Oct 29, 201309:16 AM
Uptown Life

Lifestyles, Galas and Gaiety from St. Charles Avenue Magazine's Morgan Packard

Hey, Boo: New Orleans Colloquialisms

Fleurty Girl's "Makin Groceries Tee" shows off a popular New Orleans colloquialism.

Courtesy of fleurtygirl.net

Every geographic area has its colloquialisms (y’all; bolth instead of both; howdy; wicked cool; bubbler instead of water cooler; and the age-old debate of soda vs. Coke vs. pop, etc.). New Orleans, however, seems to have more of those than most.

When I first moved here, more than 13 years ago, I learned some of these quickly (like “Where did you go to school?” means high school and lagniappe was a good thing) but assumed that most would never make it into my Texas-born-and-raised lexicon.

Lately, however, I’ve been catching more and more terms and phrases sneaking their way into my everyday conversation – and some of them I’ve actually fallen in love with.


We all know this phrase means “a little something extra,” and who could hate that?


Not just “making groceries” instead of “grocery shopping,” but also as in “she just made 11.” There’s something about this term that feels caring and connected, and it was the first one I noticed slipping into my speech patterns.


“Your mom ‘n’ ’em”
As in “Howz your mom ‘n’ ’em?” This phrase implies more of a connection to the person you’re speaking with than “How are you?” even when that person has never met your mother.


As in “You’re the prettiest, Big Chief!” Only in New Orleans would you call a large man dressed in the most beautifully beaded Indian suit “pretty,” and know it was the correct term and appreciated on both sides.


As far as terms of endearment standing in for people’s first names, "boo" might be my favorite of all time. As many of my friends know, I’m great with faces but not always good with names. If it wasn’t for the Southern tradition of “sweetie,” “honey,” “dear,” etc., I might never be able to have a conversation. But there’s just something that’s so New Orleans about “boo,” something so caring and endearing – while just a touch condescending – that never fails to put a smile on my face.


And speaking of New Orleans words, I also want to say thank you to the United Cab driver who, in the fall of 1999, refused to start his cab until I could spell and pronounce “Tchoupitoulas” correctly; perhaps you knew something about my future with this city that I didn’t. Thanks for putting me on the right road.

Reader Comments:
Oct 29, 2013 03:39 pm
 Posted by  sophronia65

i hate, i hate, i HATE when people call me 'boo'!! i've stopped relatives dead in their tracks at the first mention of 'boo'!!!! i have lived here my whole life - 48 years - and the first time i was called 'boo' was by a cousin's wife who was from 'da bayou.' it has only come to pass in the past 10 years that 'boo' has become a new orleans colloquialism and it needs to stop now!!!!!

Oct 29, 2013 03:43 pm
 Posted by  sophronia65

and, by the way, that first time i was called 'boo' was in 1977 when i was 12 by said cousin's wife. i looked at her like she was bozo the clown and promptly told her to NEVER call me that again. my mom snapped at me to not talk to people that way (disrespectfully, even though that cousin was only 24). i told her to tell them (her nephew and his wife) to never call me boo again and i would never disrespect them again.

Oct 29, 2013 04:58 pm
 Posted by  Modine

I love being called "boo," and I call people that myself. People I am fond of. Not people who would stop me dead in my tracks for saying that. And I have lived in New Orleans for 71 years. Boo ain't new, Boo.

Oct 29, 2013 10:37 pm
 Posted by  Dgabik

Wow, Sophirina, you remind me of a waitress up north who snapped at me, highly insulted, when I said, "Excuse me, Ma'am," proceeded to correct me by informing me of her name and that I was not to address her as Ma'am again. I was attempting to be polite as your cousin from "da bayou" was being affectionate when calling you Boo. Yes, the term Boo originated in Acadiana and made it across the swamp as many other Cajun traditions and terminologies have. I smile when my husband calls me Boo, or when people looked at my children with admiration, and said, "Cher Baby."

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Uptown Life

Lifestyles, Galas and Gaiety from St. Charles Avenue Magazine's Morgan Packard


Morgan Packard may not be a native New Orleanian, but with every passing day New Orleans becomes more her home. Attending Newcomb College and gaining her masters from Tulane University, Packard immersed herself in the culture and peculiarities of the Big Easy, the culmination of which was reached when she joined the staff of Renaissance Publishing in May 2006. You can reach Morgan at (504) 830-7227 or morgan@myneworleans.com.




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