It’s undeniable that Illinois has its own vibrant culture, ranging from unique Illinois slang words and phrases to exclusive customs!
What will I learn?
Whether you grew up in Illinois or you’re just passing through, getting familiar with the slang is a fun way to learn about the place you call home.
13 Illinois Slang Words And Phrases For You Are Here!
Illinois is known for its many different and diverse cultures, each with its own language, customs, and slang words.
Despite the variance in dialects depending on geographic location across Illinois, there are certain slang words and phrases that all locals can relate to.
For example, a “dip” is used to mean someone who isn’t very nice or trustworthy; “gump” is used as a general insult, and if someone says they are “jacked up” it means they are feeling really good.
Other Illinois slang words might include calling something that’s easy to do or complete “cherry picking” or surprising someone with an unexpected event referred to as “snaking” them.
Regardless of where in Illinois you may be from, understanding these Illinois slang terms will help you interact with locals more easily and boost your local street cred!
1. I’ll Be Darned! – Express Surprise Or Disbelief:
Did you know that “I’ll be darned!” is not just used to express surprise or disbelief? It originated from a state in the Midwest – Illinois!
While it’s commonly used throughout the United States, some have suggested it’s an offshoot of another local Illinois slang phrase: “darn tootin'”.
Despite its Illinois roots, the phrase has been adopted and reinterpreted all over the country.
Whether used to demonstrate surprise or disbelief slyly, you can bet that this Illinois phrase still packs a punch today when used in modern settings.
2. Pop – Word For Soda Or Soft Drink:
When discussing Illinois slang words, one of the most commonly used terms is “pop.” While many assume this refers to a type of music genre, this usually means a soda or soft drink in Illinois.
Did you know that people in different parts of the country use different words for the same thing?
For example, some people might call soda or soft drinks “coke” or “soda pop,” but people in Illinois almost always call them “pop.”
Knowing local slang is a great way to fit in with the locals and feel like part of the community!
3. Darn It! – Expression Of Frustration Or Anger:
All across the Midwestern US, ‘Darn it!’ has become a common expression of annoyance—especially in Illinois.
It was derived from the original expression ‘dang it,’ which was brought to the region by settlers from Scotland and the north of England in the 1800s.
Although this phrase may sound innocent enough for modern ears, at its origin it was considered discourteous and impolite, to be used only when expressing frustration or intense anger.
Today, ‘darn it!’ remains one of many slang words and phrases in Chicago and downstate that illustrate the state’s rich history of cultural diversity and its colorful language use.
4. Ratty-Ass – Something Dirty Or Not Well Taken Care Of:
Ratty-ass is one of many unique Illinois slang words and phrases describing something as dirty or not taken care of.
The term “run-down” comes from Chicago. It means something that is falling apart or not in good condition.
Whether referring to an old car or the neighborhood corner store, its use has become more popular due to its descriptiveness and ease of use.
Its ability to tell a story with just three syllables has made it a staple Illinois slang phrase.
5. Jukebox – A Machine That Plays Music Records:
To some Illinoisans, the jukebox, or ‘juker’ is a timeless classic. It has been used in family restaurants and bars to bring patrons toe-tappin’ tunes at the press of a button.
Jukeboxes are machines that play music. They were invented in the early 1900s. People in Illinois use them a lot. And first, they use them for fun nights out.
Now more digital than ever, the jukebox remains among the top entertainment choices across America today.
6. Gonna – “Going To”:
If you’re from Illinois, then you know that some slang words and phrases spoken informally have distinct regional roots.
For example, when you hear people say ‘gonna’, they’re often referring to ‘going to’, but it is a shortened version used in Illinois more often than not.
The thing about Illinoisan speech is that native Illinois can usually tell where someone is from based on word choice.
If someone isn’t from Illinois but is visiting, be sure to pick up on the lingo so that when locals talk to you, they know you are an insider!
7. Pitch In – To Help Out Or Contribute:
When lending a helping hand, Illinois has an interesting way of saying it: to “pitch in.”
