20 Words and Phrases You Had No Idea Were Coined in New York City
Hey, youz! Check out all these vocab gems that were born in New York City!
Sounds like a word from Wyoming, but it was actually the term given to bands of men who rustled cows in New York in the 1800s. This one’s an oldie but a goodie. Try using it in a sentence with one of these brand-new words added to the dictionary in 2019.
Coined by New Yorker Washington Irving in 1836: “The almighty dollar, that great object of universal devotion throughout the land…”
Meaning “worthless” or “absurd,” this word may come from the inability of early 20th-century kids in Manhattan’s Lower East Side to pronounce decalcomania, a cheap picture to be transferred onto wood or china (a decal). This oddball word can be tricky to spell—how many m’s are there?—but it’s got nothing on the most commonly misspelled words in the English language.
Sent Up the River
Slang for “sent to prison.” The river is the Hudson and the prison is Sing Sing, which is upriver from New York City.
It got its name because secondhand items have fleas, right? Guess again. Downtown Manhattan was home to vallie (valley) markets in Dutch Colonial days. The term was abbreviated to vlie (pronounced “flee”) market, and was eventually anglicized to flea market. Add this one to the list of 10 English words you won’t find in any other language.
This grilled sandwich of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on rye bread was invented at Reuben’s Delicatessen in Manhattan at the turn of the 20th century.
At his death in 1848, New York fur trader John Jacob Astor was worth $20 million (about $80 billion in today’s dollars). The term was first applied to him. Try out these funny words that will improve your vocabulary.
First used to describe commuter gridlock on New York streets in 1890.
An acronym of “young urban professional.” This term comes from New York City in the 1980s. Possibly coined by Jerry Rubin, one of the founders of the 1960s yippie movement. This made-up word became real and we hope the same happens with these hilarious made-up words you’ll want to start using immediately!
Named in 1814 for the New York restaurant that popularized it, Martin Morrison’s Porterhouse.
Coined in 1990 by San Francisco 49ers running back Roger Craig, describing his hopes for a third Super Bowl win the following year. (They didn’t threepeat.) This one sounds like a completely made-up word but we promise, it’s totally real! Still, you’re probably a lot more likely to use one of these “words” people say all the time that aren’t actually words.
A baseball term meaning to hit the ball softly. Most likely a corruption of the word butt (as in “butting” the ball with the bat). The first known utterance of bunt was in 1872 by a player named Pearce on the Brooklyn Atlantics.
Keeping Up With the Joneses
Created by New York cartoonist “Pop” Momand in 1913 as the title of a comic strip that showed middle-class people living beyond their means. It was originally going to be called “Keeping Up with the Smiths,” but Momand changed it because he thought “Joneses” sounded better.
The first one appeared on the October 27, 1777, edition of the New York Gazette. Newspappers may have made up this word which ended up being printed in every dictionary every, however, these fake words that actually ended up in dictionaries are there for a whole different reason!
More Fun and Fascinating Facts!
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