Canton OH colloquialisms

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My sister Heidi's friend Janet Bush told me that her husband Brett is from Canton OH and her favorite of his colloquialisms is "red up", as in "I will red up the kitchen."  To clean, to make ready.

He also used to call hamburgers "hamburgs".

I remember both of these expressions from my Canton youth.

Marjorie Corsi reminded me that we said "pop" (meaning a beverage containing CO2) instead of "soda".  Margaret Kaser agrees that we called Coke and Pepsi "pop", whereas in other areas they are called "soda".  She also noted that we drove on a parkway and parked on a driveway.

Back in the day when I lived in East Canton (before 1961), I think that most people said "warsh", as in "warsh the clothing" or "warsh the dishes".  I don't know what they say now.

Brenda Snyder mentioned that "the good old folks called tomatoes 'maters' and potatoes 'taters'".

Larry Haynam's son teased him for saying "winda" instead of "window".

Shirley Schoenberger called my attention to "crick" for creek and noted that some even say "Ohia" for Ohio.

Lolita Cable contributed two complete sentences:

That's a bunch of baloney..
Quit your belly aching..

These were favorite expostulations of my father.

From Nancy Vogel:

In my family we said dint, count and wount for didn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t. ( it took a long time to type this as spell check kept correcting me).

Also we had a drain board. Today it is the kitchen counter.

We used dishrags and warshrags instead of cloths. I still say warsh and my friends tease me about it.

Some habits die hard; some never die.


Selected readings


  1. languagehat said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 8:20 am

    Just in case anyone might be confused by "To clean, to make ready," the verb has nothing to do with the word ready — it's normatively spelled redd, and the OED (updated September 2009) says "Origin uncertain; most of the main senses of this word are paralleled at rede v.2 and rid v. Perhaps partly inferred from past tense and past participle forms of rede v.2, and partly a variant (with lowering of the stem vowel) of rid v., although the relationship between the three verbs is unclear and they are in any case likely to have influenced one another by association." They also say "In U.S. use perhaps partly reinforced by Pennsylvania German, although it is possible that use in Pennsylvania may simply result from Scots input in the English of this area."

  2. Martin Holterman said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 8:31 am

    I seriously spent a good 5-10 seconds trying to remember which Swiss Canton is abbreviated as OH (Obwalden? Oberhausen? No, that's in Germany.) before I realised we were talking about a city in the US.

  3. David B said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 8:35 am

    Many of these sound familiar to me, as someone who grew up in north central Ohio in the 80s and 90s.

    I wonder if anyone has ever heard the word "dareson" (sp?) used in that or other regions. My father used to say it regularly, though I never heard anyone else use the word.

    Sample sentence: "You dareson do that." (Meaning: "You dare not do that" or "You shouldn't do that.")

  4. Dutch said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 8:44 am

    "I think that most people said "warsh", as in "warsh the clothing" or "warsh the dishes". I don't know what they say now."

    Now they just say "Time to order take-out!"

    (Sorry, couldn't resist the temptation….)

  5. Victor Mair said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 8:52 am

    @Martin Holterman

    There are quite a few cities and towns named "Canton" scattered across the United States.

  6. Terry Hunt said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 9:15 am

    Heh! My initial thought was Canton (as it was then spelled) in China, near which I lived as a small boy for a short time. I'm sure the frequency of Chinese topics on this blog primed me for that brief assumption.

    "Pop" and "taters" are or were common in parts of the UK (not to mention The Shire), as was "bellyaching." "A bunch of baloney" was not colloquial, but near universally recognised from American movies of the sort that, say, Jimmy Cagney appeared in.

  7. Linda Seebach said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 9:22 am

    My late mother-in-law (born 1898) grew up in Troy, Pennsylvania, and she was very aware of the wash/warsh difference (she said wash but mocked warsh), and also knew that after someone warshed the dishes, they wrenched them (or maybe wrinched)

    I've heard "daresn't" on occasion.

  8. Gregory Kusnick said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 9:22 am

    David B: Huck Finn says "dasn't" for "dare not". Maybe your "dareson" derives from that.

  9. Victor Mair said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 9:29 am

    @Terry Hunt

    I have fun telling people that I am from Dōng Guǎngdōng 東廣東 ("East Canton").

