Talking Charleston: Some words have a different meaning here in the Low country

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

If you are a transplant or tourist you may here us locals speaking and think some terms have a certain meaning, but we are here to tell you, it may not have the same context as you think.? Let this serve as a guide to provide the outsiders an understanding of our terminology.

  • USC – For most of the country, USC is the University of Southern California.? Go Trojans.? From Leinart to Sanchez to Reggie Bush to OJ, the Trojans carry a long and heralded history of college football.? Here in SEC country, it is all Gamecocks.? USC stands proud for South Carolina Football.? There are no Trojans in this part of the country.
  • Orange – Like yellow, red or blue, orange is a color to most.? Out in Charleston, Orange refers to the color you bleed if you are a diehard Clemson Tigers fan or alumni.? That is a color you wear with pride on your body, skin, or even your pets.? After runner up to the National Championship in the 2015 season, that color is shining as bright as the sun.
  • Upchuck – No we didn’t just throw up.? This is how we refer to our neighbor, North Charleston.? Sometimes after hanging out there, we may get that queazy feeling though.
  • El Cid – Sounds like a Mexican Revolutionary or a cigar broker in Cuba.? Neither is true.? This is a true us locals use to refer to the The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina.
  • The Joe – Is that a coffee shop?? Great guess but not correct.? Maybe a bro hang out? Nope.? The Joe is the affection term for Joe Riley Stadium, the home of the Charleston Riverdogs baseball club.
  • Palmetto Bugs – That term doesn’t seem that unpleasant when you phrase it that way.? Then again it is a term for a bug.? There are levels of bugs.? When non-locals learn that these are flying cockroaches that can be up to two inches long, yikes!!!! Get to know them and the term well.? They love the humidity.
  • The Recent Unpleasantness – This is a term where the phrase “Too soon” can be used.? Down here we use this phrase to describe the War Between the States or the US Civil War.
  • Y’all – Bless your heart if you don’t know what this means, but I am afraid some do not.? This means, you all, all of you, you guys, everyone, the group and many more, but we think you get the point.
  • Yes Ma’am – This is something you need to get used to.? It does not matter about age, title or relation, but down here if you speak to a lady, you address her with “yes ma’am”.? It is a sign of Southern hospitality and respect.
  • Pluff Mud – Not to be mistaken for the porter made by Holy City Brewery.? This is a deep murky mud that you sink right into when you step into it in the marsh.
  • Rickshaw – There are a few places where you may know this term, but here in Charleston, these are how hard working bike taxis that take you all around the peninsula offering up great stories, advice and directions along your ride.
  • Holy City – Many will instantly think Rome or Florence, Italy when they think of the Holy City.? Due to the many gorgeous church steeples and deep religious ties, Charleston has adopted this as a nickname and it holds a lot of meaning to us.
  • North or Up North – To us, that just means the other “Carolina”.? Some may even boldly say the lesser Carolina.
  • Bless Your Heart – That is a term of endearment right?? Not round here.? If you grew up in the South, that is not a phrase you want to hear from your Grandma.? In fact, you may have recently heard Governor Nikki Haley use it on Twitter to Donald Trump.? Enough said.
  • Flurries – Panic, panic, panic.? The idea of snowflakes invading our tropical home sends shivers down our spine.? Don’t even joke about that.

There is our little educational lesson for the day.? We hope you learned a little something today.

We’ll be seeing ya.

Pluff mud
Pluff mud