Upon landing in Seattle, every new arrival must navigate a daunting gauntlet of weird new words and phrases. Some come from the region's original inhabitants ("What's a Leschi?"), others from area-specific phenomena ("What's a Dina Martina?"), and the worst make no sense even when written down ("What's a geoduck?") Lucky for all, here's a handy glossary of key Seattle words and phrases, conveniently divided into People, Places, and Things, complete with nonstandard but effective pronunciation guides.


Chief Seattle AKA Chief Sealth

(Cheef SEE-ahlsh)

A prominent leader of the region's Suquamish and Duwamish tribes in the 19th century. A statue of the chief adorns Seattle's PIONEER SQUARE.

Dale Chihuly

(Dayl Chih-HOO-lee)

World-renowned Seattle glass artist known for his gargantuan, cartoon-colored blown-glass monstrosities, questionable work ethic (he's been signing his name to factory-produced work for years), and missing eye.

Dina Martina

(DEE-nuh Mahr-TEE-nuh)

Seattle's preeminent and peerless drag performer, beloved for her upsetting aesthetics, sweetly twisted humor, and humongous camel toe.

"The Frye Apartments Guy"

(The FRYE Uh-PART-ments guy)

The diminutive Cuban man who's been standing at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Seattle, hollering into traffic and holding a worn cardboard sign denouncing the Seattle Police Department, the managers of the subsidized-housing development the Frye Apartments, and any and all Communists, since the mid-1990s.

Goddess Kring

(GOD-ess Kring)

The alter ego of Seattle artist/exhibitionist Shannon Kringen, who's been babbling about her emotions while exposing her body on Seattle cable-access TV since the dawn of time. If you own a television, eventually you will know her vagina better than you know your own.



Ichiro Suzuki, Japanese-born superstar right fielder for the now-they-suck-now-they-don't Seattle Mariners since 2001. Attend the right Mariners game and you may be presented with his bobble-headed likeness.

Jean Enersen

(JEEN EN-er-sun)

Longstanding KING 5 newscaster known for her unflappable coif and well-tanned hide. She has never shoplifted anything, ever.

John Curley

(JON CUR-lee)

Host of KING 5's Evening Magazine television show, and Seattle's own Muppet Guy Smiley, right down to the stick up his butt.

John Keister

(JON KEE-stur)

As host of the long-running, now-canceled TV show Almost Live!, Keister became the face of mainstream Seattle comedy. Tragically, he's never, ever funny.

John Richards

(JON RICH-urds)

Associate program director for Seattle-based independent radio station KEXP (the single most popular radio station on the web, FYI), and host of the top-rated "John in the Morning" show.

J.P. Patches

(JAY PEE Patches)

A clown who appeared on Seattle's KIRO 7 from 1958 to 1981. For Seattleites of certain generations, he's a cherished figure. For everyone else, he's just as creepy as any other clown.

Ken Schram


Crotchety media grump behind KOMO 4 News's infamous "Schram on the Street" segments, which combine the incisive wit of a hungover Andy Rooney with the scattershot logic of a raving street lunatic. Even photos of him smell bad.

Kyle Huff

(Kile HUFF)

Montana-born, 28-year-old psychopath who fatally gunned down six people then killed himself at a CAPITOL HILL house party on March 25, 2006.



Local man who regularly appears around town dressed like Peter Pan. However, he is not Peter Pan, but Link from The Legend of Zelda, and he gets really mad if you call him Peter Pan. Likes to yell homophobic epithets while wearing green tights, but is otherwise harmless.

Mark "Mom" Finley

(Mark "MAHM" FIN-lee)

Local drag queen. If you are a young gay man going out in Seattle, at some point you will find yourself in a room with Mark "Mom" Finley. Run.

Mia Zapata

(MEE-uh Zuh-PAH-tuh)

Lead singer of local band the Gits, whose 1993 rape and murder galvanized Seattle's music lovers and feminists, leading to the formation of the female self-defense organization Home Alive.

Paul Allen

(Pahl AL-uhn)

The local Microsoft gazillionaire who isn't Bill Gates. While Gates is busy saving the world through visionary philanthropy, Allen is content to build museums devoted to rock music and science fiction.

Steve Pool

(Steev POOL)

Longstanding KOMO 4 weatherman who is beloved by everyone everywhere.


