18 Words You’ll Only Understand If You’re From New Mexico
Some slang seems to get stuck at the state line. Here are 18 words and phrases from New Mexico that you’ll only understand if you’ve spent time in the Land of Enchantment.
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During the holidays, we top our adobe walls with rows of small brown bags filled with sand and a tea light. A fire hazard? Well, the resulting light display is breathtaking enough that we just don’t care (although some people have switched to electric farolitos). Incidentally, New Mexicans who hail from the southern part of the state are currently spitting out their coffee in outrage, because they refer to this decoration as a luminaria.
If you want to get technical, a luminaria is actually a sidewalk bonfire that New Mexicans ignite on Christmas Eve—apparently we’re determined to involve the Fire Department in our annual celebrations!
If we ask whether you want your chile Christmas-style, we’re giving you the option to slather a combination of red and green chile sauce over your food, for double the burn.
New Mexicans worship chile. No, we’re not talking about the South American country, although it’s presumably very nice. We mean the pepper, and our alternate spelling of the word is deliberate. Chili is the meat stew associated with places like Texas and Cincinnati. Chile is New Mexico's iconic state crop.
We even employ chiles as decorations. Just hang a bunch of dried red ones (a ristra) from your portal.
New Mexican architecture is unique and so too are the words we use to describe it. A portal (the emphasis is on the second syllable, port-aahl) is a covered front or back porch.
This is one of the rough-hewn wooden beams that protrude from the exterior of New Mexican homes, or that sometimes run across the ceilings inside.
A kiva can either be one of the ceremonial spaces (often subterranean) used by the Pueblo peoples....
...Or a style of fireplace that is common in New Mexico.
A delectable union of anise and lard.
10. Burque and Burqueños
Burque is a nickname for Albuquerque, and Burqueños are those who live there.
11. Duke City
Albuquerque is also known as Duke City because it was named after the eighth Duke of Alburquerque, the Viceroy of New Spain. Over time, the extra “r” disappeared.
But, let’s face it, Albuquerque is still a pain to spell. No wonder we use the acronym ABQ.
The Albuquerque International Sunport is New Mexico's main airport.
14. Big I
Boston had the big dig. New Mexico has the Big I. This huge public works project expanded the freeway interchange in Albuquerque, where I-25 and I-40 meet.
LA usually means Los Angeles. But in New Mexico, we understand that you’re discussing Los Alamos, where LANL is located.
The Los Alamos National Laboratory (pronounced “lanal”) is the birthplace of the atomic bomb. Today, the lab works on projects in a wide array of scientific fields—we think. Asking questions of the men and women with guns who staff the town’s checkpoint is probably a bad idea.
Tamalewood is a brand of video production services offered by
Short for Isotopes, our minor league baseball team.
These words just scratch the surface of New Mexican lingo. What other slang, words and phrases from New Mexico can you think of? On the opposite end of the spectrum, here are some things people who
grew up in New Mexico will not understand.