Top 10 Minnesota Slang Words

Confused by ‘Skol’ at a Vikings game or curious about what a ‘hot dish’ really is? You probably aren’t alone!  Minnesota slang makes the land of 10,000 lakes very unique. I was raised in Minnesota and often get asked “what does this word mean? Today I unpack ten essential phrases that offer a glimpse into the daily life and snowy winters of Minnesota, so if you ever visit and want to know the most used slang words, you’ll be able to talk like a local Minnesotan!

Minnesota Slang Words

Minnesota Slang in a Nutshell

  • Minnesotans might smile and say ‘That’s different,’ which is code for ‘I’m not enthused but too polite to say so.’
  • “Uff Da” can be your emotional Swiss Army Knife; whether you’re shocked or just stepped on a Lego, it’s got you covered.
  • A Minnesota ‘Pop’ quiz: What’s the local lingo for carbonated beverages? If you answered anything but ‘pop’, you’d be flat-out wrong.

Exploring “Minnesota Nice”

Minnesota Nice

If your travels have brought you to Minnesota, it’s likely that you’ve come across the widely recognized characteristic of Minnesota Nice. This phrase has been used to describe Minnesotans’ courteous and restrained behavior – attributes so influential in local culture they’ve become an emblematic term.

Such a distinctive feature can be traced back to the state’s Germanic and Scandinavian ancestry, which permeates its literature and forward-thinking political views. The tradition of welcoming refugees, especially in the Twin Cities area, has amplified this image with community-delivered assistance promoting inclusivity.

Nevertheless, beneath this veneer of congeniality inherent in “Minnesota Nice” lies a more nuanced social norm. Contemporary analysis suggests that there may be elements of sarcasm or passive aggressiveness within these polite expressions. As such, when one from Minnesota remarks “That’s different,” it could imply something less than flattering!

The Quintessential “Uff Da”

Transitioning from the polite confines of “Minnesota Nice”, we stumble upon the versatile and expressive “Uff Da”. Originating from the Norwegian words ‘uff’, meaning a reaction to something unpleasant, and ‘da’, an Old Norse word meaning ‘then’, this phrase has found a comfortable home in Minnesota’s linguistic landscape.

“Uff Da” is a jack-of-all-trades phrase used to express a range of reactions including:

  • express surprise
  • relief
  • exhaustion
  • dismay

Similar to the Yiddish ‘oy vey’, this Norwegian word communicates feelings of being overwhelmed within the Scandinavian-American community.

This phrase serves as a versatile exclamation that allows Minnesotans to express various emotions without resorting to obscenities. So, the next time you feel exasperated, why not try an “Uff Da” instead of a sigh?

I recently had beers at a bar called The Trail Stop Tavern in Eagan, and heard “Uff Da” for the first time in forever.  I had to explain to Michelle why I was laughing so hard!

The Art of Saying “You Betcha”

The phrase “You Betcha” conveys a strong sense of agreement, akin to an emphatic ‘yes’, and is frequently used by Minnesotans. It goes beyond mere affirmation. It’s also a way to say ‘you’re welcome,’ emphasize a point or acknowledge thanks.

Although “You Betcha” tends to resonate more in the smaller towns and countryside settings across Minnesota, its usage becomes sparser within the bustling cityscapes.

This signature phrase mirrors the inherent courteousness and amicable nature of Minnesotan culture. Should you find yourself at a tavern in Duluth with an offer for another round, don’t hesitate – reply enthusiastically with “You Betcha!”

Decoding “Hot Dish”

Hot Dish

After exploring some popular Minnesotan expressions, let’s move on to a phrase that’s deliciously unique: “Hot Dish”. This cherished concoction is typically a mix of starch, meat or another source of protein, vegetables and a creamy binder, which holds an esteemed position in both the culinary tradition and the affection of Minnesota residents.

The origin of the name “hotdish” dates back to its first appearance in a cookbook from Minnesota during 1930. It gained popularity throughout the Great Depression as an economical way to feed families. As years passed by, it has grown into more than just food—it signifies community spirit at local family events and church gatherings due to its simplicity and comforting quality.

