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Here are 21 Slang Terms You’ll Only Understand if you’re from North Dakota




Welcome to the heartland of unique expressions! North Dakota isn’t just known for its expansive prairies and friendly folks; it’s also home to a distinctive set of slang terms that capture the essence of life on the northern plains. In this blog post, we’ll explore 21 slang terms that are as North Dakotan as fields of wheat and sunsets over the Badlands.

Dakota Fever

An intense passion for all things related to North Dakota, including its sports teams, culture, and traditions.


State nickname. One of North Dakota’s state nicknames is the Flickertail State, which refers to a ground squirrel or prairie dog that are abundant in certain parts of the state.


Short way of saying “I suppose”

“The temperature outside today is below.”

When winter rolls around, this is a pretty common saying here, but when we say it we don’t mean below freezing. Nope, we mean below zero. When it gets into the negative degrees we’ll simply refer to it as below.

Prairie Schooner

Refers to a pickup truck, a common mode of transportation in rural areas of North Dakota.



Roughrider State

A nickname for North Dakota, derived from the state’s Roughrider Award, which honors notable residents.

“Oh fer cute.”

This is more on the eastern side near our neighbor Minnesota, but if we see something adorable, you can expect to hear this. Yeah, it’s kind of a funny North Dakota saying but just go with it!

Uff da

Uff da means both everything yet nothing in the Midwest! Use this phrase to express surprise, relief, exhaustion, astonishment, and dismay.

Shelter Belt

Tree windbreakers. A shelterbelt is the row of trees planted in between fields to help block the wind from ruining them.

Blizzard Warning

An indication that heavy snowfall, strong winds, and poor visibility are expected, common in North Dakota’s harsh winters.

“I can’t come in today, I’m snow-stayed.”

As strange North Dakota phrases go, this is definitely one of them. If the snow gets to be too much and you can’t get out of your driveway, you are “snow-stayed.” Hopefully, your neighbor with a plow attached to the front of his truck will come bail you out!

Hot dish

Casserole. A hot dish is basically a comforting casserole that’s bursting with goodness.

“I saw a sun dog in the sky this morning, it’s gonna be a cold one today.”

A sun dog is a natural phenomenon where a ring of light and a few beams surround the sun. It almost looks like a lens flare from a camera, but it isn’t. When a sun dog shows up in the morning, it means it is very cold.


A term expressing surprise, dismay, or exhaustion, often used by people of Scandinavian descent in North Dakota.

Scoria Roads

Dirt roads made from crushed volcanic rock, prevalent in rural parts of North Dakota.


A traditional Scandinavian dish made from dried fish soaked in lye, popular in North Dakota’s Norwegian-American communities.


Refers to the Bakken Formation, an oil-rich area in western North Dakota that has experienced a boom in oil production.

“I love eating puppy chow.”

This will make an out-of-towner blink at you like you are crazy, but here we call “mud buddies” or whatever else they may be called “puppy chow,” and it’s delicious!


A casserole dish popular in North Dakota and the Upper Midwest, typically made with a combination of meat, vegetables, and starch.


A warm wind that occasionally blows across the plains of North Dakota, causing rapid temperature changes and snowmelt.

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. MuckRack Profile

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