How Baltimore talks

Do you know how some Baltimoreans really speak? Listen and find out. To read more about Baltimore’s unique vernacular – particularly differences between the white and black communities –click here.

By Brittany Britto | The Baltimore Sun
already

(all-RED-ee) abbr. Abbreviated phrase for “you already know;” used to confirm or reaffirm the truth.

arabber, a-rabber, Araber

(aye-rab-er) n. Itinerant street vendor of produce, typically using a decorated wagon drawn by a pony. The term derives from the 19th-century term street arab and has no connection with Arabs. The remaining arabbers in Baltimore are all African-American.

ayo

(aye-OH) interj. Used to get a person’s attention, to express surprise or interest.

Bawlmer, Baldamore

(Bawl-MURR, Bawl-DAH-more) n. The largest city in Maryland.

Baltimorese, Bawlmerese

(Bal-tih-more-EEZ, Bawl-murr-EEZ) n. Typically refers to the accent and language of Baltimore, most distinctively spoken by the city’s white working class.

chicken box

n. Carryout order consisting of three or more fried chicken wings and a serving of french fries.

coddie

(CAH-dee) n. A fishcake of cod, onions and mashed potato, fried.

crouchy

(CROU-chee) adj. Crowded; populated with people.

cuttin’ up

(CUTT-in up) v. 1. Dancing. 2. Having a good time. 3. Behaving in a wild or crazy manner. adj. 1. A phrase used to describe someone who is showing off or looking particularly stylish or cool in appearance.

down the ocean

(DOW-nee OA-shin) idiomatic To the seaside.

draggin’

(DRAG-in) v. 1. Showing off or making a positive impression on people. adj. 2. Cool and stylish.

dug

n. A dog.

dummy

(DUM-ee) n. 1. Term of endearment for a close friend. 2. A person of low intelligence.

forreal

(for-EEL, fuh-RILL) interj. A word that gives a stamp of approval or emphasizes accuracy of a statement.

fugg

n. A cigarette.

geekin’

(GEE-kin) v. 1. To be ecstatic or overly excited about something; 2. To be in a silly or goofy mood.

half and half

n. A beverage of equal parts of iced tea and lemonade; also called an Arnold Palmer.

hon

(hun) n. A short term for honey; a term of endearment.

irky

(ER-kee) adj. Irksome or annoying.

lake trout

n. Neither trout nor the freshwater fish of that name. In Baltimore, lake trout, typically Atlantic whiting, is breaded and fried and served in take-out sandwich shops.

lor

(lohr) adj. Variant of the word “little.” The late rapper Lor Scoota was one of the most notable Baltimoreans to bear the word in his name.

mere

n. A mirror.

Natty Boh

(NA-dee BOW) n. An abbreviated term for National Bohemian beer.

o ard, oh aard

(oh AHRd) interj. All right or OK.

O’s

(oaz) n. Short for Orioles, Baltimore’s Major League Baseball team.

rey

(ray) adj. ready; preparing or about to do something.

shorr

(shore) n. An abbreviated term for “shorty,” typically used to address a person in a conversation.

snoball

(snow-ball) n. Shaved or crushed ice flavored with syrup and served in a paper cone. Known elsewhere as a snowcone or snowball. Egg custard is one of the most suggested flavors.

up next

adj. Soon to become successful or up-and-coming.

warsh

v. To wash.

wholetime

interj. 1. Used to emphasize a statement that is believed to be true, much like “forreal” is used. 2. Short for “the whole time” or “actually.” (Battle of the Beltway D.C. and Baltimore residents may debate about its origin).

woe

(woah) n. 1. Term of endearment for a close friend. interj. 2. Greeting or exclamation. (Fun fact Canadian rapper Drake popularized this word in his 2015 song “Know Yourself,” but some Baltimoreans state that the word was used in Charm City prior.)

yo

pronoun 1. A non-gender pronoun; indicates any person. interj. 2. A greeting or exclamation.

yoking

(YO-king) v. Dated word that indicates a form of mugging in which the assailant approaches the victim from behind and wraps his arm tightly around the victim’s neck.

zink

n. A sink.

