Chicago’s top contributions to the English language

Next time you hear someone mention a jungle gym, don’t think about the Amazon. Think about the Windy City.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

Are you a southpaw? Or a yuppie? Work in a skyscraper? Listen to jazz? Then you have a connection to Chicago.

Those words and 36 other words and phrases are featured in a Chicago magazine article listing the city’s contributions to the English language. Some examples of other common words on the list include “clout,” “racketeer,” “egghead,” “doo-wop,” “cafeteria,” and “props.”

Some of the stories behind the various terms are pretty surprising. For instance, the word “midway,” the part of a carnival full of games and sideshows, came from the 1893 Columbian Exposition, where the Midway Plaisance in the southern part of the Hyde Park neighborhood served a similar purpose. Now, Chicago has an airport named Midway (though it’s named for the World War II Battle of Midway).

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.