Alaskan Sayings

January 10, 2011

I was so glad to make it out for a run this morning! 🙂 (And glad to have my appetite back as well!)

While, I wasn’t 100% sure I should venture out since I woke up coughing A LOT, I knew this coughing fit was due to the fact everything was now draining down into my throat since I wasn’t lying down anymore. (Thankfully, within a half an hour, my coughing subsided–for the most part.) Plus, I wanted so badly to get back to my normal running routine!!

I only went 5 miles, but that’s better than nothing. My legs felt quite good, and it was good to get some stretching in afterward because my legs have been SO tight from just sitting around for the past 4 days.


After living in Alaska for 3.5 years, you pick up on some sayings that are unique to the place you live. Here are just a few that are unique to Alaska.

(I’m posting this picture I took last summer to remind myself there is an end to the long short (?) days of winter!)

“Going outside”

Example: “Are you going outside this winter?”

Initial response: “Ahhhh, yes.”

Interpretation: “Are you leaving the state of Alaska–going outside of the state–(usually for somewhere warmer) this winter?”

I’m pretty sure this is mostly just used in the winter time?!?! This term “going outside” still catches me off guard!

“Termination dust”

Example: “Did you see the termination dust on the mountains this morning?”

Definition: termination dust = snow

(You can read more about it here.)

“The lower 48”

Definition: the continental 48 states


Example: “I hit a snow berm with my car this morning while backing out of the driveway.”

Definition: a large pile of snow

(We always called them “snow banks” in Minnesota, but Craig says you can’t store snow in a bank.) What do you call large piles of snow in your area?

“snow machines

Definition: snow mobiles

I think “the rest of us” would say snow machines make snow for the ski slopes. Alaskans, however, say those are “artificial snow makers.”


Example: “The sun and warmer temperatures caused a lot of break-up over the weekend.”

Definition: When the ice and snow start melting, causing pieces of snow and ice to “break” apart.

Break-up signals the end of winter, and the start of spring.


This is often seen as AK907 or 907AK (or something similar) on window decals, vanity plates, clothing apparel, etc.

This is not necessarily a “saying,” but if you see this number, that would be the area code for the entire state and it has been adopted as a way to declare Alaska pride.



What is a unique saying where you live?

I learned about “buggies” (a.k.a. shopping carts) in a previous post.

I could go on for days about the uniqueness of Alaska, but I will save that for another time!

    1. you forgot “The South” which is a term commonly used to refer to the lower 48 regardless of if they fought for the union or confederacy.

    1. In SW Ohio, warsh means “wash.” Warshington is our way of saying Washington.

      We measure distance in terms of time, not miles.

      “That’s about a half hour away.”

      We add a S to the end of almost every store. Kroger becomes Krogers. Target becomes Targets.

      1. I’ve never heard of adding an ‘S’ to the end of every store. . . interesting!

        I actually measure distance in terms of time instead of miles as well, but I don’t think I’m of the norm. Not sure why I do it that way.

    1. In college my roommate asked where the bubbler was. I had no idea what she was talking about! She was referring to a drinking fountain. She’s from the Boston area.

      There is the never-ending “duck duck gray duck” or “duck duck goose” debate (I say gray duck).

      1. Oh yes! Duck, duck, gray duck. . . I told my students here in Alaska how much more fun “gray duck” is vs. “goose,” and if they ever meet anyone who plays “gray duck,” they must be from Minnesota!

    1. so. i grew up in alaska…first 8 years of my life. i still remember the “snow machines” and “lower 48” and “break-up.” also…skiffs and beaver round-up. good times!

      i lived in kenai and dillingham. we’d fly into anchorage to stock up on supplies 🙂

      1. Nice. Are “skiffs” really an Alaska-only term? I’ve never heard of “beaver round-up” though!

    1. How about “bug dope” and “bunny boots”? 🙂

      When we lived in Michigan, we asked a cashier for change in “ones” (one-dollar bills). She gave us a blank look, and when she finally figured out what we were asking for, she said “Oh, you mean singles.” We hadn’t heard of “singles” before then, but heard it all over MI after that!

      1. I think people in MN used the term “bug dope” as well. Although bunny boots are definitely another Alaskan item!

        I’ve never heard of people saying “singles” instead of “ones.” Interesting.

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