This was originally published on June 8, 2015.
In May, NPR produced a story about the regional language of America highlighting the words and phrases unique to each of the fifty states as well as different regions of the country.
That got us thinking, "What are the words and phrases that make Montana what it is?"
We compiled 20 or so that we have found to be unique to Montana. By no means is this list comprehensive. If you know of a word, phrase or expression unique to Montana, let us know! Email email@example.com with your word or phrase.
H/T to the Dictionary of American Regional English, ToddKlassy.com for their compilations, and another H/T to the staffs of Lee Newspapers of Montana helping to come up with these words.
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Here are 20 Montanaisms, 20 words and phrases that only make sense to people from Montana.
Barrow Pit: A ditch that runs parallel to a highway for purposes of irrigation. Source: Billings Gazette News Staff
Creek: A flow of water smaller than a river but larger than a stream. While the word isn’t exclusive to Montana by any means, Montana’s pronunciation of this word is. Source: IR News Staff
Graupel: Precipitation that forms when supercooled droplets of water are collected and freeze on a falling snowflake, forming a ball of rime. The term graupel comes from the German language. Also called soft hail or snow pellets. Source: IR News staff
Hi-Line: The region of Northern Montana that runs along the Canadian border through which runs the main line of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad. Source: IR Staff.
Jockey Box: The storage compartment in a car situated in front of the passenger’s seat. The Glove Compartment. Source: IR Staff
Limb hanger: A turkey, particularly turkeys with long enough spurs to be able to be hung on a limb after being killed during a hunt. Source: Montana Standard Staff
Pasty: A dish primarily served in Butte. Pasties are a meat pie or pastry made of beef, potatoes, onions and turnips baked into a breaded shell. Pasties were originally brought to Montana by miners from Wales and Cornwall, England. Source: Montana Standard Staff.
Prairie maggots: Sheep. Also known as meadow maggots. Source: Montana Standard Staff
Rock Chuck: A yellow-bellied marmot. The name may not be exclusive to Montana, but it definitely prevails in the Treasure State. Source: IR News Staff
Speed Goat: A Pronghorn Antelope. Other nicknames: Desert Racer, Prairie Ghost, Sagebrush Rocket Source: IR News Staff
Spinning a brody: The act of intentionally spinning one’s car in a circle on an icy surface. More commonly known as spinning donuts. Source: IR Staff
Tap ‘er light: A phrase spoken primarily by natives of Butte meaning, “take it easy.” The phrase dates back to the town’s mining origins. Source: Montana Standard News Staff
Umver: An expression of shock, fright or amazement. Analagous to “Oh no!” Source: IR News Staff
Zootown: Missoula, Montana. Source: ToddKlassy.com. Confirmed by IR News Staff