for people to understand this one, but Macklemore has really upped the profile on this one.

Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for Clear Channel

Vitamin R Rainier beer29of34

Vitamin R

Rainier beer

Adapted from seattlepi.com file

Sun break Can mean when the clouds clear enough that you get a spot of sun in one part or another, or when the afternoon rain takes off early and the evening rain comes in late.30of34

Sun break

Can mean when the clouds clear enough that you get a spot of sun in one part or another, or when the afternoon rain takes off early and the evening rain comes in late.

Karen Ducey/Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Drizzle, downpour, showers, sprinkling, misting, light showers All rain. We have a million words that all mean rain. You'll almost never see an honest-to-god downpour (our showers are softer here) but no matter what don't use an umbrella.31of34

Drizzle, downpour, showers, sprinkling, misting, light showers

All rain. We have a million words that all mean rain. You’ll almost never see an honest-to-god downpour (our showers are softer here) but no matter what don’t use an umbrella.

GENNA MARTIN/SEATTLEPI.COM

Pre-funk or Pre-func To pre-game a party or event at someone's house by drinking there (for cheap) first. There's a rumor that says this saying came from Seattle Pacific University, as a way to sneak in drinking before going to a 32of34

Pre-funk or Pre-func

To pre-game a party or event at someone’s house by drinking there (for cheap) first. There’s a rumor that says this saying came from Seattle Pacific University, as a way to sneak in drinking before going to a “function” but this is unconfirmed.

LINDSEY WASSON/seattlepi.com

Pill Hill Another name for the First Hill neighborhood, thanks to its proliferation of hospitals.33of34

Pill Hill

Another name for the First Hill neighborhood, thanks to its proliferation of hospitals.

JOSHUA TRUJILLO/SEATTLEPI.COM

RELATED: 15 things people say that show they're not from Seattle Seattle quiz: How do you pronounce Puget, Salish or Renton? How well do you know the history behind Seattle's landmarks? Take our quiz 16 items every Seattleite needs to survive in the Emerald City These are the mistakes people make when they first move to Seattle34of34

RELATED:

15 things people say that show they’re not from Seattle

Seattle quiz: How do you pronounce Puget, Salish or Renton?

How well do you know the history behind Seattle’s landmarks? Take our quiz

16 items every Seattleite needs to survive in the Emerald City

These are the mistakes people make when they first move to Seattle

GENNA MARTIN, SEATTLEPI

It’s jarring to hear someone in the middle of Seattle say they’re going to drive to Tacoma by hopping on “the five.”

In the Emerald City, it’s the little things that make out-of-towners stick out like sore thumbs. From the person who doesn’t own a Gore-Tex jacket, to the person who carries an umbrella on busy downtown streets.

But what do people say that make Seattleites whip their heads around, squint their eyes and say, “Where are you from?”

It can be as innocent as saying “the five” over I-5, or how you refer to a 24-pack of Rainier — and whether you know to call it Vitamin R. Seattle’s idioms, slang words and pronunciations are subtle but unique.

Washington and Seattle also have their own words and phrases, which you can find in this glossary. A personal favorite is telling someone to go eat a bag of Dick’s — which is anything shy of an insult here.

The names of towns and animals in the Puget Sound region are also a bit tricky too. Don’t pronounce Spokane as Spo-cane, and maybe practice a few times before you take a stab in public at Puyallup. For a list, and quiz, of funky Washington pronunciations, click here.

To see the words, phrases, and pronunciations that make those not from here stick out, click through the gallery above.

What’s your favorite Washington jargon word? Did we miss it? Let us know in the comments.

Also see…

Seattle quiz: How do you pronounce Puget, Salish or Renton?

Tolo, Jo-Jo’s and S.L.U.T.: Words only Seattleites know

How well do you know the history behind Seattle’s landmarks? Take our quiz

Seattleites need these 16 items to survive in the Emerald City

These are the mistakes people make when they first move to Seattle

13 items every Seattleite must carry in their car to thrive in the Emerald City