August 10, 2018 Miss Understood

Over half of Americans believe people from different parts of the country can’t understand them.


  • 48% of ALABAMIANS believe they have slang words and phrases that other states wouldn’t understand
  • and they also claim to have invented the now popular phrase ‘hot minute’
  • 41% of Americans believe their state has specific slang words that those from other states wouldn’t understand

Most Misunderstood

PlayNJ asked people from all 50 states if they had any specific words or slang that ‘out-staters’ wouldn’t understand. While all states laid claim to a fair few words and phrases that outsiders just wouldn’t get, the most misunderstood are:


  • A whopping 72% of Louisiana natives felt that their state’s own language was often misunderstood by other Americans. Words and phrases that were rated the most misunderstood included ‘dressed’, when asking for lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayo to be added to a dish. The phrase ‘to pass a good time’, which denotes having had a good time rather than walking past one, also rated highly, while ‘Cher’ is a term of endearment rather than a reference to the famous singer.


  • 71% of all respondents from the tropical paradise claimed they felt their slang was difficult to decipher, with many laying the blame at the door of words like ‘shaka’, which is slang for ‘hello’. Other words to brush up on before travelling include ‘luau’, Hawaiian for ‘party’, and ‘poho’, or ‘waste of time’. And it’s definitely a good idea to learn what ‘shark bait’ means before you travel!

The South East

  • Many states cited having Cajun or French slang not usually used outside of this area as the reason they are misunderstood.



Alaskans are the most travelled out of all the Americans in terms of visiting other states, having been to an average of 26 states each. Ironically, they have a slang word for newcomers to Alaska itself, who know little about living there, called ‘Cheechakos’.


The joke term given to their native-brewed Coors is called a Colorado Kool-Aid.


‘Greenie’ is a derogatory word that Wyoming natives use to describe Colorado tourists, as Colorado license plates are green in color.


57% of Arkansas inhabitants are confident that they’ve never misunderstood someone from another state because of the slang they’ve used, meaning that they believe themselves not to be ‘roofers’ - those who display traits of idiocy.


Nearly 10% of Californians have never travelled to another state. The slang word ‘hyphy’, meaning ‘urban music’ originates from this state, but funnily enough only 30% of Californians guessed its meaning correctly, with 5% guessing it was another word for ‘hot dog’.

To test your knowledge, take the quiz here!

*Survey was carried out with 2,000 respondents, with proportional numbers from each state

*Courtesy of PlayNJ via Kaizen Content