In 1956, with the advent of tater tots, this modest hot dish was revamped—many varieties now include these bite-sized potato pieces baked until they reach golden perfection on top. So remember—if you find yourself within the borders of Minnesota—or if you call this place home—a savory taste test of a tater tot hot dish should be high on your list for gastronomic experiences!

The Soda Debate: “Pop” vs. “Coke”

Delving into the beloved Minnesota classic, “Hot Dish,” let’s now explore a common beverage quandary: choosing between calling it “Pop” or “Coke.” In the state of Minnesota, locals often opt for the word ‘pop’ to describe fizzy drinks—this sets them apart from other areas in America.

This preference can be traced back to an auditory clue—the distinct ‘pop’ noise produced when uncapping carbonated beverages. Another origin could be attributed to marble-stopped bottles that emitted a popping sound. Companies like Faygo were among those who adopted and popularized ‘pop’ as their drink’s nickname early on. While residents in northeastern and southwestern parts of the country may say ‘soda,’ and those living in Coca-Cola dominated Southeast might default to ‘Coke,’ Minnesotans remain loyal users of ‘pop’.

It is believed that this linguistic choice made by Minnesotans reflects regional ties and migratory trends shared with northern states where ‘pop’ reigns supreme too. Henceforth, while venturing through Minnesota’s borders, embracing ‘pop’ as your term for effervescent libations will help you blend right in!

Game of “Duck, Duck, Gray Duck”

Duck, Duck, Gray Duck

Shifting away from the lively debate over soft drinks, let’s delve into a lighthearted pastime known as “Duck, Duck, Gray Duck.” In Minnesota, they embrace an exceptional twist on the classic children’s game usually called Duck, Duck Goose.

In this Minnesotan version of the game, instead of simply tagging someone ‘goose,’ participants who are ‘it’ can designate others by tapping their heads and saying various colors or descriptive words before ducks. This hunt for the ‘gray duck’ injects additional excitement and complexity to it that distinguishes it from its counterpart “Duck, Duck Goose”.

The origins of choosing ‘gray duck’ could be linked to fables such as The Ugly Duckling. With ‘grey duck’ symbolizing an outsider whose uniqueness is eventually celebrated – reminiscent of how a nondescript bird matures into a beautiful swan.

Are you eager to play “Duck, Duck, Grey Dewck”? Our engaging free mobile app featuring our delightful game ducks invites you for endless fun!

The Long Minnesota Goodbye

Dive into the delightful practice of the “Minnesota Goodbye” after enjoying fun activities. This endearing tradition extends farewells into a social event, as departing from an occasion can become quite the protracted affair in Minnesota.

As Minnesotans engage in this drawn-out parting ritual, they often revisit discussion points shared earlier at their gathering. It serves as another moment to foster conversation and connection. While some locals relish these additional interactions, others among them would opt for a quicker exit without much fanfare.

Thus, when you’re in Minnesota, prepare yourself for an extended leave-taking process. And keep in mind that it’s not solely about bidding adieu but also cherishing those last snippets of camaraderie.

“Skol”: More Than Just a Cheer


Transitioning from poignant farewells, let us shift to the vibrant and rallying cry of “Skol.” This Scandinavian salute, traditionally signaling a wish for good health, has been embraced by fans of the Minnesota Vikings as their signature chant during games. It now resonates with additional sports teams in the area as well as at community events.

The ‘Skol’ chant found its inspiration in Iceland’s National Football Team supporters who used what became known as the ‘Vikings War Chant’ during their remarkable journey through the 2016 World Cup. Today, it is an integral part of the US Bank Stadium’s atmosphere where fans engage in:

  • Two beats on drums
  • A handclap
  • The collective shout of ‘Skol!’
  • Followed by blowing the horn associated with Viking culture

But this tradition extends beyond just football. Having infiltrated numerous other local sporting events and public gatherings around Minnesota. So regardless if you’re there for sport or socializing when you find yourself amidst Minnesotans, don’t hesitate to join hands and proclaim “Skol!”

Navigating the Twin Cities Slang

Dive into the captivating world of slang from Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Prefacing expressions with ‘Oh’, such as in ‘Oh, for fun!’ or ‘Oh, for sure’, is a favored method among locals to add emphasis to their statements.

