Some of you know I love words.  I enjoy learning the origins of a word, and in these parts, far more time than I care to admit has been passed seeing who can articulate the difference between p-e-n and p-i-n.  I hear they’re NOT really homophones, and had Mrs. Dent not spent three hours on diction and pronunciation in junior high, I wouldn’t be able to even pretend I know better, much less attempt to pull off making them SOUND different at all.

Anyway, a few email exchanges over the last few weeks led to this post.   I feel I should lead off with a disclaimer of sorts… after all, any dork from Central Virginia whose mouth cannot pronounce pen and pin differently enough for her ears to hear it, without sounding like a she’s drunk AND talking in slow motion is no expert on what to call what or when.  So, weigh in, correct me, and let’s enjoy seeing how where we live – and have lived – and maybe even the “when” part of life – influence our choice of words!

What I have in mind when I say "jumper"

Jumper, the fashion version.   When I use it, I mean the skirted thing.  However, I also realize that my Brit-like friends immediately see what I call a pullover


Hoodie.  Heck, I don’t even know if I’m spelling that one right, but I mean any sweatshirt or sweater with a hood.  In my wardrobe, it’s most often a sweatshirt, pullover or zippered.

Yoga pants

Yoga pants.  Again, I’m not sure what the rest of the world means, but I use those words to mean any straight legged to boot-cut, probably mid-calf to ankle length knit pants, to be worn by yours truly around the house, to walk the dogs and/or to work out.

Now… there are also words I don’t use consistently.  What do you call Pepsi, Coke, Dr. Pepper, etc?  I generally order a “diet”, so…  I don’t use soda or pop much at all. 

What do you call athletic shoes?  I played tennis, basketball, ran track, cross-country and now I walk, so as above…  I state what I need.  I’ve heard people say “tennis shoes” when they’re wearing a running-style shoe… what do you say?

Feel free to add to the list.  Are there words or terms that you feel are specific to a particular region or country?  For instance, if you see/hear me use Kiwi, I mean my New Zealand relatives, not that hair fruit that too often tastes like dirt for me to like it…

18 comments on “Whatchamacallit

  1. gMarie says:

    tastes like dirt! Why are you eating dirt, anyway?

    Okay – I see both when I hear the word jumper – having living in England for several years when the girls were wee, and learning to knit at the time – well…. but yes, a dress you put over a blouse, tee, turtleneck is a jumper and so is a heavier sweatery blousy garment.

    I have no idea there were other words for yoga pants. As for althetic shoes – trainers or running shoes, even though I don’t run and don’t wear them for such.

    and regional words crack me up – my sister calls the thing you put groceries in – a buggy!! g

  2. Bonnie says:

    We always called athletic shoes “sneakers” when I was growing up in Delaware. Here in Cincinnati, however, they are referred to as “gym shoes”.

    Carbonated beverages are sodas in Delaware. But in Cincinnati, natives say pop.

  3. Katherine says:

    I was born in Virginia but grew up in Arizona. I’m told there is absolutely no inflection in words spoken by people from Arizona, words are spoken phonically. So, it was impossible for me to say pen and pin so they sounded alike. It is “en” for pen and “in” for pin. I guess that’s why people in Texas tell me I, “talk funny.”

    A jumper is a dress. Our SIL’s Mom is Canadian and frequently asks if I knit the “jumper” I’m wearing. Nope, never knit a dress in my life!

    Yoga pants are just casual pants. By the way, I love the ones in the picture.

    Exercise shoes are “sneakers.”

    I order “diet soda,” but my kids all order “pop.” Where did that come from?

    Great post Chan!

  4. AlisonH says:

    Hoagies, subs/subways, and doesn’t po’ boy fit in there somewhere?

  5. Nichole says:

    I order a diet coke, because I prefer coke over pepsi… but it’s all soda.
    Athletic shoes are sneakers…
    Hoodies or sweatshirts…
    Yoga pants/comfies/lounge pants…

  6. Mary says:

    The list of words I had to relearn when I moved to the US to UK includes (but are certainly not limited to…):
    Bonnet – hood of a car
    Boot – trunk of a car
    Lift – elevator
    Flat – apartment
    Frock – dress
    Knickers – underwear
    Braces – suspenders
    Court shoes – women’s dress pumps

  7. Marjie says:

    I really pick on misuse of a word. My little guy does “stuff” with the private school the neighbor kid goes to. He is invited to join in “picture day” next Thursday. The notice implores the parents to “Dress your child in their most complimentary clothing!”

    OK, ignoring the fact that one child must have HIS clothing, and not THEIR clothing, I can’t figure out where to find the “complimentary” clothing. I’ve never put on a dress and had it say to me, “Looking good, sweetie!” None of my guys have had a sport coat say, “Dude, you look awesome!” Maybe that’s too picky.

    And the “Hoagie” thing? Dammit, it’s a grinder or a sub sandwich. A “hoagie” was the boy who guided the boats along the Erie Canal. And I only know that because I watched a show on the History Channel. “Hoagie” is not in any dictionary. I also don’t like words that are made up with the “ie” thing on the end. Hoodie? Please. Are you 4 years old? “Smoothie”? Again.

    Now you know I’m nuts, right?

  8. Sue says:

    I grew up in New York State, but have lived in PA, SC and now MO. I’ve also traveled in Europe and my best friend is from England. We discuss words often.

    I cringe at the pin-pen thing. I want to clearly hear the vowel. To me a jumper is a dress, to Sue it’s a sweater. I drink soda and my shoes are sneakers. I go along with the hoodie thing even though I think they’re actually hooded sweatshirts.

