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Getting Around in Utah

Talk Like a Utahn - Utah's Colloquialisms
Every area has its own colloquialisms, and sometimes the locals can be hard to understand. Utah is no exception, except maybe on the other end of the spectrum. When I first moved here, there was more to learn than I remember having to learn about other places I've lived.

So that you may benefit from my learning experiences, here are some starters.


  1. The following are phrases that mean, in general English, "oh my goodness".
    • Oh my heck!
    • If it's really amazing, you'll need to expand upon the basic with:    
      Oh my go to heck, Oh my heck all Friday, or
      Oh my holy crap
    • Adding the word "for" to an adjective:
         for rude, for cute, for neat, for ignernt
         (see item 2)
         Something that is too precious for words is "Fer
         cuuuute!" (note the pronunciation of the word
         "for", and the drawn-out adjective)
  2. Ignernt, as in "He was so ignernt to me." (a derivitive of the word "ignorant", but it really means "rude")
  3. "You Bet" means "of course".

Words Pertaining to the Liquor Laws

  1. Brown Bagging - the practice of bringing your own liquor or wine to the table
  2. Private Club - in other places, this establishment would be called a bar where liquor is sold. In Utah, in order to serve liquor, the place has to be designated a "Private Club".
    Special clarification from K. Nelson
    (Not entirely true). It just seems like it. When the Legislature banned smoking from ALL public establishments (restaurants etc) several years back, that meant the bars, too. The only way they could get around that law was to declare themselves private clubs and charge embers an entrance fee. That's why most liquor establishments are Private Clubs. The liquor part is only secondary.

Words and Phrases Pertaining to the Mormon Religion

  1. Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ (it supports the Bible)
  2. Family Home Evening - Monday night is set aside to be spent with family
  3. LDS - Latter Day Saints
  4. Missions, Missionaries - 19-year old men and 21-year old women are called upon to teach the Gospel of the LDS Church
  5. Primaries - Children's Auxiliary (age 8 and under) for teaching the Gospel
  6. Relief Society - womens' auxilliary of the LDS Church
  7. RM (returned Missionary) - early 20-ish girls are all looking for RM's to marry
  8. Sealed - when a couple is married in the temple, they are sealed together "For time and all eternity" - to the Mormons, being married goes beyond this lifetime
  9. Sister, Brother members consider each other family members
  10. Stake - a collection of wards
  11. Ward - similar to parish
  12. 72-hour kit - One of the teachings of the Church is to be prepared to be self-sustaining. Most families keep food stores or "72-hr Kits" which contain what they might need in the event of a disaster.

How to swear in Utah:

  1. Utah's "F"-words:
    Fetch, Flip, and if you're really mad, Golly Fetch
  2. Gol' an abbreviation of "Golly", is used to display a desire for emphasis without invoking the name of Diety
  3. Dang it
  4. Seaterend Utah's "A"-word as in "Don't be a pain in the seaterend"
  5. Scrud


  1. Behind the Zion Curtain - You're in Utah
  2. The Claw - all the rage in young girl's hair styles - they have a knack for turning a small section of bangs into what looks like a claw sticking out of their foreheads
  3. Doodah - a silly person, as in "You doodah, what did you do that for?"
  4. From up toused this way: "She came down from up to Ogden," or "He went down to Provo from up to Salt Lake."
  5. The Grid System - the way the roads are laid out. (You can read all about that here.)
  6. Happy Valley - Utah Valley, home of Brigham Young University
  7. Inactive - a person is said to be inactive if he/she doesn't go to church
  8. Lake Stink - that smell that happens when the winds are blowing off the Salt Lake
  9. Potgut - also known as the Utah prairie dog
  10. SLC - Salt Lake
  11. The U - University of Utah
  12. Wedding Refreshments - this isn't a new term, but be forewarned - the refreshments are punch and nut cups
  13. The Y - Brigham Young University

Unique Pronunciations
(some found on the web)

  1. ain'tcha - "Aren't you?"
  2. cha - "You"
  3. dcha - "Did you?"
  4. djew - "Did you?", (Panguitch version)
  5. djeet - "Did you eat?"
  6. lawnmore - "lawn mower"
  7. leafblore - "leaf blower"
  8. melk - "milk"
  9. pellow - "pillow"
  10. squeet - "Let's go eat"

A Brief Usage Guide for Speaking Overhomer
The Overhomer's Society of Utah has compiled a dictionary of southern Utah terms, listing more than 100 words with the characteristic ``vowel dysfunction'' they feel identifies rural Utah speech. This list is taken from the Salt Lake Tribune, by Christopher Smith.

  1. Arient (Orient) -- "He served a mission in the Arient for two years."
  2. Bell (bill) -- "I'll bell ya for the work I done last week."
  3. Card (cord) -- "I bought a card of wood for the winter."
  4. Dork (dark) -- "It gets dork earlier in the fall."
  5. Farward (forward) -- "He plays farward on the basketball team."
  6. Gargous (gorgeous) -- "Your yord in St. Jarge looks gargous."
  7. Halp (help) -- "Please halp me out of this mess."
  8. Jor (jar) -- "I drink my malk from a Mason jor."
  9. Lowyer (lawyer) -- "My friend is a lowyer."
  10. Mell (mail) -- "Please sart the mell."
  11. Oal (oil) -- "Don't squart oal on my garage flaar."
  12. Park (pork) -- "The parkchops are good."
  13. Quorter (quarter) -- "He ardered a quorterpounder."
  14. Rem (rim) -- "We went to the North Rem of the Grand Canyon."
  15. Sant (sent) -- "I sant your invitation in the mell."
  16. Tarable (terrible) -- "It was a tarable starm."
  17. Wor (war) -- "I served in World Wor II."
  18. Yallow (yellow) -- "I have a yallow lab dawg."

Be sure to check my article on Navigating Utah's Streets - The Grid System to become enlightened about our crazy way of naming streets.

Backroads of Utah
by Theresa A. Husarik

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