CLOSE
iStock Collage
iStock Collage

13 Regional Insults to Offend People Across the U.S.

iStock Collage
iStock Collage

“I had to take an Ohio shower,” Kimmy Schmidt admitted on a recent episode of her titular series. “Using our disinfectant toilet wipes.” While this Ohioan put-down was most likely made up for the show, Americans certainly don’t lack insults for people in other states or cities. We've teamed up with the editors of the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) to bring you 13 of the most insulting regional slights, snubs, and terms of contempt.

1. ARKANSAS ASPHALT

Like Rodney Dangerfield, Arkansas gets no respect, at least in terms of regional insults. In the 1960s and earlier, Texas oilmen apparently “found conditions in Arkansas particularly primitive,” according to a quote in DARE, and referred to roads made of logs laid side by side as Arkansas asphalt. Another ironic Texas term is Arkansas dew, meaning a sudden heavy rain (check out even more regional idioms for heavy rain here). In Oklahoma, diarrhea might be known as Arkansas travels, while in Southern California, an Arkansas fire extinguisher is a chamberpot.

2. ARIZONA PAINT JOB

Another SoCal term, an Arizona paint job means no paint at all. The term is used to “describe an unpainted, weathered pine building,” according to a 1962 article in Western Folklore, as might be found in the Arizona desert. Back in the day, though, it was thought that the dry weather was good for something—namely, tuberculosis. Hence, the Southwest term Arizona tenor for a coughing TB sufferer.

3. GEORGIA BACON

If you’re in south Georgia and someone offers you Georgia bacon, you might want to think twice: They’re talking about gopher, and when they say gopher, they're talking about tortoise, specifically a burrowing land tortoise of the genus Gopherus polyphemus, common in the southern U.S.

According to the 1952 Handbook of Turtles, the gopher tortoise played a large part “in the lives of the poorer rural people of Florida and south Georgia.” In those parts of Florida, the gopher might be referred to as the Florida chicken due to its chicken-like taste.

Gopher, by the way, is also the nickname for people from Arkansas, Minnesota, and Florida, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).

4. CAPE COD TURKEY

In New England, Cape Cod turkey is a jocular name for the codfish or a fish dinner. In Maine, Alaska turkey is salmon, while in New York, the historical term Albany beef refers to sturgeon, due to “the former abundance of sturgeon near Albany NY," according to DARE.

5. VIRGINIA CAVIAR

You might hear beans or peas referred to as Virginia caviar in Virginia and Georgia. The delicious-sounding Virginia caviar salad is a combination of “black-eyed peas, sweet peppers, red onion, and diced tomatoes with a sweet and sour vinaigrette” and fresh cilantro.

6. KENTUCKY BREAKFAST

The Kentucky breakfast is the most important meal of the day—if you're a pre-enlightened Don Draper, that is. In Arizona, Maryland, and North Carolina, the ironic term refers to a “meal” that includes or consists of liquor, in most cases bourbon. As Stewart Edward White put in the 1907 book Arizona Nights, “A Kentucky breakfast is a three-pound steak, a bottle of whisky, and a setter dog. What’s the dog for? Why, to eat the steak, of course."

7. DALLAS SPECIAL

Got a pocketknife with a blade longer than the legal limit? That’s called a Dallas special in Texas, where the legal limit for a blade length is 5.5 inches. In Tennessee, southern California, and Arkansas, a large bowie knife might be called an Arkansas toothpick, while in West Virginia, a bullet is a Kentucky pill, in reference “to Kentuckians’ reputation as sharpshooters,” according to DARE.

8. TEXAS TIME

Unlike a New York minute, Texas time is leisurely and unhurried. Hawaiian time is a jocular but sometimes derogatory term a flexible system of time or a disregard for punctuality. Alaska time is “an hour or two early or an hour or two late,” at least in Alaska, and “maybe more depending on the weather.”

9. BOSTON SCREWDRIVER

A Boston screwdriver isn’t a Beantown take on vodka and orange juice—it’s a Massachusetts nickname for a hammer. According to a quote from 1969 recorded by DARE, “Big-city workmen in Boston do a quick, cheap job by driving a screw all or most of the way in with a hammer instead of using a screwdriver.”

10. MASSHOLE

While Masshole doesn’t appear in DARE, we couldn’t not include it on a list of regional insults. This term of contempt for someone from Massachusetts was added to the OED in June 2015 with its earliest citation from 1989: “The New Hampshire people have a nickname for the refugees from Massachusetts: Massholes.” The word of course is a blend of Massachusetts and a**hole.

