Uncommon lexicon

Slang words Columbia should have in its urban dictionary

It has almost been a year since I moved here from North Carolina, and though I’m not a townie just yet, 12 months in any city teaches you one thing: Embrace the quirks. And Columbia, you certainly have them. Here are some terms I’ve created to describe the oddities every newcomer learns to accept, um, welcome after a year in CoMo.

Ragtag famous: the state of being famous for founding, presenting or serving popcorn at Ragtag Cinema

If David Wilson were Jason Derulo, then he would sing his first name at the beginning of every Ragtag movie.  But unless you came to Columbia to cinema-stalk the theater’s founder, you didn’t know his name until you’d heard it paired with Paul Sturtz, True/False or an obscure Swedish film you actually enjoyed. Wilson is Ragtag famous, and his face is only one among many. Others bar of famers include the woman dressed in Bohemian maxi skirts who only sips Cabernet, that snarky bartender who never reminds you to close your tab and the disgruntled writer who’s thick-rimmed glasses are only outshone by his disdain for dystopian literature.

Tigression: when something, for no apparent reason, is named after a tiger or alludes to tiger lore 

The first time I went to an ATM in Missouri, I looked up to see a tiger statue looming over me with only MU’s black-and-gold moniker as an explanation. Within a few short weeks, I grew accustomed to constant cat references and poorly contrived links to the safari prowler in hotel, restaurant and alcoholic beverage names. “ZOU” puns and tiger-tail-bedecked minivans included, the community is in full tigression.

Journalized: when you have been interviewed or photographed for a Missouri School of Journalism project or publication

Columbia’s running joke is that the city has more journalists per capita than any other city in the country. That truth doesn’t resonate until an 18-year-old with a Moleskin notebook interrupts your Main Squeeze hummus wrap to ask how you feel about health care. You have officially been journalized.

Postcarding: using a common Columbia landmark for the background of a special event photo

MU’s columns. The Burr Oak tree. The Tiger Hotel. If you can Google search CoMo and accidentally come across your image’s backdrop, then you’ve chosen a loveable city cliche to catalog your special day. Sure, you met your future spouse on the Francis Quadrangle, but unless you’re mailing that photo as a stand-alone wedding invite, postcarding should be strictly prohibited.

Entropment: the act of nomadically roaming downtown Columbia while sipping from a suspicious white foam cup with a red straw

Once temperatures slip above 70 degrees, one beverage reigns over CoMo’s streets. Tropical Liqueurs (better known as Trops) has multiple locations, but its downtown joint offers risky residents the opportunity to take their alcoholic slushies beyond the bar’s fenced patio. Maybe you’re from a city that doesn’t encourage rogue roaming, but in Columbia, entropment is (illegally) accepted.


What Columbia slang did we miss?