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20 Things Only People From Boston Would Understand


Bostonians have a culture that is uniquely their own. As a society within a society, the inhabitants of Bean Town have developed their idiosyncrasies. There are some things that only people from Boston would truly understand. If you're a newcomer to the city, you should prepare yourself for the habits and phrases that you will encounter while you're there. If you want to fit in as a local, you'll need to adopt a few of them yourself. Here are 20 things only people from Boston would understand.

1. Wearing shorts in the wintertime

Only in Your State points out that you will find people out jogging or just walking the streets of Boston in shorts at any given time of year. Yes, Bostonians will even wear shorts out in public when there is snow and ice on the ground. Bostonians are tough and they seem to be impervious to the cold.

2. Public advertisements of the Sox

It's common to see fans of the Boston Red Sox peel off their shirts during sporting events. They sport both temporary and permanent tattoos of their favorite team and you'd better remember that in Boston, the Red Sox rule. People even dress their pets in Red Sox licensed merchandise.

3. There is an ongoing celebration of kicking the British out of Boston Harbor

Since the event occurred during the birth of our nation, Bostonians still take jabs at the British for the famed Boston Tea Party. There is even an annual celebration to commemorate the event that coincides with St. Patrick's Day that celebrates the defeat of the British in the Harbor on March 17th. It's a festive time that has long been a part of Boston's history and it is a statewide event in Pennsylvania. Prepare to celebrate at the Evacuation Day Parade that covers two of Boston's favorite holidays. They also celebrate Patriot's Day on the third Monday in April in remembrance of the Battles and Concord and Lexington. The Boston Marathon takes place in the city as well as Bunker Hill Day in June and Independence Day on July 4.

4. The Bowling Balls are much smaller in Boston

Bostonians love to bowl, but it's a little different here than in other parts of the nation. They love to participate in a sport called candlepin bowling. The pins have different shapes, and the balls are a lot smaller. You need to be up on your game to do well with this smaller version.

5. You may be served a plate of scrod

There are some foods in Boston that you've never heard of unless you're a local. Two common foods in the city are Scrod and Indian pudding. For the record, Scrod is any white-fleshed fish that is young. It might be cod, but it might be something else. Now you'll know what they're talking about it they offer you scrod and chips. The Indian pudding is a delicious slow-cooked dessert that may not look appetizing but it's a gingerbread soup that provides you with holiday flavors in a bowl.

6. Bostonians get their weather reports from the old John Hancock Building

The old John Hancock Building is equipped with a weather beacon on the very top. It's made with colored lights that signal what kind of weather you can expect for the day. Bostonians have even developed a rhyme to help you remember what the various colors and combinations mean. It goes like this:

  • Steady blue, clear view.
  • Flashing blue, clouds due.
  • Steady red, rain ahead.
  • Flashing red, snow instead.

7. Apple Cider donuts are a big thing

Bostonians are known for their love of apple cider donuts. You'll find them almost everywhere you go in Boston. They're offered seasonally and you can find them at farm stands, orchards, and stores in Boston. Bostonians tend to have an obsession with apple cider donuts because they signal the change of seasons. The first batches are eagerly awaited. It's not a good idea to say "Ewww" if you're offered one when you're visiting.

8. A Yankee Loss is as good as a Red Sox Win

Movoto points out that the competitive spirit is high among Bostonians and they're beside themselves with the job when the Red Sox win a game. Something that is uniquely Bostonian however, is that they're just as happy when the Yankees experience a loss. It brings most Bostonians great satisfaction and even makes them smile.

9. They call each other Massholes

If you hear someone calling their buddy a Masshole, it's not what you're probably thinking. This is one of those Boston terms for someone who has a lot of wicked and awesome Boston pride. It's some kind of a code word that stands for Bostonian pride. They're self-confident people and they probably won't care if you call them Massholes.

10. They don't call Boston Beantown

If you're from Boston you wouldn't dream of calling your hometown Beantown. It's not a term that they use to describe their town. This is a reference that is strictly used by out-of-towners. If you want to quickly distinguish yourself as an outsider go ahead and call it Beantown in a bar. You might get some looks or a few comments if you do.

11. Driving is a contact sport for Bostonians

You'll probably see a lot of cars in Boston with a dent or scratches driving around. It' because there are some traffic moves that are considered perfectly acceptable in Boston, that are frowned upon in other parts of the country. They refer to these driving moves as pulling a U-ey or bangin' a left. It even sounds violent when they talk about it. It's a good place to get into a few minor fender benders because of the way they drive. Hey, it's a way of life.

