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The Bean | © Diesel Demon/Flickr
The Bean | © Diesel Demon/Flickr
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17 Chicago Phrases You Need In Your Life

Picture of Samantha Looney
Updated: 17 October 2016
Chicago has its own local specialties of art, music and food. The regional culture carries over into a world of the city’s own unique words and phrases. Whether it’s a deep-dish pizza or an LSD trip, here is a list of words and expressions you need to know when you are in Chicago.

The Bean

Actually called Cloud Gate, the bean is a work of art located in Chicago’s Millennium Park calling attention to thousands of tourists and locals each year.

The Bean | © Diesel Demon/Flickr
The Bean, Day of 365 | © Diesel Demon/Flickr

Washroom

Otherwise known as a bathroom.

Gym shoes

While other states may refer to these shoes as tennis shoes, sneakers, or running shoes, in Chicago, they are called gym shoes.

Grabowski

Coined by Mike Ditka, former head coach of ‘Da Bears’, a grabowski is a hard working, blue-collar type of person. Ditka used this word to describe the players on his team, but the word has stuck with Chicagoans ever since.

Jewels

No, they’re not referring to jewelry, but rather the local grocery store, Jewel Osco.

Pop

Don’t even think about calling it soda or Coca Cola here.

Razzmatazz

Chicago writer George Ade originally used this word in 1899 as a personification of the flu, calling it ‘Mr. Grip Razmataz.’ The next year, he used it again in what has become its current meaning: showy or dazzling.

Props

Generally coming from rap music, the word ‘props’ means due respect and first appeared in the Chicago Tribune on July 29, 1990.

LSD

No, not the drug (even though a trip down this road during rush-hour traffic might drive you just as crazy). In Chicago, LSD stands for Lake Shore Drive, the highway that runs along Lake Michigan and has one of the most beautiful views of the city.

Lake Shore Drive | © kosheahan/Flickr
Lake Shore Drive | © kosheahan/Flickr

Braht

Not a rude teenager, but rather an abbreviation for bratwurst.

Deep Dish

Whether it’s from Giordano’s or Pequano’s, the world famous Chicago deep-dish pizza is a must during your time in the city.

Deep Dish Pizza | © Eric Chan/Flickr
Deep Dish Pizza | © Eric Chan/Flickr

Yuppie

A somewhat derogatory phrase created from the first letters of a ‘young urban professional.’

Fields

The Marshall Field and Company flagship store was once a prominent Chicago department store. It has since become a Macy’s, but the building is still referred to as ‘Fields’.

Slider

A delicious burger from the popular Midwestern fast-food chain White Castle.

White Castle Burgers | © Ryan/Flickr
Cheese, no pickle, please… | © Ryan/Flickr

Wet Beef

This phrase is used to specify that you want your beef soaked in juice when you’re ordering a beef sandwich, most likely from Portillo’s. And in Chicago, wetter is always better.

The Second City

Originally used to refer to the second largest city in a country. Los Angeles might have taken Chicago’s rank in the USA but Chicago kept the nickname. Also a popular comedy club.

The Friendly Confines

Another name for Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs.

Wrigley Field | © Ron Cogswell/Flickr
“Wrigley Field — Home of Chicago Cubs” Chicago (IL) April 2012 | © Ron Cogswell/Flickr