How Well Do You Know Midwest Slang?

Michele Tescher

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Midwesterners are known for their friendliness and helpfulness. Not as pushy as New York, and not as unconventional as California, the area sits right in the middle of the U.S., getting the best of both coasts in their DNA. 

Their slang is just a part of it, as well as their accent. So how do you tell who is a Midwesterner? Ask a person "what is the name of a carbonated beverage?" If they say "soda," that's your first clue. Carbonated beverages are known as sodas, pops, and cokes in the Midwest. 

If you're getting driving directions in the Midwest, don't be surprised if they tell you to turn left at the "stop and g" or "traffic light" to you. And if need to make a quick restroom stop, don't ask for a bathroom. Instead, you'll be directed to the washroom. 

There are phrases, too, that may make you scratch your head. Like "That makes a much sense as government cheese." What that phrase means is it's a terrible idea. In the 1960s, processed cheese was being purchased by the government and distributed to people in the military, on welfare, on food stamps, and on social security. 

You'll get some interesting tidbits of Midwestern lore when you take this quiz. And if you don't guess right, tough tomatoes. Better luck next time. 


Do you know what a bubbler is?

The first fountains date back to 3000 BC but the first drinking water fountain was created by Luther Haws who was a plumber and sheet metal contractor as well as a sanitary inspector for the city of Berkeley, California.

Do you know what Holler Tail means?

This phrase came from Midwest farmers. When they observed lethargic cows they believed that they had hollow tails. The hollow tails in turn was what was making them unwell. Hollow turned into holler.

Do you know what a sweeper is?

The mechanical solution to clean floors dates back to 1599 in England. In the United States, in 1869, Chicago inventor Ives Mc Gattey patented a "sweeping machine" that he named the Whirlwind. This is considered the first hand pump vacuum cleaner in the United States.

Do you know what a pop is?

Carbonated beverages are known as sodas, pops and cokes. The are many exotic sodas worldwide. Some of the more interesting flavors are from Japan and include octopus, wasabi, kimchi, and eel-flavored soda pops.

What is a hair binder?

Hair grows .3 to .5 millimeters per day. A normal person has between 100,000 and 150,000 hairs on their head.

What does tough tomatoes mean?

Tomatoes are considered a fruit and originally came from Peru. Currently there are over 10,000 varieties of tomatoes. They come in a variety of colors, including pink, purple, black, yellow and white.

What are stop and go lights?

The first electric traffic signal that resembled current traffic lights was installed in Cleveland, Ohio on August 5, 1914 and had only a green and red light. Yellow lights were not added until the 1920s.

What is a Padiddle?

The headlights for cars were introduced in 1890. They were fueled by acetylene because it was resistant to wind and rain. The first electric headlight was introduced in 1898.

What does the phrase "That makes as much sense as government cheese" mean?

In the early 1900s, James L Kraft applied for a patent for processed cheese. By the 1960s, this inexpensive shelf-stable cheese product was being purchased by the US government and distributed to people in the military, on welfare, on food stamps, and on social security.

Who are "The Frozen Chosen"?

Christianity is a faith that has over 2 billion followers and is divided into many churches. Lutherans are the followers of a German monk and theologian named Luther who lived in the early 1500s. The Presbyterian denomination is based on the teachings of John Calvin from the 16th century.

What is a Washroom?

Latrines that used a constant stream of water to carry away waste date back 5,000 years. The first modern flush-able toilet was invented in 1596 by Sir John Harrington in England.

What is Lutefisk?

Lutefisk was brought to America by Norwegians immigrates. It is traditionally served during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Lutefisk is linked to hardship and courage.

What does "Uff Da" Mean?

The exclamation, "Uff Da," from the Swedish exclamation, "usch da," has been adopted by Scandinavian Americans in the Midwest, New England and the Northwest.

What is ratgut?

Ratgut is usually bad whiskey, especially moonshine. In Kentucky, this is referred to as splo. Moonshine used to refer to high-proof distilled spirits produced unlawfully. It now refers to clear, un-aged whiskey.

What is Kittenball?

Softball was invented in 1887 in Chicago and was played on a smaller field with a larger ball. In 1926, the name softball was given to the games because it used to be played with a soft ball.

What is wapatuli?

Wapatuli, popular at college parties, is also known as Jungle Juice, Hairy Buffalo or Trash Can Punch. Each guest brings a bottle of alcohol. These are all combined together with fruit juice and sliced fruit, and mixed in a large trash can or another large container.

