How to Sound Like a Local in St. Louis

Some expressions and pronunciations in this town are, well... unique.

Hard to believe, but St. Louis has its share of odd pronunciations and mysterious terms. Here's a decoder to clear up some confusion.

bell fountain
That's our un-French-like mispronunciation of "Bellefontaine," as in Bellefontaine Neighbors.

the brewery
There are lots of breweries in St. Louis, but when we say "the brewery" we mean "Anheuser-Busch."

The brewery

depressed lanes
Refers to below-grade lanes of I-44 as it passes through downtown St. Louis by the Gateway Arch, not the mental state of the drivers.

duh pair
An uncharacteristically reasonably correct rendering of "Des Peres."

farty far
We like to slip "a"s in where "o"s belong, so that's how some of us say "forty-four," refering to I-44.

FLOOR uh sent
Another French beatdown, this is how we say "Florissant." You may be confused with the profusion of Florissant roadways, the geographic locations of which defy logic. North Florissant Ave. is south of West Florissant Ave.; West Florissant Ave. is east of Florissant Rd.; South New Florissant Rd. is north of North Florissant Rd. Sorry about that.

GRAV oy
Yes, the "s" is silent in "Gravois," but don't go too far French and say "grahv WAH." That's crazy.

highway farty
"Highway 40" (see "farty far"). We will often refer to I-64 as Highway 40, its U.S highway designation.

hoozier
You may hear a St. Louisan refer to someone disparagingly as a "hoozier," which does NOT identify them as being from Indiana. I apologize to the real Hooziers.

inner belt
A largely obsolete but occasionally used term for I-170.

kreev core
This is how we say, "Creve Coeur." Sorry, France.

kron duh LET
Yes, "Carondelet" looks French, but we have successfully Americanized it.

lah fay ET
This is how we say "Lafayette," as in Layayette Square and Lafayette Park, and we are correct.

Lafayette Square, a name we pronounce correctly

LEE may
How we say "Lemay," as opposed to "luh MAY," as William Shatner once did in a locally produced TV commercial during a particularly lean year in his career.

the lew
A recently developed nickname for St. Louis, "The Lou," bears an unfortunate similarity to British slang for "restroom."

MARE uh mack
"Meramec," a Native American word, is the name of streets, a river and a community college.

mow bap
Missouri Baptist Hospital actually encourages this nickname in its TV ads.

pork steak
This is a cut of meat that apparently only exists in St. Louis. It requires slow cooking at a low temperature and is often the basis for delicious barbecue.

shaw's garden
Many locals still refer to Missouri Botanical Garden as belonging to its long-dead founder, Henry Shaw.

Shaw's Garden

SHOW toe
This is how we pronounce the name of one of our founding fathers, Auguste "Chouteau" and the street named after him.

slew
"SLU" or Saint Louis University. There's also a slew high (St. Louis University High School). The Saint Louis University Museum of Art prefers "slewma" to "slumma."

SOO lard
Our rendering of "Soulard," one of our oldest, most charming neighborhoods and the home of our sensational Mardi Gras celebration. And yes, we say "mardee graw."

tee ravs
Toasted ravioli, a St. Louis culinary invention consisting of breaded, deep-fried ravioli usually accompanied by a tomato sauce, goes occasionally by the nickname "T-ravs."

T-ravs at Anthonino's

TILL eez
There are two local parks named "Tilles," although some (including Tilles family members) prefer "TILL ess."

umzell
Refers to "UMSL," University of Missouri St. Louis, home to the Touhill Performing Arts Center.

warshers
It's a game like horseshoes played in south St. Louis with washers, excuse me, warshers.

wash you
That's Washington University in localese ("Wash. U."), occasionally rendered as "warsh you." You'll find the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum and Edison Theatre here.

David Lancaster
About the author

David Lancaster is an accomplished artist and photographer whose work has been shown in galleries in St. Louis, Chica...