You Betcha: Brush up on your Minnesota slang

As you’ll see in the movies Fargo and Drop Dead Gorgeous, Minnesotans are known for elongating the letters a and o in speech (boooat, baaag). But if you want to sound more like a native, use these terms:

  • 94, 35W, 62 = Highways/interstates (don’t say ‘I-494’ or ‘Interstate 35 West’)
  • Aquatennial = The summer festival for the city of Minneapolis
  • “Borrow me” = to lend; similar usage as other parts of the country; example, “will you borrow me a dollar?”
  • Breezers = hockey pants
  • “The cabin” = anything that you travel to “up north” (see definition below); could be a house, cabin, trailer, etc
  • “Could be worse” = What a Minnesotan says after hearing bad news. Bob: “Barb, I got in a car accident. The headlight is smashed, but that’s about it.” Barb: “Could be worse.”
  • Crosstown = Also known as Highway 62; runs parallel to 94 in the metro and travels just north of the airport
  • “Darn tootin!” = use that phrase anytime you want to say “damn right!”
  • Dinkytown = an area near the University of Minnesota filled with bars and restaurants
  • “Dontcha know” = slang for ‘don’t you know’; it’s used mostly as filler at the end of sentences and usually is said to envoke a response; example, “Barb and her husband just moved from Brainerd to Bemidji, dontcha know.”
  • Duck, duck, grey duck = what everyone else calls ‘duck, duck, goose’; while playing the game, you announce colors of ducks (blue duck, yellow duck) and the person who is ‘it’ is the grey duck
  • Eat Street = a diverse array of locally-owned restaurants along Nicollet Avenue starting just south of downtown Minneapolis; it doesn’t get the attention it deserves
  • “Fer cute” = see definition of “Oh for cute” below
  • “For cripes sake!” = Mild anger
  • “Geez” or “Geez Louise” = disbelief; use when “Oh for Pete’s sake!” (definition below) is too dramatic
  • “Good grief” = exhaustion; also used by Charlie Brown (the Peanuts were created by Minnesotan Charles Schulz)
  • “Gosh darn it” = signifies disappointment
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The Minnesota State Fair draws upwards to two million visitors during its 12 day run.
  • The Great Minnesota Get Together = the Minnesota State Fair, a 12 day extravaganza held at the end of summer (check out my ultimate State Fair guide here)
  • Hot dish = what others would call a casserole, most popular is the tater tot hot dish
  • “Interesting” or “that’s interesting” = a passive-aggressive phrase used when something should be judged and critiqued but the Minnesotan saying it doesn’t want to explain their reasoning because they feel it would be offensive
  • “Ish” = something is gross or yucky
  • Jell-O salad = this is not marshmallow fluff; Jell-O Salad is flavored gelatin — aka Jell-O — with fruit, vegetables, marshmallows, nuts, and maybe even cottage cheese inside
  • “Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” = an exclamation which typically signifies fear; used by Kristie Alley’s character in the movie, “Drop Dead Gorgeous”, a fictional mockumentary set in Minnesota
  • Juicy (or Jucy) Lucy = a hamburger stuffed with molten-hot cheese; there’s much debate about which restaurant serves the original (and best) one…they even spell it differently
  • “Kinda spendy” = an expression used to express that something is more expensive than one thought it would or should be; example, “Gosh Barb, that hat is kinda spendy”
  • Kitty-corner = Diagonally across from you
  • “Kranz” = how to pronounce ‘crayons’; a select few will call them “color kranz”
  • The Loop = the ring surrounding Minneapolis and Saint Paul by Interstates 494 and 694; not to be confused with the North Loop (definition below)
  • Meat raffle = usually held at a VFW or bar; you buy a ticket, someone spins a wheel filled with numbers, and if it lands on your number, you get to take home various cuts of meat from a butcher shop (check out my roundup of the 5 best meat raffles in Minnesota)
  • MOA = Mall of America
  • McGolden or Mich Golden = Michelob Golden Light, a beer popular with Minnesotans
  • Midtown Greenway = a bike and pedestrian friendly trail running through the heart of Minneapolis (south of downtown)
  • Minnesota goodbye = the opposite of an Irish Goodbye or French Goodbye; typically means you’ll stand around for 20 minutes saying goodbye before people actually leave
  • Minnesota nice = outside of Minnesota, it means the friendly strangers and hospitality you’ll encounter here; to some Minnesotans, it equates to the passive-aggressiveness you’ll encounter with the people who live here
  • Nicollet Mall = about 12 blocks in downtown Minneapolis closed off to car traffic (buses and taxis welcome) with restaurants and shopping; to Minnesotans, it’s a sore subject as the re-construction took way too long