  10. Lillie Dremeaux said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 9:35 am

    Did they also call peppers "mangoes"?

  11. Victor Mair said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 10:25 am

    My mom called peppers "mangoes". I was really confused when I went to Asia and encountered the fruit.

  12. Victor Mair said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 10:39 am

    Following up on my last comment, I just found this from an earlier post:


    My Mom (and everybody in my family following her) always used to refer to bell peppers as "mangoes"*. When I joined the Peace Corps and went to South Asia, I got to know what real mangoes are. The speaker in this video gives a good explanation of why people in southern Ohio call bell peppers "mangoes", starting at 1:56.


    *[From Portuguese manga, fruit of the mango tree, from Malayalam māṅṅa or a kindred Dravidian source; akin to Tamil mā, mānti, māti. (American Heritage Dictionary). Borrowed into Sinitic as mángguǒ 芒果, probably through Malay mangga, with the second syllable, guǒ 果 ("fruit"), being a convenient phono-semantic match.]


    From "Southern Ohioisms" (9/23/17) — see near the bottom of the post for the referenced video

  13. Garrett Riggs said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 12:39 pm

    Except for “mangoes” and “redd up,” I heard all of the Canton, OH pronunciations and colliquialisms from my grandparents (both born circa 1900) who grew up in Missouri and Arkansas.

  14. Chas Belov said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 12:52 pm

    Nice to read this. I did most of my growing up in Pittsburgh, PA. A friend reported "redd up" as being used in that area, although I never heard it. I don't think I said "warshed" but I definitely said "needs washed." And I definitely used "yinz" and "gum band." Never heard mangoes for bell peppers but also don't remember encountering bell peppers until adulthood (or maybe blocked the memory; I was quite the vegetable-phobe as a kid).

  15. Chas Belov said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 12:53 pm

    To clarify:

    yinz = you (plural)
    gum band = rubber band

  16. Chas Belov said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 12:54 pm

    Sorry about the multiple posts.

    Also said "off by heart" for "by heart", which drove my eastern PA father up the wall.

  17. David Marjanović said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 2:16 pm

    He also used to call hamburgers "hamburgs".

    That's the older form.

  18. Mark Metcalf said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 2:16 pm

    The "Ohia" comment reminds me of the pronunciation of "Iowa" in the song "Iowa Stubborn" from the Music Man: (should start at 1:09)

    In 1926, Iowa newspaperman Frank Luther Mott wrote a 5-page essay on the reasons for this pronunciation:

    "Ioway is still common in the State, especially among older people and in rural districts. When many of the State’s respected and cultivated citizens, including its Governor, pronounce its name so, the usage cannot be said even to be obsolescent. Moreover, while Iowans continue to raise their right arms high and sing at the top of their voices, “We’re from I-o-way, I-o-way! That's where the tall corn grows!’’ the Ioway pronunciation is not likely to perish. Thus, the superior timbre of ay over uh for singing strengthens the older pronunciation."

    Many more insights in the rest of the article: (opens a pdf of the article)

  19. Dara Connolly said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 3:00 pm

    Two of the expressions mentioned in the article and the comments are (or were) current in Ireland:
    bellyaching (for complaining)
    off by heart ("learn the poem off by heart")

  20. Anubis Bard said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 3:25 pm

    My father grew up in rural central Pennsylvania – Huntingdon County – and all of the colloquialisms that you describe I still hear there, with the exception of taters and parkway. My grandfather – born in the nineteen teens – would commonly say "daresn't" though I don't hear that anymore.

  21. Anubis Bard said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 3:29 pm

    Another thing that always struck me in that part of PA was that there was no lunch. It was always breakfast, dinner and supper.

  22. Terry Hunt said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 7:39 pm

    @ Anubis Bard – the lunch/dinner dichotomy was/is in the UK a complex mix of social class, regional usage and age differences.

    Very generally speaking, people with working class and Northern affinities refer(red) to their (main) midday meal as dinner, while middle/professional/upper classes and Southerners call it lunch, with their (main) evening meal being dinner: supper has largely fallen out of consumption and use, though is familiar from literature, and is still common in Scotland (where an evening "kerry-oot" – "take-away" further south – may be ingredient-specified as, for example, a "fish supper").

