Skip to page content

Overheard at L.L.Bean: “Maine-isms”


Did you know that the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s recently completed Dictionary of American Regional English, which collects words used across the country by region, dedicated an entire section to the state of Maine? Here’s why:

 

What if, strolling through the produce department at a local Maine grocer, you overheard this?

“As much as I wanna serve lawbstah with buttah, bean suppahs are the best fundraisahs for the fiah depahtment. Dem fiahmen love their pahster and tahmaytah sauce. Innit the truth?!”

If you’re “from away,” which is a phrase we Mainers use to say “not from around here,” you may not understand what all that means. But just like with our “lobstah dinnahs,” we’re proud of our dialect. To help you understand native Mainers a bit better, we’ve compiled a quick guide to our favorite “Maine-isms”:

 

L.L.Bean’s Top Ten Maine-isms

1. From away  Not from around here, a visitor: “Jack doesn’t know how to trap a lobstah, he’s from away.”

 

Bonus: Flatlander  Tourists or those who inhabit lower elevations or latitudes: “The beaches were crowded with flatlanders, but they’ll be headin’ home by Monday.”

 

2.  Wicked  Synonym for very or extremely: “After the blizzahd the roads wah wicked slick.”

 

3. Ankle biter  A small child: “I got two ankle biters at home.”

 

4. Jeezum crow  An expression of shock, akin to “oh my!”: “Jeezum crow, it’s teeming out there!”

 

Bonus: Teeming  Heavy rain.

 

5. Ayuh  Yup, sure, you got it: “Did you remember to pick up milk?” “Ayuh.”

 

6. Upta camp  Traveling to a lakeside cottage or cabin: “We’re headed upta camp to do some castin’ this weekend.”

 

7. Bah Hahbah, Auguster, Pawtlind, Bittifid  Popular towns and cities of Maine (Bar Harbor, Augusta, Portland, Biddeford): “I’ve gaht siblins in Bah Hahbah, Auguster and Pawtlind.”

 

8. Scooch  To move over a smidge: “Scooch over, make room for your brothah.”

 

9. Tipping  To pick fir boughs for wreaths: “We went tipping out in the woods last weekend.”

 

10. Stove up  To be injured, messed up or broken: “Jane fell skiin’ – she’s all stove up!”

 

A classic Maine “lobstah dinnah.” (credit: Dana Moos, Flickr)

A classic Maine “lobstah dinnah.” (credit: Dana Moos, Flickr)

 

If you have a hankerin’ for more Maine-isms, check out this extensive list from The Bangor Daily News.

 

Do you know any Maine-isms? What are your favorites?

 




  1. Leona Morgan | February 28, 2013 | 3:34 pm

    I like when a person starts or ends almost every thought with “I’m tellin’ you”.

  2. Carola Griffin | February 28, 2013 | 5:43 pm

    Banger-I really was bawn in Banger, Maine!

  3. Carol O. | February 28, 2013 | 5:44 pm

    “Slickerin goose poop.” Translation: Slicker than goose poop. “Afta that freezin rain, the roads wah slickerin goose poop.” (Anyone who has ever kept geese knows that their “poop” is extremely greasy and easily slipped upon.)

  4. Becky | February 28, 2013 | 5:48 pm

    The list is great! We may have to fight over “jeezum crow” though. Where I’m from in the northeast corner of New York State (just south of the Canadian border on Lake Champlain) jeezum crow is a favorite North Country word with the same meaning. I’m glad to hear we share more than just snowy winters and honest, hard-working folks!

  5. Natalie | February 28, 2013 | 6:03 pm

    Qwartah or Quahtah known to many as a quarter.
    Heard in Eastport, or Eastpoaht.

  6. Erin Provencher | February 28, 2013 | 6:06 pm

    I have been in Maine since I was born 55 years ago so im a really Mainer and I have always said jeezum crow everyone makes fun of the way I say somethings Oh well like I said im a Mainer for sure!! lol

  7. Paul Gilbertson | February 28, 2013 | 6:32 pm

    I proposed to my wife in Bah Harbah overlooking the Porcupine islands 28 years ago! Always loved eating one of those Bah Harbah Bahs…
    Paul and Chris Gilbertson
    PS. Still crazy in love!!!

  8. Connie Sartain | February 28, 2013 | 6:40 pm

    My friend Mrs. Costa [hear: Coster] had to call the grammar school to tell them her grandchildren were stuck away on a snow trip and wouldn’t be in school on Monday. The school secretary asked the children’s names. Why, said Mrs. Costa [hear Coster] it’s the Clock girls.
    the school secretary said they had no children in the school with the last name Clock. No No No, screamed Mrs. Costa [hear: Coster] Not Clock………… it’s Clock ….C.L.A.R.K. Cathi and Chris Clock.

  9. jromano27 | February 28, 2013 | 6:47 pm

    the antennae shouldnt still be on the lobster when its done. rookie mistake

  10. Tom Sansouci | February 28, 2013 | 6:54 pm

    When you work for the powah company No Line Is Safe To Touch Evah!

