Metatalktail Hour: Family Jargon May 12, 2018 5:47 PM   Subscribe

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter! This week, Too Ticky wants to hear about the "expressions or jargon are used only in your family or friends group -- Bonus points for stuff that no one else would understand." This kind of question is straight-up my jam so I look forward to giggling for the next several hours!
posted by Eyebrows McGee to MetaFilter-Related at 5:47 PM (201 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

We have a ton but the one that always leaps to mind is "Jack-help." Our first cat, Jack, thought he was people, so would always try to help with whatever we were doing -- if we were playing a board game, he'd push the pawns around the board and knock the dice around. If we were doing a puzzle, he'd go dig in the box with his paw to make the same piece-moving noise, and then push individual pieces around the table. He was always puzzled and hurt when we'd scold him for doing exactly what we were doing! One time my husband was working on something and I came over and was physically hanging over his shoulder, and he was like, "What are you doing?" I said, "I'm helping!" He said, "That's not help. That's Jack-help." And Jack-help it has been in our house ever since, for help that does not help. Such a useful term that all my book club buddies started using it, and now their kids all say "Jack-help" when they're not helping, and my kids will get mad at each other and shout, "Stop touching my Legos, that's Jack-help!" Or my husband will come home from running errands and be like, "I thought you were going to bake?" and I'll be like, "I was, but all three kids decided to Jack-help."
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 5:51 PM on May 12 [68 favorites]


My parents musta never learned the names of Mexican food or something, because tortillas were always chapatis
posted by Grandysaur at 5:52 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]


Oops hit post too soon!
Tortillas were chapatis, quesadillas were “fold-overs,” and burrito night was “smushed beans night” because we made them with refried beans that were... smushed.
posted by Grandysaur at 5:53 PM on May 12 [9 favorites]


My parents were both victims of British boarding schools, where apparently it was rude to ask for things directly at the dinnner table. Rather, one had to conversationally allude to it, the canonical example being “salt is the staff of life” (please pass the salt).

Everything at dinner must now be asked for by referring to it in this way: “broccoli is the staff of life”, “wine is that staff of life”, etc.
posted by Rumple at 6:04 PM on May 12 [42 favorites]


When someone's trying to "start something" (e.g., a conflict, an argument, or perhaps a tryst) my wife and I will say someone's "trying to beach party summer." This goes back to a misheard song lyric I will never ever ever live down: Michael Jackson's Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' came up on a playlist, and I said "You know, it's a catchy song, but the lyrics are silly as hell--who ever says they want a 'Beach Party Summer'?" So now "beach party summer" is used as a stand-in for "starting something" in any context.

My friend M and I met in Malawi, where I was living and volunteering for a few years in the rural south, and she was my Peace Corps volunteer neighbor. We ate dinner together most evenings and we'd allude to dinner table items by their names in Chichewa. Salt was mchere. After awhile, we decided for some reason to pronounce mchere with a bizarre French spin and exaggerated accent, and it became moncheret. So now salt is forever moncheret--a wholly made-up word--for us.
posted by duffell at 6:11 PM on May 12 [10 favorites]


I also have a special name for what anatomists call the gluteal fold or gluteal sulcus (Wikipedia link, slightly NSFW). I call it "the butt of the butt." That is a much better name.
posted by duffell at 6:16 PM on May 12 [7 favorites]


Not to abuse the edit window: This is technically an example of jargon used in my family, but my wife doesn't like it very much.
posted by duffell at 6:16 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


"I hear footsteps approaching on horseback" in a portentious voice was my mother's way of announcing a visitor, but I have no idea where it came from.

The other phrase of hers was "the devil with a stove on his back" said when driving at night and seeing an oncoming semi with multitudinous lights and smokestacks etc.
posted by MovableBookLady at 6:17 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


My brother and his bride had a gerbil (maybe hamster...IDK) named Gooter. Cheek-stuffing was part of the gerbil's repertoire. Anytime one is "squirreling away" something or hoarding something it's called "gootering".

*and the cat just decided to drink out of my glass while I was making this comment.... critters rule.
posted by mightshould at 6:18 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


"Door-head!" is something my sister and I will yell at each other as insults, we're not sure why this is something rude to yell at the other, but it started in our childhood and it continues to this day.
posted by Fizz at 6:28 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


My mother had a penchant for using recipes from the newspaper and random other sources to try to keep meals interesting. This was the seventies so if you've ever seen what happens on Facebook or Tumblr or Twitter when people post photos from old cookbooks for all the millennials to gasp in horror at, you have an idea of what that meant.

One of the things Mom latched onto was a "quick and easy eggs Benedict" which was, from bottom to top, half a toasted English muffin, a coldcut slice (usually ham), half a hard boiled egg, and a slice of American cheese draped over the top, all microwaved to melt the cheese on. It got served often enough for us to sometimes complain about it, so when one of us would ask what was for lunch, my mother would reply, "You'll see," to avoid the preemptive griping. It didn't take long for us to forget the previous name (which probably really was along the lines of "Quick and Easy Eggs Benedict by Mrs. Jane Whiteperson from Canton, Ohio") and adopt You'll See as the new and lasting name for an open-faced egg sandwich.
posted by ardgedee at 6:30 PM on May 12 [27 favorites]


"We're talking about the Bess Eaton."
Once upon a time, among the friend group, there was a few-hour road trip that included some of one of the friend's coworkers, for reasons I'm not entirely sure of anymore. Coworker started going off on some obnoxious tangent, which I recall was vaguely racist, and our noisiest friend cut in loudly to yet another. "Hey, look over there. It's a Bess Eaton. You don't see many of those any more." The discussion was broadly and loudly redirected to the donut chain and it's the kind of shorthand like you have in some bars - a sign that the conversation must be redirected and someone is becoming unwelcome.
posted by cobaltnine at 6:34 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]


When I was a kid, on special occasions my parents would make us paper-thin "rolled up pancakes" with butter and brown sugar. None of my friends had ever heard of these lacy delicious delicacies so I knew they were a secret family recipe. I passed this tradition down to my own kids, whose friends had never heard of rolled up pancakes either but always enjoyed them at our house (and still request them as adults). So you may call them crepes, but to us they will always be grandma and grandpa's rolled up pancakes.
posted by a fish out of water at 6:38 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


"Shaker cheese" was our family shorthand for the kraft stuff that came in the plastic cylinder. "Dog water" was the puddle of drooly water the dog would splash out of the bowl while drinking. It was usually deployed with outrage as someone tried to walk across the kitchen in socks and got too close to the mess: "Ugh, I just stepped in the dog water."

**

I've always wondered what it would be like if you could step away from your life for a few years and then come back. I had a tiny taste of that today. 18 months ago my very old white plastic MacBook broke and I had no money to replace it. I've been getting by with my phone and occasionally the public computers at the library, but I haven't had a lot of access to download or save any kind of media. I realized recently that I don't need a whole computer if all I'm going to do is watch cartoons in the library, so today I went out and bought a refurbished tablet. All this time my Apple/itunes cloud thing has quietly been keeping track of my podcast subscriptions. When I signed in today I learned that from the 8 different podcasts I was following I now have something like 300 unplayed episodes. 😐

It's probably a good thing that I can't remember my Feedly password.
posted by janepanic at 6:43 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


If our grandmother was in the middle of some reasonably obvious task (making dinner, gardening, crocheting one of the many afghans she made, you get the idea) and my sister or I asked - as kids do - "whatcha doin'?", she'd retort "Making sandwiches for the hardware store!" That was probably my very first introduction to "Snappy Answers for Stupid Questions", years before I discovered Mad Magazine. We both still use the phrase to this day, though oddly our mom never picked it up.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:16 PM on May 12 [9 favorites]


Continuing to ask questions when you’ve clearly exhausted the other party’s knowledge of a topic is “MeUndies.”

I mentioned to my wife that I’d heard about this subscription service for underwear and she proceeded to ask more questions than I could have answered after watching an infomercial, let alone hearing a fifteen second podcast ad read. We’ve since realized that this is something we both do, and occasionally need to cut short. Thus, MeUndies.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:22 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


What other families might call "thingies" or "whats-its" in our house are called "woosher-swooshers" inspired by this Bloom County episode. For example, a very effective apple slicer is the "apple woosher-swoosher". Oranges have become "noranges" from the original Persian/Arabic and because it's more fun to say. For the fun of it, ears have become "nears" because they're near your head, and underpants are "snugs" because that's how they're worn.

Playing with language is a legacy of my late father who had an impressive disregard for the correct names for people, places, and things, and an impish delight in mangling language. Males whose name he could not immediately recall were "Antonio". Women could be either "Mary" or "Esmerelda". All places were "Trinco" (short for Tricomalee; I was 12 before I realized it was a real place). Things were inevitably "'function-x' engines" and my husband, sons, and I have always made our caffeine drinks in a "coffee engine" just as my father did. We often slip up and refer to it by that name with not-family to many puzzled looks. One of the things that I find particularly endearing about my daughters-in-law is that they also now make coffee in a coffee engine.

I could never tell when Dad was calling something by a completely fictitious word, perhaps inspired by a real non-English word that he then happily mangled, or whether it was actually Maltese, my father's second language. Milk was often something that sounded like "mahjollick" which he informed me was Swedish for milk (it is in fact, mjölk, but is not pronounced anything mahjollick) which I foolishly believed to be the case until I was an adult. Words I thought were completely fictitious ("ċuċ" and "ċuċata") I later discovered were Maltese. We remember my dad with great fondness and using his silly words is a way of keeping his memory fresh.

On the other hand, my mother-in-law quite seriously believes that the stuff made with avocados is "guatemala dip" which is now how we refer to guacamole.
posted by angiep at 7:29 PM on May 12 [12 favorites]


When I'd call home from college, both my parents would get on separate phones and we would talk for a while with my mom upstairs and my dad downstairs watching his sports setup (regular TV with picture-in-picture, smaller TV off to the side, sports radio playing in the background, sports pages and magazines in his lap). We would all talk together and then my dad's attention would start to fade because of sports. Once I asked my dad a question and he didn't answer and my mom said, "Oh, there was probably a touchdown or something." So now whenever someone in the family is done with the conversation and wants to call the whole thing quits, we say "Touchdown!" and it's all good with everyone.

Touchdown!
posted by danabanana at 7:32 PM on May 12 [15 favorites]


My parents' term for being able to pick the correct-sized Tupperware container to hold the leftovers is Piaget. It can be used on its own ("Damn, my Piaget is off tonight") or as a title ("Nice job, Monsieur Piaget!") It wasn't until taking a developmental psych course in college that I got the reference.

My mom calls the ice crystals that form on something that's been in the freezer for too long "protective frost."

My dad is a teacher, and we always referred to first couple days of school as "re-entry," like astronauts might use.

There are many, many, many more of these, but I'm laid low with the stomach flu and I'm not firing on all cylinders.
posted by coppermoss at 7:35 PM on May 12 [8 favorites]


I'd go out in the pucker brush or out in the willy wags from far into my dooryard, yeah, bub.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:36 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


My grandmother used to say "'Too late!' she cried, as she waved her wooden leg." She was a Brit from the early 20th century, so it was probably a music hall saying, but it is much funnier without any further context.
posted by Paragon at 7:43 PM on May 12 [7 favorites]


Growing up, whenever my parents had engaged a babysitter and were about to go out, they would give us a "bri-berry." This was candy or chocolate, theoretically a "bribe" or "bribery" for us to make up for the fact that they were going out, and it evolved somehow to bri-berry. We wanted them to go out more often.
posted by Melismata at 7:51 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


My MIL uses “skafidge” to refer to disgusting stuff. Think film on a tub, a truck stop bathroom, or a full leftovers container of unknown provenance.

Parking spots directly in front of the building you want to go into are “executive parking.”

“Bagnarok” is when we run out of waste bags for the litter box.

Early childhood spawned lots of these things with my daughter, because toddler compliance sometimes hinges on silly idiosyncrasies. Now that she’s in school they’re starting to fade, which is as it should be, but is also a little sad.
posted by eirias at 7:52 PM on May 12 [7 favorites]


So my brother and I used to have separate rooms but at ages 4 and 3 we couldn't agree who would get the joy of sharing a room with our baby sister. Now that I have a baby of my own, I have no idea what we were thinking. Anyways, end result: all three of us ended up in one room and the other room got a double mattress on the floor and became the jumping bed room. There was even a kid-sized picnic table off the end for use as a diving board.

Long story short, people look at you funny when you refer to your "jumping bed room"
posted by carolr at 7:54 PM on May 12 [8 favorites]


My friend, Pam, has a habit of saying that something that costs $8.99 costs 8 bucks, or something that's $15.99 is 15 bucks.

