Maine accent

The Maine accent, or Down East accent, is the local traditional pronunciation of Eastern New England English in parts of Maine, especially along the "Down East" coast. It is characterized by a variety of features, including r-dropping (non-rhoticity), resistance to the horse–hoarse merger in older speakers,[1] a deletion or doubling of certain syllables, and some unique vocabulary.


Maine English often features phonetic change or phonological change of certain characteristics. One such characteristic is that, like in all traditional Eastern New England English, Maine English pronounces the "r" sound only when it comes before a vowel, but not before a consonant or in any final position. For example, "car" may sound to listeners like "cah" and "Mainer" like "Mainah."[2]

Also, as in much New England English, the final "-ing" ending in multi-syllable words sounds more like "-in," for example, in stopping [ˈstɑpɪn] and starting [ˈstäːʔɪn].[3]

The Maine accent follows the pronunciation of Eastern New England English, plus these additional features:


Traditional Maine speakers use some regional or even local vocabulary, including the following terms:

  • apiece[5] an undetermined distance (as in "He lives down the road apiece")
  • ayuh[6][7] /ˈjə/~/ˈɛjə/ yes; okay; sure; that's right
  • beetah[8] a (beaten up) motor vehicle with value so diminished by extensive road salt corrosion there is little concern about additional collision damage from driving on icy roads
  • blinker (blinkah)[8] motor vehicle turn signal
  • bug[9] lobster
  • bureau[10] a dresser or chest of drawers
  • cellar (down sellah)[8] a subterranean space under a house enclosed by concrete or masonry foundation walls extending below the winter frost line
  • chout![11] a warning to be alert (Watch out!)
  • chupta?[11] What are you doing? (What are you up to?)
  • culch[12] trash or rubbish
  • cunning (kunnin)[13][14] cute (as in "She's a cunnin' one, she is")
  • cutter (kuttah) an active child or younger person (from comparison to the harbor behavior of small, maneuverable cutters among larger ships)
  • dinner pail (dinnah pail)[10] lunch box
  • dite a tiny amount (as in "Just a dite")
  • door yard (doah yahd)[8] the yard or occupant's space outside a dwelling's exterior door -- sometimes decorated with ornamental plants, and often used for temporary storage of tools, toys, sleds, carts, or bicycles
  • Down East[15] loosely refers to the coastal regions of Hancock and Washington counties; because that boats traveled downwind from Boston to Maine (as in "I'm headin' Down East this weekend")
  • dressing (dressin)[10] application of manure to a garden
  • dry-ki[16] an accumulation of floating dead wood on the downwind shore of a lake
  • elastic[10] a rubber band
  • fart (old faht)[10] an inflexibly meticulous individual
  • flatlander[17] visitor from elsewhere, often from Massachusetts due to its flat topography
  • four-wheeler[18] all-terrain vehicle
  • franks hot dogs (from frankfurter)
  • frap[8] a milkshake with ice cream (from frappe)
  • gawmy[19] clumsy and awkward
  • honkin[19] extraordinarily large

  • hot top[10] asphaltic pavement
  • Italian sandwich[19] submarine sandwich
  • jimmies[10] colored sugar dessert sprinkles
  • johnny[10] hospital gown
  • kife[8] to steal (usually a small, useful item of low cost)
  • muggy[12] still air with very high humidity
  • nippy[8] cold enough to stiffen one's nipples
  • notional[10] stubborn
  • numb[20] dumb; stupid (as in "Numb son you got there")
  • old-timer (old-timah) a senior citizen or very experienced person
  • pahtridge ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) (from partridge)
  • pekid[11] feeling unwell
  • pisser (pissah) something that is highly regarded; an intensifier (as in "She's a pissah, all right")
  • porch (pawch) a roofed, and sometimes enclosed, but unheated platform on the exterior side of a first floor doorway -- used for storage of a snow shovel and for removal, temporary storage, and donning of wet boots, coats and hats
  • pot[21] lobster trap
  • prayer handle[22] knee
  • quahog[23] thick-shelled clam (Mercenaria mercenaria)
  • scrid[24] a tiny piece; a little bit
  • right out straight[19] too busy to take a break
  • rotary (roh'tree)[10] a traffic circle or roundabout
  • spleeny[10] overly sensitive
  • squaretail (squayhtail) brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis)
  • steamers (steamahs)[25] soft-shell clams (Mya arenaria)
  • stove in/stove up nautical term meaning bashed in (as in "Stoved all ta hell")
  • supper (suppah)[26] the evening meal
  • togue lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush)
  • wail on to hit (something) hard and repeatedly
  • wicked[27][28] very; to a high degree (as in "Wicked good there, bub")
  • woodchuck groundhog (Marmota monax)

In popular culture


  1. Labov, William; Ash, Sharon; Boberg, Charles (2006), The Atlas of North American English, Berlin: Mouton-de Gruyter, pp. 226–7, ISBN 3-11-016746-8
  2. Fowles (2015)
  3. Fowles (2015)
  4. Fowles (2015)
  5. Fowles (2015)
  6. Fowles (2015)
  7. VisitMaine (2015)
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Norman, Abby. "The Outta Statah's Guide to Maine Slang". BDN. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  9. Fowles (2015)
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Reid, Lindsay Ann. "English in Maine: The Mythologization and Commodification of a Dialect". University of Toronto. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  11. 1 2 3 Thieme, Emma. "The 25 Funniest Expressions in Maine". matador network. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  12. 1 2 Erard, Michael. "What it Means to Talk Like a Mainer". Down East. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  13. Fowles (2015)
  14. VisitMaine (2015)
  15. VisitMaine (2015)
  16. Burnham, Emily. "Dictionary includes words only a Mainer would use". BDN. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  17. VisitMaine (2015)
  18. VisitMaine (2015)
  19. 1 2 3 4 Fowles, Debby. "Speak like a Mainer". about travel. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  20. Fowles (2015)
  21. Fowles (2015)
  22. Fowles (2015)
  23. Fowles (2015)
  24. Fowles (2015)
  25. Fowles (2015)
  26. Pols, Mary. "At bean 'suppahs,' processed food is out, local food is in". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  27. Fowles (2015)
  28. VisitMaine (2015)

External links

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