Chicago Humor

Even though I moved out of Chicago when I was five, it’s amazing how many of these I can relate to..

  1. Grachki (grach’-key): Chicagoese for “garage key” as in, “Yo, Theresa, waja do wit da grachki? Howmy supposta cut da grass if I don’t git intada grach?”
  2. Sammich: Chicagoese for sandwich. When made with sausage, it’s a sassage sammich; when made with shredded beef, it’s an Italian Beef sammich, a local delicacy consisting of piles of spicy meat in a perilously soggy bun.
  3. Da: This article is a key part of Chicago speech, as in “Da Bears” or “Da Mare” — the latter denoting Richard M. Daley, or Richie, as he’s often called.
  4. Jewels: Not family heirlooms or a tender body region, but a popular name for one of the region’s dominant grocery store chains. “I’m goin’ to the Jewels to pick up some sassage.”
  5. Field’s: Marshall Field, a prominent Chicago department store. Also Carson Pirie Scott, another major department store chain, is simply called “Carson’s.”
  6. Tree: The number between two and four. “We were lucky dat we only got tree inches of snow da udder night.”
  7. Over by dere: Translates to “over by there,” a way of emphasizing a site presumed familiar to the listener. As in, “I got the sassage at the Jewels down on Kedzie, over by dere.”
  8. Kaminski Park : The mispronounced name of the ballpark where the Chicago White Sox (da Sox) play baseball. Comiskey Park was renamed U.S. Cellular Field (da Cell).
  9. Frunchroom: As in, “Get outta da frunchroom wit dose muddy shoes.” It’s not the “parlor.” It’s not the “living room.” In the land of the bungalow, it’s the “frunchroom,” a named derived, linguists believe, from “front room.”
  10. Use: Not the verb, but the plural pronoun ‘you!’ “Where use goin’?”
  11. Downtown: Anywhere near The Lake, south of The Zoo (Lincoln Park Zoo) and north of Soldier Field.
  12. The Lake: Lake Michigan (What other lake is there?) It’s often used by local weathermen, “cooler by The Lake.”
  13. Braht: Short for Bratwurst. “Gimme a braht wit kraut.”
  14. Goes: Past or present tense of the verb “say.” For example, “Den he goes, ‘I like this place’!”
  15. Guys: Used when addressing two or more people, regardless of each individual’s gender.
  16. Pop: A soft drink. Don’t say “soda” in this town. “Do ya wanna canna pop?”
  17. Sliders: Nickname for hamburgers from White Castle , a popular Midwestern burger chain. “Dose sliders I had last night gave me da runs.”
  18. The Taste: The Taste of Chicago Festival, a huge extravaganza in Grant Park featuring samples of Chicagoland cuisine which takes place each year around the Fourth of July holiday.
  19. “Jeetyet?”: Translates to, “Did you eat yet?”
  20. Winter and Construction: Punch line to the joke, “What are the two seasons in Chicago ?”
  21. Cuppa Too-Tree: is Chicagoese for “a couple, two, three” which really means “a few.” For example, “Hey Mike, dere any beerz left in da cooler over by dere?” “Yeh, a cuppa too-tree.”
  22. 588-2300: Everyone in Chicago knows this commercial jingle and the carpet company you’ll get if you call that number — Empire!
  23. Junk Dror: You will usually find the ‘junk drawer’ in the kitchen filled to the brim with miscellaneous, but very important, junk.
  24. Southern Illinois : Anything south of I-80. This is where Smothers’ is from….
  25. Expressways: The Interstates in the immediate Chicagoland area are usually known just by their ‘name’ and not their Interstate number: the Dan Ryan (“da Ryan”), the Stevenson, the Kennedy (da “Kennedy”), the Eisenhower (da “Ike”), and the Edens (just “Edens” but Da Edens” is acceptable).
  26. Gym Shoes: The rest of the country may refer to them as sneakers or running shoes but Chicagoans will always call them gym shoes!