Willy T, the bowl and Caturday: Slang pulls students together


William T Young Library

Kennedy Miller

No matter what state students are from, they all share a home at UK.

However, one thing students might not share is the slang that belongs to their respective home states or regions.

“I would say that slang is really about belonging, not so much about communicating,” said Jennifer Cramer, an associate professor at UK with a Ph.D. in Linguistics. “For example, to show belonging at UK, you can refer to William T. Young Library as ‘Willy T.’ Outsiders won’t understand it, but everyone at UK will.”

Students at UK come from all over the United States and world, so they bring a vast array of regional slang terms.

This can cause a minor culture shock for out-of-state students as they are exposed to local and seemingly strange words and phrases as they mingle and build friendships with in-state students.

 “I thought Buffalo Wild Wings and ‘BDubs’ were two different restaurants,” said Haylee Ferenchik, a freshman from Georgia, in reference to the way Kentucky natives tend to call the popular wing restaurant “BDubs.”

Maryland-native Carly Cravath said that upon her arrival at UK she was surprised to find out that many people from Kentucky call lollipops “suckers.”

Cravath also gave an example of a word used in Maryland: “siced”. 

She said the word is used as a synonym for excited or to say you are in favor of something. For example, if a new movie came out that you were really looking forward to seeing, one might say “I’m so siced to go see Black Panther.”

Louisville native and kinesiology major Ben Goins said the phrase “on butt,” which means to act wild or outrageous, is a phrase that is common in conversations between young people from Kentucky but may be unfamiliar to those from different states.

Mike Deangelis, an economics major from New York and Goins’s friend, agreed and said he’d “never heard anyone say that before I came to Kentucky.”

However, Deangelis explained a slang term used back in New York, the term “O-D” which would be used to express that someone is going overboard or doing something too much.  

Even with all the variety in regional slang, the internet has led to slang being more consistent throughout entire generations.

“Social media has made slang a little more consistent, at least for users of such media, even across age groups, which is something new. Typically, when it comes to slang, youth are the primary users,” Cramer said.

No matter what state UK students may be from, if they call the library Willy T, go to The Bowl on Caturdays or shout “Cats By 90,” they are Wildcats with a home at UK and in Lexington.