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.