As the United States continues to grow and evolve, its citizens’ manner of speech has adopted and adapted the dialects of many different regions. Sure, there is American English, but American English isn’t necessarily the same in each section of the country. In fact, the way certain words are spoken—and even spelled—may drastically differ from another in another part of the country. 

Not only that, but social media, linguists, and other writers have put their own spin on what words mean to them, depending on where they live. Regional pronunciations are everywhere, and here we’ll uncover some of the most interesting, perplexing, and quirky words that speak for the character of each beloved region.

Pronunciations and Spellings in the Northeast

The Northeastern region of the United States is home to many unique variations of word pronunciation. The word “aunt” is often pronounced as “ahnt” in the Northeast states. Meanwhile, the word “caramel” can be said as “car-muhl” and the word “bagel” is often pronounced “bay-gull”.

In this part of the country, some words are spelled differently in order to visually communicate the correct pronunciation. For instance, instead of the standard “schedule,” the spelling “sked-ul” is commonly seen on signs or in writing, or perhaps the way “dialogue” may be seen as “dy-uh-log.”


• “Ahnt” for “aunt”
• “Car-muhl” for “caramel”
• “Bay-gull” for “bagel”
• “Sked-ul” for “schedule”
• “Dy-uh-log” for “dialogue”

Pronunciation Variations in the South

The southern states have a sound, a feel, and even a drawl all their own! In terms of regional lingo, southern citizens often pronounce the word “roof” as “ruff” or “thee” as “thuh.” Those who live in the South may often say the word “bag” as “beg” or “dance” as “darns.”


• “Ruff” for “roof”
• “Thuh” for “thee”
• “Beg” for “bag”
• “Darns” for “dance”

Pronunciations in the Midwest

In the Midwest, the word “aunt” is pronounced as “ahnt” and “roof” is pronounced as “roo-uff.” Midwest residents may call a “bag” a “bayg” and the word “bagel” “bageluh.”


• “Ahnt” for “aunt”
• “Roo-uff” for “roof”
• “Bayg” for “bag”
• “Bageluh” for “bagel”

Pronouncing Words in the West

Western regions of the United States have unique pronunciations of words, such as “aunt” being spoken as “ahnt.” It’s not uncommon to hear the word “roof” as “rough” or “bag” as “bee-ag” in the West.


• “Ahnt” for “aunt”
• “Rough” for “roof”
• “Bee-ag” for “bag”

Hawaiian Pronunciations

The Hawaiian language has evolved with influences from both English and Hawaiian makers of speech. The pronunciation of certain words varies from English in Hawaii, such as “aunt” being spoken as “anutu”, “caramel” being said as “kelema” and “bagel” pronounced as “bagela.”


• “Anutu” for “aunt”
• “Kelema” for “caramel”
• “Bagela” for “bagel”

Unique Regional Terms

Many regions have their own unique words and expressions that are used often to communicate in everyday language. Down South, a person who is extremely foolish may be referred to as a “helpless hoosier” or “apron stringjumper,” while in the Northeastern states, someone might describe someone as “buxom” which means well filled- out or having curves.

In Boston there are some humorous expressions that locals use to describe something that “smells bad,” such as “Smells like Philadelphia!” or “It stinks worse than a wharf rat”. Up North in the Midwest, if something is overrated, it’s often said to be “Overhyped by the Chicago Tribune,” and in Hawaii, a hot summer day is commonly referred to as a “Hilo Breeze”.

Unique Regional Terms:

• South: “Helpless Hoosier” and “Apron Stringjumper”
• Northeast: “Buxom”
• Boston: “Smells like Philadelphia!” and “It stinks worse than a wharf rat”
• Midwest: “Overhyped by the Chicago Tribune”
• Hawaii: “Hilo Breeze”

Common English Words Altered by Regions

Certain words across the United States have been modified or altered over time to reflect a regional pronounciation, spelling or phrasing. In the Deep South, the word “hungry” is often pronounced “hongry” and “yes” can be heard as “yers” instead. Those living in the Southwest might say the word “poison” as “poy-sun” or “forty” as “farty.”

In the Midwest, a person can “pop” a soda open—not “open” or “crack,” and in the Northeast, the word “something” is often said as “sumpin.” Similarly, the word “what” may sound like “waddaya” or “wotta” in the Northeast.

Common English Words Altered By Regions:

• South: “Hungry” as “hongry” and “Yes” as “yers”
• Southwest: “Poison” as “poy-sun” and “Forty” as “farty”
• Midwest: “Pop” for “open”
• Northeast: “Something” as “sumpin” and “What” as “waddaya” or “wotta”

Regional pronunciations vary from region to region and often across state borders. From Hawaiians speaking “anutu” for “aunt” to Northeasterners swapping out “watta” for “what,” regional lingo has been a popular staple for Americans for generations.

The way a person speaks doesn’t necessarily define them, but if you’re ever in a different region, you may want to be sure to get your regional pronunciations right or your friends and family may never let you live it down!