21 Quirky New York Phrases You Must Learn To Fit In

New York City: a place so unique, it has its own language. If you’re not from the Big Apple, some things New Yorkers say might leave you scratching your head. Here’s a list of phrases that are quintessentially New York. Get ready to talk like a local!

1. “I’m Walking Here!”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / stockfour

This phrase is more than just words; it’s a declaration of a pedestrian’s right to the sidewalk. It epitomizes the busy, fast-paced New York lifestyle.

2. “Bodega”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Alex King Pics

Not just any corner store, a bodega is a New York institution, selling everything from coffee to cat food, often with a beloved cat roaming the aisles.

3. “The City”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / ymgerman

To New Yorkers, “The City” always means Manhattan, regardless of the fact that NYC is made up of five boroughs.

4. “Stand in Line”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Gena Melendrez

Forget about standing ‘in’ line. In New York, you stand ‘on’ line, whether you’re waiting for a bagel or a Broadway show.

5. “Schmear”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / MSPhotographic

Want cream cheese on your bagel? In New York, you ask for a “schmear.” It’s the perfect amount of cream cheese spread.

6. “Pie”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / YARUNIV Studio

Ordering a ‘pie’ in New York usually means a whole pizza, not a dessert.

7. “Forget About It”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Dmytro Zinkevych

It’s either used to say something is unbelievable or to indicate that the topic is not worth discussing further. It’s all about the tone.

8. “The LIRR”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Matej Kastelic

This stands for the Long Island Rail Road, a major commuter train network serving Long Island and parts of Queens and Brooklyn.

9. “Regular Coffee”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Aleksandrs Muiznieks

In New York, a “regular coffee” is with cream and two sugars. No need to specify unless you want something different.

10. “Bridge and Tunnel”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / oneinchpunch

This term is used somewhat pejoratively to describe people who commute to Manhattan from surrounding areas, not using the subway.

11. “Fuhgeddaboudit”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Krakenimages.com

A more New Yorker way to say “forget about it,” emphasizing a very strong opinion or the impossibility of a situation.

12. “Slice”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Luna Vandoorne

When New Yorkers say they’re getting a “slice,” they mean a slice of pizza. It’s a staple of New York diets.

13. “Uptown” and “Downtown”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / littlenySTOCK

These terms are used to describe direction within Manhattan. “Uptown” is north, and “Downtown” is south. Very important for navigating the subway!

14. “MetroCard”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Ben Harding

The key to public transportation in NYC. It’s used to pay for rides on buses and subways.

15. “The Subway”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Felix Lipov

In many cities, it’s called the metro, underground, or tube. In New York, it’s always “the subway.”

16. “Gravy”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Natalia Hanin

In some New York Italian households, “gravy” refers to tomato sauce, especially when it’s meat-based.

17. “NoHo” and “SoHo”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / stockelements

Short for “North of Houston Street” and “South of Houston Street,” these are trendy neighborhoods in Manhattan known for their art galleries and shops.

18. “Boroughs”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / pisaphotography

New York City is made up of five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island. Each has its own unique character.

19. “Deadass”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / evrymmnt

This term is used for emphasis, equivalent to “seriously” or “for real.”

20. “The Village”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Ryan DeBerardinis

Refers to Greenwich Village, a neighborhood known for its bohemian lifestyle, arts scene, and vibrant nightlife.

21. “The Train”

Image Credit: Shutterstock / littlenySTOCK

When a New Yorker says they’re taking “the train,” they mean the subway, not an above-ground train.

Learn the Lingo

Image Credit: Shutterstock / wavebreakmedia

Whether you’re visiting for a slice or staying for a schmear, knowing these phrases will help you navigate New York City like a local. So, next time you’re standing on line for a bagel, you’ll fit right in. Welcome to New York!

The post 21 Quirky New York Phrases You Must Learn To Fit In first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Luciano Mortula – LGM.

For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.