Are you planning a visit to Boston and need to brush up on your Boston slang? Totally understandable, because as much as New England has its own strong dialect, Boston has its own very strong dialect within New England’s!
Learning Boston slang, sayings, and pronunciation will help you navigate your way around and just have a much better time during your Boston trip.
We’ve rounded up the top Boston sayings and slang that will help you be able to understand everything coming at you as you visit the City on a Hill. You’re going to have a wicked good time!
There have been plenty of movies set in Boston to popularize the unique Boston accent, so most know that many words in Boston that end in an “r” don’t really when a Bostonian is saying them! That’s how you know where your cah is pahked, right?
If you’re having a hard time understanding what you’re hearing, consider trying to throw an “r” sound in there. Don’t understand when someone tells you something is ova tha on the noth side? It’s over there on the North side.
Boston Slang To Know
Let’s start off with something easy. At this point, wicked is pretty well known all across the United States as being a synonym for very: “That is wicked cool!”
If you’re thirsty in Boston and looking for a drinking fountain, you’re going to need to go ahead and ask where the nearest bubbler is, because that’s what a Bostonian knows it as! Oh, and that final “r” sound? Not really important when they tell you where the nearest bubblah is.
A remote control in Boston is a clicker. This one is pretty straightforward!
If your friend asks you if you want anything from the packie, they’re asking if they can pick you up anything from the local package liquor store. What’s your favorite drink from the packie?
This is a fun Boston slang that’s not strictly Boston only, but if someone tells you something is mint, that means it is excellent… this is a glowing review!
This is what people in Boston call rubber bands.
If you order your coffee “regular” in Boston, beware that this is shorthand for a coffee with cream and sugar, not Black as it typically refers to most elsewhere!
Carriage is what Bostonians call a shopping cart.
If someone tells you to head into their parlor, it’s Boston slang for living room.
For most of New England, a milkshake is not a milkshake as most of the rest of the country knows it, but rather a shaken milk and syrup blend. If you want a thick ice cream drink in Boston, you want to order a frappe.
This is an older Boston slang for jeans, but you mostly only hear it from the older generations today.
This is one of those slang words in Boston that sound like it wouldn’t be a good thing, but you definitely want to be pissah because pissah is Boston slang for awesome. If something is wicked pissah? Woah.
The T is Boston slang for the Boston subway system and you’re going to want to get familiar with it because it is the best way to get around town!
Cellar is a Boston slang word for basement, so if you’re visiting a friend and they tell you they have to run down cellar for something, they’re just running to the basement real quick.
Kid is Boston slang at its sweetest, and is often used as a term of endearment for your closes friends, regardless of age.
On the other end of the spectrum, Masshole is an insult in Boston and around New England, notably for someone making questionable choices in traffic: “Did you see that Masshole pull out in front of me??”
A townie is someone who was born and raised in the same neighborhood of Boston they still live in.
In Boston, a traffic circle or roundabout is called a rotary, and there are a ton of them in Massachusetts. Over the last several years they have been being updated with clearer signage to improve safety and efficiency, so it’s a little easier to navigate these traffic patterns than it was to navigate the Boston rotaries of yesteryear.
Pockabook is Boston slang for pocketbook, but it’s often used to refer to any purse. In true Boston fashion, you’ve got a solid “ah” sound in there!
If someone in Boston tells you to watch out for staties on your trip, they are looking out for you by warning you to watch out for the state troopers who might pull you over if you speed.
Boston Slang for Locations
Someone tell you something is over on Comm Ave? Comm Ave is Boston slang for Commonwealth Avenue.
If someone tells you something is in Rozzie, they’re referring to the Boston neighborhood of Roslindale.
Eastie is Boston slang for East Boston; East Boston is home to the wicked cool Harbor Walk and lots of other fun Eastie things to do.
The Garden refers to TD Garden in downtown Boston, where the Boston Celtics and the Boston Bruins play throughout the year. It’s not pronounced “The Garden,” of course, it’s “The Gahd’n.”
Southie is Boston slang for the South Boston neighborhood that is mostly residential and historically Irish Catholic working class; Southie was once considered to be a very “dangerous” neighborhood. It is NOT the same as the South End, which is more artsy and is designated on the National Register of Historic Places as a neighborhood.
Bostonians use “in town” to refer to things or places happening in Boston. Almost no one calls it “the city.”
If someone in Boston is talking about The Cape, they’re talking about Cape Cod, not Cape Ann.
Bang a Uey
If someone tells you to bang a uey in Boston, they’re telling you to take a u-turn!
If you’re needing to call out sick from either work or some other kind of obligation, you need to bang out.
This Boston saying is an emphatic NO.
While this isn’t a comprehensive list of Boston slang, it’s a good start. If you’re planning a visit to Boston, it would definitely be helpful to be familiar with Boston slang, sayings, pronunciation, and neighborhood names.
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Amy Hartle is the owner and editor of New England With Love, a comprehensive resource for travel in the New England region. Amy lived in Vermont for 15 years, attended Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, and continues to travel regularly around the entire New England region. On this site, Amy aims to share her love of New England and help you to have the best possible adventures!
Amy has been a full time blogger since 2012, and is also the publisher of Two Drifters, where she writes about couples travel and relationships, as well as Let’s Adventure Baby, a family travel site. When not traveling the world or creating epic blog content, Amy can be found cuddling with her husband, son, and cats, & drinking a maple latte.