11. MAINIAC

While Masshole is a new term, Mainiac or Maine-iac, a resident of Maine, is a relatively old one. Used in New England, DARE’s earliest citation is from a 1837 quote from Nathaniel Hawthorne: “The British have lately imprisoned a man who was sent to take the census; and the Mainiacs are much excited on the subject.”

12. HOBOKEN

A now-popular bedroom community outside New York City, Hoboken was once a jocular or derogatory name for a place that was out-of-the-way, insignificant, or imaginary. As H.L. Mencken wrote in the 1936 edition of American Language, “For many years Hoboken was the joke-town of New York.” Hoboken was also used in New York and Massachusetts as a euphemistic stand-in for “Hell.”

13. HOLLER NEW YORK

While you probably know a Bronx cheer is a nickname for a raspberry, you might not know that to holler New York means to vomit. This might be less of a jab at New York and more of a play on york, an idiom used in the Great Lakes region and Pennsylvania meaning to throw up.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
ANTONIN THUILLIER, AFP/Getty Images
arrow
entertainment
15 Things You Might Not Know About Chewbacca
ANTONIN THUILLIER, AFP/Getty Images
ANTONIN THUILLIER, AFP/Getty Images

Even if you don't know the name Peter Mayhew, you surely know about Chewbacca—the seven-foot tall Wookiee he has played onscreen for over three decades. In honor of Mayhew’s birthday, here are 15 things you might not know about Han Solo's BFF.

1. HE WAS INSPIRED BY GEORGE LUCAS'S DOG.

The character of Chewbacca was inspired by George Lucas’s big, hairy Alaskan malamute, Indiana. According to Lucas, the dog would always sit in the passenger seat of his car like a copilot, and people would confuse the dog for an actual person. And in case you're wondering: yes, that same dog was also the inspiration behind the name of one of Lucas’s other creations, Indiana Jones.

2. HIS NAME IS OF RUSSIAN ORIGIN.

The name “Chewbacca” was derived from the Russian word Sobaka (собака), meaning “dog.” The term “Wookiee” came from voice actor Terry McGovern; when he was doing voiceover tracks for Lucas's directorial debut, THX 1138, McGovern randomly improvised the line, “I think I just ran over a Wookiee” during one of the sessions.

3. HE'S REALLY, REALLY OLD.

In Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Chewbacca is 200 years old.

4. PETER MAYHEW'S HEIGHT HELPED HIM LAND THE ROLE.

Peter Mayhew
Getty Images

Mayhew was chosen to play everyone’s favorite Wookiee primarily because of his tremendous height: He's 7 feet 3 inches tall.

5. HIS SUIT IS MADE FROM A MIX OF ANIMAL HAIRS, AND EVENTUALLY INCLUDED A COOLING SYSTEM.

For the original trilogy (and the infamous holiday special), the Chewbacca costume was made with a combination of real yak and rabbit hair knitted into a base of mohair. A slightly altered original Chewie costume was used in 1999's The Phantom Menace for the Wookiee senator character Yarua, and a new costume used during Episode III included a specially made water-cooling system so that Mayhew could wear the suit for long periods of time and not be overheated.

6. ONE OF STANLEY KUBRICK'S CLOSEST CREATORS DESIGNED THE COSTUME.

Chewbacca's costume
Getty Images

To create the original costume for Chewbacca, Lucas hired legendary makeup supervisor Stuart Freeborn, who was recruited because of his work on the apes in the “Dawn of Man” sequence in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. (Freeborn had also previously worked with Kubrick on Dr. Strangelove to effectively disguise Peter Sellers in each of his three roles in that film.) Freeborn would go on to supervise the creation of Yoda in The Empire Strike Back and Jabba the Hutt and the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi.

Lucas originally wanted Freeborn’s costume for Chewie to be a combination of a monkey, a dog, and a cat. According to Freeborn, the biggest problem during production with the costume was with Mayhew’s eyes. The actor’s body heat in the mask caused his face to detach from the costume's eyes and made them look separate from the mask.

7. FINDING CHEWBACCA'S VOICE WAS BEN BURTT'S FIRST ASSIGNMENT.

The first sound effect that director George Lucas hired now-legendary sound designer Ben Burtt for on Star Wars was Chewbacca’s voice (this was all the way back during the script stage). During the year of preliminary sound recording, Burtt principally used the vocalization of a black bear named Tarik from Happy Hollow Zoo in San Jose, California for Chewbacca. He would eventually synchronize those sounds with further walrus, lion, and badger vocalizations for the complete voice. The name of the language Chewbacca speaks came to be known in the Star Wars universe as “Shyriiwook.”