So, now my husband and I describe prices in terms of Pam-bucks. "Oh, that's just five Pam-bucks!" means it's $5.99.
posted by meese at 7:57 PM on May 12 [25 favorites]


The multi-generational command for the dog to eat what you just dropped on the floor is “Hoover!”

It’s amazing how fast they pick that one up.
posted by Grandysaur at 8:09 PM on May 12 [12 favorites]


When my group of college friends and I used to watch tv together, if people were having a side conversation and something important on the show was about to happen, someone would shout out “Crucial Dialogue!” so the talkers would quiet down. This eventually got shortened to “CD! CD!” and transferred to any situation when you didn’t want to miss something that was happening.
posted by bookmammal at 8:16 PM on May 12 [8 favorites]


From my nephews: spaghetti is line noodles. Any other pasta is shape noodles, and is to be avoided.
posted by moonmilk at 8:18 PM on May 12 [15 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee: We have a ton but the one that always leaps to mind is "Jack-help."

In our house, it's "helpful like a cat," which came from our helpful cats helping us make the bed, usually by jumping onto it while we were trying to pull up the sheets and/or comforter.

Our dog, on the other hand, is an advance notice doorbell.

MovableBookLady: "I hear footsteps approaching on horseback" in a portentious voice was my mother's way of announcing a visitor, but I have no idea where it came from.

My parents-in-law are fond of repeating this superstition -- a man will visit if you drop a knife, a woman if it's a fork or a child if its a spoon. Not sure where they picked it up, but it lives on to this day.

My wife's family is also fond of the toast "who's like us? Damn few, and they're all dead!" It's apparently a traditional Scottish toast, but I think the family reference is from Boos Myller in Return to Zork, which is also the source of "Want some rye? 'Course ya do!"
posted by filthy light thief at 8:23 PM on May 12 [7 favorites]


Our friend Steve had a dream where the term "road dull" was uttered. Now all of my family say road dull to express the state of tiredness or being brain fogged. Total exhaustion is referred as having "no spazzerrinctum".

The sound made to agree with a statement is a high and nasel "Hang" or "ANG" if emphatic.

The expression used when hearing bad news is, "Waa" or if extra bad, "Wet Waa".

Cuss words include "fsck" and "sub fusc".

We are a peculiar people.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 8:26 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]


My mother in law refers to all pasta, regardless of shape or construction, as "macaroni."

Orechiette? Macaroni.
Orzo? Macaroni.

You get the picture. It's pretty cute.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:27 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


"I Imogene" for "I imagine." I Imogene we need to go to Office Despot but we can swing by Barnes Ignoble afterwards.
posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 8:34 PM on May 12 [8 favorites]


My brother, as a wee tot, called cement mixers "munkamickers," and for a while our youngest called Mike Wazowski "Mikeowkie," but neither stuck for too long.

My (adopted) sister, an English language learner, had some phrases as a kid that stuck longer - "liar caterpillar" is still a favorite of mine, and I'm still unsure how that one started.

Speaking of weird phrases, when in a particularly unpleasant parking lot intersection, I said "this is a kazoo of shit" to my wife, which got shortened to "kazoo" in front of our kids.

Personal slang: foodaashee, something I mutter to myself instead of fuck that shit.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:35 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


Afterpants
posted by bq at 8:36 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


My brother-in-law's dad apparently watches action movies, and when things are getting really good, he says "decent." So now when my wife or I tell each-other that our day was decent, we have to ask the other person (or clarify in advance) if it's normal-decent or Gregg-decent.


MovableBookLady: The other phrase of hers was "the devil with a stove on his back" said when driving at night and seeing an oncoming semi with multitudinous lights and smokestacks etc.

Thanks to Jeepers Creepers, any time my wife and I see a truck, particularly an old truck, coming up on us fast, we say be eating you [BEATINGU, not BEATINGUP as the video title reads]
posted by filthy light thief at 8:48 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


My family has a gardening tool which has been used more than once to deal with unwelcome arachnids. It's called the Spider Divider.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 9:03 PM on May 12 [7 favorites]


When I was 16 and excited about being able to drive, I drove my younger brother around a lot. At some point we passed a fire truck, and I yelled, "Fire truck fire truck WOO WOO!" for no real discernible reason. This became the thing, adapted as necessary, that we would then say any time an official vehicle passed, so it was mostly "Mail truck mail truck WOO WOO!" I shared this with a friend when I lived in Venice and so it expanded to "Mail boat mail boat WOO WOO!"
posted by lazuli at 9:07 PM on May 12 [7 favorites]


So this dates back to Balloon Boy.

Friend in a faraway state and I are watching the whole story unfold in real time and communicating via chat. Friend is certain the kid is perfectly safe and in hiding and waiting to pop out and yell SUPPLIES! because superlittle kids often can't pronounce SURPRISE. And the kid was, indeed, in hiding and thankfully safe, as should have been evident all along.

Now, anytime there's a turn of events that is shocking to no one: SUPPLIES!

Thanks, Balloon Boy!
posted by mochapickle at 9:21 PM on May 12 [7 favorites]


Oh, also, in my family, we call soft serve ice cream bacteria ever since one of the major fast food chains had a listeria outbreak that made the national news 30+ years ago.

On a warm summer evening: Wanna go get some bacteria?
posted by mochapickle at 9:30 PM on May 12 [8 favorites]


My mother in law refers to all pasta, regardless of shape or construction, as "macaroni."

Orechiette? Macaroni.
Orzo? Macaroni.

You get the picture. It's pretty cute.


I worked for a pasta company, and sometimes internally they would refer to all pasta as ‘macaroni products’. One of my coworkers there would start and end almost all of his sentences with “this guy”. Like, “This guy says bucatini is macaroni, this guy.”
posted by rodlymight at 9:45 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


Discougar, v. 1. to discourage, especially when one is discouraged too easily or gives up too soon.
[I read early but imperfectly as a child and thought "discouraging" should be "discougaring," which was apparently cute enough to stick.]

Scrounge and forage, adj. 1. eat whatever food you can find in the house, even if it's only a paper plate full of dry Cheerios and three chocolate-covered cherries; no one is going to prepare anything for the family as a whole. Usually as a response to "what's for dinner tonight?"
[Origin was TV nature specials about various desperate mammals.]
posted by Spathe Cadet at 9:59 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


My brother-in-law's dad apparently watches action movies, and when things are getting really good, he says "decent."

70's slang, stonerish. When I was a kid most people said it more like "diesel" with an N.
DEEsen.
posted by bongo_x at 10:49 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


My one grandma would eye someone then tell us there was something off in their warp and weave, and it stuck in the family phrase book.

Most of the phrases are things my son word saladed together because he's on the spectrum and limited verbal, and they were so charming everyone just started using them.

Like dandelions are only dandelions when they're yellow. Once they puff up we all call them theresone. Because I would point and say there's one when he was pulling them up to blow on and he thought that's the name.

Or the moon is "just a skylight, baby" because K pointed up and asked what's that once and I thought he was pointing at the skylight and he was actually pointing at the moon he saw through it. He says it in such a wistful way that everyone just says it now.

Any bird with a Crest is a cockatiel and he delights in talking about the red cockatiels (cardinals) he sees, that even his teachers call them red cockatiels now.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 10:50 PM on May 12 [9 favorites]


We also use "Dog help" for when dogs get in the middle of everything.
posted by bongo_x at 10:50 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


In my family, an object that’s almost but not quite right to accomplish a task is “big, and it’s bad, but it’s not a wolf,” a paraphrase from this Sesame Street sketch.

Similarly, an object that’s aesthetically pleasing but not necessarily functional is “cute, but can you really breathe through that thing?” That one is a stand-alone punchline; the joke it comes from is “what did the elephant say to the naked man?”
posted by ActionPopulated at 10:51 PM on May 12 [16 favorites]


Oh also my favorite was when I honked the car horn and instead of saying, "You scared me!" He said, "You stealed my heart for honking the horn!" So now when someone gives us a fright we say, "You stealed my heart!"
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 10:53 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


When our first kid was born my wife and I went through a probably unreasonable stretch of being grumpy at cutesy/diminutive names of all the new baby stuff in our lives: blankie, binky (for pacifier), onesie, etc.--and pushing back where we could. "Binky" seemed especially galling, and the brand name for the one we were using ("Soothie") made the problem worse. So we brainstormed to come up with a name we could stand, which in our sleep-deprived state quickly became a competition to think of the most laughably horrible name possible. Which is why, to this day, our regular in-family term for pacifier is "jar-jar"--short for Jar-Jar Binky.

Someday my kids are going to learn who Jar-Jar is (still sorta pretending those movies didn't happen) and I'm going to have to apologize for the name all over again. Or maybe not! Kids love that guy.
posted by miles per flower at 11:27 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]


When my wife and I first moved in together, she was weirded out that I didn't say "bless you" when she sneezed, having grown up in a family of atheists. But the thought of saying "bless you" was likewise too weird for me. So a compromise was reached, and since then I have said "you exploded!".
posted by equalpants at 12:16 AM on May 13 [23 favorites]


So I'll be with someone and I can just tell when they're about to call something a "thing-a-m-bob" or a "whatcha-ma-call-it" when quite clearly it is a scootcher. Like, "Hey, toss me one of those little scootchers." when I'm up on a ladder or like "Get yourself one of these little scootchers for a buck at the dollar store." to clean paper glued to your car window. Ppl are often surprised to hear the correct name but I'm glad to help them avoid the embarrassment of saying the wrong thing. One thing that old girlfriends will sometimes laugh about when we run into one another is "scootchers" and it makes me happy, knowing as I do that I have helped them, knowing that I have enlarged their vocabulary, and probably their soul, also, though one or two of them might say that's not true, if they're having a bad day, and maybe even if they're not.

~~~~~

Any generic guy I'm talking about is always "Melvin." Any generic gal I'm talking about is always "Myrtle." Sometimes they're a couple, Melvin and Myrtle are, if that's what's needed in the conversation. If Melvin has a cousin it's "Festus" and if he has another cousin it's "Lester" and they tend to listen to bluegrass music. (If you can call that music -- gawd.)

~~~~~

James was just a natural, and just naturally funny also, he was my seven dollar an hour apprentice, a terrible hand that I turned into a journeyman carpenter in short order; his biggest problem was he always hurried hurried hurried; I slowed his ass down. He was from Tennessee if memory serves, he'd been in the army and he learned to do a side kick straight as an arrow flies, and just that fast, too, and he was bent exactly at his center, a picture perfect side kick. One day he does this side kick and right at its apex he trumpets out this pants-ripper fart and he gets this frightened look on his face, says "Oh god no !! -- It's a West Texas Barking Spider !!" I have appropriated that since that day.

~~~~~

Texas has just the best slanguage. "Dumb as a box of rocks." "Dumb as a sackful of hammers." "Serious? Why, it's serious as a heart attack! Serious? Why, it's serious as a flat tire on an ambulance! Why, it's serious as polio!" "Yeah, I was born at night. But not last night." These ppl can go on for hours, and I want them to.

