Arizona September 04, 2015
13 Words You’ll Only Understand If You’re From Arizona
With Southwest’s rich heritage, we have a lot of unique words that you would be hard pressed to find in other parts of the country. There are a few that come from Spanish or Indigenous languages that were around before present-day borders were drawn, so keep that in mind if you happen to encounter a word outside of Arizona. However, I think these words are certainly more common here than in New Mexico or California
Without further ado, here are thirteen words you have probably encountered once or twice if you’re a Zonie.
1. Bear down.
You Wildcats know this one. This is the motto for the University of Arizona, which originates from the 1926 death of the university’s student body president and starting quarterback, John Salmon. After suffering a spinal injury from a car accident, these were allegedly part of Salmon’s last words to his teammates before dying from his injuries.
The same state that claims the invention of the chimichanga also frequently uses this word to refer to the same food.
“I need to put some lotion on my chizhii arms.” If you’re Navajo or interacted with them to some degree, you’ve probably heard this word. The adjective literally means something is similar in texture to firewood, which is rough and dry, and is typically used to refer to dry skin.
A shortened version of Flagstaff.
5. Fork ‘em, Devils.
No, no, this has nothing to do with digging into a delicious slice of devil’s food cake. Arizona State alumni, however, will recognize the motto as a sign of school spirit.
Gila River, Gila Bend, Gila monster, Gila County. Pronounced “hee-lah,” the word may come from a Spanish version of a Yuman word for a salty river but that is merely a theory.
The Huachuca Mountains, Huachuca City, and Fort Huachuca all derive their name from a small Akimel O’odham village by the same name.
I have heard this pronounced many ways but most commonly “moh-gee-yawn.” Most people will know this for the Mogollon Rim, which was named for a Spanish governor of New Mexico territory.
Other parts of the country refer to these delicious but pricey snacks as “pine nuts.” It also happens to be the name of a small town in Navajo County.
10. The Rim/Rim Country
This undoubtedly refers to the Mogollon Rim, the southern end of the Colorado Plateau and home to our beautiful pine forests.
The ever famous cactus with the arms and is only found in the Sonoran desert.
This loving word is reserved for all of our winter visitors from frigid states like Minnesota.
13. Swamp cooler
A surprising number of folks from out-of-state don’t realize this also refers to an evaporative cooler.
What other words or phrases do you know that are unique to Arizona?