12. Bostonians are proud of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck

When a new Matt Damon or Ben Affleck movie comes out in theaters, they're always packed. People from Boston have a strong sense of pride in both of these actors. They feel immense pride every time that they appear on the screen and nothing is going to change that. If you're from Boston, these are the two best actors in the world and that's just how it is

13. "I'm takin' the T today" is a common phrase

Only in Your State points out that Bostonians have their language. Commuting in Boston can be rough. If you dented up your car and can't drive it, you're going to have to rely on public transportation. The T is the Green Line which is a slow commute because it's a trolley, not a train. Don't call it the Green Line because nobody else in Boston does. If you do they'll roll their eyes at you so if you want to fit in you will call it the T.

14. Chowderheads are a real thing

One of the most liberally used derogatory comments used by Bostonians is to call someone a chowderhead. It's the equivalent of saying that someone is stupid. It's common to hear someone use the phrase "some chowderhead cut me off on the Pike." It's a way of saying that some idiot who makes regular appearances at Fenway cut him off on the turnpike. It's a part of the lingo that you should become familiar with. If you spend much time there you might even start saying it yourself because we hear that it rubs off.

15. It's not good when you have to wear a Johnny

Bostonians even have a different phrase for a hospital gown. They despise the open-air back end of them. They call them Johnnies. Johnnies are those old-style hospital gowns that are made of flimsy cloth and tie in the back or the sides. You know the kind. They always leave your butt exposed in the breeze. Bostonians routinely call them a Johnny and they don't like them much.

16. They make Dunks runs

Bostonians love their regular coffees but in their minds, there's only one place to get them. Dunkin Donuts. They simply call it a Dunk run. They love their Donuts but this is where they purchase their regular coffee for the day when they're commuting. It's a regular thing to swing by Dunks for a regular coffee. You need to know up front that "regular" means a small coffee that has two creams and two sugars stirred up inside. This is truly a Boston thing and you would have no way of knowing this if you didn't spend a lot of time there. You need to know before you go to Boston that Dunkin is just short of religion with these people. Don't come to Boston and talk trash about Dunkin Donuts or you might become one of the less popular visitors. They won't take kindly to it. You can compare Bostonians and their feelings about Dunkin Donuts with Seattle dwellers and their obsession with Starbucks. Enough said.

17. Three deckers are common in Boston

Whenever you hear someone talk about their three-decker, it's not a new kind of bus. This is the term that they use to describe an apartment building or a house that has three levels. Some Bostonians also refer to these buildings as a triple-decker but the more acceptable colloquialism is a "three-decker." If you're looking for an apartment and you don't mind having neighbors above and below you, then it's good to become familiar with the lingo so you'll know precisely what it is you're looking at. If you don't drive, you might want to make sure that you rent a room in a three-decker that isn't far from the T.

18. Wicked is a good word in Boston

Bostonians have infused the word Wicked into their vocabularies as a normal part of life. It's the adjective that is most commonly used to describe something that they're passionate about. It can be substituted for the word very, and it often is. If you hear them telling you it's a wicked deal, then it's probably a very good deal and something they heartily approve of. In Boston, it's okay to tell the chef that he prepared a wicked good meal. He'll appreciate the sentiment.

19. You can't just order a milkshake to get what you want

If you're not from Boston and you want to get a milkshake, you have to know how to speak their language to get what you want. In Boston, their milkshakes do not contain ice cream. If you order a milkshake from any establishment in the city, you will receive a beverage that contains milk and flavoring. Boston's Frappes, on the other hand, are made with ice cream. Just order the Frappe, so you'll be happy with the results. Boston is the only place in the country that has that turned around.

20. You have to learn the language to communicate

Bostonians truly have their way of saying things. Self-contradictory speech is one of the colloquialisms you will need to adapt to if you want to get what they're saying. For example, if you say you love something, the person next to you is likely to reply with "So don't I." It means that he loves the thing even more than you do. Although this is highly contradictory, it means the opposite of what you'd ordinarily think if you're from any other part of the country. This pattern of speech is the way that many Bostonians communicate. It's an idiosyncrasy of the people you probably won't find anywhere else unless there is a native Bostonian in the mix.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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