Mastering Chicago Slang Words To Sound Like A Local

Getting to know Chicago’s local slang is both challenging and fascinating. If you want to fit in, you’ve got to get the hang of how locals talk. This includes words like ‘jagoff’ which show off the city’s unique culture.

But, learning this slang is more than just picking up new words. You need to dive into the lives and histories of the city’s varied communities.

So what about these phrases? How did they come to be, and why are they so important to Chicagoans? Let’s explore this together.

Famous Chicago Slang Words and Phrases

  • Kickback – Means hanging out at someone’s house with friends and family in a laid-back event.
  • Flodgin – Refers to dishonest behavior when someone isn’t being straightforward.
  • Fin – A slang word for a five-dollar bill.
  • Dibs – A Chicago tradition where people claim a shoveled parking spot with items from their home after it snows.
  • Frunchroom – The front room in a home, mainly used for hosting guests.
  • Merch – Slang for asking someone to prove what they’re saying.
  • Wear the Jacket – A saying which means you should own up to what you do.
  • The L – Chicago’s elevated train system.
  • Prairie – An empty lot where kids play and neighbors meet.
  • Pop – Any fizzy drink is called ‘pop’.
  • 16-inch – A special kind of big, soft softball played without gloves.
  • Bungalow Belt – An area known for its many small brick bungalow homes.
  • Clout – Having power or influence, especially in politics or business.
  • Dese, Dem, Dose – The way people say ‘these’, ‘them’, and ‘those’, highlighting the Chicago accent.
  • Drill – A type of hip-hop music that started in Chicago’s South Side.
  • Four Plus One – A common building design with four floors of apartments on top of ground-floor parking.
  • Gangway – A narrow path between buildings to access backyards or side doors.
  • Gapers’ Block – Traffic jams caused by drivers slowing down to look at incidents on the road.
  • Gym shoes – What Chicagoans call sneakers or athletic shoes.
  • The Hawk – The name for the cold winter wind in Chicago.
  • Hunnert – How Chicagoans say ‘hundred’.
  • Labbies – Casual meet-ups among students from nearby labs or universities.
  • The Lost World – Overlooked city areas that are starting to change.
  • Frunchroom (Out South) – Same as #5, the front room of a house.
  • Dibs (Out South) – Same as #4, claiming a parking spot.
  • Hunnert (Out South) – Same as #21, way of saying ‘hundred’.
  • Gym shoes (Out South) – Same as #19, sneakers or athletic shoes.
  • Pinners – Really thin, hand-rolled cigarettes unique to Chicago.
  • Six Corners – A busy intersection and cultural hub in Chicago’s Portage Park area.
  • Two Flat and Three Flat – Types of small apartment buildings common in Chicago neighborhoods.
  • The Wild Hundreds – The streets from 100th to 130th on Chicago’s South Side.
  • Xavs – A way to refer to Xavier University, an important part of Chicago’s culture.

How to Embrace Chicago Slang Culture

Getting the hang of Chicago slang is more than just picking up new words. You really need to get how people there use them.

To really get it, dive into local books and music, or just hang out where the locals do. Also, chatting with folks from Chicago at city events can really help you get a feel for the slang.

This way, you’re not just learning words, you’re becoming part of the culture.

Tips for learning and using slang words

To pick up Chicago slang, get involved in the local scene. Talk to people, listen to local media, and try these steps:

  1. Practice Regularly: Use the slang when you chat every day. It’ll become second nature.
  2. Go to Local Events: Check out community events, festivals, and sports games. Slang pops up a lot there.
  3. Watch and Listen Locally: Dive into Chicago TV shows, movies, and music. They’re packed with the city’s slang.
  4. Chat with Locals: Talking to people from the area helps a lot. They can correct you and explain things better.

Just keep it simple and clear, and you’ll be speaking like a Chicagoan in no time!

If you want to dive into Chicago slang, there are some great resources to help you out. Start with local books like The Chicago Slang Dictionary. It’s packed with explanations, history, and examples.

Online, check out websites and social media that focus on Chicago culture. They keep you in the loop with the latest slang. Also, join in on community forums and local blogs. People talk about city life there, and it’s a good spot to learn slang as it happens.

Don’t forget to go out to local events, sports games, and neighborhood festivals. Places like these, even local diners, are perfect for hearing real Chicago slang in action.


Using Chicago slang can make you feel like a local and help you connect with the city’s rich culture. When you use words like ‘dibs,’ ‘frunchroom,’ and ‘jagoff,’ you’re not just talking; you’re embracing a part of Chicago. These words are more than just fun to say; they’re a way to show respect for the city’s unique language and to connect with the people here.

Whether you’re talking about the ‘bungalow belt’ or traveling on ‘The L,’ these terms are like signposts that help you navigate the city and appreciate its different neighborhoods. Remember, learning the local language is a great way to really understand a place. Welcome to Chicago, where every word is an adventure.

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