~~~~~

My native tongue is construction site profanity/vulgarity.* Being as I've been on job sites in yankeeland and also in Florida and Texas, mine is a rich tongue, and varied. One of my brother-in-laws is a fundie jesus jumper preacher, once when I was up there visiting he found that he had to ask me could I maybe ease off on some of the more comical linguistic bad-word constructs, as I was influencing my sister,** and it wouldn't do for the preachers wife to talk like I do, which she'd been doing.
*Also from the Peoria branch of maternal cousins -- these guys were truly gifted, and they got to me young.
** I think it's important to note here that I can talk like a regular person, like if I'm meeting your parents or what-have-you. But it's work, I have to be alert, plus never ever get my hand caught in a car door, which actually is a pretty good litmus test -- you want to find out who lives inside a person, take them out to your car and give it a whirl.

~~~~~

I couldn't say anything about it if I was in AA of course, what with that anonymity thing they've got going on, but imagine if you will the linguistic creativity which could maybe be found after decades spent in rooms full of raving rat-bag alcoholics and junkies. You know, had I spent any time in those rooms. I wouldn't know of course, but I would guess that a person coming off construction sites plus decades of tacky 12 step meetings would be able to turn any room blue, going on and on and never repeating even one word. Myself, I spend my time praying for ppl like that, deeply, profoundly saddened by their plight.....
posted by dancestoblue at 3:07 AM on May 13 [15 favorites]


Between my brother and me, whenever one of the two doesn't know something that should be obvious - like a well-known piece of pop culture trivia, news item or historic event, the standard expression of incredulity is to ask if the other person is living up in the Carpathians. Nobody remembers how it came up, probably a Dracula (or Young Frankenstein, more likely) connection somewhere.
posted by each day we work at 3:24 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


something a lot of households have is a corner or drawer or spot where all the cruft ends up. It seems to attract important but small and junky things - radiator keys, obscure charging cables, the little-used key to a document box, scraps of paper with combinations, telephone numbers or vital dates/times, antique pens, a surplus of replacement gaskets for a kitchen gadget or hoover, etc.

This is the 'runic pot' in our house because it seems to mystically attract these items.

In my friend's family it's the 'last place' drawer because it's the 'last place' one ever looks for things.
posted by NoiselessPenguin at 4:04 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


These are awesome. My current household is new enough that we're still working on developing some, but when one of us says "Good morning!" with exceptional vigor and clarity, the other one (probably still half-asleep) might say "Kagoshima-style today..." thanks to a friend who was brought up down south in Kagoshima and says people there are taught to greet each other clearly and enthusiastically in the morning.
My parents and I used to call plates of denuded chicken bones, fruit peels, empty shellfish shells, whatever, the Grim Details. Also, "I'll get to it when I can find the time, but I can't cope right now" was always "After the opera," from my father, who ran a semi-professional opera company as a side gig and tended to fall down on the job for household tasks around performances.
posted by huimangm at 4:19 AM on May 13 [8 favorites]


This thread is everything I hoped it would be, and more. I'm going to favourite each and every comment that mentions family jargon. Because I love them all.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:25 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


In my household, changing into comfortable clothes is referred to as "getting squishy," As in, "You don't have to go back to work tonight. Why don't you go get squishy?"

When my oldest daughter was little and heard a loud noise or someone spoke too loudly, she would say "You're scaring my ears!"

I also have memories of my grandfather (born in 1902 in Virginia) using the word "prantley" to mean "after awhile."
posted by 4ster at 4:43 AM on May 13 [8 favorites]


Whenever something unpleasant happens, you "just say 'bub-bub' and move on". This comes from my grandma reading to her kids and whenever she'd get to a word she didn't know or couldn't pronounce, she'd say 'bub-bub' and keep going with the reading. Now it's become a philosophy.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:07 AM on May 13 [10 favorites]


My mother refers to pajamas as "boopers". I think it came from her mother, who referred to them as "beddie-bye boopers". It took me to 5th grade to realize that most people called them PJs.
posted by chainsofreedom at 6:13 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


"Underpants" was rated the grossest word in English language by my little sister when she was three. So my dad thought about it for a minute, and said "seat covers." That has stuck around for 57 years so far. The other one was from Katie, TX where a waitress told us the German word for flyswatter was "fleegun shluger." I know, I know, but it's still funny anyway.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 6:38 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


A dear friend many years ago went home just before her elderly father died. He and her mother had lived in the house for 40 years or so. My friend called me in distress the day after the funeral. She had to go back home for work in a few days, but had for some reason felt it was imperative to move her mother into assisted living before she did. (Note that she had several siblings local to her mother at this time). She started crying in the phone that she was sure that if they would let her, today she could have cleared out the attic, and tomorrow she could have done the basement. As she said this, I couldn't help myself, I burst out laughing. She started to calm down and realized how ridiculous she sounded. And to this day, whenever on of my friends gets insanely ambitious about what they think they can accomplish in a weekend, we tell them "today the attic, tomorrow the basement."
posted by obliquity of the ecliptic at 6:58 AM on May 13 [19 favorites]


We used elaborate word-associations growing up. A spoon, f'rinstance, was a pérez: spoon → cuillère (French) → Javier Pérez de Cuéllar (UN Secretary-General at the time), hence pérez. It got a bit out of hand when we ended up nicknaming my friend Simon ‘Spoon’: Simon → Shimon Perespérez, hence as above spoon.

Why yes we had lead pipes and listened to BBC Radio 4 news at every meal …
posted by scruss at 7:43 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


When referring to beta carotenes, my mom and I will always say “beta kerosenes.” It comes from a 1990s commercial for kiwifruit that comedically featured an elderly lady making that mispronunciation.
posted by snowmentality at 8:10 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


My ex brother in law used to say, upon hearing an audible fart made by a tiny baby, "someone's shooting bunnies!"

Kraft parmesan cheese was called stinky feet cheese in my family. We's sprinkle it on freshly popped popcorn, and as soon as it hit the hot popcorn, there would be the stench of old sweatsocks! Yum!

My youngest daughter's middle name is Elizabeth. When she was born, her 3 year old brother morphed Elizabeth into Lizardbreath, which is her preferred version of her name.

I love this topic!
posted by LaBellaStella at 8:28 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


We've got a number of severely reduced words--sher (shower), oos (noodles), bnans (bananas), etc.

"My spirits were dampened" = it rained
"I saw students. They saw me" = was teaching
"I was well-met" = had multiple meetings
"I said things" = was irritated and spoke accordingly
"I spoke firmly" = had to insist that somebody fix a problem that they were currently not fixing
"I thought about..." = procrastinated (as in, "I thought about paying some bills")
posted by thomas j wise at 8:36 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


Our 50 ft spring steel fish tape is Bruce. Because it pulls wires through conduits like a boss.
posted by Quietgal at 8:45 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


Oh, another one from my household: one time my partner and I ran into one of the harmless eccentrics down on the main college thoroughfare in town, by happenstance on graduation weekend. The eccentric fellow was carrying a generously-sized Local U mug and was on a tear about how he was looking for some recent graduate to bestow it on as a gift, but everyone was ignoring him because they thought he was panhandling. Somehow after a few minutes his train of thought dropped him off at a station where he was desperately trying to remember the word for the branch of philosophy that pertains to how you know what you know. “Epistemology?” I suggested. His face lit up. “YOU get the mug!!!” We took the excuse to end the exchange. To this day that mug (and its subsequently-purchased twin; it is a good sized mug) is the epistemology mug.
posted by eirias at 8:48 AM on May 13 [14 favorites]


My partner and I have a shared term for the unpleasant sensation of over-fullness after eating too much: "blorfy". It's the perfect word - you immediately know what it means when you hear it, and it conjugates like a charm ("hey, don't poke me in the blorf"; "that donut sundae looks blorftastic"; "their lunch buffet is the blorfiest").

Once when my sister was very young she described seeing "a pigeon on a boss-holder" while riding in the car, and for weeks my parents were like what and where is this boss-holder and eventually we figured out she was referring to a roadside weather station.
posted by terretu at 9:09 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


When my sister was little, she was a bit uncoordinated, but she desperately wanted to do what our parents and me (five years older) could do. My mother had to constantly caution her from trying things beyond her abilities. One day, she insisted she could open a big jar of pickles, saying "I can do it, I can do it!" ... quickly followed by the sound of a big crash as she drops the jar and it breaks all over the floor. After that, our family would use the phrase "I can do it, I can do it - Crash" as a way of cautioning someone that they were trying to do something that would probably not end well.

We use the word rootch/rootching when someone won't sit still, i.e. saying "Stop rootching around" to a wiggling kid. I only ever heard my family use it, but subsequently have realized it is a Pennsylvania German word; another cite (my father's mother was Pennsylvania German.)
posted by gudrun at 9:25 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


My mother grew up on the East Coast and would preface various phrases with the word “Joe”. It’s basically used like a hashtag, to underline keywords or hilarious phrases, like “Joe family expressions” or “Joe getting squishy”. Also used in “Peanuts” when Snoopy decided to play “Joe World War I Flying Ace” or “Joe Tennis Player”. I’d be interested to know if this slang is used by anyone else, because I’ve never heard anyone else in the Midwest use it (except for the extremely few people who picked it up from me).

In the 80s there used to be a trailer on rented movies that featured a super corny family sitting at a table deciding how to spend the evening. Every single movie you ever rented had this trailer. Dad: “Let’s put on our THINKING CAPS.” kids look crestfallen Mom: “I know! We could sing sea chanties.” “What’s a sea chanty?” They go through a list of options and Mom pipes up with, “We could all learn Portuguese!” Son: “I don’t want to learn Portuguese tonight!”

For some reason my sister and I found that particularly hilarious, as though you could actually learn an entire language in one night. We started to use that phrase whenever we had a really overwhelming task with a ridiculously short deadline. “I don’t want to learn Portuguese tonight!” or using /Portuguese as a signifier.

Other phrases are derived from my mother’s commonly used rebuttals. Among her idiosyncrasies were the reluctance to ever buy groceries, and the need to justify the value of an item as being greater than it is. If we complained of the lack of food in the house, she would say, “There’s milk and soup and cheese!” So now that phrase is shorthand for “need to go grocery shopping”. And for gift-giving occasions, she would buy some piece of junk, intentionally leave the price tag on, and if we noted that it wasn’t something we wanted, or had a legitimate issue (wrong size, broken, etc.) she would yell, “It’s very expensive!” as if that would make it fit or not be broken, even if one could plainly see the $12.99 price tag still attached. So now we snark about “It’s very expensive!” whenever we have to deal with a thing that is more hassle than it’s worth.
posted by Autumnheart at 9:40 AM on May 13 [7 favorites]


"You're scaring my ears!"

That reminds me of an expression that isn't one the whole family uses, just my sister: she would respond to any topic or event that was frightening or gross or unpleasant in any with the pronouncement "That makes my teeth cringe."
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:49 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Autumnheart - I'm wondering if your mother might have picked up the Joe thing from Joe Blow (see also "Joe College"), which is where I assume the stuff in Peanuts comes from also.
posted by gudrun at 9:59 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


The tall carpeted platform thingy cats climb on is a Poombaum.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:00 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


For years & years my friends and I referred to our periods as Cigar Season. This was because tampons in their wrappers looked like those generic blue & pink cigars they give new parent at hospitals. It was much less embarrassing to say "it's cigar season" than to say "I have my period.".
posted by yoga at 10:02 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


Any time a movie or TV show has a shot where they show a city skyline or landmark to establish location, one must say "New York City."
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:04 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


Evenings when people must fend for themselves in the kitchen but there's probably good leftovers, dinner is Root Hog.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:05 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


The tall carpeted platform thingy cats climb on is a Poombaum.

I think poom/pum is Caribbean slang for pussy and Baum is German for tree, so... it sure is!
posted by elsietheeel at 10:06 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


> I think poom/pum is Caribbean slang for pussy

It's from those clever French cats. My kids and I saw the video and bought our first Poombaum during a week when Mr Corpse was in Germany on a business trip.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:11 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


My mom would say in a 100% serious angry voice “kids, I’m about to lose my temperature,” instead of temper.
posted by Grandysaur at 10:11 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


That makes a certain sort of sense, for anyone who's seen one of the many cartoons where a character loses their temper accompanied by a thermometer blowing its top.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:52 AM on May 13


I grew up in the country with a pretty small social circle so there are some words I am not sure are family words or real words but just slang from a dialect I didn't know my parents knew, and words none of my friends knew. A few I've figured out over time.

banjaxed - totally fucked up. I thought my dad made this up but it is real (Irish)
farblondzhet - confused and wandering. I thought my mom made this up but it is real (Jewish/Yiddish)
grundoon - something small and weirdly interesting. I thought my dad made it up but it is real (Pogo character)

A few may be family words:

oodums - used to describe something small and cute like "Ooooh look at the little oodums" when you see a kitten, baby or tiny cute bug
snorfles - that particularly glarpy (phlegmy) part of having a cold