  11. HARRIET IN NEW JERSEY | February 28, 2013 | 7:11 pm

    MY COUSIN LIVES IN MADISON AND I SEND HER AND THE FAMILY GIFTS FROM LLBEAN .SHE LOVES EVERYTHING-THE NEWEST GIFT WAS TO HER SON AND HIS WIFE ON THEIR FIRST ANNIVERSARY- THEY WENT TO TAILAND AND BROUGHT IT WITH THEM. AND LOVED IT (I LOVE LL BEAN FOR 20 YEARS)

  12. Jane | February 28, 2013 | 7:28 pm

    Here in our “Down East” in coastal North Carolina the natives say you’re “from off” if you were born outside Carteret County- similar to what you say up there. I love all the local speech patterns you hear wherever you go. It adds so much charcter & makes the area unique.

  13. Gary Crocker | February 28, 2013 | 7:35 pm

    One of my personal favorites is the term “Corker” , which my Grandfather, Russell was very fond of tossing into almost any commentary. Such as, “That Chevy is a real Corker, there ain’t a car in town that can touch her in the quarter mile!” Or, “That outfit your Grandmother bought at the yard sale is a real Corker, even the fella’s at the gas station think so”!

    Corker, “An outstanding example of anything”!

  14. coco | February 28, 2013 | 7:59 pm

    I’m born ‘n raised in the South and sounds to me like those Maine folk speak like US! Maybe all us southerners originated from Maine!!!

  15. Jeff Lord | February 28, 2013 | 8:31 pm

    Don’t forget to point out that you say “ayuh” while inhaling.

  16. Kath | February 28, 2013 | 9:15 pm

    I grew up in Maine, then moved ‘away’ but came back to UMO for college. Took a phone message for my roommate (a local from Bangor) and wrote on the message board “Sally – please call Roma – she’s in Winnipot.” Found out quickly….it’s Winterport!!

  17. AT | February 28, 2013 | 9:32 pm

    “Spleeny” To be squeamish or wimpy about something. “It’s just a spider web, stop being so spleeny”

  18. cooper929 | March 1, 2013 | 7:09 am

    It’s Bangor—not Banger.

  19. Ralph | March 1, 2013 | 4:36 pm

    Born and raised in Maine, a Brewer boy. Wroking at UConn sports medicine I was asked by the team Physician and his associate what I thought was wrong with an athlete. I said,”I think he is a little spleeny.” They looked puzzled but responded, “Well, maybe he is a little livery.” Now I was puzzled. I thought everyone knew what ‘spleeny’ meant. I explained to them. As the years went by I learned we Mainers have a LOT of speach patterns etc unused by our fellow Americans. I once told my wife (from Ct.) “I never say… (something they say mainers say)”. She responded, “you say them all the time”. Go figure.

  20. Jody Johnsen | March 1, 2013 | 5:16 pm

    Stove up made me laugh out loud! I haven’t heard that in yeeahs!

  21. Displaced Yank | March 1, 2013 | 5:17 pm

    Don’t fegeht to pahk yeh cah in the grahdj down by deh bahn is a naw-eestahz comin.

  22. Displaced Yank | March 1, 2013 | 5:19 pm

    Oops… “if”

  23. Karen | March 1, 2013 | 7:06 pm

    Fubdubbin’! As in stop fubdubbin’ ’round!

  24. Rebecca. (Rebeccer) | March 2, 2013 | 12:39 am

    I spend every summer with my Grandparents and family in Ogunquit. Even though my “Mum” hasn’t lived in Maine for 40 yrs she still adds an “r” into someone’s name. Grammy still does with me. The best was a surprise visit from Grammy, to listen to a Maniac and a NC “redneck” talk to each other was hilarious!

  25. Lee M. | March 2, 2013 | 4:29 pm

    Bein a nawthun gilr myself I love Maine & everything about it :o)

  26. Patti | March 3, 2013 | 1:16 pm

    “In the way back” as in the back of a station wagon.

  27. Floridafreckles | March 5, 2013 | 12:08 pm

    We are from north Florida and we also claim scooch meaning move over little bit. Also stove up means when we get up after sitting for a while we limp because we’re all stove up y’all.

  28. Becky | March 5, 2013 | 11:10 pm

    I’ve grown up in Maine and I’m proud to call myself a Maine-ah. Reading through this list makes me more aware that maybe we do speak a different language–just took a lot of things for granted. I still enjoy going into a store (that’s really pronounced “stow-ah”) and having a conversation with a person I don’t know, and being referred to as “dear” (that’s Dee-ah) ….Maybe in the south, the term used is “mam”. In Maine it’s “dee-ah.” I like that, Dee-ah!

  29. Ferne Halvorsen | October 28, 2013 | 10:38 am

    Born in Maine and lived in Bangor Maine for 25 years. I am also proud of those years. Taught school in Bradford Maine- one room in 1949 ,Used a cow bell for calling in children to class.Still have some pictures somewhere. I still call everyone Dee-ah. And no-one knows what Speeny means. He-ah in California – knows the language.


Add your comment


About You



This is the name that will be displayed publicly with your comment.
It is not necessary to use your full name.

Your email address will not be displayed publicly
with your comment


Email Updates
Exclusive sales, special offers and more
Comment guidelines
Be detailed and specific, focusing on the writer’s story.
For your privacy, please don’t include your name or personal information.
All comments are reviewed by L.L.Bean prior to publishing.
Avoid
Obscenities, critical or spiteful comments and discriminatory language.
Advertisements, “spam,” references to other products, offers or Web sites.
Email, URLs, phone numbers, addresses or other contact information.