  • Northeast = hip Minneapolis neighborhood just across the Mississippi River from downtown; also referred as Nord’east (Nord’east also happens to be the name of a beer)
  • North = The identity and branding of Minnesota as ‘The North’; you’ll see it on merchandise; North is also is a neighborhood in Minneapolis
  • North Loop = vibrant area full of top-notch restaurants to the northwest of downtown; not the same neighborhood as North Minneapolis
  • “Oh fer crying out loud!” = frustration; it’s reserved for true anger
  • “Oh for cute!” or “Fer cute!”= to exclaim something is adorable
  • “Oh for Pete’s sake!” = an exclamation that something is unbelievable; typically not about a guy named Pete
  • “Oh ya” = see definition for “ya” below
  • “Okie dokie” = said in agreement or to replace ‘yes’; example, “Hey Barb, can you fax those documents?” “Okie dokie!”
  • “Ope!” = an expression of discovery; example, “Ope! So that’s where I left my car keys.” Can also be used in exchange for ‘excuse me’; as in, “Ope! Sorry, I just need to sneak past ya there.”
  • “Out and about” = to head out of the house, perhaps to run errands; example, “Hun, I’m going out and about.”
  • Outstate = anywhere in Minnesota outside of the Twin Cities metro
  • Pop = soda or Coke; it is all called pop
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Skol artwork inside U.S. Bank Stadium
  • Skol = most commonly used by the Minnesota Vikings; a Scandinavian term meaning “cheers” or “good health”
  • Skyway = indoor links, mostly on the second level, connecting buildings in both downtowns
  • Stadium Village = an area on the U of M campus with the University’s sport venues — TCF Bank Stadium, Mariucci Arena and Williams Arena (aka The Barn)
  • Strib = nickname for the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper
  • Supperclub = a restaurant, typically in a smaller town, that is the fine dining establishment for the community; expect to find a relish tray, wood paneling on the walls, multiple types of potatoes and a good old fashioned cocktail
  • The Cities = a collective term describing Minneapolis and Saint Paul; also known as the ‘Sin Cities’
  • U of M = University of Minnesota; also referred as ‘The U’
  • “Uffda” (also spelled: oofda, oofdah) = an exclamation or interjection; shows dismay, surprise, or being overwhelmed; example, “Uffda! Listening to Barb talk about her Florida vacation for an hour was tiring.”
  • “Unthaw” = an expression used after spending time in the cold; a human could unthaw after being outside in the winter; you could also unthaw hamburger from the freezer
  • Up north = anywhere in Minnesota north of 94 and outside of the metro; doesn’t matter if it’s northwest, north or northeast; it is mentioned as “going up north”
  • Uptown = south of downtown Minneapolis
  • “Ya” or “ya sure” = yes; if it’s pronounced as “Ya. Sure.” with pauses between the words, that means there’s a level or passive-aggressiveness/sarcasm coming from the person who said it
  • “Ya know” = see definition for ‘dontcha know’ above
  • “You betcha” = a phrase declaring you agree
  • “Yous guys” = referring to a group of people

Know Minnesota slang that should be on this list? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter!

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5 Comments on “You Betcha: Brush up on your Minnesota slang

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  4. The best one of all is “Minnesota Standoff” When two or more people pull up to a 4-way stop, and then proceed to wait/argue about who should go. Usually precipitated by the person who just barely had the right of way, but didn’t want to risk angering the other motorist

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