ootchy - sort of like having the jits (fidgets)
shamehole - many of my family members are borderline-hoarders. I am not. I help them clean out their shameholes and it's fun for me and they like it because I'm pretty non-judgey about it.

hoppitamoppita, that one is mine, from here.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 11:12 AM on May 13 [8 favorites]


At some point as a wee tiny windphoneling, I started calling snuggling "snuzzing," and the folded-over border at the top of the sheet the "snuzzguard."

When my wife heard this, she headcanoned it as meaning not "thing that keeps the sheet from fraying where you snuzz up to it" but "thing that defends the sleeper against a horrible condition known as Snuzz."

So now instead of meaning "snuggle," Snuzz is the name for the awful fate that befalls you if you go to bed improperly tucked-in. If you get the sheets tangled up in your sleep, and you need your bedmate's help to disentagle them, the way you raise the alarm is "HELP! I'VE GOT BIG SNUZZ!"

All of this definitely made a lot of sense at the time.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:23 AM on May 13 [10 favorites]


If the doorbell rings and it is someone we are expecting, someone in my family will get up to let them in and say 'I'll go tell them we gave at the office.' (No idea where it comes from).
posted by halcyonday at 11:56 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


My dad was a surfer, so my childhood was peppered with phrases like "dawn patrol" (getting up before sunrise to hit the water to go surfing at dawn, often before work or school) and other surfer lingo like "gnarly", like, "man, that's a gnarly raspberry you got on that wipeout." (raspberry = skinned/abraded knees or elbows from skateboarding or skimboarding.)

A lot of my life lessons were delivered in terms of surfing, surfing mechanics and surfing lingo, such as "Go for it. Your body floats." meaning that the wave you're considering riding might be scary and huge, but if you remember to hold your breath and not panic when/if you wipe out you'll eventually float to or find the surface.

This is actually really helpful to remember in the time-dilated few seconds or so when you're trying to catch a really big wave. Paddling into a 20 footer in some far-off generated hurricane swell is intensely thrilling. Especially when you miss and get sucked over the falls in the breaking lip of the wave and get a personal demonstration of the hydraulic forces involved when a big rolling breaker of a wave meets the seafloor.

There's a lot of other surfer neologisms. Flip flops or sandals were zories. "Pearling" is when your board nosedives (often by catching a chop in the water) and doesn't achieve a stable plane, causing the rider to crash or fall off. "Soup" or "in the soup" is the foamy, choppy unsurfable area inside the breaker zone. "Inside" and "outside" means inside and outside the breaker zone, you paddle outside of the breaker zone to catch waves before the begin to break, and "getting caught inside" means you were unable to paddle out due to getting pummeled by waves, often in the middle of a "set" of waves.

On the personal update side of things:

I've just spent the last three days with my friends and their 3 year old toddler basking in the sun in utterly peak early PNW weather and doing as little as a possible with a 3 year old toddler. We saw otters eating a fat halibut, and bald eagles chasing the seagulls, and played on the beaches and in every playground in town, and we went to the farmer's market and gorged on fruit and pastries and cheese, and I got to play weird, cool uncle on my home turf for the first time.

The toddler was pretty impressed with my adventure bike, especially the pirate flag and all the blinky lights.

It was glorious, but my brain feels like it's had a stick blender shoved in it and thoroughly muddled around, so I'm surprised y'all got this many words out of me at all. I have no idea how parents deal with this. I love the little stinker but I'd lose my fuckin' mind.

I can't wait till he's just a bit older and isn't five tons of concentrated ongoing disaster in a 40 pound monkey suit.

It was also just an incredibly lovely weekend in general. It was really, really nice to have my life long friends (family, really) in town where I'm so comfortable and happy, and I was also able to introduce my old friends to so many of my new friends and neighbors in town because basically the whole town was out.

It's one thing to tell your good friends "No, seriously, I love my town and apparently they love me right back." It's something else entirely to be able to just relax in town with them for a few days and have them actually see what my life is like here or having friends wave at me from across the street or farmer's market and come over for a hello and a hug and all that good stuff.

In addition to all of this gorgeous weekend I finally managed to tie up a major loose thread in my life and find peace and closure with a fling/lover/friend that's been unresolved and bugging me for over a year now. They ghosted me (and a bunch of other people) and it was really awkward, and I was troubled and worried I did something wrong or hurt them or something. (You know, even though they've expressed the same in return, because that's how insecurity works - or rather doesn't work.)

No, apparently our ridonkulously intense fling triggered a bunch of gender identity issues and growth on their side, too, and they went off and figured that out more. And they were doing really good and happy and were just so bright and lively I could barely stand it if I wasn't already feeling the same.

I've... never had this happen before. It was so, so good to see them doing well, and it made me so happy to be able to show them I was doing well, too, and no, I didn't resent them or regret our connection and fling at all and that I was happier than ever because they actually did leave me better than they found me.

Important note: This is the same exact person and fling that triggered me to do something about my identity issues this past awesome year of hard work and finding my authentic self.

Second important note, because my life just can't not be emotionally complicated and screwy: This same person was the last person to hold the job I'm starting now. Of course I kept running into slightly awkward echoes about this person in the work email and files. Of course I have to go in and replace their data and stuff like profile pics with my own. I was doing this just this past week before meeting up the other night.

So, meeting up and having a really good chat and finding that closure right now is extremely well timed and deeply appreciated. It sincerely eliminates a bunch of mental/emotional guards I had going into the gig.

That and being able to see them doing so well and happy, and to be able to show them that I'm also doing so well and happy and being able to get some insider advice and info for them and a lot of mutual encouragement was just... perfect.

I might not have much money, but right now I am a very wealthy and fortunate human being.
posted by loquacious at 11:56 AM on May 13 [16 favorites]


When my 9 year old was little, she somehow convinced herself that shouting “GSPS!” was saying the very worst curse word in the world. To this day, we have no idea what it means.

I’ve actually considered getting it on my license plate.
posted by 4ster at 12:00 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]


The only thing I can think of comes from the Law and Order opening and everyone has to scream, "HEINOUS!" simultaneously. So now whenever something is not good, we all say it's heinous and then everyone else yells out, "HEINOUS!"
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 12:11 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


In the mid-80s my wife and I were traveling in California and for some reason she fixated on the round, raised lane dividers, imagining them as frightened turtles, hunkered down in the middle of the road, unable to move for fear of being struck by a car. Over several hours we developed an elaborate culture and mythology for these poor, frightened creatures.

Over the decades the mythology and culture evaporated, but we still call those lane markers “road turtles,” and our adult children do as well. I still feel a bit of triumph if I’m able to change lanes without running over any of them.
posted by lhauser at 12:36 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


My grandpa called the whipped cream in spray cans "foo," and that's what it's always been. On the other hand, hitting someone in the face with a pillow is "boofing." I don't know who came up with that, but it's been that way since I was a kid, and I raised my son to call it that. He had a stuffed animal (an early Uglydoll) we called Bumpy, who was always confused. So when someone is confused in our family, they "have the bumps." Or sometimes their corn is stuck together (corn-fused).
posted by rikschell at 12:56 PM on May 13


I say “Semper Fi, carry on” and playfully saluting my wife when we have one of those couple conversations like “okay I’m going to take a shower the. Have some work I need to do.” “Yeah and I need to go to the store later so we can do that after I play with the cats.”

I started saying it because it was how R. Lee Ermey ended his show Mail Call but it’s such a good conversation closer of “Okay glad we had this chat let us each go back to what we’re doing” that I keep saying it. I just hope I don’t say it front of an actual Marine or something when I’m just being a goof.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:59 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


My husband and I refer to things like tupperware as "containment shields" because we are idiots/geeks.
posted by sciencegeek at 1:35 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Oh jeez, yoga, you just reminded me: the unfortunate tendency most women seem to have to get their period just around an important trip/work thing/concert/date/etc. etc.? A friend from high school and I used to call that the "Carnegie Syndrome" because it happened to both of us with regard to a youth choir performance at Carnegie Hall. I still think of it that way occasionally.
Puzzled our non-period-having friends no end...
posted by huimangm at 2:53 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


BAZINGA -- My husband and some of his former classmates/colleagues have been using this word since the early '80s. To them, it means "the whatchamacallit" or "unspecified variable." They were all in Computer Science at Brown University when it was first used.
posted by wryly at 3:43 PM on May 13


Lice are 'greeblies' (thankfully not an issue anymore). Farts are 'bottom burps'. Kraft parmesan cheese is 'spew cheese'. When my oldest son was about 4 we had an ant invasion in the kitchen and he saw them on the phone and said 'ants on the phone line BEEP BEEP BEEP!' which I'm still laughing about 12 years later.
posted by h00py at 3:56 PM on May 13 [7 favorites]


Oh yes, bazinga - my husband and I, both East Coasters, are both familiar with bazinga in its meaning as thingamabob (did not go to Brown though).

loquacious - we were introduced to flipflops in my small town in New Jersey in the 1960's, and the five and ten store that first had them called them zoris!
posted by gudrun at 4:38 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


In my family, to snack on something was to "schmickle", road humps were "sleeping policemen", and we too also used to have "Too late! she cried.." but we have no idea of the provenance, but grandpa used to like English music-hall, so that's likely. We're also prone to breaking into random Goon Show quotes, which tends to confuse outsiders when everyone breaks into random "SHUT UP ECCLES!!".

Husband and I use "scrunted" for anything that happens to be spectacularly fucked up (Mate, that car was totally scrunted!), anything that needs glue needs to be "glommed" down, the trolley-collection guys at the local supermarket are the "Crash & Carry", and anything made in China is a "medINCHyna".
posted by ninazer0 at 5:11 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


  • Spooge (v.): the action of getting cookie dough off of a spoon and on to a baking sheet. (We had no idea.)
  • Munge (v.): the action of hanging around a house and not going out or doing much of interest.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:15 PM on May 13


A year or so ago my niece, who is now 8, was arguing with her sister about what to watch. Stepping in to referee, I asked what the problem was.
She said "she only wants to watch little kids' stuff and I want to watch something different."
I said "I'm sure we can find something you both want."
I started flicking through channels, and she was just going "No. No. no..." to everything.
I said "You can't just say 'No.' You have to explain why it's not a thing that you'll both watch."
Next flick she said "Ok. My explainment is 'No'."
Which cracked me up. I told my partner later and now "That's my explainment" is in common usage.
posted by billiebee at 5:17 PM on May 13 [17 favorites]


I help them clean out their shameholes and it's fun for me and they like it because I'm pretty non-judgey about it.

Isn't that what family, and life, is all about when you really think about it?
posted by bongo_x at 5:21 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Also my mother used the word "skinking" exclusively for messing about in water, as in "Stop skinking and finish doing the dishes" (the washing up). I've never been able to find anyone who used that outside our family - she said her mother used it.

Partner and I also have a running joke about "gives it" for the weather forecast, as in "it gives it to rain" which again was how we always said it in our family but he'd never heard it before. He's a city boy and he thinks it yokelesque.
posted by billiebee at 5:22 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


"Doddles" in our house is a specific food dish - pasta with cheese in tomato juice (cooked). It was thus named because two-year old me couldn't say noodles. I did not know that this was not common parlance until an embarrassingly late point in my adolescence.

Mr. just_ducky and I have developed a weird habit over the years of constantly making portmanteaus out of everything. The one that has stuck is "mopportunity", which is, of course, a missed opportunity. It comes in handy more often than you'd think!

"Moufy" is another word we've made up, which means what it sounds like - feeling like a sad sack. We are avid Scrabble players and have a house rule that moufy (and mouf) are valid plays.
posted by just_ducky at 5:53 PM on May 13


The ones that immediately come to mind are mutant store names: Crate and Burgle, Home Despot.

Then there's a mutant form of Harry Potter: Harry Pusebucket

There have been a variety of odd family nicknames... Flippo the Midget Hippo, Slimo, Slimer, Philburt, Rodent...
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 6:22 PM on May 13


Crate and Burgle, Home Despot.

I once had a housemate that worked at a cruddy local restaurant named "The Brown Derby", which we usually referred to as "The Brown Debris".
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:32 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]


Cleaning supplies and assorted oddments live in the Futility Closet, which also contains the mini-filing cabinet --- the foldery. Usually, if we have to drag out the foldery, which contains things boringly labelled "Bank" and "Tax" and "Immigration" and "Doctorologist", it's because we have to do some Kafka.

The kitchen is for the preparation and consumption of beonz, sometimes while drinking boronz (or broonz if you're into the permutation thing). Beonz can include Sea Corn, which is phonetic and yellow, and Queue Corn, which is some type of fungus-based fake meat. There are banjas, sometimes a stash of cho. She drinks yerbonz (pronounced "zherbonz" in rioplatense, duh) while I'm ashamed to say that a well-known inexplicable Trumpian quasi-homograph has wormed its way into the lexicon to denote my preferred caffeine source. There's a bag of propo, which neither of us likes much but that we sometimes consume after we've been at the climbery/climberoo for a long time.

In the mushroom one can brush one's tage and trim one's tagenage (meanings to words is rarely injective). Nearby are some outlets where we charge our tronz and the router one can mess with if the tubes are tied.