What is snirt?

Snow is actually not white but clear and colorless. The countless surfaces reflect the light that is absorbed and give it the appearance of being white. A blizzard occurs when you can't see for a 1/4 mile.

What is squeaky cheese?

Cheese curds squeak against your teeth when they are bitten into. Cheese curds are fresh, young natural cheese before it is processed into blocks and aged. Curds lose their squeak and turn dry and salty if not eaten within a few days.

What does juke mean?

This term is mainly used in the Chicago area and refers to dancing. This word was derived from the word Gullah, meaning disorderly, rowdy or wicked. This word was the root word for jukebox that came to the United States in the 1940s.

What does slug mean?

If you were in New Hampshire, you would use the word gee-buck. This word originally referred to those who would hitch a ride on the back of someone else's sleigh.

If someone is snoopy they are?

When most people hear snoopy they think of the creative and narcissistic pup from the Peanuts comic strip. Snoopy was inspired by the Schulz's family dog, Spike.

What is Tiger Meat?

A steak tartar, raw beef, raw egg and spices should be a melt-in-your-mouth experience. The secret to a great steak tartar is starting out with the freshest and best quality beef, having all your ingredients close at hand, using the sharpest knife in the drawer and keeping the meat thoroughly chilled.

What is cornhole?

Before moving to a backyard game, cornhole was a game played at the fairgrounds. It originated in Cincinnati and is also know as know as dummy boards, dadhole, doghouse, and baggo.

What is a sewing needle?

The prehistoric dragonfly's wingspan was more than 2 feet. The dragonfly lived 300 million years ago. Newborn dragonflies are born without wings and are called nymphs. Nymphs will molt between 10 and 20 times before the final molt reveals a full grown adult dragonfly.

What does bufflehead refer to?

The midwest of the United States is considered to be made up of the following states: Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

What is a scramble?

The midwest of the United States is considered to be made up of the following states: Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

What does Limpa mean?

Northern and Eastern European immigrants brought rye bread to the United States. Rye began as a weed in wheat fields. Rye can be grown in poor soil with less sun at higher altitudes and can also withstand damp and drought. These features made it a very popular crop in northern and eastern Europe.

What is a Brat?

A Bratwurst is a German sausage usually made from pork but it can also be made from veal or beef. The name is from old German Brat - meaning finely chopped meat - and Wurst, meaning sausage.

What is Belling?

Bells have been used to tell time on ships since the early Renaissance. Bells were rung every 30 minutes so, in a 4-hour shift, there were eight bells. Eight bells is a nautical euphemism meaning a sailor has finished his final watch or died.

What is the Devil's strip?

It is believed that this phrase came from Akron, Ohio. Rubber factory workers from West Virginia told their children that the grassy area between the sidewalk and the road was the "devil's strip" so that they would not run out into the street.

Who is a Snollygoster?

Illinois, one of the midwest states, is home of the largest bakery in the world - Nabisco. Eighty percent of Illinois' land mass is farmland and is home to the "pumpkin capital of the world" - Morton, IL. More than 85% percent of packaged pumpkin comes from Morton.

What does Whoopensocker mean?

Wisconsin is often known for its dairy production but leads the nation in exporting cranberries, ginseng root and sweet corn.

What does ish mean?

Minnesota, one of the midwest states, has 90,000 miles of coastline, more than California, Florida and Hawaii combined.

What is a soak?

Alcohol can create problem with your health if you over imbibe consistently. Some of the effects of overindulgence include, scrambled messages to your brain, broken blood vessels, heartburn, gas, liver problems and pancreatitis.

What is a Greenriver?

Green River soda was introduced in 1919 by Chicago's Schoenhofen Edelweiss Brewing Co. Al Jolson and John Fogerty both recorded songs about it. Green River is still produced today and enjoys a surge in sales every St. Patrick's day.

About Zoo

Our goal at Zoo.com is to keep you entertained in this crazy life we all live.

We want you to look inward and explore new and interesting things about yourself. We want you to look outward and marvel at the world around you. We want you to laugh at past memories that helped shape the person you’ve become. We want to dream with you about all your future holds. Our hope is our quizzes and articles inspire you to do just that.

Life is a zoo! Embrace it on Zoo.com.

Explore More Quizzes