Oct 19, 2022 Communities

14 Unique Words + Phrases Nebraskans Say

Spend any time around a Nebraskan and you might hear a few curious words or phrases for the first time, such as “buggy,” “doodinkus” or “sandhiller.” We’ve developed our own lingo around here, with several terms related to corn and of course, our beloved Cornhuskers.

So before you visit or move here, take a few minutes to brush up on these Nebraska-specific words so you’ll blend in as a local! That way, when someone says “Aksarben” or hands you something called a “red beer,” you’ll know exactly what they’re talking about.



14 Unique Words + Phrases Nebraskans Say | Aksarben

Outsiders and newcomers to Nebraska may be confused by the seemingly made-up word, Arksarben. And it is made up, to some extent! It’s simply Nebraska backwards — and came about when a group of Omaha businessmen formed the Aksarben Foundation in 1895 to promote cultural, agricultural, civic, and educational enrichment in the Omaha area. And ever since, the word Aksarben has taken on an identity of its own, with an entire neighborhood bearing its name.



Say “Blackshirt” and any Huskers fan will immediately know what you’re talking about. The full history of this term is lengthy and storied, and technically refers to starters, but is now used to represent Nebraska’s defense in its entirety. It embodies the defense’s five decades of success, as Blackshirts have ranked among the nation’s top 10 in all four major defensive categories five times: in 1967, 1984, 1994, 1996, and 1999!



On that note, did you know they weren’t always called the Cornhuskers? That’s right — the team was originally called the Bugeaters when they first played in 1892. It wasn’t until 1899 that Charles Sumner “Cy” Sherman named the team the Cornhuskers. And we’re so glad he did!



14 Unique Words + Phrases Nebraskans Say | Buggy

This one isn’t reserved only for Nebraskans — but it’s worth mentioning. Many of us have adopted the Southern slang of “buggy” for what many call a shopping cart. But we think it has a certain charm to it!


Der Viener Schlinger

Sure, you’ve had a hot dog, but have you had a hot dog delivered to you in a sausage-shaped gun? Enter the Der Viener Schlinger, the large air-powered gun that shoots hot dogs to hungry fans at Memorial Stadium during Huskers games!



14 Unique Words + Phrases Nebraskans Say | Detasseling

We sure have our fair share of corn here in the Cornhusker State — and it with that, comes many corn-related terms, like detasseling. This process involves removing the pollen-producing flowers, or the “tassel,” from the tops of corn plants and placing them on the ground. Detasseling is important for producing the best seeds possible for the next growing season.



There are many unique ways to say “knick knack” or gadget — or that thing you don’t really know the name for. Here in Nebraska, that word is “doodinkus,” although you’ll mostly hear that word from the older generation.


Dorothy Lynch

Dorothy Lynch may just be a brand of salad dressing — but it’s a fridge must-have in Nebraska. After all, the dressing was created by a woman named Dorothy Lynch, who served it at their family restaurant at the Legion Club in Saint Paul in the 1940s. This signature reddish-orange dressing is used as a condiment and dip to this day. It’s similar to French dressing but is seasoned with celery seed and other flavorings.


Market Rat

14 Unique Words + Phrases Nebraskans Say | Market Rat

This one’s unique to Omaha! The term Market Rat refers to the kids and teenager who would linger around the stoops of the Old Market in the ‘90s, possibly planning mischief — or simply enjoying a life of little responsibilities.


Oracle of Omaha

Say the “Oracle of Omaha” in Omaha and people will know exactly who you’re referring to: Warren Buffett. One of the wealthiest people in the world, Buffett is an investment guru and the CEO, chairman and largest shareholder of Berkshire Hathaway. He was born in 1930 in Omaha, and still lives in the humble home he and his first wife bought for just $31,500 in 1958.


Puppy Chow

If someone says they are bringing puppy chow to the potluck, don’t be alarmed — you won’t be forced to snack on kibble. Puppy chow is what we call that delicious homemade dessert, made with Chex Mix, peanut butter, chocolate and powdered sugar!


Red Beer

14 Unique Words + Phrases Nebraskans Say | Red Beer

Red beer is Nebraska’s response to everyone’s favorite brunch cocktail, the Bloody Mary. But it’s a bit more simple, containing just two ingredients: beer and tomato juice. Does that sound disgusting to you? Try it before you write it off! There’s a reason it’s considered the unofficial state cocktail of Nebraska.



While we’re talking about strange recipes unique to Nebraska, you haven’t been to Nebraska if you haven’t tried a runza, a bread pocket filled with beef, cabbage or sauerkraut, onions, and various seasonings. You can order this delicious “meat pocket” from any of the many Runza locations throughout the state. Eating a runza is almost a rite of passage in Nebraska, and has even been called “as Nebraskan as Cornhusker football.”



Here in eastern Nebraska, we often refer to those living to the west as Sandhillers. This is a nod to the Sandhills, a region in north-central Nebraska of mixed-grass prairie on grass-stabilized sand dunes. This large region covers more than one-quarter of the state!


What Else?

What other Nebraskan words or phrases should we add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!

Oct 19, 2022 Communities
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