In order to capture all of the fantastic little phrases and linguistic nuances of Virginia, there would need to be a complete website devoted to each distinct region. But since we’re talking about ALL of Virginia here, these are just a few of things we say, from north to south, west to east, that make us oh-so-Virginian. Now I’m not saying that ALL of these things are only said here. I know better than that. But I can promise you one thing, when you’re anywhere other than Virginia and you hear any of these words or phrases, you’ll get a little twinge of homesickness. Better yet, head to the west coast and try throwing these around and see what kind of blank stares you get back. Trust me, I’ve tried.
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1. Bless Your Heart
Translation: You poor, clueless thing. This is how a proper southern lady gets her point across without being ugly (see “ugly”). Warning: When you hear these words, there’s about to be a verbal smack down.
Ex: “Bless her heart, she doesn’t even know she’s tacky.”
Translation: Obviously this is your parent’s sister. But it’s pronounced “awnt” not “ant.” An ant is an insect. We must be very clear on this one. And I’m not so sure about the rest of the country, but I know around here, a good friend is like family. “Aunt Betty” doesn’t have to be blood. She might just be your mom’s best friend
Translation: The DC, Maryland, Virginia melting pot. Not to be confused with the Department of Motor Vehicles, although both contain congested lines and disgruntled employees.
4. Fixing (and drop that “g”, would you?)
Translation 1: getting ready to do something.
EX: “I’m fixin’ to go to the store. Y’all need anything?”
Translation 2: Condiments. As in, hot dog fixin’s.
EX: All the fixin’s are on the table.
Translation: NOrthern VirginiA. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary would have you believe this is “a star that suddenly increases its light output tremendously and then fades away to its former obscurity in a few months or years.” Do not be confused. It means anything in the general top part of the state. Or Northern Virginia Community College. Take your pick.
Translation: Anyone who has attended or loves Virginia Tech. You know who you are. It started off as part of a cheer in the late 1800s, but now it refers to all things VT, including the mascot – HokieBird. (Technically, he’s a turkey, but HokieBird sounds so much cooler.) Must be used anytime, anywhere the phrase “Let’s go…” is used.
EX: I say: “Let’s go…”
You say: “HOKIES!!!!!”
Translation: Anyone who has attended or loves UVA. Yeah, so this one’s actually a fish. Rumor has it, it’s a fish who can drink twice it’s own weight. That aside, it’s the name that UVA grads and fans alike wear proudly and incorporate in cheers, tshirts, license plates and anything related to “The University.”
EX: “I’m a Wahoo” or “Wahoo-wa!!”
8. Oh, Honey....
Translation: a term of endearment. But use this one carefully. If a sentence starts with “Oh Honey”....well, just see “Bless Your Heart.”
9. I'm from D.C.
Translation: You are actually from Northern Virginia, but saying you’re from DC just seems easier.
Ex: Person 1: “So, where are you from?”
You: “I’m from D.C…well, actually, I’m from Northern Virginia…technically, I live in Falls Church.”
Person 1: “Where’s Falls Church?”
You: “That’s why I said D.C.”
10. Snow Day
Translation: a day off of school in the winter…or early spring. It does not mean there IS snow. Just that there might be snow. Or some flurries. Or some ice. Or maybe it’s just really cold. Don’t worry about it. Enjoy the day off. There will be plenty of time to complain later when your school year gets extended because of all the “snow days.”
Translation: Hail To The Redskins. This needs no explanation. If you say it, write it or think it, then you know exactly what it means and you believe it through and through.
12. The Rivah
Translation: Well, clearly, it’s “river”, but “the rivah” just sounds so much more elegant. Can refer to the Potomac, the Rappahannock, the James, the New, and so on. We’ve got around 40 to choose from. And we love ‘em, live on ‘em and talk about ‘em with pride.
EX: “We’re staying at the Rivah this weekend.”
Translation: Technically, it means to catch a ride with strangers. So, really, slugging is sanctioned hitchhiking. But anyone who has fought NOVA (see above) traffic knows that carpool lanes are key. But if you don’t have someone to ride with, just hop in a slug line and everybody wins. (www.slug-lines.com)
Translation: SWEET tea. Do not bring me sugar packets. I can add 50 sugar packets and stir it for 30 minutes and it still won’t taste right. I want it sweet from the start, preferable with the consistency of maple syrup just like my grandmother used to make it.
Translation: Tyson’s Corner - a world unto itself. For Northern Virginia, it’s a place, a mall and now home of the Silver Line Metro –that long awaited metro stop of myth and legend.
Translation: Not nice. Not to be confused with physical appearance, this one refers to rude or offensive behavior.
Ex: “That was a very ugly thing to say!”
Translation: To take someone or something somewhere. Usually means in a car – but I guess it could be taken literally.
EX: “I’ll be late. I’ve got to carry my aunt to the store first.”
It can be singular or plural, with plural possessive available in the form of “Y’all’s” as in “Is this y’all’s car?” My other personal favorite use is the all-inclusive plural, as in “Are all y’all going to the store?”
Translation: anyone not from Virginia or the surrounding regions to the south and west. Really, it just means anyone who isn’t “southern.” Warning: You can live in the south and be a Yankee. Just ask my grandfather.
Translation: Thomas Jefferson, of course. But this has two meanings. If you’re from Northern Virginia, TJ means “Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology” and it’s where your parents secretly (or not-so-secretly) hoped you would go since birth. If you’re from other parts of the state or went to UVA, then it’s short for Thomas Jefferson himself – and you refer to him like he’s an old friend. Considering all that he did for Virginia and the rest of the country, it’s kind of hard not to.
Translation: Roast the pig. Eat the Pig. Play music. Have cold drinks. Eat waaay too much potato salad. Enjoy the day with friends and family.
What I’d really like to know is what is your Virginia dictionary? Tell us about some words and phrases you use that are guaranteed to confuse an out-of-stater!