If you’re going to live in New Jersey, you have to talk the talk. Different regions of the country have their own language sometimes and certain word differences can expose you as an outsider in a heartbeat.

For instance, back in late 1999 when I accepted a job at a radio station in Detroit there were things I had to get used to. There they didn’t call soda soda. They called it pop.

For a guy born and raised in Union County, New Jersey, do you know how long it took me to not feel stupid every time I said the word pop? But I got there.


And people didn’t stop at a convenience store. No, in Michigan they stopped at a party store. You would think that would be a head shop or something right? Nope. What we call convenience stores there are called party stores, and perhaps it’s for the reason that in Michigan you could actually buy beer at them.

So being a native New Jerseyan I certainly know there are things outsiders find confusing. Here’s a handy list of words or phrases that you’ll only hear in the Garden State.


It’s said as one word but the meaning is “Did you eat?” If you ask someone “Jeet?” and they say “I could go for a bagel” they’re from Jersey. If you ask someone “Jeet?” and they say “What?” they’re an outsider.

Photo by Rosy Ko on Unsplash
Photo by Rosy Ko on Unsplash

Going by

Where the rest of the country “goes to” their brother’s place we here in Jersey say “I’m going by my brother’s place later if you wanna come with.”

Jersey Slide

The dangerous driving maneuver of going all the way from the left lane to the exit cutting across all lanes of traffic in one move.



We don’t call it a “traffic circle" and we sure as hell don’t call it a “roundabout.” We just say circle, as in the Bayway Circle or the Somerville Circle.

Jug handle

Another road configuration where you make a left turn by making a right. I know of few other states that have it.


A rude term for a person who lives in the Pine Barrens, unless said affectionately by another person who also lives in the Pine Barrens.

Plain pie

You can order a cheese pizza but in New Jersey it might be just as common to order a “plain pie.”

(Photo: Steve Trevelise)
(Photo: Steve Trevelise)

Tomato pie

Basically a pizza that’s more focused on the sauce than the cheese and made famous in the Trenton area.

Pork Roll

Few outside of New Jersey will understand what this delicious food is. If you know, you know.

Dennis Malloy photo
Dennis Malloy photo


Salt and pepper and ketchup said as one word and ordered as ingredients on something, often pork roll, or possibly on some other sandwich.

Taylor ham

Incorrect word for pork roll.


A mostly North Jersey term for a deep-fried hot dog fried so well the casing rips.

Water ice

Basically a nickname for Italian ice used in South Jersey.


A New Yorker who comes to a Jersey beach.



A Philadelphian who comes to a Jersey beach.


How we order gas in New Jersey, the only state where there’s a total ban on self-serve, and said all as one word.


In most states when asked if you enjoy AC you’ll answer “Yeah on a hot humid day it makes it bearable.” In Jersey you answer “Yeah, I won twelve hundred bucks last time I went there and saw a great show too.”

Atlantic City skyline
Atlantic City skyline (Canva)

Down the shore

In Jersey no one goes to the beach. We go down the shore. Unless you already live down the shore. Then you can go to the beach. It’s not that complicated.

Fat sandwich

A sandwich designed to shock and awe and includes almost all the greasy food the restaurant serves, first made popular by being sold off food trucks at Rutgers University.

Solve these picture puzzles

Convert these pictures/Emoji into the correct responses. These pictures are NOT describing the answer — they're telling you which words and sounds to say. The answers are at the bottom.

Gallery Credit: Dino Flammia

LOOK: Best counties to raise a family in New Jersey

Stacker compiled a list of the best counties to raise a family in New Jersey.

Gallery Credit: Stacker

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.

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