How to Sound Like a Local in Cleveland

Strike up a conversation with any one of us locals of the Greater Cleveland area and I bet you’ll notice three things: our accent, our love for our city, and our accent (although, we’ll swear we don’t have one). You’ll grow accustomed to our short-a, vowel-emphasized language soon enough.

While you may never pick up our native speech as you transform into a Clevelander, you should become well-versed with the following CLE idioms to sound like a true local:

The Shoreway is our local freeway.

Loosely hugging the shore of Lake Erie, the Cleveland Memorial Shoreway – almost always shortened to The Shoreway – connects the east and west sides of Cleveland. It zips past downtown, crosses the Cuyahoga River via the Main Avenue Bridge, and provides access to major roadways, such as US 6, US 20, SR 2, and SR 283.

Tower City is (basically) Terminal Tower.

Formally known as Tower City Center or Cleveland Union Terminal, Tower City is a multi-use center comprised of several interconnected buildings, including Terminal Tower—one of Cleveland’s high-rises. Tower City delivers a shopping mall, two hotels, a casino, access to Cleveland’s four main rapid (RTA) transit lines, and an easy walkway to the Q.

Wait. What’s the Q?

The Q is shorthand for Quicken Loans Arena. You know, where King James and the 2016 NBA Champions play? Yes, a true local always says the Q.   

Lake Effect Snow is our weather phenomenon.

As you’ll soon realize, winter months in the Great Lakes region can be cold (it’s really the subzero wind chills that hurt the soul) and snowy. I won’t bore you with the scientific details of what lake effect snow is, but just know that you’ll more than likely hear the phrase a lot. When you do, get ready to be met with a heap of snowfall.

The Jake.

Planning on becoming a Cleveland Indians fan? Looking forward to grabbing your mitt, buying a $4 beer (yes, only $4 at Indians games), and reveling in America’s pastime? If so, you’ll be watching the Cleveland Indians in Progressive Field, but the stadium is still known by its former nickname – The Jake, after Jacobs Field – to locals in Cleveland. So, if you hear someone say, “I’m headed to the Jake,” you’ll know they’re headed to the ball game.

The Flats.

Here in Cleveland, the Flats are synonymous with our industrial area and entertainment scene. Living on the banks of the Cuyahoga River, the Flats – which experienced a golden age in the early and mid-1990s as an area that held the highest concentration of bars in the Midwest and was said to be an entertainment destination for the region – has since been reborn from its deterioration in the early 2000s. Today, the Flats are booming and thriving with bars, restaurants, a dueling piano bar, breweries, a Water Taxi, jogging and bike trails, and much more.

Pop, not soda. Chuck holes, not potholes.

Our favorite bubbly, carbonated beverage is called a pop. If you say soda, we certainly won’t laugh at you, but you’re automatically wrong in the land of CLE. Also, those holes in the road are chuck holes to a Clevelander. Ixnay on the pothole-ay.

Great Lakes also refers to our very own brewing company.

A cherished piece of Cleveland’s identity, Great Lakes Brewing Company is Ohio’s first brewpub and microbrewery that makes award-winning seasonal and year-round ales, lagers, stouts, IPAs, and more. Living in Ohio City, the brewpub and restaurant deliver delicious dishes in addition to the long list of beers.

The Dawg Pound is not an animal shelter.

While the Cleveland Browns may be lost and look astray, their devoted fans are not. Cleveland Browns fans show up every game, regardless of record or blizzard-like weather, and cheer loud from the bleacher section of FirstEnergy Stadium known as the Dawg Pound.

Loyal locals never utter these two words.

It pains me to reference them, but for informational purposes it’s important that I let you know the locals of Cleveland never say Pittsburg or Michigan. The Browns and the Ohio State Buckeyes are our teams and talk of our rivals is met with disapproving looks.



Morgan Garcia