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17 Arizona-Isms You Need to Learn

Arizona Culture
by Angela Orlando Sep 14, 2017

MOST ARIZONANS aren’t native, and if they are, their parents weren’t. Rather, they were born in the Midwest (usually) or California (increasingly common). Many hail from Mexico or other countries south of the US border, so we’ve anglicized their words. And others aren’t just native to Arizona but indigenous to the territory — that is, their ancestors were here before the Spanish who came before the Mexicans who were here before the Michiganders. Few Arizona-isms don’t borrow from some other place’s vernacular, so just like the people, the slang is a hodgepodge of awesome.

1. Native Arizonans hate the saying “But it’s a dry heat!” That’s what new transplants say when they defend their decision to move to our blow-dryer furnace inferno of a summer (and spring, and fall, lately).

2. You say it’s 103 degrees outside. For Arizonans, it’s “100 and f*%k.” You say “it’s hot.” We say “it’s only 103.”

3. Out-of-towners tell you to take Interstate 10; Arizonans tell you to take “The Ten.”

4. Tourists are excited to see the Grand Canyon, but Arizonans are bored silly with the “Big Ditch”.

5. Out-of-towners say “don’t wash away in the gully,” but Arizonans warn you not to “fall into the wash.”

6. Arizona drivers licenses expire when the driver turns 65. We get them at the MVD, not the DMV.

7. Arizonans don’t turn on the evaporative cooler, they turn on the “swamp box”.

8. You go to the butcher shop; Arizonans go to the “carneceria.”

9. Arizona hipsters don’t live in a neighborhood, they live in a “barrio.”

10. You say “giant killer dust storm”; Arizonans know it’s a “haboob”.

11. Torrential rain in August? That’s not a monsoon storm, it’s a “chubasco.”

12. You want a hotdog? Arizonans only have “Sonoran dogs.” Same with sno-cones. We serve “raspados”. They’re better.

13. You say you’re a “winter visitor;” we call you “snowbird.”

14. You have diagonal-running roads; Tucson has “stravenues.”

15. That mud house is an “adobe” and nope, it won’t wash away in the “chubasco.”

16. You say 90 degrees, we say “cool summer night.”

17. Need help getting groceries to your vehicle after shopping at Bashas’? Ask for a “carry out” and don’t forget to tip.

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