    Yoga pants I don’t get at all. When I did yoga we wore tights so I don;t have a clue what yoga pants are.

    I like eating kiwis, but to me it’s also the nickname for my cousin Keenan.

    I’m lucky that Sue can translate for me when I don’t get the meaning of British English.

  9. Kathy says:

    That’s definitely a jumper you’ve shown there.

    I run and thus wear running shoes. I use ’em the way they were meant to be used. I don’t wear athletic shoes when I’m not being athletic so I don’t really have a word for them.

    Yoga pants are not in my wardrobe.

    I don’t drink them very often, but occasionally I enjoy a pop. That’s what it is where I am from, Colorado. But in Houston it’s all Coke. I have been annoyed more than once when I order a medium Coke and I’ve been asked if I prefer Sprite, Dr. Pepper, or Diet Coke.

    I agree that a hoodie is any top with a hood. When I was a kid my dad had a hooded sweatshirt and we referred to the whole garment as a “hood”. Maybe that was more manly than “hoodie”.

    As for the British/English translations: Several years ago I went to Spain with some American friends who lived in London. I flew to London, we all went to Spain, then back to London. Spain was sunny and warm so I mostly wore shorts there. London was cool and rainy so I’d put on jeans for the trip back there. As we were waiting for a taxi outside the airport in the gloom, I told my friends I sure was glad I’d worn pants that day. The husband told me not to say that so loudly. Apparently to the British, I was saying I was glad I wore underwear that day.

  10. LOL…fun topic day! Like all the Westerners I cringe a bit at folks who can’t manage “pin” and Pen”…and you KNOW I love you!
    I don’t drink much soda, rarely wear sneakers, and don’t really like hoodies. I love jumpers, but get accused of being a granny if I wear mine. I speak fairly fluent British English, but know better than to confuse American’s with that, unless I’m out have some fun. 🙂
    Why is you think fruit tastes like dirt? First mangoes, now kiwi….just wondering aloud.

  11. Amy Darsie says:

    One of my favorite things, when Emy comes home to visit from England, is the difference in words. I know what she means, but the looks from others are fantastic!

    For example …

    “Oh, nice trainers. Where did you get them?” New shoes (trainers)
    “Can I bum a fag?” (A smoke)
    “That is so ace!” (Very cool)

    What a fun post!

  12. Louise says:

    A jumper is a jumper, a “hoodie” is a sweatshirt and “yoga” pants are sweats in my neck of the woods which in this case is in my simple brain.

    The hoodie thing really gets to me because when I was in school, a “hood” was a person I wasn’t “allowed” to “hang-out” with because my parents called them ruffians. I should look that up one day:)

    I have made some changes though, dungarees have become jeans and I love the sound of jammies as compared to PJs or pajamas. High shoes are now heels as opposed to pumps but it is quite possible they are two horses of a different color.

    I’m totally convinced that I say the word coffee wrong because sometimes people keep asking me if I would like coffee or tea. It happens more frequently west of the Mississippi.

    I eat breakfast out nearly everyday and if I had one wish while dining, I would love to be able to order two dots and a dash and actually have the server know what I’m requesting:)

    Fun post, Chan…

    Oh, bloomers have become undies too:)

    P.S. Remind me to tell you about an unmentionables post I encountered yesterday.

  13. kathy b says:

    Funny post Chan! I say jumper like the Brits. I ask for Soda but I grew up saying POP. I love your Yoga pant definition and I need advice.
    I have to get some…but where when you are an average sized shorty size 14?

  14. StarSpry says:

    I’m with you on the names for the pictures. I say pop rather than soda, and I usually say tennis shoes for any type of athletic shoe, even though I know they’re all very different 🙂 Here’s another word/phrase that changes depending on location: water fountain, drinking fountain, or bubbler.

  15. gypsyknits says:

    Fun post so here goes:
    Pin? Pen? I’ll have to say it a few times to see how I pronounce them. Betcha the hubby says pin…lol
    Coke, Pepsi etc : tonic
    I saw G’s comment: It’s a buggy 😉
    Heck you go to the ‘market’ to push the dang thing (I hear a few down south refer to that store as the grocery)
    And of course we wear sneakers to walk across the crick or in a skiff of snow to get our hoagie order. By the way, snow ‘lays.’
    Sled ridin’ vs sledding? (never even heard sledding until the chemgirl came home fussing about the grief she endured at college for saying sled ridin’)
    We drop the g sound on ing. And we run letter sounds together:
    drying-dryin’ and so on.
    We may live up yonder, who knows 🙂 By all means don’t forget the Appalachian twang 😉

  16. I totally say tennis shoes. Always have!

  17. Elizabeth says:

    A jumper is a skirted layer, a sweatshirt has a hood, and I call them tennis shoes even if they never see a court. I have no idea what I would call a carbonated beverage. I’m not ever sure whether I say bag or sack. I grew up in Kansas City and have lived in Montana since I was 15, but have a Baltimore accent thanks to a speech therapist when I was 4. I do have different vowel sounds for pen and pin. But in linguistics class when they talked about Mary, marry and merry as non-homonyms in parts of the country, I couldn’t and still can’t imagine the difference. What about this one: I call a notebook with a spiral binding a “spiral” and a 3-ring notebook a “notebook”. My kids call the spiral a “notebook” and the 3-ring a “binder”. Is that a a regional terminology?

  18. Blond Duck says:

    Lord, I’ve got my own Texas vocabulary!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s