Everybody's abdomen --- including yours --- is called Henrik, and any malignant utterance therefrom raises the question of whether "Henrik is fucked".

One's general level of mental/emotional energy, the charge level of the psychic battery, is one's meepiness, and additions thereto happen while zleeping, in the Meepy Bed. Subtractions therefrom often arise from going to the Cow Orking Space to scrum in the data mines (in spousal_crayon's case) or worrying in my Orifice/babysitting Kevin (in mine). It's not so bad; many people have to exchange meepiness for dogecoinz in vastly more degrading/alienating or less interesting ways.

If someone is low on meepiness, you can do mimos or remind them that they are nice mice.

The people who live upstairs own our place and are good neighbours, if stompy. They have a doge, and a recently spawned, loud, beon (remember the thing about non-injectivity; are you taking notes?), and there are feral lolcatz. There are some local wild canids -- the Unintelligibles, because it's famously not clear what they say.

This is all to say nothing of the grees, the gonks, the gree-gonks, the greebly beards, the peebles, the peeblekronks, the peepy-beepy-sleepy-trees (musical notation not included), the plogules, and the rest of the ecosystem of little songs, suffixes, and vocalisations that develop organically (but are bound by a fairly rigid internal logic) if folks are going to communicate effectively and flexibly and have a reasonably interesting time doing it.
posted by busted_crayons at 6:32 PM on May 13 [5 favorites]


FYI, here's an older version of this question from AskMe. It looks like I posted rather a bit over there, so I won't re-hash everything - although it looks like someone over in that question actually came up with a decent etymological origin for my family term for "secret candy stash" - my grandmother, called it something like the "abidder", and my mother adopted that. (I never knew how that was spelled, and I'm guessing.) Someone over on the green speculated it could be from the Acadian French "habiter," which makes sense as Grandma was from Acadian New Brunswick.

But I'll (re)mention two things in here.

--

Years ago I ran with a quirky circle of friends, which included a pair of comic book writers who were roommates. One night they reported an incident in their house to us: one of them came home with a book called "The Encyclopedia of Body Fluids" he'd just discovered, eager to share how weird it was. He opened up to a page and took a breath to begin reading it aloud to the other one. But the other interrupted him with the following speech:
So, have you ever considered the difference between the Bronze Age, and the age we are in today? In the Bronze Age, it was probably unlikely that anyone looked about themselves and said "you know, I think this is more bronze than I need right now." However, today, during the period we call the "information age", you will commonly hear people say "I think that was more information than I need right now." I say this to tell you: if you read to me from that book, it will be more bronze than I need right now.
They told the rest of us about that incident, and in our circle, our way to say "that's too much information" was "that's more bronze than I needed". Or, more commonly, we'd just shout "BRONZE!"

--

A couple terms that were common among me and my girl friends from Junior High:

* I did a couple random years of dance lessons when I was in junior high, and I had a bit of a crush on a kid in another class; and one time when I was waiting for my mother to pick me up, and so was he, he climbed up a wall outside the building; but he kept on looking at me as he did, and I interpreted this as a sign that He Liked Me Too. I had a slumber party with the gang that night, and I excitedly told them the story about how CM was Climbing a Wall and Looking At Me, which must Mean Something! ....However, the others weren't quite as sure what the point was of that story, or why I was so excited. And for a while after that, a "wall story" was our term for when someone tells a story with great enthusiasm but the listeners really don't see what the point was. If any one of us actually told such a story, the others would all shout out "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLL!" at the top of our lungs.

....That only lasted until the day when one of us said that her mother had actually shouted "WAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL!" to one of her father's stories the previous night at dinner. So we abandoned it as UnCool, of course.

* In high school, my two BFFs and I decided that the "four bases" metaphor for sex just left way too much gray area, so we adopted a map of the Continental US as a scale instead; you started on the east coast and worked your way to the west, and I think the north/south direction even had some kind of meaning as well. Our term for full-on sex therefore became "Going to L.A.". We were able to have conversations about dating and physical intimacy with boyfriends in the middle of the lunchroom without notice this way. And the morning after I lost my virginity (which wasn't until college), I felt slightly off-kilter until had a chance to call my friend S at her college and was finally able to say "I went to L.A. last night" out loud.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:02 PM on May 13 [14 favorites]


Bull-massive - flipping big, originated as pun on Bull Mastiff
Geezer face - chronic condition where the (usually male) sufferer looks a bit weeah, a bit wooh, alright geez?
Shibboleth - pronounced "shy-bow-where-you-liff", refers to unique personally identifying information shared online
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 7:55 PM on May 13


BCD Time. When I was little, one of my parents would inform the other that it was "B-C-D Time" to indicate someone needed to put me to bed, and I was a young speller so this was a short-lived obfuscation. I figured out what it meant pretty fast but for whatever reason my parents continued to say it for years, and even when I was a night-dwelling teen and they beat me to bed in the summer they'd take their leave by declaring it BCD time.

Weirdly, I realize that I've never used it with any of my friends ever, and my husband would think I was having a stroke if I said it, but I could call my mom right now and ask her if it was BCD Time and she would agree that it's probably about time to go to BCD.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:23 PM on May 13


I'm sure everyone knows what bargain lights are.
Also that volkswagen bugs (the old ones, anyway) have tight air.
And that a two year old thinks that a logical extension of her five senses was her sense of humor.

Among a group of friends, the RCA is the sound of us leaving. And Allied Van Lines refers to the utterance of a word association phrase that no one else understands, as in "where did that come from?"

My mother had so many expressions, I can't remember them, but "Shoo-na-mik-a-hoo! Shoo-na-mik-a-hai! Upti mishi ki yi yi!" refers to any kind of high school sports cheer. My father was famous for "Load her light, bind her tight and drive like hell". There are several phrases that will result in gales of laughter in my immediate family:

"Let's go for a walk. And don't forget your purse." (My sister's suggestion to our grandmother)

"PTuzzi" (a mixture of mashed potatoes and chopped spinach) (my father could not say it to save his soul)

"Stick a feather in your butt and fly"

..or I'll give you an enema with it"

"How's that apple pie?" (My father once made a comment about the crust on an apple pie my mother baked. She scooped it off the plates and out of the pie pan into the woodburning stove.)
posted by Altomentis at 8:42 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Growing up we had a black lab that was too sensitive to the word 'Squirrel' and would go nuts... so 'Q-M-B' became the defacto word to describe when a squirrel was present on a bird feeder or was running across the fence... this worked until the dog learned 'Q-M-B' which then resulted in us figuring a different 3 letter word to mean 'Q-M-B' ... but I've forgotten what it was at this point because 'Q-M-B' was way more memorable...
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:45 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


I’d be interested to know if this slang is used by anyone else, because I’ve never heard anyone else in the Midwest use it (except for the extremely few people wh

Autumnheart, I’m from New England, and I’m familiar with Joe preceding a word or phase, as a signifier of one who does that thing a lot. Somebody loves Bluegrass? He’s Joe bluegrass. Sample sentence: “I may not be Joe mechanic, but I can fix a flat.” Oddly, I think a woman could have said that sentence without comment, as there was no female equivalent.

So we didn’t use it quite in the hashtag way you mentioned, but seems close to the Peanuts thing.
posted by greermahoney at 9:51 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


My boyfriend and I like to keep the lights dim when we are relaxing in the evening. There is one big light on the living room ceiling we pretty much never use, unless there is something like a missing remote we are looking for. We consider it good form to warn each other before turning on that light, and soon "cover your eyes I'm turning on the big light" was shortened to "eyeballs", and now eyeballs is the general warning that ambient light is going to get brighter for whatever reason. Or you can say "eyeballs me" and that is "could you please turn on the light"
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:24 AM on May 14 [5 favorites]


Once I was talking with friends about people swimming in a nearby bay. I understood that there was a waste pipe outlet connected to it and exclaimed "But, but, isn't it full of like, shmee?"

I was trying to say "shit" and "pee" and it came out as "shmee".

My friends totally cracked up at that and along with calling any gross liquid form "shmee", they also used it as a nickname for, ahem, yours truly. Thanks, girls!
posted by like_neon at 1:43 AM on May 14 [5 favorites]


oh and a request to turn off the light is "de-eyballs"
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:25 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


On a road trip with a friend whose (blessedly temporary) medical issues meant we had to find a bathroom about every 20-30 minutes, we coined the word "peeportunity" to mean any place with a reasonably clean bathroom open to the public. "I could use a peeportunity"/"Could we stop at the next peeportunity "/ "Anyone need a peeportunity?" are all very useful. Never pass up a peeportunity.
posted by carmicha at 6:20 AM on May 14 [11 favorites]


Once, we were driving from Chicago to see my folks in Kentucky overnight and inadvertently missed a highway change and drove 25 minutes out of our way towards Missouri. In the awkward silence that followed after we realized/corrected our mistake, Comrade Doll said cheerfully, "We had too much gas anyway." It quickly become a recurring joke used to hand wave away getting lost. Over the years, we came to use it for all kinds of situations where mistakes cause waste.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:35 AM on May 14 [9 favorites]


A false sense of security is a 'fox paw.' Years ago a family member had a lock on her shed that didn't really do anything because if you pulled the door in the right way it'd swing right open with the padlock and bolt still in place. She said "oh, that lock is just a fox paw to keep thieves out." We tried to figure out what she meant, but finally had to ask. After a lot of back and forth it turned out she meant 'faux pas' but actually she didn't because faux pas doesn't mean anything like 'a lock that looks secure but doesn't do anything.' The combination of the mispronunciation with the incorrect meaning stuck and at least once a month something is referred to as a fox paw in our house.

When my brother was little he referred to screwdrivers as "lurdy lurdys." We still don't know why by he's in his 30s now and at my parents' house people still ask for a #2 Phillips Lurdy Lurdy.

Every wrong turn is met with "I'm going to Wichita!!!" after a move between Ft Leonard Wood and Ft. Riley in the days before cellphones when we only had short range 2-way radios. Mrs. Clinging and I were in different cars and the last thing I heard from her for about 4 hours as she accidentally got stuck in the wrong lane in Kansas City was a fading "I'm going to Wichitaaaaaaaa!"
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 6:45 AM on May 14 [13 favorites]


My husband is a jumpy guy. He doesn't have anxiety, but he jumps out of his skin anytime he is met with something unexpected. Now, any time I'm about to do something that might make him jump, I yell, BLENDER! Also, whenever we can't remember a word, the other will say, HEMOSTAT. No idea why.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:20 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Two of the rooms in our basement are the "box graveyard" (because for a while after we moved in we'd break down boxes and put them there instead of throwing them out) and the "Jew room" (we didn't notice the room existed until maybe the third time we looked at the house, so we joked you could hide Jews there if necessary - note this was in 2015). We probably should stop using that second one before the baby figures out talking.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:20 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


"guys I got this": This is from a group of friends rather than family, but refers to a game of DnD whereupon my friend Nic was so completely confident of resolving a situation that he repeatedly told everyone not to even try declaring confidently "Guys, I've got this!". He, in fact, did not got this.
This happened quite a lot. Though sometimes he was successful. It's been broadly adopted as a sign for being overly confident in your abilities/plan/etc.

"We could eat the lychee": Many years ago now I had not had time to get my wife a suitable birthday present, so I got her a basket filled with all the stuff she likes. In this basket was a big tin of lychee. We kept on not getting round to eating the lychee. We still have the tin, though it is many many years out of date. "We could eat the lychee" now is an acknowledgement that we have either no food or no suitable celebratory plan (because occasionally the lychee were to be used as a celebration) and not really enough time to come up with a solution.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 7:27 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


Sea lions are "ort-orts" because of the sound they make. I picked that up from a coworker but now my whole family calls them that.

Water wings are "schwim flugels" which is from my mom, I don't know if that's real German she picked up from her family or not.

That thing where dogs dash around madly are called "the wombats" which is what my husband called that phenomenon when we met, I have no idea why.

When my son was a toddler he'd say "much!" when giving kisses so now that's how we verbally give kisses. "My dear, have a good day! Much!"
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:34 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


Me and my SO sign off our texts with xoxo a lot. Siri "corrects" this to expo So now we just say expo to each other meaning "hugs and kisses"
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:49 AM on May 14 [15 favorites]


Less of a specific phrase and more of a general code, but my girlfriend and I apparently decided that the cats are always "doing a (x)" rather than "verbing". "Sitting"? No, "doing a sit". "Meowing?" "Doing a meow," or, worse yet, "doing a very loud".

"Pants" is a shorthand metaphor for emotional readiness and energy to leave the house and do errands or visit friends, similar to "spoons". I think this one's pretty common but it's helpful. If you're wearing pants or if you've got your pants on, you're ready to go, if you don't have pants on, you need a minute to relax. It's often correlated to literal pants, but more refers to metaphysical "big boy/girl pants".

I also haven't said the full word "banana" for a very long time. It's just "banan".

4ster - GSPS - sounds like "Jesus Peasus!" to me, which is definitely a folksy take on just saying "Jesus!" in exasperation.
posted by one of these days at 8:08 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]


