Chicago Slang (humor)

Industry Observer


1. Grach ki (grach'-key):   Chicagoese for 'garage key' as in, 'Yo, Theresa, waja do wit DA grachki?   How my supposta cut DA grass if I don't git intada grach?'   

2.  Sammich:  Chicagoese for sandwich.  When made with sausage, it's a sassage sammich; when made with   shredded beef, it's an Italian Beef sammich, a local delicacy consisting of piles of spicy meat in a perilously soggy bun.

3. Da: This article is a key part of Chicago speech, as in 'Da Bears' or 'Da Mare'-- the latter denoting Richard M.  Daley, or Richie, as he's often   called.

4.  Jewel: Not family heirlooms or a tender body region, but a popular name for one of the region's dominant grocery store chains.  'I'm goin' to the Jewels to pick up some sassage.'

5.  Field's:  Marshall Field, a prominent Chicago department store (used to be, but no more since Macy's moved in).  Also Carson Pirie Scott, another major department store chain, is simply called Carson's.

6.  Tree: The number between two and four. 'We were lucky dat we only got tree inches of snow DA udder night.'

7.  Over by dere: Translates to 'over by there,' a way of emphasizing a site presumed familiar to the listener.  As in, 'I  got the sassage at the Jewels down on Kedzie, over by dere.'

8.  Kaminski Park: The mispronounced name of the ballpark where the Chicago White Sox (DA Sox) play baseball.  Comiskey Park was renamed U.S. Cellular Field (DA Cell).

9.  Frunchroom: As in, 'Get outta DA frunchroom wit dose muddy shoes.' It's not the 'parlor.' It's not the 'living room.' In the land of the bungalow, it's the 'frunchroom,' a named derived, linguists believe, from 'front room.'

10 . Use:  Not the verb, but the plural pronoun 'you!' 'Where use goin'?' 

11.  Downtown:   Anywhere near The Lake, south of The Zoo (Lincoln Park Zoo) and north of Soldier Field.

12.  The Lake: Lake Michigan (What other lake is there?) It's often used by local weathermen, 'cooler by The Lake ..'

14. Braht: Short for Bratwurst. 'Gimme a braht wit kraut.'

15. Goes: Past or present tense of the verb 'say.' For example, 'Den he goes,' I like this place'!'

16.  Guys:  Used when addressing two or more people, regardless of each individual's gender.

17. Pop: A soft drink. Don't say 'soda' in this town. 'Do ya wanna canna pop?'

18.  Sliders:  Nickname for hamburgers from White Castle, a popular Midwestern burger chain.  'Dose sliders I had last night gave me DA runs.'

19. The Taste: The Taste of Chicago Festival, a huge extra vaganza in Grant Park featuring samples of Chicagoland cuisine which takes place each year around the Fourth of July holiday.

20. 'Jeetyet?': Translates to, 'Did you eat yet?'

21.  Winter and Construction:  Punch line to the joke, 'What are the two seasons in Chicago?'

22. Cuppa Too-Tree:  is Chicagoese for 'a couple, two, three' which really means 'a few.' For example, 'Hey Mike, dere any beerz left in DA cooler over by dere?'  'Yeh, a cuppa too-tree.'

23.  588-2300: Everyone in Chicago knows this commercial jingle and the carpet company you'll get if you call that number -- Empire!

24.  Junk Dror: You will usually find the 'junk drawer' in the kitchen filled to the brim with miscellaneous, but very important, junk.

25.  Southern Illinois: Anything south of I-80. This is where Smothers' is from....

26.  Expressways: The Interstates in the immediate Chicagoland area are usually known just by their 'name' and not their Interstate number: the Dan Ryan ('DA Ryan'), the Stevenson, the Kennedy (DA 'Kennedy'), the Eisenhower (DA 'Ike'), and the Edens (just 'Edens' but Da Edens' is acceptable).

27. Gym Shoes: The rest of the country may refer to them as sneakers or running shoes but Chicagoans will always call them gym shoes!  

Posted by


  Lyn Sims    Schaumburg IL Area    Northwest Chicago Suburbs  ●  (847)962-7104

Comments (7)

William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

I need to rmember these.  My wife wants to take an Amtrak trip to Chicago for a weekend.  These may come in handy.  LOL

May 20, 2008 01:51 PM
Cheryl Powell - The Powell Team
Southern Homes of The Carolinas - The Powell Team - Harrisburg, NC
Concord,Harrisburg & Charlotte NC Area Real Estate

Too funny!  I lived in the Chicago suburbs (Schaumburg & Hoffman Estates) for about 5 years in the mid 80's and both of my children were born there.  Some of your Chicago Slang, brought back fond memories of my friends and some of them were out right hilarious.  smileys

May 20, 2008 04:42 PM
Kevin Corsa
H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties) - Canton, OH
H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector

Use now got tree comment on dishere blog. This is very cool stuff to try to remember if I ever get back to Chcagoland

May 20, 2008 08:57 PM
Laura Giannotta
Keller Williams Realty - Atlantic Shore - Little Egg Harbor, NJ
Your Realtor Down the Shore!

Haven't been there in a while, but the soda-pop thing I remember!  Do they also say sack instead of bag? 

May 20, 2008 11:41 PM
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg Real Estate Agent Retired

Bill:  Yes bring the list along so that when people say "over by der", you'll know what they mean.

Laura:  Don't remember sack vs. bag.

Kevin:  As I caught myself saying "ders da coach" the other night when they were interviewing Mike Ditka with his cigar sticking out of his mouth. Too funny, how some stuff sticks.

May 21, 2008 12:44 AM
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg Real Estate Agent Retired

Cheryl:  That's where I am, small world.  So you appreciate the humor even though most of it came from the "Sowt Siders".


May 22, 2008 03:49 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker, eXp Realty - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Da Bronx! Sammich! Use! Some of these fit right in with New Yawk-ese!

Jul 27, 2020 03:59 PM