    However, in the context of meals eaten at school, the mid-day meal was usually (I cannot speak for contemporary usage) referred to as dinner even in Southern and prestigious establishments (called 'Public Schools' in the UK and 'Private Schools' in the US, for historical reasons).

  23. Chas Belov said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 10:54 pm

    I do remember encountering dinner and supper in Pittsburgh (the family who used it had a surname Craig which I believe is of Scots heritage) but my family used lunch and dinner. Ironically, although I still call them lunch and dinner, lunch is now my larger meal, so dinner and supper would be totally appropriate for my current dietary practices.

  24. djw said,

    July 17, 2022 @ 11:00 pm

    I grew up in central Texas in the 50s and drove my mother nuts because I preferred to use "wash" instead of the typical "warsh." I sometimes even said "wash cloth" instead of "warshrag," which just made it worse. So did my use of "creek" for what the rest of the family was more likely to call a "crick."

    I probably used "potatoes" and "taters" interchangeably, and we said "maters" sometimes as a joke for "tomatoes," but not commonly. Bell peppers weren't mangoes; they were just green peppers. But even I usually said "windas" for "windows."

    "That's a bunch of baloney" was common, but the other phrase was more commonly "kwitcher bellyachin'"–no doubt that was the precedent years later for "cha-wont" at the McDonald's order counter for "what do you want?"

    And in my part of the world, they were all cokes. "Do you want a coke?" "Yeah, I guess." "What kind?" "Dr. Pepper."

  25. Isaac Wingfield said,

    July 18, 2022 @ 12:00 am

    I grew up in Arkansas. "Coke" was the generic name for any soda there, too, as were "warshrag" and "rench" (the dishes,after you "warshed" them. My dad's generic profanity was "baloney!"

    Moved to the Pittsburgh area, where I heard "Get all ret up and go duntun".

  26. Kate Bunting said,

    July 18, 2022 @ 6:11 am

    In my childhood (UK, 1950/60s), 'pop' was the usual term for carbonated drinks.

    In the 19th century, the fashionable time for dinner (the main meal) was gradually moving later and later in the day, until it became an evening meal and it was necessary for wealthy folk to invent an intermediate meal, 'luncheon'.

  27. Victor Mair said,

    July 18, 2022 @ 8:30 am

    My Mom used to say: "Put THAT in your pipe and smoke it!" when she wanted us to think hard about something she considered to be of profound importance.

  28. Mark P said,

    July 18, 2022 @ 9:04 am

    My grandmother grew up in South Georgia but moved to Akron in her 20’s. She said hamburgs and Ohia.

    Regarding the names of the meals, here in NW Georgia, the big meal of the day was dinner. If dinner was at midday, the evening meal was supper. If dinner was the evening meal, the midday meal was lunch.

  29. Dennis Paul Himes said,

    July 18, 2022 @ 10:07 am

    I was born in Akron an lived in Summit County until I moved to Connecticut at age nine. I didn't notice that most people's pronunciation "wash" didn't contain an /r/ until I was an adult. After some investigation, though, I came to the conclusion that I picked up my pronunciation from my Pennsylvania Dutch mother (from Hanover).

    It was looking it up in a dictionary to prove to my future wife that "redd" was a real word that I first realized that it was spelled with two Ds. BTW, in my dialect the principal parts are redd, redd, redd. "I will redd up my room". "I redd up my room yesterday." "I've already redd up my room."

  30. Dennis Paul Himes said,

    July 18, 2022 @ 10:09 am

    s/pronunciation "wash"/pronunciation of "wash"

  31. Dennis Paul Himes said,

    July 18, 2022 @ 10:26 am

    Also, "dinner" is the biggest meal of the day. "Breakfast", "lunch", and "supper" are meals defined by what time of day they're eaten. So supper is usually also dinner, but sometimes lunch is dinner.

  32. DaveK said,

    July 18, 2022 @ 11:00 am

    My wife grew up outside of Cleveland sometimes used “Ohia” as an example of rural speech. And I’ve heard “Missourah” as well

  33. Tom Dawkes said,

    July 18, 2022 @ 12:29 pm

    On winda~window, cf, Dickens 'Nicholas Nickleby' where the villainous headmaster Wackford Squeers is explaining to the hero his pedagogical method
    "'So he is, to be sure,' rejoined Squeers. 'We go upon the practical mode of teaching, Nickleby; the regular education system. C-l-e-a-n, clean, verb active, to make bright, to scour. W-i-n, win, d-e-r, der, winder, a casement. When the boy knows this out of book, he goes and does it."
    "der", of course, in 18th century English, was schwa.