Scroll down for the full dictionary

already

(all-RED-ee) abbr. Abbreviated phrase for “you already know;” used to confirm or reaffirm the truth.

arabber, a-rabber, Araber

(aye-rab-er) n. Itinerant street vendor of produce, typically using a decorated wagon drawn by a pony. The term derives from the 19th-century term street arab and has no connection with Arabs. The remaining arabbers in Baltimore are all African-American.

ayo

(aye-OH) interj. Used to get a person’s attention, to express surprise or interest.

Bawlmer, Baldamore

(Bawl-MURR, Bawl-DAH-more) n. The largest city in Maryland.

Baltimorese, Bawlmerese

(Bal-tih-more-EEZ, Bawl-murr-EEZ) n. Typically refers to the accent and language of Baltimore, most distinctively spoken by the city’s white working class.

chicken box

n. Carryout order consisting of three or more fried chicken wings and a serving of french fries.

coddie

(CAH-dee) n. A fishcake of cod, onions and mashed potato, fried.

crouchy

(CROU-chee) adj. Crowded; populated with people.

cuttin’ up

(CUTT-in up) v. 1. Dancing. 2. Having a good time. 3. Behaving in a wild or crazy manner. adj. 1. A phrase used to describe someone who is showing off or looking particularly stylish or cool in appearance.

down the ocean

(DOW-nee OA-shin) idiomatic To the seaside.

draggin’

(DRAG-in) v. 1. Showing off or making a positive impression on people. adj. 2. Cool and stylish.

dug

n. A dog.

dummy

(DUM-ee) n. 1. Term of endearment for a close friend. 2. A person of low intelligence.

forreal

(for-EEL, fuh-RILL) interj. A word that gives a stamp of approval or emphasizes accuracy of a statement.

fugg

n. A cigarette.

geekin’

(GEE-kin) v. 1. To be ecstatic or overly excited about something; 2. To be in a silly or goofy mood.

half and half

n. A beverage of equal parts of iced tea and lemonade; also called an Arnold Palmer.

hon

(hun) n. A short term for honey; a term of endearment.

irky

(ER-kee) adj. Irksome or annoying.

lake trout

n. Neither trout nor the freshwater fish of that name. In Baltimore, lake trout, typically Atlantic whiting, is breaded and fried and served in take-out sandwich shops.

lor

(lohr) adj. Variant of the word “little.” The late rapper Lor Scoota was one of the most notable Baltimoreans to bear the word in his name.

mere

n. A mirror.

Natty Boh

(NA-dee BOW) n. An abbreviated term for National Bohemian beer.

o ard, oh aard

(oh AHRd) interj. All right or OK.

O’s

(oaz) n. Short for Orioles, Baltimore’s Major League Baseball team.

rey

(ray) adj. ready; preparing or about to do something.

shorr

(shore) n. An abbreviated term for “shorty,” typically used to address a person in a conversation.

snoball

(snow-ball) n. Shaved or crushed ice flavored with syrup and served in a paper cone. Known elsewhere as a snowcone or snowball. Egg custard is one of the most suggested flavors.

up next

adj. Soon to become successful or up-and-coming.

warsh

v. To wash.

wholetime

interj. 1. Used to emphasize a statement that is believed to be true, much like “forreal” is used. 2. Short for “the whole time” or “actually.” (Battle of the Beltway D.C. and Baltimore residents may debate about its origin).

woe

(woah) n. 1. Term of endearment for a close friend. interj. 2. Greeting or exclamation. (Fun fact Canadian rapper Drake popularized this word in his 2015 song “Know Yourself,” but some Baltimoreans state that the word was used in Charm City prior.)

yo

pronoun 1. A non-gender pronoun; indicates any person. interj. 2. A greeting or exclamation.

yoking

(YO-king) v. Dated word that indicates a form of mugging in which the assailant approaches the victim from behind and wraps his arm tightly around the victim’s neck.

zink

n. A sink.

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