What Do You Say in Chicago?

October 4, 2023

Whether you're a lifelong Chicago resident or just visiting, you may find yourself struggling to fit in. From slang words to unique pronunciations, many things that distinguish Chicagoans from other Americans can be baffling to outsiders. Thankfully, you don't have to be fluent in Chicagoese to make yourself understood in the Windy City. Just master a few key phrases, and everyone will think you were born and raised there.

Probably the best-known word associated with Chicago is da. Used to substitute for the definite article, it's most often heard in conversations about sports, especially those between Chicagoans. This is especially true when referring to the city's storied teams. "Da Bears" and "da Cubs" are among the most common examples.

Another of the more famous Chicago slang words is frunchroom. This colloquialism is a twist on front room, and it refers to the main living area in a bungalow-style home. It's the kind of space where families keep their best furniture and enforce a shoes-off policy. It's also where you'll find a pizza in the freezer waiting for a big game.

Finally, if you hear someone from the Chicago area mention a trip to the prairie, forget images of Laurie Ingalls Wilder and her log cabin. A prairie in Chicago is a vacant lot in the neighborhood where local kids play. It can be pretty muddy if it's been raining lately.


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