In Illinois, people often use the expression ‘chipping in’ to demonstrate their willingness to lend a hand and help out.
This could mean anything from offering your time by volunteering at a local non-profit, chipping in financially for a group gift, or even taking one for the team at work.
No matter what scenario it may be used in, ‘pitching in’ is all about coming together and collectively making positive changes in our day-to-day lives.
8. Carry Out – To Takeout Food From Restaurants:
In Illinois, “carry out” has become an important slang term in the local vernacular. This phrase is used by many individuals to describe takeout food from a restaurant.
Whether ordering from your favorite big chain or a small mom-and-pop shop, grabbing takeout has become the top choice for many – regardless of whether you dine in or order online.
When verbalizing what we want, “Carry out” has been the go-to phrase for many years.
Of course, some people may use a slightly different variation depending on where they are from, such as get-n-go or pick up, but Illinoisans always find ways to make things their own!
9. Benchwarmer – Someone Who Is Not Actively Involved In An Activity:
The term “benchwarmer” is a colloquialism commonly used in Illinois to refer to someone not actively involved in a situation or activity.
It could describe someone who might sit on the sidelines during a game but never plays or as an observer at a meeting but doesn’t contribute any input.
It can also suggest someone who likes to get involved in conversations or plans but never follows through with their actions.
In either case, this Illinois slang word conveys the image of being content merely watching others do the work.
10. Winder – Window:
Illinoisans have a unique way of talking, and like all other parts of the United States, there are regional slang words and phrases.
One example is how many people in Illinois replace the word ‘window’ with ‘winder.’
This Illinois is used commonly throughout different regions and is usually said with a middle Midwestern drawl that conjures images of cozy farmhouses and rolling fields of corn.
Looking out a window is so everyday that we may take it for granted. Even so, many still refer to them as ‘windows’. No matter the name, gazing through one of these portals should always be just as captivating.
11. Grits – A Type Of Cornmeal Porridge:
Grits are traditional cornmeal porridge popular in the Southern United States, especially among African Americans.
Generally, grits are made by boiling ground hominy or corn into a thick paste, often eaten for breakfast. We refer to “gritz” as Illinois slang words and phrases in the Illinois region.
While it takes some time and patience to cook properly, locals love adding butter, cheese, and other spices to give their grits an added layer of flavor.
Every spoonful of creamy, perfectly cooked grits offers a soothing sensation.
If you’re looking for something to pair with eggs and bacon or need an essential ingredient in a savory dish such as shrimp and grits, look no further than the beloved southern classic – Grits!
12. Alligator Pear – Another Name For An Avocado:
The alligator pear may not be a commonly used term, but it is native to Illinois slang. It is generally used as an alternate title for the beloved avocado.
Avocado has become popular recently, but it dates back to the Aztecs of Mexico, who used it as a staple crop!
Nowadays, many people enjoy avocados as nutrient-rich snacks or refreshing components in salads and sandwiches – little do they know they are consuming Illinois slang!
So if you ever hear someone refer to their avocado as an Alligator Pear, now you know where the term originates!
13. Sweet Tea – A Type Of Iced Tea:
Sweet tea is an American favorite, especially in the South and Midwest. It’s so popular that Illinoisans have developed their slang term: shlurp.
This Illinois refers to a sip of cold sweet tea enjoyed on a hot day – the perfect way to quench your thirst!
Sweet tea is made with black or green tea that is soaked in hot water and left to cool. Sugar or honey is added after it has cooled.
From barbecues at the park to Sunday morning church services, sweet tea can be found throughout much of the United States – and in Illinois, it’s sure to be called shlurp!
Illinois slang words and phrases provide insight into the culture of this great state. They capture emotions and feelings that many people share at any moment, conveying camaraderie among Illinoisans.
Some sayings are only used in Illinois. They help us to understand how language changes over time. It is also a way to learn about Illinois’s different types of people and cultures.
Whether you have spent your whole life in Illinois or just moved there recently, learning these terms can help foster an even greater appreciation for this unique part of the country.
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