In these cities, you might also frequently encounter phrases like ‘Holy buckets’ which express amazement or frustration much like saying ‘Jeez Louise’ or ‘For crying out loud’. Don’t be taken aback if someone refers to another as a ‘cake eater’ – this term distinguishes individuals from affluent origins and reflects the nuanced social distinctions present within the Twin Cities vernacular.

The linguistic flair of words starting with ‘Oh,’ together with terms like ‘Holy buckets,’ showcase the unique charm and cultural tapestry that define the Twin Cities. It could indeed pique curiosity about which expression tops the chart as most used slang word among all distinctive terminology heard here. Considering such an eclectic mix of slang terms available in their speech patterns, it’s hardly surprising that Minneapolis-Saint Paul boasts an abundantly varied lexicon.

Winter Words: From “Snirt” to “False Spring”

To conclude with a cozy nod to Minnesotan linguistics, the stark winter conditions in Minnesota have bred an exclusive collection of regional slang terms. Among them is ‘Snirt,’ which stands for that grimy blend of snow and dirt that emerges as the state’s winter blanket recedes in spring.

While ‘Snirt’ may serve as a gritty testament to Minnesota’s severe winters, there is an illusory glimmer of warmth known locally as ‘False Spring.’’ This term captures those fleeting moments of mild weather suggestive of early springtime—only for them to be abruptly quashed by the resurgence of subzero chill and additional flurries. Indeed, from soil-stained ‘Snirt’ patches to the misleading reprieve offered by a ‘False Spring’, such specialized words emanating from Minnesota embody both the diversity and the capriciousness characteristic of its winter season.

As I get older, I get wiser.  In addition to my Minnesota slang from growing up there, I’ve also learned a TON of Costa Rican sayings and slang words.  Make sure to check out that page as well if you want to speak like a local!


From the polite “Minnesota Nice” to the expressive “Uff Da”, the agreeable “You Betcha” to the hearty “Hot Dish”, the distinctive “Duck, Duck, Gray Duck” to the lengthy “Minnesota Goodbye”, we’ve journeyed through the rich linguistic landscape of Minnesota. Whether it’s the soda debate with “Pop” vs. “Coke”, the spirited cheer of “Skol”, or navigating the Twin Cities slang, each phrase and term paints a vivid picture of Minnesota’s cultural tapestry. Immerse yourself in this linguistic diversity and experience the heart and soul of Minnesota through its unique slang.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some Minnesota sayings?

In Minnesota, we’ve got some unique sayings, like “uff-da” for surprise and “you betcha” for agreement. It’s a whole different language up here!

And remember, it’s “duck, duck, gray duck,” not “duck, duck, goose”!

What is the meaning of “Minnesota Nice”?

People from Minnesota are known for their “Minnesota Nice,” which refers to their polite, reserved, and mild-mannered demeanor. This characteristic is perceived in a nuanced and positive light but can include an element of passive aggressiveness.

What is the term “Uff Da” used for in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, “Uff Da” is a versatile exclamation of Norwegian origin used to express a range of emotions without swearing. So next time you want to express surprise or relief, give a hearty “Uff Da!” instead!

What does “Hot Dish” refer to in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, “hot dish” is a term for a sumptuous casserole that typically includes layers of starch, protein, vegetables, and is bound together with a rich creamy sauce. It’s an ideal meal to warm you up during those cold Minnesota evenings!

Should you find yourself in Minnesota, don’t pass up the opportunity to indulge in some hot dish—it’s truly delightful!

How is “Duck, Duck, Gray Duck” different from “Duck, Duck, Goose”?

“Duck, Duck, Gray Duck” is the Minnesotan version of “Duck, Duck, Goose” and it’s known for its intricate gameplay and various descriptors for ducks.

It’s like adding a Minnesotan twist to a classic game!

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Tim Schmidt is a 20+ year Entrepreneur and Digital Marketer. A Fort Lauderdale-based "Digital Nomad," he enjoys traveling as much as possible with family and friends. AllWorld is his escape to document all of his adventures, including being a hardcore "foodie." He has property in Costa Rica and visits several times each year and is happy to offer his expert advice for planning your trip.

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