Rhode Island, aka Lil Rhody, may be the smallest state, but it holds its own when it comes to uniqueness. Not only is it home to some Surprisingly Great Rhode Island Food, but its home to some pretty tongue-twisting town names, and slang that’s so different, not even the rest of New England may recognize it. Have you always been eager to to learn to how to talk like a Rhode Islander? If you answered yes, then this is the place for you! If you answered no, then let me blow your mind with some Rhode Island fun facts that you can drop at your next party.
State of Hard to Pronounce Names
Let’s kick things off with the state name alone. Chances are, anytime you’ve been asked about the smallest state, you’ve referred to it as Rhode Island. What you probably don’t know, is that it didn’t actually become just “Rhode Island” until November 2020. Up until then, it was formally known as the “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.”
Glocester (Gloss-ter) or (Gloss-ta if you’re local) – is a town in Rhode Island located close to the Connecticut border. Originally spelled Gloucester, it is named after Henry Stuart, Duke of Gloucester and youngest son of Charles I. Around 1806, residents voted to change the name to Glocester, since it was too similar to Gloucester, MA. Sorry, too much history? Today it’s known for being a great place to shop for antiques and visit local farms.
Sit-chu-it, RI is one of the most commonly mispronounced RI names. Not to be confused with the Scituate in Massachusetts. This RI town is home to a large reservoir that is the largest artificial freshwater body of water in the state. During its construction, it flooded several villages along the Pawtuxet River.
Na·ruh·gan·suht, RI is possibly one you’ve seen before. Home to some of Rhode Island’s best beaches, Narragansett is synonymous with summer in New England. Additionally, it’s home to Narragansett Brewery, with their classic Del’s Shandy, a staple of summer. If you haven’t tried one, you should.
Misquamicut, Matunuck, Scarborogogh
Speaking of Rhode Island beaches, Misquamicut (Miss-quam-eh-cut), Matunuck (Ma-too-nick), and Scarborogogh (Scar-burr-oh) are some of the most popular beaches in the state. The best part about these beaches is the three days a year when the water is warm enough to really enjoy swimming in them – after all, Rhode Island may be the Ocean State, but it’s still New England.
Lil Rhody Slang
Had enough Geography? Ok, we’ll switch gears. Here are some fun Rhode Island slang terms that are well known throughout RI, but may catch other New Englanders off guard:
Big Blue Bug
If you’ve ever been driving down I-95 toward Providence, RI, you may have noticed the Big Blue Bug overlooking the cars below. Built in the late 1980s (for about $20K), the Big Blue Bug, aka Nibbles Woodaway, is a giant termite mascot of the company Big Blue Bug Solutions. Supposedly, it is the largest artificial bug in the world (928 times the size of an actual termite measuring 9′ x 58′ long and weighing 4,000 lbs.
Frequently known as some of the most dangerous roads to travel, I-95 along Pawtucket, RI is home to some very curvy, sneaky roads. Even the most experienced local drivers can be caught off guard by the sudden quick turns along this route. Keep extra distance and stay alert if you head this way.
Nothing beats the summer heat like a cool, delicious, cabinet! Yes – you read that right. Cabinets are Rhode Island slang for milkshakes. I grew up in New England, but not in Rhode Island, and up until recently I had never heard this term before. According to local legend, they’re called cabinets because back in the day, the blenders used to make these shakes were stored in large cabinets.
Generally referred to as Cumby’s, Cumberland Farms is the beloved convenient store chain of Rhode Islanders. A common after school destination for kids to spend their allowance on snacks, and a go-to spot for adults for gas, snacks, and lotto tix.
A favorite among locals, WaterFire in Providence, RI is a popular event held throughout summer into early Fall. Located on the rivers of downtown Providence, WaterFire is a symbolic celebration of community. During the summer, performers light 86 burning braziers on fire on the water as guests and tourists enjoy the lights, smoke, atmosphere, and celebration of Rhode Island.
Awful Awful / Wieners / Coffee Milk
Finally, we covered these 3 in our other post Surprisingly Great Rhode Island Food, but they’re so iconic they needed to be included. To recap, Awful Awfuls are an awfully great unique shake only found in RI, Coffee Milk is the official state drink of RI (like chocolate milk but with coffee syrup instead), and Wieners (no it’s not a typo, that’s how they’re spelled) are hands down the most superior hotdog style food you’ll ever have.
Now you’re in the know! We hope you enjoyed learning some RI local lingo, is there anything we missed? Let us know!
[…] breakfast and fueled up on some Dunks, which means now it’s time to relax and brush up with some Rhode Island slang and town names. Looking for a way to make it more fun? Quiz your friends for who can pronounce the […]