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Last updated on May 20, 2022

Image: PV Bella

Some of us native-born Chicagoans have a language all our own. I wrote two pieces on this a while ago. You can read them here and here.

I thought I would translate some of these Chicagoisms.

Canoodle means a couple being seen having a PDA moment, cuddling, and kissing. It is used by a long-time society Chicago columnist.

Boodle is graft or bribes

Boondoggle(s)- civic projects- that have no real purpose or value, usually the result of graft to benefit contractors.

The most popular member of the Chicago Blackhawks– The one guy who always gets applause when he comes on the ice is the Zamboni operator.

What a deuce, fin, saw, double saw, half a century, and a century is- 2 dollars, 5 dollars, 10 dollars, 20 dollars, 50 dollars, 100 dollars.

Buying a hat, pen, pencil, or tie are terms of bribery.

The Whome tribe is an indigenous group of Chicagoans known for one phrase when they are called, especially when they are called by name, Who Me? They dispersed all over the city.

Real Chicagoans know the difference between a sandwich, sanguich, and samich. A sandwich is just some meat between two slices of that squishy nasty sandwich bread AKA American bread. A sanguich is a meal between two slices of good crusty Italian or French-style bread. A classic submarine or Italian beef are examples of sanguciches. A sammich is the African American version of a sanguich.

A stoop is the front porch or front stairs where Chicagoans sit and socialize. The original stoop was the door sill before steps and porches came along.

The frunch room is an east European pronunciation of the front room or living room. Other Chicagoans picked it up.

Why do you never ever put ketchup on a Chicago hot dog? The original hot dogs were developed by Eastern European sausage makers. They had distinctive spice blends. Ketchup, because of its sweetness, would cover the taste of the spices. There is one exception to this taboo. Those grocery store hot dogs made by that company with that long yellow vehicle and that song- “I wish I was an…wiener” Those crappy dogs need all the help they can get.

The two busiest days at Jim’s Original, when it was on Maxwell Street, were Easter and Mother’s Day.

A listen sandwich is a pig ear sandwich usually found in some African American BBQ places.

A bucket of blood is a drinking establishment known for bloody violence.

Round Chicago pizza is cut into small squares is also called tavern pizza. It was developed by the wives of Italian bar owners to feed and keep people in the bars later in the night. The squares made the pizzas easier to eat. Many of the bars turned into pizzerias.

Trunk music is not extra-large bass throbbing speakers in a car trunk. The Chicago Outfit used to put bodies of their associates or other victims in the trunks of their cars. The cars were parked where they could be found.

Teef(s), hoor(s), yoot(s)– A teef is a thief or teeth. Hoor is a whore/ prostitute. Yoot is a youth. The terms were mostly used by old-school police officers.

A mouse is a black eye. It is believed the term came from boxing sports journalists.

Boats are shoes. “Nice boats man.”

Confinement was a term used to transport a woman in labor to the hospital- confinement- by the police or fire departments.

Goo Goo is a pejorative meaning good-government types. It is what corrupt Chicago politicians called reformers.

Ward heelers are people who do various tasks for aldermen and committeemen, usually precinct captains and their assistants.

A bagman is a person who collects bribes and delivers them. They could be city employees or other trusted people.

“I was away at college.” This was a phrase members and associates of organized crime used to refer to being away in prison. It is believed to evolve from the high-ranking member of the Chicago Outfit, Murray “the Camel” Humphreys. When he was sent to prison it was reported he said he might study some algebra and geometry.

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