8. ROGER EBERT WAS NOT A FAN.

Roger Ebert was not a fan of the big guy. In his 1997 review of the Special Edition of The Empire Strikes Back, Ebert basically called Chewbacca the worst character in the series. “This character was thrown into the first film as window dressing, was never thought through, and as a result has been saddled with one facial expression and one mournful yelp," the famed critic wrote. "Much more could have been done. How can you be a space pilot and not be able to communicate in any meaningful way? Does Han Solo really understand Chewie's monotonous noises? Do they have long chats sometimes? Never mind.”

9. HE WAS ORIGINALLY MUCH MORE SCANTILY CLAD.

In the summary for Lucas’s second draft (dated January 28, 1975, when the film was called “Adventures of the Starkiller, Episode I: The Star Wars”), Chewbacca is described as “an eight-foot tall, savage-looking creature resembling a huge gray bushbaby-monkey with fierce ‘baboon’-like fangs. His large yellow eyes dominate a fur-covered face … [and] over his matted, furry body he wears two chrome bandoliers, a flak jacket painted in a bizarre camouflage pattern, brown cloth shorts, and little else.”

10. HIS DESIGN WAS BASED ON RALPH MCQUARRIE'S CONCEPT ART.

Chewbacca’s character design was based on concept art drawn by Ralph McQuarrie. Lucas had originally given McQuarrie a photo of a lemur for inspiration, and McQuarrie proceeded to draw the character as a female—but Chewbacca was soon changed to a male. McQuarrie based his furry design on an illustration by artist John Schoenherr, which was commissioned for Game of Thrones scribe George R.R. Martin’s short story “And Seven Times Never Kill a Man.” Sharp-eyed Chewbacca fans will recognize that Schoenherr’s drawing even includes what resembles the Wookiee’s signature weapon, the Bowcaster.

11. HE WON A LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD.

Fans were angry for decades that Chewie didn’t receive a medal of valor like Luke and Han did at the end of A New Hope, so MTV gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1997 MTV Movie Awards. The medal was given to Mayhew—decked out in full costume—by Princess Leia herself, actress Carrie Fisher. His acceptance speech, made entirely in Wookiee grunts, lasted 16 seconds. When asked why Chewbacca didn’t receive a medal at the end of the first film, Lucas explained, “Medals really don’t mean much to Wookiees. They don’t really put too much credence in them. They have different kinds of ceremonies.”

12. HE HAS A FAMILY BACK HOME.

According to the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, Chewbacca had a wife named Mallatobuck, a son named Lumpawaroo (a.k.a. “Lumpy”), and a father named Attichitcuk (aka “Itchy”). In the special, Chewie and Han visit the Wookiee home planet of Kashyyyk to celebrate “Life Day,” a celebration of the Wookiee home planet’s diverse ecosystem. The special featured appearances and musical numbers by Jefferson Starship, Diahann Carroll, Art Carney, Harvey Korman, and Bea Arthur, and marked the first appearance of Boba Fett. Lucas hated the special so much that he limited its availability following its original airdate on November 17, 1978.

13. MAYHEW'S BIG FEET ARE WHAT KICKSTARTED HIS CAREER.

Mayhew’s path to playing Chewbacca began with a string of lucky breaks—and his big feet. A local London reporter was doing a story on people with big feet and happened to profile Mayhew. A movie producer saw the article and cast him—in an uncredited role—as Minoton the minotaur in the film Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. One of the makeup men on Sinbad was also working on the Wookiee costume with Stuart Freeborn for Star Wars and suggested to the producers that they screen test Mayhew. The rest is Wookiee history.

14. MAYHEW KEPT HIS DAY JOB WHILE SHOOTING STAR WARS.

Peter Mayhew
Getty Images

During the shooting of Star Wars, Mayhew kept working his day job as a deputy head porter in a London hospital. Though he was let go because of his sudden varying shooting schedule at Elstree Studios, he was eventually hired back after production wrapped.

15. DARTH VADER COULD HAVE BEEN CHEWBACCA.

Darth Vader
Getty Images

David Prowse, the 6’5” actor who ended up portraying Darth Vader—in costume only—originally turned down the role of Chewbacca.  When given the choice between portraying the two characters, Prowse said, “I turned down the role of Chewbacca at once. I know that people remember villains longer than heroes. At the time I didn’t know I’d be wearing a mask, and throughout production I thought Vader’s voice would be mine.”

Additional Sources: Star Wars DVD special features
The Making of Star Wars: The definitive Story Behind the Original Film, J.W. Rinzler

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
quiz
Scary Baby Names
iStock
iStock

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios