Terms We Swear By Don't Necessarily Jive With Out-Of-Towners, But That's What Makes Gotham Unique

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Is it “in line” or “on line”? “Pocketbook” book or “purse?”

New Yorkers have a ton of slang words and different meanings to certain phrases. Now, the Oxford English Dictionary wants to hear all about them.

“Hello Bella” is just one of the many slang terms David Greco is used to saying.

“I’m born and raised in the Bronx, so New York lingo, we got a few different things,” said Greco, owner of Mike’s Deli on Arthur Avenue.

But if it was up to Greco, his favorite saying would make it right into the OED.

“‘How you doin’?'” Greco said.

The OED is a guide to nearly 600,000 words, but the historical dictionary is looking to add even more terms. It has launched its “words where you are campaign” to find regional slang, searching Twitter and also asking people to submit their lingo online.

“It’s a legitimate form of language and it should be recognized as such,” said CUNY Graduate Center’s Michael Newman.

A linguistics professor, Newman said we develop slang words in middle school, and since New York City is a cultural hub, people from all around the world imitate the city’s jargon.

“It’s kind of a myth that slang words aren’t around for a long time, but that’s really only true for some slang words. A slang word like ‘cool’ is still a slang word but it’s been around for generations and generations,’ Newman said.

So what are some terms New Yorkers would want to see in the dictionary and do tourists even know them?

“When something is really good, everyone say the word ‘lit,’ and we should put it in the dictionary,” Bronx resident Moussa Soumare said.

“Lit a cigarette, light up something?” asked tourist Ray Licata.


“I think the word should be ‘traintisipation.’ It’s the one where you think there is a train there and you run down the stairs of the subway and its just not there,” said Dana Rowe of the Upper West Side.

“What? Traintipiation? That’s not a word,” said Caolan Magee, who was visiting from Ireland.

But according to New Yorkers, it should be.

“‘Schelp’ is when you ship stuff around the city,” the Upper West Side’s Leanna Wagstaff said.

“I have no idea what that would mean,” said Georgie Sullivan of Australia.

But come July, tourists may be able to read all about this slang word and others.

It’s not just New York City. The Oxford English Dictionary is looking for regional slang terms from all over the world — but only the best will make it in.