You ain’t from around here, are ya?

Wisconsin Glossary

Bubbler: Drinking fountain. Here, we know that a “water fountain” is something you throw coins into when you make a wish, not something you drink out of. That would be disgusting.

Bubbler image from Oh Kaye at

Church key: combination bottle/can opener

hurch Key image from Sam’s Man cave

FIB: tourist, flatlander. In this case, specific to people from Illinois.We’ll let you figure out what the F and B are for.

Hotdish: Casserole

Parking ramp: Multi-level parking structure (Probably a “garage” to you, but we all know that a garage has only one level. If you go between levels in a multi-tiered structure, it is via a ramp.)

Pop: soft drink (AKA “soda” but here we know that “soda” is Club Soda – the stuff you mix with Scotch to make a Scotch and Soda; or, in the south, “coke”, which to us is “Coke” and a specific brand of cola beverage, but to them is any kind of pop.)

TYME Machine: ATM. (The first ATMs here were owned by the same company. TYME stands for “Take Your Money Everywhere”. “TYME”, unlike “ATM”, has to be followed by “Machine”.)

Uff-da: Sort of like “oy vey”, but maybe more versatile. Said to ” express surprise, annoyance, relief, exhaustion, disappointment, astonishment, exasperation and dismay”.

Yah (actually ja): Yes. We were told not to use this word when we got to school or they’d know we were (I was never sure what they’d know about me, but I knew it was bad) – I think lazy. It’s Norwegian. I wasn’t sure if that was bad to admit. In some circles it was worse to admit to being Finnish than Norwegian.

Wisconsin tends to be sort of a small town place. I learned some lessons moving to the Big City. Here is one of them:

All this and more is available from the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE). This is a project a friend of mine worked on about 50 years ago at the university here. It is a multi-volume dictionary, arranged by region, of course. It is still a work in progress, and now available online so it can be updated more frequently, but access is controlled by Harvard University. You have to have a subscription or an affiliation with an organization that has a subscription.

I’ll admit I didn’t look any of these up. They are just words I use that have earned funny looks. I just looked a few things up and I can’t believe other people don’t say them…like “supper club”. Is that really something other people don’t know? A supper club is a particular type of restaurant. They generally have Friday night fish fry, Saturday night prime rib, Sunday turkey dinner, and a salad bar. The salad bar should contain lots of cut glass bowls on ice, with things like three bean salad, potato salad, and pickled herring. There oughta be a piano bar or maybe a small combo playing easy-listening music. The bar better know how to make an Old Fashioned and know there is more than one kind. They should sell lots of Korbel brandy.

Or “shine”…do other people not know that this is a method of illegally hunting deer? You shine a light in their eyes, which makes them freeze in place so they’re easy to shoot.

“Sauerkraut”…really? You know what that is, right? Maybe I could see you not knowing kringle, krumkake, lutefisk, and lefse – those are all Norwegian foods. But you do know what German potato salad is, right?

Now I looked up all of the words I defined above and DARE doesn’t include some of them. Maybe I better tell them, eh?

Author: halffastcyclingclub

We are a group of friends who ride bikes. Some of us are fast, some of us are slow, all of us are half-fast. In 2018, one of us rode coast to coast across the US. It was so much fun, he's doing it again in 2022! If we meet Sal Paradise, we'll let you know.

10 thoughts on “You ain’t from around here, are ya?”

    1. I just found this on someone else’s blog: “Now there are only two areas in the US where the term bubbler might seem familiar, and then, possibly only to a baby boomer. Besides southeastern Wisconsin, the drinking fountain is affectionately called “bubblah” by some Massachusetts area natives. Its charming moniker can also be heard in nearby Rhode Island.” That person says they haven’t found out why in those two areas so far apart.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Tennessee, Upstate New York, Northern Virginia, Richmond Virginia, Wisconsin, Oregon, Colorado and now 23 years in Washington. Sometimes I channel my tidewater belle mother-out-law and do my attempt to talk like her. The Washingtonians don’t hear the errors, heh.

    Liked by 1 person

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