"A question of type 2094" (derived from an Eddie Izzard sketch in which he shouts at his computer) is a question which could be interpreted as leading, but in the answer to which you actually genuinely have no emotional investment.

So "are you done with the computer?" generally means hurry up, I want to use it, but if asked under 2094 it just means you look like you're finished but if not that's totally cool.

Similarly "do you want to go to X today?" could be I really want to go to X and will sulk if you don't come with me, but 2094'd is just hey, do you fancy this?

Of course, being British we subsequently had to institute an Answer Of Type 6043, which is "I don't mind" except you really honestly don't mind.

(Why yes, I grew up in a household where there was often only one right answer to any given question...)
posted by aihal at 8:24 AM on May 14 [9 favorites]


> In my family, to snack on something was to "schmickle", road humps were "sleeping policemen"

A sleeping policeman is the standard term in Jamaica (or at least it was when I lived there). The road signs said "SLEEPING POLICEMAN" the way here in the US they say "BUMP."
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:46 AM on May 14 [8 favorites]


"Sausage" (transitive verb): the sudden, with-no-warning change a cat makes from "yes rub my belly" to ripping open your forearm. Derived from my past attempts to convince the cat that no, my arm is not made of sausage so please don't eat it. Used like so:
Person 1: "JESUS FUCK, that hurt!"
Person 2: "What happened?"
Person 1: "The cat sausaged me!"

"Paper plate story" (noun): a humiliating childhood story about a person that must be told by cackling relatives to any new significant other they bring home, much to the embarrassment of the story subject. Note that this is distinct from cases where relatives deliberately try to hurt someone or drive off a new SO with embarrassing stories; a paper plate story is one you know is coming and is met with a sigh, an eyeroll, and pouring a big glass of wine. Comes from the OG paper plate story, in which my sister, as a baby, blew out her diaper and the aunt who was holding her grabbed the first thing she could think of, which happened to be a paper plate, to stem the tide

We also use "scrounge" to mean "eat whatever you can find in the house, we ain't cookin'". Never really occurred to me that that might not be a meaning everyone knows.

I'm pretty sure we have more of these (we're a strange household) but I'm drawing a blank atm.
posted by Hold your seahorses at 8:57 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]


On Rt. 1 there used to be an antique shop that had a big front yard full of old metal bed frames that was the Bed Farm and later became the Chair Farm. I was talking to someone about a location near me and we both recognized the Hubcap Farm.

Goober is a term of endearment and may be shortened to Goob.
posted by theora55 at 9:13 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


rabbitrabbit: "Schwim flugel" is indeed German (Schwimmflügel, actually).
ninazer0: "schmickle" for snacking clearly comes from Dutch, "smikkelen".

I don't really have unique family words, though there are some words and expressions my parents used that were kind of common to the city to where they were living growing up.
A word a friend introduced us to is "lurp", pronounced with a short "u" as in "uh". It indicates something mechanical starting to noticeably wear out, but not broken yet. A lock that you have to wiggle the key around in a bit, or a door hinge that needs you to pull up on the handle to get the door to close can be said to be lurp.
posted by Stoneshop at 9:23 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]


But it's work, I have to be alert, plus never ever get my hand caught in a car door, which actually is a pretty good litmus test -- you want to find out who lives inside a person, take them out to your car and give it a whirl.

dancestoblue, I had a pretty similar train of thought yesterday, when the futon frame I was dragging against carpet finally budged, pinching my finger between the frame and the end table, and I whispered an anguished "motherfuckin'...sonofa...bitch," and then as I tended to my injured finger, I turned that around in my head, going back to the "bitch" conversation here not long ago, like is it possible to change the things you say when you're in pain or extreme circumstances if they don't match your values? I picked up my swear words from my parents, and I probably knew more early on than a lot of my friends did, and some of the interjected ones make no sense, like "god-fucking-dammit." But it's in my head...
posted by limeonaire at 9:34 AM on May 14


The other day my oldest kid (5) said
"Daddy, you mustn't say the b-word in front of [younger sibling, 2]."
Me:...
Kid: Or the c-word.
Me: ....oh. OH. [Suddenly realising he was talking about "banana" and "cake", the smaller kid's favourite foods]
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:39 AM on May 14 [17 favorites]


Oh, and Eyebrows: it's extremely prudent to give your pet a name that can be used as a verb (yes, I know, like nouns any name can be verbed, but not in all cases the result is something that rolls off the tongue easily. It's especially helpful if the cat in question is a black acrobatic ninja that had clearly decided to stop growing when half a year old or so, because growing any further would reduce all the fun jumping and climbing and getting into inaccessible places.) Jack is such a name. Picture frames that were bumped off a ledge? They were jacked. Frantic activity involving a spider? Jacking. Exploding a roll of toilet paper? Etcetera.
posted by Stoneshop at 10:03 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]


Yiddishisms -- My mother is fairly fluent in Yiddish, so there are a fair share of words we use that I'm never sure whether they are family words or just Yiddish. We always referred to ambling around while shopping as to "shmy [rhymes with shy] around" but my sister, expanded it from meaning to "ambling around while shopping" to "just meander around aimlessly" to "talking aimlessly."

Family Travelism #1 -- My father always promised he would take us to Disney World. He never took us to Disney World. So, somehow apropos of when there were a lot of political kidnappings/hostage-taking in the late 70s/early 80s, I mentioned to my mother that if I were ever grabbed and had to give one of those "This is what's going on" televised speeches, I'd say, "It's just like when Dad took us to Disneyworld" and my mom could alert the authorities that I was alerting them, in code, that something else was going on.

Family Travelism #2 -- We once had a thoroughly horrendous day trip to Toronto where we repeatedly got lost and literally drove around the city and never got to the city because a) my father refused to ask for directions and b) when we finally had to ask for directions, he did exactly opposite of what the nice Canadian man told us to do, to the point that the man followed, passed, and motioned us to do exactly as he did and still my father would not. It was an exercise in futility up there with the Seinfeld episode where they're lost in the parking garage, and my sister (who was 17 at the time; I was 6) stated loudly that she was NEVER traveling with us again (and has been true to her word). Now, when we get lost somewhere, we say we "took a day trip to Toronto."

In particular, I attended a conference and road tripped to ACTUAL Disney World (well, Orlando) and the ride back with a colleague and her husband fighting and constantly getting us lost, led to me calling my mother from the back seat, and in answer to her question about how it was going, understood perfectly when I said, "It was lovely, just like when Dad took us to Disneyworld, and even better than a day trip to Toronto."
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 10:53 AM on May 14 [21 favorites]


like is it possible to change the things you say when you're in pain or extreme circumstances if they don't match your values?

Yes, it is. I've mostly eliminated "son of a bitch!" by replacing it with "biscuits and gravy!" because the plosives and fricatives are equally satisfying, and I like how people go "WTF?" when I use it. I also like using "Aw, maths!" as a swear as used in the Adventure Time cartoon.

It might be easier for me because I had practice growing up Mormon.
posted by loquacious at 10:57 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


like is it possible to change the things you say when you're in pain or extreme circumstances if they don't match your values?

It totally is. After dealing far too long with a verbally abusive person who cursed freely at me, I eradicated cursing/profanity from my incoming and outgoing vocabulary. The worst thing I say is bummerbummerbummerbummer (stop laughing! no, really) if I'm really in pain or shock.

There've been studies that prove that cursing actually reduces pain. For me that's saying bummerbummerbummerbummer, which is my equivalent, and it really does make me feel better. So.
posted by mochapickle at 11:17 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


My partner and I use the expression "Porcelain Miss Piggy" to describe any gift that is well-intentioned but poorly thought out and often demonstrates how the giver knows nothing about the person receiving the gift or how poorly the giver understands the thing they are giving. This comes from when my partner was a small girl she loved Miss Piggy so her mother would occasionally give her things that were vaguely feminine and pig-like but never actual Muppets branded products. This included a rather ugly, poorly painted, ceramic female anthropomorphized pig which looked nothing like Miss Piggy. To this day when my partner mentions she was given a gift, say from some old high school friend or a distant relative, I'll ask "Was it a Porcelain Miss Piggy?"

Derived from British comedy series Look Around You, we regularly use the expression "thants" to say thank you for anything that requires a great deal of effort and/or something that ultimately fails to live up to expectations.

In a variety of contexts we use the "Virgin Mary plate" in conversation (as in "Did you get the Virgin Mary plate tonight?") to describe situations where we are unexpectedly dropped into an oddly religious situation with a friend or relative (common enough on my Catholic side and my partner's evangelical side). It comes from when my mother was dating my dad and when she'd go over to his family's house for supper. Regardless of where she sat, she would always get a plate with the image of the Virgin Mary on it as a subtle/not subtle hint to behave herself.

When we were little my mother would regularly use the expression "oh bébé la la" with us if we were particularly whiney or behaving in an overwrought or overly emotional way. As we got older it was sometimes used in the same way as calling someone a sissy. So I have mostly negative connotations with it. I jokingly used this once when my sister-in-law's children were little and they took it to mean that they were given permission to act like babies when were around and would result in a lot of cuddling. Now in their 20s we still sometimes joke with them about it.

My dad, when asked how long he and my mother were married, would always say "11 years" (they've been married almost 50). I've continued that tradition by saying that I've only been married a "couple of years" (its been 15 years for us).
posted by Ashwagandha at 11:25 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


If you drop something and make a big noise, you say BOOM-LACKALACKA.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:29 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


like is it possible to change the things you say when you're in pain or extreme circumstances if they don't match your values?

Clearly, many parents successfully do this. But I’ve never managed to. I’d really like to stop using Christian diety names in my curses, as I really don’t want to support Christianity in any way, even verbally, but I can’t seem to kick the habit. A friend says things like “Great Hera!” and I’ve never been able to sub that in in real time, sadly.
posted by greermahoney at 11:38 AM on May 14


My uncle & aunt used to live in northern Minnesota, up on da' Ir'n Range. My uncle is the funniest man and best story-teller I know, and he introduced us to the phrase "a guy could." It's a signifier of doubt, and implies an "...if he was a jackass" on the end of the idea -- which is of course never voiced.

So you might hear, "Pull that big engine out of a mine truck and drop it into a pontoon boat just to get to the far end of Mille Lacs [lake] on fishing opener weekend ahead of your brother-in-law? Well, a guy could..." or perhaps "Take a couple old 500-pound propane tanks to build a swim raft? Well, a guy could, but you'd really want to use cables and not welds to put 'er together..." or maybe even "Runs lines in through the open window to boil down your maple sap in the kitchen because it's cold out? Well, a guy could, if you think you've got enough LP in the tank outside, and don't mind the humidity...."
posted by wenestvedt at 11:48 AM on May 14 [7 favorites]


We have "magic maths" in which the requester of said figures has a specific figure at which they would like for you to arrive, but which you are not told until you've already done the requested math, and it has come out "wrong." At which point - you must go back and manipulate the variables until you have arrived at the "correct" figure. (this as you can guess, is generally work-related)

At home we have recently coined "Hamturday" which happens whenever the holidays are over, and the price per pound for a spiral cut ham reaches ridiculously/wonderfully low enough to warrant buying one for no reason. Then you invite a bunch of friends over for "Hamturday Feast." And they saw it was good, and said it was good, and it was good.
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 12:01 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


At home we have recently coined "Hamturday" which happens whenever the holidays are over, and the price per pound for a spiral cut ham reaches ridiculously/wonderfully low enough to warrant buying one for no reason. Then you invite a bunch of friends over for "Hamturday Feast." And they saw it was good, and said it was good, and it was good.

In one of my old apartments this same event was called "Hamfest" and was spawned by my working at a company that gave every employee 12-pound hams in lieu of a Christmas bonus. This was probably meant to be a contribution to Christmas dinner for those staff with families; for a 20-something single woman with a roommate (who gleefully pointed out each year we got it that he was Jewish, to boot) it had to be used in alternate ways. Thus: Hamfest.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:09 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


When my wife and I travel, we use T.I.O. to refer to an injury or incident that would require an immediate departure for home. "Trip Is Over."

"Watch out when crossing over those slippery rocks, a fall there would be a T.I.O."

It's turned into a bit of a joke:

*visiting the grand canyon*
"Don't fall off the cliff there. Definitely a T.I.O."

When I was on a canoe trip with outward bound the instructors would call things like water bottles and life jackets that clutter up the beginning or end of portages "froo." When we travel or are tying to leave the house with our son on a weekday morning, we talk about all the froo that we are trying to remember.

"That was a lot of froo this morning. I'll pack [kid]'s mitts and indoor shoes in his backpack tonight so we don't have to remember them tomorrow morning."
posted by thenormshow at 12:21 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


When we would bug my mom about what was for dinner, she would start out with "Feegus machen so just be patient". For a while, we understood it as something very fancy but then she would always backtrack and after putting us off for an hour, she would say, no, no, we're just going to have hamburgers.

At some point, my mom explained that that "Feegus machen" really meant "nothing" and what it really meant was that she wasn't going to make anything at all (but by saying what we thought was something fancy, we were a lot less whiny than if she said 'nothing, go away!'). My mom claims it was something my grandmother and great grandmother also used to do.