(SUT-uhn BARE-iss CUL-er)

Hot-shit installation artists and recipients of The Stranger's 2005 Genius Award for visual art.

Vern Fonk

(Vurn Fonk)

Local insurance magnate known for his bizarre late-night TV commercials and the slogan, "Honk when you drive by Vern Fonk!" The commercials star a kooky man many believe to be the actual Vern Fonk. However, the man is an actor, and the real Vern Fonk is dead.

Virginia Mason

(Vur-JIN-yuh MAY-sun)

A legendary local prostitute of the 1920s who spread so much syphilis they named a hospital after her.




Peninsular neighborhood in WEST SEATTLE that juts into PUGET SOUND. Known for its thin strip of "beach" and crowds of well-off honkies on rollerblades.



Legendary local avenue running from the center of the city northward. Known for its cheap motels, big-box electronics stores, and plentiful hookers. (Also, the Aurora Bridge is the most popular suicide jump in the Northwest.)

The Ave

(Thuh Av)

Colloquial nickname for University Way, near the University of Washington. Known for its grubby street life and used CD stores.



Neighborhood in northwest Seattle, beloved by hipsters who've outgrown CAPITOL HILL, and home to numerous Norwegians.

Beacon Hill

(BEE-kun Hill)

A neighborhood in southwest Seattle, whose prominent features are the salmon-colored Pacific Medical Building now corporate headquarters for href="http://amazon.com/">Amazon.com, , the Jefferson Park municipal golf course, and a diverse immigrant population.



Richy-rich settlement on the eastern side of Lake Washington, home to the vast shopping center Bellevue Square and the people who shop there.

Capitol Hill

(CAP-ih-tuhl Hill)

Local neighborhood east of downtown, known for its high density of homosexuals and those who aren't bothered by them (artists, hipsters, nightlife lovers). Also known as Homo Hill and the Swish Alps.



Colloquial nickname/abbreviation for the Central District, the neighborhood in southeast Seattle that once housed the city's Jewish population, then the city's African-American population, and is currently gentrifying at a breakneck pace.



Beloved local hamburger stand with five outlets around town. Late hours and low prices make Dick's the favorite of hungry drunks throughout Seattle.



Nickname/abbreviation for the Experience Music Project, the interactive rock 'n' roll museum situated in Seattle Center and funded by PAUL ALLEN. The controversial building, reminiscent of a deflated donut on acid, was designed by Frank Gehry.



World-renowned fried-chicken emporium in Seattle's CD. Oprah has their goods FedExed directly to her mouth.



Neighborhood north of the city center, known for its artsy-hippie vibe, public-art statues (most notably the huge, concrete Fremont Troll), and freakish density of Thai restaurants. Also known by the cutesy nickname "The Center of the Universe."

Golden Gardens

(GOLD-uhn GAHR-dens)

Waterfront park located in the north part of BALLARD, adjacent to a sandy beach on PUGET SOUND, and home to unbelievably gorgeous sunsets.

Green Lake

(GREEN Layk)

Popular freshwater lake in north central Seattle, surrounded by the Green Lake neighborhood, and circled by countless joggers, bicyclists, and rollerbladers daily.


(Eye Dee)

Colloquial nickname/abbreviation for Seattle's International District, located in south central Seattle. Once called Chinatown, the name was officially changed to the International District, partly for political correctness, and partly because Chinese ain't the half of it. If you want good, cheap Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese food, go here.

King County

(King Kowntee)

If you live in Seattle, you're soaking in it.



Neighborhood in east central Seattle, named for Nisqually Chief Leschi, who was hanged for murder in 1858. His namesake neighborhood, however, is relatively quiet and sweet, with a number of popular lakefront beaches.

The Lusty Lady

(Thuh LUS-tee LAY-dee)

Legendary naked-lady emporium in downtown Seattle, celebrated for the relatively respectful work environment it provides its strippers and the pun-drunk marquee messages ("We're Open, Not Clothed!") it provides passers-by.

Mount Rainier

(Mount Ruh-NEER)

The highest peak in the Cascades, located 54 miles southeast of Seattle. On a clear day, its peak hovers gloriously on the horizon, like a painting by God that doesn't suck.

Pioneer Square

(Pie-uh-NEER Skwayr)

Historic neighborhood south of downtown, home to a bustling hobo scene and bars that attract drunken frat-boy assholes.