  34. BillR said,

    July 18, 2022 @ 1:14 pm

    I grew up in SE Michigan so pop and pail the like are familiar. Lived in Boston for 40 years and now in Colorado, and whenever it comes up people tell me I sound Canadian. I suspect it’s from watching Windsor, ON tv, CBC, in my youth. Warsh and rawr (for raw) is the kind of thing my wife and I made fun of in Boston.

  35. Victor Mair said,

    July 19, 2022 @ 10:20 am

    Some new additions / updates at the end of the o.p.

  36. J.W. Brewer said,

    July 19, 2022 @ 5:41 pm

    Wikipedia gives this account of the geographic range of the epenthetic /r/ in "warsh": "from D.C., Maryland, southern Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas, West Texas, and the Midland dialect regions within Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Studied best of all in southern Pennsylvania, this feature may be declining." I would add that in the late 1970's it was sufficiently extant in Pennsylvania-adjacent Northern Delaware (though I wouldn't say it was a majority usage) that it was one of four key perceived rusticisms/barbarisms/errors that my 8th-grade English teacher felt prescriptively obligated to try to rid her students of.

  37. Philip Taylor said,

    July 20, 2022 @ 2:31 pm

    "Also we had a drain board. Today it is the kitchen counter". In the UK, we still have draining boards, but they are a completely different thing to a kitchen counter (known here as a worktop). The draining board is where wet washing up is placed to drain, and drains directly into the sink, while the worktop ("kitchen counter") is where one prepares food, and the surface on which one puts (for example) microwave ovens, halogen ovens, air fryers, blenders, coffee grinders, Kenwood Chefs, etc.

  38. Joseph Holmes said,

    July 21, 2022 @ 5:20 pm

    When I was a kid in the 50s and 60s in Lycoming County in northeastern Pennsylvania, we not only said "Redd up your room," but took it further: after dinner my mother would say, "Redd off the table."

    We had breakfast, lunch, and supper, the last being the main meal of the day.

    We also said "daresn't," and my grandfather, who grew up in Bloomsburg, PA, called bell peppers mangoes.

    All kinds of flavored carbonated drinks we called "soft drinks."

    My grandmother had come from PA Dutch country so that may have been the source of some of those local terms.

  39. Carol Kennedy said,

    July 23, 2022 @ 7:17 pm

    A couple of comments about your East Canton vocabulary: my husband Don, who is also from E. C., said "redd up" meaning "clean up" as well. He also grew up with "pop" instead of "soda", but I think anyone from Pittsburg west says "pop" instead of "soda". Also, I believe that Don's dad said "warsh up" and "spatial" meaning "special".
    "Crick" was what everyone in the Philadelphia area said when I was growing up (for "creek"). We also said "crown" meaning "crayon" and "Keller" meaning "color". My dad, a linguist who grew up in Philadelphia, said "vanella" instead of "vanilla".
    "Bunch of baloney" and "belly-aching" are also common in Philadelphia.
    But the one that always gets me is the phrase "any more". Growing up in Philadelphia and environs, we only used it in a negative sense, as in "Don't get around much any more". However, west of here, people seem to use it in another sense, meaning "Now-a-days". As in "Any more, you can't get a good milkshake around here."
    Thanks for listing some of these expressions, regional dialectical differences have always intrigued me.

  40. Philip Taylor said,

    July 24, 2022 @ 12:54 pm

    Well, as a Briton, I too would use "any more" to mean "Now-a-days", but I could not position it as you [Carol] did — for me, your last example would have to read "You can't get a good milk-shake around here any more".

  41. BobW said,

    July 26, 2022 @ 12:57 pm

    "Qwitcherbellyakin" or some spelling like that was on a bumper sticker on the wall in my junior high school gymnasium in the early '60s. It took young me a long time to finally figure out what it was supposed to be. I was reading it as "quit cher bell yakin" which made no sense.

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