I've always thought it was some sort of Yiddish-derived phrase, but I can't place it. And my grandmother and great grandmother and so on were 100% Polish, with no other Yiddish phrases ever in use, only various Polish sayings....does anyone know what the etymology could be???
posted by Tandem Affinity at 12:22 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


Our Hamturday is Making Kevin a Ham Sandwich (n.b. we haven't been in touch with anyone named Kevin for like a decade, we just like stupid traditions).
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:39 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


I’d really like to stop using Christian diety names in my curses

At least yours contain at least 30% less damnation, so it's a start.
posted by Stoneshop at 12:39 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Because of a story previously told here in which a young hanov3r only knew a word from seeing it in print, the flat thing used to remove cookies from a cookie sheet is a 'spa-TOO-lah' to my family.

Probably not specific to my family but, any time I brought home Yet Another Report Card showing that I was just barely passing but could do so much better if I just /applied/ myself, mom and dad would sarcastically respond "Mah Nishtanah?" (from the Four Questions portion of the Passover seder, literally "What has changed?"). This has spread to any similar "this is the same as all the other times it happened" pronouncements.

"E-sorry" is "I'm not apologizing, I'm saying 'I'm sorry' to indicate empathy". Used to shortcircuit the "Oh, your mom passed? I'm sorry!" "Why are you sorry, did you kill her?" style jokes.

Not direct family, but something I picked up from a recent girlfriend - that state of being severely drained by a depressive episode is 'feeling spoopy'.
posted by hanov3r at 12:52 PM on May 14 [4 favorites]


does anyone know what the etymology could be???

Machen is the German (and Yiddish) word for "make" or "do", but I am unsure what the first word might be.
posted by elsietheeel at 12:55 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Might have it. "Wir guts machen" means we are doing well. Makes sense in context, but I don't see it as being a common idiomatic phrase in either German or Yiddish. But I'm also not a native German speaker.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:06 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


We have a lot of Yiddishisms because both of our families speak Yiddish. My favorite one, though, that I forgot above is every time we went on vacation for the first, maybe 10 years of our relationship, we almost died. We did some outstandingly stupid things. Now, whenever we tell people about an adverse incident, even minor, it has to include, "We almost died."
posted by Sophie1 at 1:12 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


The FF meaning Fast Forward is pronounced 'foof foof'. As in, "I hate this commercial do we have any foof foof left?"
posted by Splunge at 1:38 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos - re: habiter

A person of Acadian descent (family are from Gaspé/Northern New Brunswick & Cape Breton originally) here. Habiter is not strictly speaking an Acadian French word but a general French word. Though I think that word might be on the right track. Often Habiter is translated as "To Live" or "To inhabit" however how I'd translate it more as "to dwell" or "to reside" (at least that's how my great grand parents would use it). Its a bit of a stretch but it could be used to describe a "dwelling" or a "residence" and that usage could be in keeping with how we'd use the word (similar to how the words demeurer (verb) and demeure (noun) are used [to dwell and dwelling respectively]). So something like "c'est là que le bonbon habite" and then over time simply "la habiter".
posted by Ashwagandha at 1:40 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Once my husband and I were sending texts and "MWAH!" autocorrected to "MESH!" so now we always say "MESH!" to represent kisses over the phone or via text.
posted by holborne at 2:06 PM on May 14 [4 favorites]


My grandmother would say that her [body part] "thobbed", when she meant 'throbbed', but I always thought her word expressed it better.
An expression my mother used to use, and I still use (my husband has even picked it up): "I'm not sure I understand all I know about that."
I love spoonerisms, so Home Depot=Dome Heapo, Sunday newspaper is the Dunsay Poosnaper (the latter is really fun to say out loud).
We couldn't remember it was called "bath gel" one day in the store, so henceforth it's been "bath syrup".
A former boyfriend had a brother - they called each other "Bob". Whenever we'd meet at a restaurant, the reservation was always in the name "Bob".
I like leaving the name "Donner" when there's a wait for a table; then I get to smile when they say "Table for four - Donner Party".
posted by dbmcd at 2:56 PM on May 14 [6 favorites]


The dog quickly picked up on whenever we said the phrase Dog Park and would get overly excited, so we began to spell it out: Dee Oh Gee Pee Ay Are Kay. And it took about three days for the dog to figure it out but we still call it D-O-G-P-A-R-K and that other name is a profanity that just tortures the dog and is mean, so we don't use it.
posted by Stanczyk at 3:18 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


We couldn't remember it was called "bath gel" one day in the store, so henceforth it's been "bath syrup".

For similar reasons, dishwashing soap is "bubble sauce."
posted by carmicha at 3:21 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


My family is Italian-American of Neapolitan extraction. I was a grown woman before I learned that "guinea lilies" were known to the rest of the world as hostas.
posted by jesourie at 3:36 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


Here is another delightful previous thread on this topic (2008).
posted by juliplease at 4:44 PM on May 14


Mr. rekrap and I, and by extension our kids, have hundreds of entries in the family lexicon. One of my favorites is an extended metaphor riffing on "in his camp".

We watch a lot of baseball, and we also camp regularly. When a newly acquired player is doing well, we say we're in his camp. Or we might say that we've unloaded the cooler into the bear box, or that we've picked out the trees to string up the hammock, or that we've set up chairs around the fire ring, or we've put the tablecloth on the picnic table, or if we're really feeling good about the guy we've pitched the tent and set up the cots and the camp kitchen.

On the other hand, if a guy is doing poorly, we might say that we drove right by his camp, or his camp had too many mosquitoes, or no good flat place to pitch the tent, or we can't even see his camp from here.

We keep finding new ways to express the level at which we are in various players' camps and that tradition has endured for years.
posted by rekrap at 5:51 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


I make my own waffles from scratch and pretty much every time, I have an amount of batter left over that isn't enough for a full waffle. I still put it in the waffle iron, unplug it, and then after breakfast I take it out -a strange looking thing, half- formed, slightly cooked - as a treat for the dog; it has become known as the "dog waffle." This past weekend my brother in law suggested a much better name - the "woofle".
posted by nubs at 5:51 PM on May 14 [8 favorites]


Leaving your spouse/girlfriend lagging behind as you're walking because you won't adjust to her slower pace is called "Oswalding" after the surname of an ex bf of my wife's who was infamous for doing this. "Slow down, you're Oswalding me." My grandfather (English was not his first language) used to describe situations as "worser than Watergate," which we now use as a generic phrase for anything wrong in the public or political sphere. "Jitty" = generic objects, stuff, junk. "Help me load this jitty in to the car."
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 6:19 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


"You're all green" to a stopped driver means the light has turned green and they haven't noticed.
posted by Adridne at 6:54 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


One holiday my family was very grumpy and my dad, sister, and I wound up going to a fancy bar, which really cheered everyone up. I texted my mom to say we were having a nice time, but autocorrect didn't quite see it that way, so now sometimes when we want to know if someone enjoyed something, we will ask, "Did you have a mice tine?"

For some reason (presumably my fault) my SO and I started calling the bedroom light the brighto (or, more formally, the brightography, as in, "please deluminate the brightography"). The humidifier is the humeo, or sometimes the David.

We also mispronounce and adapt subway station names a lot; I'm always afraid that I am going to call DeKalb Ave the Klabber in front of a normal person.
posted by ferret branca at 7:25 PM on May 14 [6 favorites]


Among my high school friends group, we took to using "ice cream" as a code for sex. It came from a scene in What's Eating Gilbert Grape, and from then on we'd joke about someone that oh, they want ice cream, or they're off having ice cream.
posted by traveler_ at 7:47 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


I have posted this before but when I was little I called elephants, "funphants." I still do at 45.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 9:12 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


My high school boyfriend and I were madly in love but also tragically convinced that the stars were against us and we weren’t meant to be. We knew that one day we’d need to break up, but also knew that we wouldn’t be strong enough. (Good grief! Teenagers!) we came up with the codeword “drop the tiki doll” to indicate we needed to break up. We did eventually use it, but only ironically once a proper breakup took place. No idea where it came from.

My husband and I have a few in-family-language phrases. My favorite is “watch out for pony bites!” Inspired by a terrifying sign we saw on Assateague Island, this is generally translated to “be careful, that thing doesn’t seem dangerous but it is!”
posted by samthemander at 10:50 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


My mother (and she tells me she got it from her mother) used the word 'roefelen' (which, in some parts of the Netherlands, means 'to explore or to try out') to mean rubbing someone vigorously between the shoulder blades, to warm them up and make them feel better. She'd say 'Are you cold? Come here, I'll roofle you' and she'd even make a sound like 'roefelderoefelderoefelderoef' while doing it. It always helped.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:24 PM on May 14 [6 favorites]


Me and some friends used to call things that were slightly off in some fashion "zeca" (almost literally "joe"). I don't know why, it just stuck and started doing it.
posted by lmfsilva at 3:08 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


dog snorgles: more intense version of snuggling. Also 'snorgling on the couch'.

Pook: from a derailed game of Balderdash in which we just read out funny stuff on the cards. A pook is a haystack, but the word was so funny that we adopted it. A funny loop of sticky up hair? A pook. Your button shirt gapes open a bit over your boobs? That's a pook. Also "you're pooking" - helpful note given to someone whose hair/shirt is misbehaving in this way. (Like an upturned U shape.)
posted by freethefeet at 4:20 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Oh God, I feel like every sentence I say is rife with weird in-jokes from mutually unintelligible joke-language friend-groups:
  • The pasta...claw? thing? utensil in our house is the Pasta Batman, after a dog featured in an episode of This American Life.
  • A couple of words I inherited from a college friend, like "del-del" for delicate, which spawned "bell-bell" for my belly when in a state of High Pregnancy (as in, I'd come home from work, and my husband would pat it and say "how's the bell-bell?")
  • My son referred to all food as "na-na" (after the one true toddler food, bananas) for a while, which became what we all called it. Want some na-na? Hang on, I gotta grab some na-na before we hit the road. Etc.
  • A couple of goofy things my old roommate once said, which made it into my occasional conversation: From a JNCO-wearing 90s rave kid complaining about his head cold, "yo, boogs is chillin'." And a dire expression of frustration and disregard, easily repurposed: "God damn ass, fuck the ketchup!" Turns out you can God-damn-ass fuck anything!
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 11:01 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Some years back, I started telling friends, "excuse me, I need to facilitate," which naturally meant that I needed to use the facilities (bathroom) and I enjoyed that it sounded like corporate jargon but was just a fancy way to say pee. My adult kid now uses that phrase. Also, when the kid was maybe 5 the kid coined a swedish pun. Instead of saying "I protest", the kid said, "Jag prutta-tera". The Swedish word for the verbprotest is protestera. One Swedish word for fart is prutta. Thus our fart-loving youngster gave the family a phrase we have used for years.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:20 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


German housemate in college pronounced “puppy” more like “poopy”. Dogs are occasionally called poopies in this house.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:51 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


When I was a kid my dad referred to a crescent moon as a sliver of a moon. It did seem sort of snakelike, so I heard it as a “slither of a moon,” which we still say in my family.

My dad also refers to fly swatters as “fly slappers,” thanks to me.

After my brother started preschool, he came home and accidentally called my mom Miss Mama. To this day, my dad still calls my mom “Mimama.”

I always keep wintergreen Lifesavers in the car and my daughter used to ask for a “circle of a mint.” (She also explained after eating a mint that she liked to “suck all the juice off” and then “crunch it up.”)

At a job nearly 20 years ago we used to jokingly suggest that perhaps someone ought to “smallen” this or that graphic. It was such a useful word, I came to regularly use it and forget it’s not actually a word. People will laugh the first time they hear me say it and then afterward completely adopt it. At my current job we often talk about smallening something just a smidge.
posted by kittydelsol at 4:05 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


DIN-NEY-LAN is when you convince or are trying to convince somebody to do something way more complex or different to what they started with.
My parents wanted to do "one last family holiday" when my siblings and I were 25, 23, 20 and 19. Dad decided we would spend a couple of weeks driving and hiking around Tasmania. My 20 yo brother told him we should all go to Disneyland instead because they never took us as kids (couldn't afford it). For the next couple of weeks, whenever Dad would mention "Tasmania", brother would say "You mean, Disneyland, right?", to the point where it was a "DISNEYLAND" interjection, and then it evolved to DINNEYLAN. Dad did the maths and worked out that if we paid for half of our flights, Disneyworld Florida could happen, and it did, with a side trip to NYC.

Actually, my family has so many of these that I don't even know exist. This hit me when I was on a cruise with my siblings and we competed in a round of Taboo and we got really, really strange looks for how we came about our answers. One was "Easy as Hummus". No idea where it started, but in the same context as Easy as Pie.

We refer to my mum as "Shang", her name is Sharon but my cousin couldn't say it as a baby, and it was some version of Shiny which evolved to Shang. This will 100% be what her grandkids call her.

Also: I was looked after by my maternal grandparents while my parents worked, my sister used to refer to them as "Special" Nan and Pop. My paternal grandmother, Noreen, was Nanny Nor. Her kindergarten teacher was very concerned that she had a "Special" Nan and a "Normal" Nan...
posted by cholly at 4:24 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Once, back in the 80's, Dan Rather accidentally said oat-fa-meal instead of oatmeal, so that's what we have for breakfast around these parts.
