New Jersey’s Vernacular: Words Unique to True Garden Staters

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A concept of a green road sign that reads, “Welcome to New Jersey. The Garden State.”
BetMGM Sep 11, 2023, 10:53 AM

New Jersey slang consists of a unique set of words and phrases that can be highly confusing for visitors and newcomers. While the Garden State is famous for its beaches, boardwalks, restaurants, and more, New Jersey sayings and cultural expressions make it a truly unique destination.

Whether they’re playing online casino games, soaking in the sun, dining at world-famous eateries, or simply going about their daily business, New Jerseyans talk the talk and walk the walk in a way that grows on you and fosters a sense of belonging. 

Pick Up the Lingo

Keen to learn the lingo and dance with the Jersey Devil? Here are 18 North and South Jersey slang terms worth knowing.

1. Jersey Devil

Said to inhabit the Pine Barrens in South Jersey, the Jersey Devil is a mythical creature similar to the Mothman and the Sasquatch. Described as a flying beast with a bloodcurdling scream, it’s not something you want to find on a night out in the woods.

2. Down the Shore

One of New Jersey’s most famous attractions is its pristine beaches. But if you’re from New Jersey, you don’t say you’re “going to the beach.” Instead, locals say that they’re going down the shore. 

3. WaWa

WaWa is a beloved chain of convenience stores in South Jersey. It’s slowly regaining popularity in North Jersey, but it’s more of a South Jersey slang term for any shop selling gas and groceries.

4. SPK

Just a quicker way of saying salt, pepper, and ketchup. Time is precious, and there’s no space for wasted words in New Jersey.

5. Disco Fries

French fries smothered in melted cheese and hearty gravy. It’s the New Jersey version of poutine, a regular choice for dinner packed with enough calories to satisfy the hungriest appetite.

6. Tomato Pie

A tomato pie is Trenton’s version of a pizza, where the sauce is the star of the show. On a normal pizza, there’s a tomato base, then cheese and fillings on top. In Trenton, the tomato sauce only comes on after the cheese and fillings. It’s different but just as delicious.

7. Ripper

Ripper is New Jersey slang for a deep-fried hotdog. The name comes from the way the casing of the meat rips open as it fries, resulting in a crispy and satisfying texture. Clearly, one of the best things about New Jersey is the food. 

8. Benny

Benny doesn’t exactly have the warmest connotations attached to its meaning. It refers to obnoxious visitors from New York and northern areas, the kind who act self-entitled, litter in public areas, and inconvenience others. The word is an acronym, and individual letters stand for Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, and New York.

9. Shoobie

Are you the type of traveler who takes a packed lunch to the beach? Take care to avoid carrying your food in a shoebox unless you want to be labeled as a Shoobie. It’s a curious choice of food packaging, but for some reason, there are visitors who use shoeboxes often enough that there’s a specific term for it.

10. Jughandle

A left-hand turn in New Jersey slang, whether it’s at a circle or an intersection, is referred to as a Jughandle. From a bird’s eye view, the road layout resembles a jug handle that loops right to left. 

11. Fat Sandwich

If you’re tired of grilled cheese and BLTs, give fat sandwiches a go. They’re a popular New Brunswick combo of anything available on the menu. As long as it can all fit between two slices of bread, you’re good to go.

12. Hit the MAC

When you go to an ATM in New Jersey, you hit the MAC, which stands for Money Access Center. It’s a fairly common term used across the northeastern United States, particularly in metropolitan areas.

13. Hoagies

Sub sandwiches are called hoagies in New Jersey. This is another example of South Jersey slang that has managed to spread across the state. 

14. Jersey Slide

As far as New Jersey sayings go, the Jersey Slide is one you’ll hopefully never have to use. It’s a dangerous driving maneuver where the vehicle swerves from the furthest left lane to an exit ramp on the right. Leave this one to legal stunt drivers, and you’ll be better off.

15. Mutz

Short for mozzarella cheese, one of America’s favorites alongside Queso Blanco and cream cheese. 

16. Piney

A derogatory term for people who reside in the Pine Barrens. One of the few New Jersey words that’s better left unsaid, unless you want to risk offending someone over their place of birth.

17. The Boss

In New Jersey, Bruce Springsteen is the only boss who matters. The New Jerseyan rock superstar is beloved by all in the Garden State, and his name is the first thought that comes to a local’s mind when anyone mentions “The Boss.”

18. Plain Pie

In other parts of the world, cheese pizza is a tasty meal that’s more than sufficient on its own. In New Jersey, it’s just a plain pie. You need toppings to call it a true New Jerseyan pizza, and a little extra sauce is all you need for a tomato pie.

Have Fun Exploring with BetMGM

On top of its beachside attractions, famous locales, and natural beauty, New Jersey is also a major entertainment hub, with a comprehensive selection of authentic casino activities available. If you’re looking for online slots, table games, and sports betting, register with BetMGM to access all of the latest and greatest casino entertainment.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.