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15 Expressions You’ll Only Understand if You’re From Michigan




Get ready to dive into the delightful dialect of the Great Lakes State! From quirky traffic terms to beloved local snacks, Michigan boasts a treasure trove of expressions that are as unique as its stunning shorelines. Join us as we explore 15 real and funny sayings you’ll only hear in Michigan—where every phrase comes with a splash of lake water and a sprinkle of snow!


Refers to a resident of the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan. It’s a term of pride for those hardy folks living north of the Mackinac Bridge.


A term used by locals to describe tourists who visit northern Michigan, especially Mackinac Island, and buy lots of fudge.


This is what Yoopers call people who live in the Lower Peninsula, as they live “under” the Mackinac Bridge.

“The Big House”

Refers to the University of Michigan’s massive football stadium in Ann Arbor. It’s a sacred place for Wolverines fans.

“Michigan left”

A unique traffic maneuver where drivers make a U-turn at a median crossover, then a right turn. It’s an essential skill for navigating Michigan roads.


A Midwestern interjection used when you bump into someone or drop something. It’s a polite way to acknowledge a minor mistake.


Refers to Michigan State University’s Spartan mascot. It’s a term of endearment and pride for MSU students and alumni.

“Up North”

A catch-all term Michiganders use when heading to the northern part of the Lower Peninsula for vacations or weekends, typically involving lakes and cottages.


Refers to heavy-duty winter boots. Essential for surviving Michigan’s snowy winters, these boots are a staple in any Michigander’s wardrobe.

“Party store”

What others might call a liquor store or convenience store, Michiganders refer to as a party store, a place to stock up on drinks and snacks for any occasion.

“Dune climb”

Refers to the activity of climbing the sand dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It’s a popular pastime and a great workout.

“Lake effect”

Describes the heavy snowfall caused by the Great Lakes, particularly Lake Michigan. It’s a frequent topic of conversation in winter.


No, not the burlesque accessory! In Michigan, a pasty is a hearty meat and vegetable pie, beloved by Yoopers and originating from Cornish miners.


A popular card game in Michigan, especially in the winter months. Knowing how to play euchre is almost a requirement for being a true Michigander.


What Michiganders call soda. Asking for a pop instead of a soda is a dead giveaway you’re from Michigan.

Currently residing in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and Pomeranian, Mochi. Leo is a lover of all things travel related outside and inside the United States. Leo has been to every continent and continues to push to reach his goals of visiting every country someday. Learn more about Leo on MuckRack.

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