D.C. May 12, 2017
by Maura 15 Words You’ll Only Understand If You’re From Washington DC
Language is fascinating. It’s something that is constantly evolving and changing and depending on where you live, one phrase might mean something completely different. There are certain words and phrases you might here in DC that don’t mean what they sound like. These are 15 words from Washington DC you should learn if you want to sound like a local.
1. The Hill
As in Capitol Hill, not a miscellaneous hill. When someone says they’re going to the Hill, they are usually going to a meeting at the Capitol.
2. The Mall
The National Mall. It is not a shopping mall so don’t expect to spend money there (unless its at a food truck)
A DC term that really means someone you don’t like or someone you think is a fool.
This is not where you get your license. It’s the term used to refer to the DC-Maryland-Virginia area.
5. Inner loop and Outer Loop
These two phrases you hear often in DC, especially if you’re listening to traffic news. They refer to I-495, which is the Interstate Highway that is often known as the "Beltway." The Beltway is essentially one big circle around DC. There are two lanes on the Beltway, one on the inside, known as the Inner Loop and is closer to DC and travels clockwise. The lane on the outside is the Outer Loop and is farther from DC and travels counterclockwise.
6. Half smoke
The half smoke has nothing to do with smoking. It’s a delicious DC food that is like a larger, spicier hot dog.
When Washingtonians talk about the Metro, they are referring to the Metro Train that runs underground and out into the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia. We don’t call it the subway and it is not a bus.
8. The Bureau
When people refer to the "Bureau" in DC, they are almost referring to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. As in, "He works for the Bureau."
A very local DC term that means “excited.”
10. Northwest, Southwest, Southeast, Northeast
People in DC are not just spouting out directions. DC is split into four quadrants and most people explain where something is located by using the associated quadrant.
Nova is the local term for Northern Virginia, the area just outside of Washington DC.
12. Skins, Nats and Caps
The much loved and often complained about sports teams in DC are usually known by their nickname. The "Skins" refer to the Washington Redskins football team, the "Nats" are the Washington Nationals baseball team and the "Caps" are the Washington Capitals hockey team.
Hoya is the term used for the Georgetown University sports teams. The phrase originated in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The teams used to be known as the "Stonewalls" and the Georgetown students, who were required to study classical linguistics chanted "Hoya Saxa" during the games. The phrase is translated to "What Rocks." Eventually the term Hoya was used as the descriptor for the sports teams and the students.
The Maryland Terrapins are another local favorite sports teams. A terrapin is a snapping turtle but you’ll probably hear people saying "Go Terps," especially during basketball season.
Ovi is how Washingtonians refer to the beloved Washington Capitals player Alex Ovechkin.
Now that you’re up to date on DC’s slang, you might want to learn some of the other crazy things we do.
Here are 9 things Washingtonians do that seem insane to everyone else!
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