Puget Sound

(PYOO-jet Sownd)

Fjord connected to the Pacific Ocean via the Strait of Juan de Fuca, surrounded by Seattle, TACOMA, and three other, lesser Northwest cities.



City 35 miles south of Seattle, home to the huge, annual Puyallup Fair, featuring carnival rides, livestock expos, and other fascinating shit, which you must attend, preferably on acid, at least once in your life.

Queen Anne

(Kween Ann)

Neighborhood north of downtown, known for its bustling nightlife scene and high density of yuppies.

Safeco Field

(SAFE-koe Feeld)

Huge glossy stadium in the SODO neighborhood, home to Mariners games and the occasional rally by anti-gay-marriage bigots.



Colloquial abbreviation for Seattle Art Museum. (Not to be confused with Tacoma's TAM or Bellevue's BAM.)



Colloquial abbreviation for the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport; as one word, it's the full name of the airport-encompassing city of SeaTac, Washington.



Nickname for the neighborhood located south of downtown—SoDo, get it?



Neighboring city situated 34 miles south of Seattle, home to a burgeoning music scene, a good arts scene, and "the Aroma from Tacoma," the scent produced by the city's paper-mulching plant, reminiscent of 10,000 rotting corpses that just shat themselves.

Volunteer Park

(VAHL-uhn-TEER Park)

Good-sized, beautiful park in northeast CAPITOL HILL, home to the Seattle Asian Art Museum, the Noguchi sculpture Black Sun, and many, many cruisy homosexual men. Adjacent to the Lake View Cemetery, home to the gravesites of both Bruce and Brandon Lee.



Neighborhood in north central Seattle, home to Woodland Park Zoo and the 19-acre Gas Works Park.

West Seattle

(WEST See-AT-uhl)

Neighborhood west of downtown (surprise!), encompassing all of Seattle west of the Duwamish River, celebrated for its centralized social offerings and charming lack of pretension.


"Ave Rats"

(Av Rats)

The young, fragrant, homeless-by-choice denizens of THE AVE, known for their lackadaisical panhandling and the distinctive dark grey-green color of their clothes, hair, and skin.



Schmancy name for a coffee-making employee of an espresso stand. Good ones deserve the same tips as good bartenders.

Blue Angels

(Bloo AYN-jells)

The navy's military aerial demonstration team, consisting of six ferociously noisy fighter jets that annually rape the sky above Seattle as part of the SEAFAIR celebration.



Annual arts fest that takes over Seattle Center every Labor Day weekend, showcasing a variety of notable music, theater, and comedy performances among humongous crowds.

First Thursday

(Furst THURS-day)

An evening-length art blowout occurring the first Thursday of every month, when the city's art galleries—most of them in PIONEER SQUARE—throw open their doors and welcome visitors with free cheap wine; crowds stroll, walk, and drink. Perfect for art lovers and underage drinkers.


(GOO-ee-duhk—like, for real)

Large, creepy-looking saltwater clam native to the Pacific Coast of the U.S. and Canada, typically eaten cooked in a Chinese hot pot or raw, sashimi style.

Honey Bucket

(HUHN-eee Buhk-eht)

Popular local brand of portable toilets, whose tragic name has forced countless citizens to imagine what component of human waste elimination is reminiscent in any way of honey.


(Kay EEE Ecks Pee)

Freakishly popular local independent radio station, which in recent years had gained a vast international audience via the internet.



Pink fish beloved in the Northwest. The L is silent.



The legendary hair-beast, also known as "Bigfoot," rumored to reside in the Pacific Northwest and southwestern Canada, among many other remote wilderness areas.


(SEE Fair)

Local summer festival celebrating the sea, marked by hydroplane races, the BLUE ANGELS, wild partying, and numerous citations for boating under the influence.



Colloquial nickname/abbreviation for the Seattle International Film Festival, which takes over the city every May.


The Stranger's blog, updated every few minutes, located at www.thestranger.com/blog.

Solstice Parade

(SOLE-stiss Puh-RAYD)

Annual parade held in the FREMONT neighborhood, known for its exclusion of motorized vehicles and advertising of any kind, and inclusion of naked bicyclists.



Colloquial nickname for the University of Washington.

Wall of Gum

(Wahl uhv GUHM)

Legendary wall located under Pike Place Market, every inch of which is covered with chewed-up wads of gum. It's fascinating, in a disgusting sort of way.