Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Talk like a Mainah!

Everyone knows what a Boston accent sounds like. In Maine the accent is similar and  yet varied. There are unique cadences and dialectal sounds in a coastal Maine accent. Yes, many Mainers drop their "R's", but there are dialectal shifts that are unique. You can hear the accent while visiting the Harbor Master's Shack in Perkins Cove, Ogunquit. Listen to the fishermen as they talk about their catch of the day and hear a good example of this accent
Harbor Master's Shack, Perkins Cove

I have compiled a short list of words that are unique and distinct for coastal Maine. Many of these words are also used in New England and maritime provinces of Canada too.

Many of these words are used by my neighbors, friends and co-workers. Some of the words are nautical in origin. Many are early modern English in origin.

Ayuh, oh yeah:  To agree.
Schrod: Can be Haddock, Cod, Pollock or Hake. White fish catch of the day.
Cunnin: Cute.
Down Cellar: In the basement. "fetch me the laundry down cellah..."
Pot: Lobster Trap.

Wicked: Adverb, very, "its wicked cold outside"
Finest Kind: Literally, the very best. "These clams are the finest kind!"
Selectmen/man: Elected officials in a town. Similar to City councilors.
Dory: A type of wooden boat used for fishing in the north Atlantic.

Door Yard: The area around the door, usually the back yard or side yard. "the trash bin is in the door yard"
From Away: Someone not from the area, almost always someone from outside the state. An outsider
Cuddy: Cupboard or Closet. On a boat a Cuddyhole is a storage space.
Tonic: Soda
Ice Box: Refrigerator
Tea Dance: Some times not a dance, and rarely is tea served. This is an afternoon social at a local watering hole. Usually on a Sunday, or Monday holiday. T-dance is usually late afternoon, into the early evening. "Meet you at tea-dance at the MaineStreet this afternoon"
Stove-up: Injured from a fall. From a bike, horse or any other type of accident. "I was all stoved-up after I fell of my bike".  Etymology comes from shipping days from the wooden barrel STAVES. (past tense of Stave, smashed in)
August-itis: What Mainers get in August from an abundance of tourists and hot weather. This ailment usually clears up by Labor Day. "Polly's August-itis cleared-up after she was crowned "Miss Main Beach 2010"

Punt: Flatbottom square boat. There are many skiffs in Perkins Cove.

Apt: Likely. "I am apt to go down cellar after dinner"
Cussid: "I can't start the cussid lawn mower" Cussid, a contraction of curse.
Dinner-pail/dinner-bucket: What the rest of the country calls a lunch box.
Dite/dight: Originally dutch for small coin. Now means "just a little more". Mainers may say "put a dite more of butter on my lobster!
Dressed/Dress: Used as a verb. "Go on kids, and dress your feet up!"
Winter:  Verb. "Did you winter well?"
Dump, the: Noun. Place where we bring our rubbish. Called a transfer station or recycling center. Many towns in Maine do not have trash pick-up, so its to the dump we go!
Ate: used in the second person singular to eat. "Did you ate suppah yet?"
Gawmy/gorm : Dorky, clumsy, "get your big gawmy hands out of the pot of chodah!"


  1. Aw man, "cunnin" is really dying out and I, for one, will miss it wicked bad. But if you say it, people just look at you like "WTF?"

  2. also, dinner and supper are different things. dinner is "lunch", supper is the evening meal. this usage is dying out though. my kids get confused when I tell them to finish their dinner in the middle of the day. along the same food lines, I've found (to my dismay) that devil dogs, red snapper hot dogs, whoopie pies, finny-haddy, and cream horns don't exist out west. I've gotten chuckles from saying "huck" instead of throw and "yarding" as in pulling/pushing on something too hard or going to town on something- "Leeland, quit yarding' on that draw so frigging hard, you're gonna bust it!" although that might not be just Maine, or new england for that matter. also, "them" instead of "those" is pretty common, and a hard habbit to break. I never realized though that most of these words aren't used outside of new england.