posted by sacrifix at 6:31 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Cats and dogs get gurdies (snags or mats) in their fur.

"It's practically noon" is derived from my mother's interpretation of 11:00 as WE ARE GOING TO BE LATE, and is now shorthand for a nonhelpful degree of anxiety over something.

"Flapping" ditto.

ILUS is shorthand between my ex and I for I Love You, Squishy, which we started using after the umpty-millionth viewing of Finding Nemo.

Elder son gifted us with "you did a hard work" when he was trying to be supportive of his mother, who had just had a particularly enervating breastfeeding session with Younger Son back in the day. He patted her back and said "you did a hard work, Mama", and the phrase immediately entered wide usage in the family to describe the aftermath either of something exhausting (like removing skunk from the dog) or utterly trivial.

"Hijab" is now a word for agreement because iOS kept using it as an autocorrect for "hokay", which is itself a bastardization of "okay".
posted by scrump at 1:44 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


At my current job we often talk about smallening something and forget it’s not actually a word.

It's a perfectly cromulent word.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 1:45 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


Kitchen tongs were always 'crocodiles' to us as kids. To this day, I'll request innocently "Hey, can you pass me the crocodile?" and be met with a blank stare.

A friend and I picked up a large amount of Nadsat from A Clockwork Orange (the novel, where you are thrown into full immersion mode, having to learn Nadsat just to follow it) and then it just modified itself further, such that (for example) "horrorshow devotchka" (beautiful woman) became simply "show votchy". We could carry on entire conversations around Anglophones, with other random words from dozens of languages thrown in, and nobody would have a clue what we were talking about, or in which language.

"Fuschia" was a useful code word with an ex, for when you wanted to discreetly veto something without it being obvious. For example, with a salesperson fussing over them and trying to make a sale, you could just drop in something like "that would go really nicely with your fuschia skirt" which would mean "No, don't buy it, it's horrible".
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:28 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


The pasta...claw? thing? utensil in our house is the Pasta Batman
Kitchen tongs were always 'crocodiles' to us as kids.


Tongs are tummy-grabbers in my family, because whenever they were needed to serve spaghetti (we did not own a Pasta Batman) my dad used to chase us around the kitchen snapping their, um, crocodile jaws at our mid-sections.
posted by carmicha at 6:50 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


The beau once asked me why I kept calling things that I was fond of pretty pants, or sometimes Princess Pretty Pants. As in: "You're so pretty pants." At the time, I just shrugged because I had no idea where it came from, only that I'd been saying that for a long, long time, and I'd clearly forgotten the source material.

Today, I learned that it came from the dub for Digimon Adventure. I'd be embarrassed, but the phrase has such a good ring to it.

Also, all dogs, regardless of size, age, or behavior are puppies. Good, sweet, puppies, all of them.
posted by PearlRose at 8:33 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


Some years back, I started telling friends, "excuse me, I need to facilitate," which naturally meant that I needed to use the facilities (bathroom) and I enjoyed that it sounded like corporate jargon but was just a fancy way to say pee.

I am currently procrastinating studying for my Advanced Facilitation Skills class, which I guess means like "into an empty Faygo bottle while driving"?
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:10 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


When I was a little kid, my mom used to cut my hair. One day she was cutting my bangs, and in her determination to make them perfectly even, she kept snipping a little off one side, then a little off the other side, then a little off the first side, and so on. I hated short bangs and was begging her to stop, but she was certain that she could get them even if she just made one more little adjustment, until -- whoops! -- she inadvertently snipped off a very large, very visible chunk of my eyebrow hair. From that day forward, "don't cut off the eyebrow" has meant "quit while you're ahead."
posted by ourobouros at 9:13 AM on May 16 [7 favorites]


I am a sensitive snowflake!

I'm prone to mixing up idioms and phrases, as well as smashing together words to make original compound words. So somehow, I was trying to explain to someone that I'm a super-sensitive, highly-emotional person, and it came out as "I am a sensitive snowflake!"

Yeah, I'd totally mixed up the slightly derogatory special snowflake sneer with my emotional sensitivity, but whatever, it worked. The person laughed and understood what I was talking about, so now I use it a lot as shorthand for "I am feeling overly emotional about this because this is how I'm wired, but I'll be OK in a couple minutes once I process some of my feelings, so hang tight, please and thank you!"
posted by PearlRose at 10:46 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


My daughter read this thread and reminded me that we do have a family saying "this is not the first baby I drop" and occasionally, "baby dropped" or "it's dropped." My daughter likes to use it when she drops anything. I tend to use it when I've finished something that maybe could've been done better, but I'm not changing it now and at least it's done. It's from one of these comics, which still amuse us enough that we'll sometimes do all the lines from the baby dropped one.
posted by Margalo Epps at 6:09 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Sayings I have learned and adopted from feisty old farm ladies include such treasures as; "Just 'cause your cat gave birth in the oven, that don't make them kittens biscuits", "Well, I don't like to tell stories outside of church, but... ", and "bless his heart, he's just as dim as twighlight."

And one that may be just my people; Gospels=any story that is believable, right up to the point where it isn't. Usually told by a trickster. As in "I swear it's the gospel! Would I lie to you?"

Oh, and the nubbly glove thing used to groom cats? Our cats will lead you to it, and then flop over on it and yell at you until you put it on, and pet them with The Love Glove.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:21 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


I’ve spent forever trying to think of one, because I know we have a lot of these, they’re just used so unconsciously at this point. I just remembered one of my favorites though.

You know that feeling where you really don’t want to get out of bed? Or when you sit down “for one second” to accomplish something and then find yourself sitting down half an hour later doing something completely different? Well, in my house we call that being stuck. Or more accurately, being “stuuuuuuuuuuuuck”. This was born because very early on my toddler son learned to play a game where he would clasp his hands around a railing or chair or leg and then pretend to try to get free, and exclaim, “Mommy, I’m tuuuuuuuuck!” Always with a giant grin on his face.
posted by Night_owl at 6:51 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


I can't really think of any from my family--more regional slang there, instead of family-specific--but my various peer groups have several.

1) My primary in-person group of friends uses the phrase "dance how you feel" (yes, it's a line from Center Stage) to mean "do what you want". As in: "I really want another slice of pie, but I feel guilty about eating so much." "Whatever, dance how you feel."

2) My primary online group of friends (not MeFi) uses the phrase "does it worth?" to ask if something is good or worthwhile. This emerged many years ago from a typo on a forum called YayHooray, at the time run by the founders of Threadless (before Threadless was their primary business). As in: "I'm thinking of switching from an Android phone to the iPhone X. You have an iPhone X, can you tell me, does it worth?"

3) Same group of online friends uses the phrase "put a landlord hat on the landlord" to refer to any unreasonable request from a client or supervisor. It comes from a thread on a precursor forum to YayHooray called Dreamless, in which that was an actual request a web designer received from a client when touching up stock photos.
posted by Fish Sauce at 11:30 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


"Oh, heavy" is what you say after you fart. As if you just picked something up so heavy it made you involuntarily do it, even if it's just the cat or the mail. Or nothing at all.
posted by ctmf at 10:03 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


Poop was grunts. Like, when one of my parents' badly behaved dogs would shit on the carpet, that meant somebody had to clean up the grunts.

You're welcome.
posted by emelenjr at 11:42 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


Toddler language logic from my son - any baby animal was Baby One! and then the type of animal, which is why, 25 years later, I just drove across the country exclaiming Baby One Cow!! Baby One Horse!!!

“Math is hard, let’s go shopping” said in a deadpan robovoice has been in heavy rotation - every time we want new clothes! - at our house since the 90s when talking Barbie got justifiably pilloried in the press and there was the great and beautiful Barbie / G.I. Joe voicebox switch.
posted by mygothlaundry at 6:43 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]


Math is hard, let’s go shopping

I'm a mathematician and I get paralyzed by choice in stores, so for me it's "shopping is hard, let's do math".
posted by madcaptenor at 1:24 PM on May 18 [3 favorites]


The ones that immediately come to mind are mutant store names: Crate and Burgle, Home Despot.

With my wife and I, Fogo de Chao (Brazillian steakhouse) was "Meat Coma". The housewares store was "Linens And Shit" (due to a hilarious photoshop we'd seen). "Whole Paycheck" for Whole Foods, although I don't think it was unique to us. Therefore, Central Market was also "Central Paycheck". IKEA was "Fifty Bucks" because we joked we could never get out of there without spending at least that much.
posted by mrbill at 3:17 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]


The housewares store was "Linens And Shit" (due to a hilarious photoshop we'd seen

In the last year or so we have made many trips to Floor and Decor, because various pieces of our house have needed new floors, tile, etc.

Except in our house it's "Floor and Decor and More and Beyond and Things and Tacos and Shit", or something like that. (One time we went and they were having an event for people in the industry, and there were tacos. We also got a free bucket.)
posted by madcaptenor at 3:24 PM on May 18 [2 favorites]


IKEA was "Fifty Bucks" because we joked we could never get out of there without spending at least that much.

My wife called Target "The $99 Store" for years.
posted by bongo_x at 11:17 PM on May 18 [2 favorites]


Many of mine have to do with cats, since I don't have kids. My brilliant friend came up with "incatacipated", which is when you can't move because a cat is sitting on you (or sleeping on you, or snuggling up to you). This word is so useful that I really feel it should be added to the dictionary. "Oh, the felinity!", said when the cat is carrying on about something really horrible, like an empty food bowl or lack of lap on which to sit. My cat is also a snuggleupagus, at least in winter. When you bury your face in the cat's floofy belly, it is snorgling (this cannot be done with every cat). When a cat is washing itself and is really getting into the fur, it is snarfling.

My dad used to say "nilcho zada" which it took me an astonishingly long time to recognise as the spoonerism of "zilcho nada", or absolutely nothing. A love of language play, especially malapropisms, clearly runs in the family, because I consistently say things like "I'm not one to cast nasturtiums, but I resemble what you're incinerating".

Then there's various references from games and media. Like "hungus", cheerfully ganked from Zork (get away from the machine, you hungus!) or the ritual call-and-response when you come across something you cannot identify or which is unfamiliar: "What's a Nubian?" "You know what a turtle is? Same thing." (a mash-up of Mall Rats and Blade Runner) or "It must be bunnies", "Like a shark, with feet and much less fins - and on land!" etc etc.
posted by Athanassiel at 1:09 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Just dropping by to say scrolling recent activity I've read "shopping is hard, let's do meth" and thought "well, that's a bit extreme"
posted by lmfsilva at 6:54 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


I've read "shopping is hard, let's do meth" and thought "well, that's a bit extreme"

Ironically, I just read your "meth" as the original "math", and was baffled why you thought it was so extreme!
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:25 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Everything goes around in circles.
posted by lmfsilva at 11:41 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I love that Billy Preston song!
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:28 PM on May 19


Shopping Is Hard (Let's Do Meth)?
posted by bongo_x at 1:15 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]




We all look at the instructions on the side of anything and read aloud “light fuse, get away.”
posted by Grandysaur at 1:46 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


There's a recurring theme when one of us is looking to buy some obscure item on the Web.
A: I'm trying to find [obscureitem], but [obscureitem]sellerdotcom is out of stock.
B: Tried [obscureitem]discounterdotcom?
A: Yes, and also [obscureitem]megasellerdotcom. No can haz.
And variants of this.
posted by Stoneshop at 2:13 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


I've just remembered another good one. Growing up, we used to stay at a small rental vacation house in Ocean Shores, WA during the summer. The house had a busted-ass badminton set and a single game: Mille Bornes: the French Auto Racing Game, which we played A LOT.

One of the cards, "Puncture Proof" (a.k.a. "Increvable"--all the cards were in French and English) bore an illustration that my older brother thought was super-cute, so whenever someone or something was described as "cute," he'd say, "Not as cute as puncture proof!" So that's something we say all the time in my family now. Or occasionally one of us will say "aww that's totally increvable."
posted by duffell at 7:39 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Holy moley, Mille Bornes - I haven't thought about that game in ages!! Despite the large number of hours I spent playing it Back Then.... Thanks for the reminder!
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:58 PM on May 19


We all look at the instructions on the side of anything and read aloud “light fuse, get away.”

In high school, one of my male friends did an impersonation of Fabio's newly out CD, and I have no idea if it was based on anything on the CD, but he said, with a weird sexy-foreign-unidentifiable accent, "Turn out the lights, then dim them." I shared this with my mother, and that became shorthand in my family for "Someone tried to do a thing and didn't really succeed."
posted by lazuli at 10:06 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


Going to revive this thread just because I remembered one.

When my son was about 3 or 4, he was asking me at the dinner table if we could go do something, and my answer was "no". But he was persistent, and I kept saying "no" and at some point I looked at him and said, "How long are we going to do this? I have a big bag full of noes here."

And he fired back: "Daddy, you need to find your big bag of yes."

Finding the "big bag of yes" is an expression we still use in response to anyone or anything that is being stubborn.
posted by nubs at 2:09 PM on June 8 [6 favorites]


"Find the big bag of yes" sounds like a motivational speaker's catch phrase.
posted by duffell at 4:53 AM on June 12 [3 favorites]


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