From ‘Dibs' When it Snows to ‘Welp' When You Leave, Locals Share ‘Weird' Chicago Mannerisms

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From the way people walk to the way people talk, it's no secret that Chicagoans have a certain way of getting somewhere, or saying something -- and a now-viral reddit thread has helped to highlight some of the idiosyncrasies people of the Windy City share.

The thread, posted in the Chicago-based subreddit r/chicago, and titled "What habits/mannerisms have you picked up since living in Chicago?" has generated more than 650 comments, on everything from food, to fast walking, to being the first to call "dibs" on a street parking spot when it snows.

"So somewhat unique to Chicago is "dibs" on street parking," one comment reads. "It's not legal, in anyway shape or form, but has been a thing here for at least 50 years. The belief is, if you dug out a street parking spot, you can reserve it with, well, a variety of means and physical items of your choice."

In terms of such physical items, one post simply reads "Chair on street," to which another commenter responds, "those are dibs chairs, you don't mess with those during a snowstorm."

According to one commenter, there is an entire blog dedicating to documenting the concept of "Dibs," which contains a photo archive of personal items Chicago residents have left out in parking spots in an attempt to reserve them, from chairs to children's toys.

Overall, many commenters took pride in what sets Chicago apart from other major American cities, holding on to the city's unique dialect, cuisine and culture.

Here's a look at some of the most common mannerisms the thread calls out.

"Midwest Nice"

"We are Midwest nice," one commenter writes, "which can be passive aggressive nice, but generally we are nice. I think the fact that is gets so brutally cold and hot/muggy kinda makes us have a collective enemy that brings us together."

Similarly, another commenter talked about the casual kindness seen in Chicagoans compared to other parts of the country.

"I lived here for 10 years, moved away for 2, and just moved back. The weirdest habit I picked up living here is the general expectation that people around me are competent and polite.

Friends, living in other parts of the country shattered this expectation. Thank you for generally being competent and polite," the commenter said.

Another commenter agreed, saying the approach in interaction with Chicagoans always feels genuine, even if they aren't in the greatest mood.

"I know that people aren’t being fake nice to me. They’re either being genuinely nice, or they’re not going to hide that they’re in a bad mood or not interested in being friendly, just polite haha. The fake niceness that turns nasty after the smallest negative thing happens is common in other parts of the country and I can’t stand it," the comment said.

While the southern U.S. has a reputation for hospitality, another commenter pointed out that Chicago hospitality is alive and well.

"Growing up in the south we used to joke if someone invited you over for dinner, they had to do it 3 times before you knew they meant it…here they just mean it," one comment said.


Part of that hospitality is the prevalence of fried chicken, Italian beef and mostaccioli for big gatherings, which many commenters didn't realize was mostly unique to Chicago.

"I get slightly sad/depressed when I go to an event not in Chicago (wedding, graduation, gathering etc…) and there isn’t Italian beef, fried chicken, and mostaccoli. I was an adult before I realized that was a mostly Chicago thing," a comment read.

Other commenters chimed in on the dish, with one saying "Mostaccioli doesn’t even exist outside of here. That was something that confused me so bad when I moved away. Just gotta go with penne."

However, others said several other Midwestern spots claim mostaccioli, including Detroit and St. Louis.

Fast Walking

The hustle of walking block-to-block in Chicago isn't lost on residents either, including some who were maybe unaware of how much faster they walk now.

"I walk so fast now lol I never thought of it before but," the comment said, with a reply echoing the sentiment.

"My mom came to visit me a few weeks ago and it annoyed the crap out of me how slow she walked, especially in a crowded area."


Other commenters talked about the linguistic quirks of the city, swearing away tennis shoes and sneakers in favor of gym shoes, admitting that "ope" has found its way into their vocabulary and proudly knowing how to pronounce paczki.

One commenter laid out a summary of common beliefs and behaviors of lifelong Chicagoans:

  • No Yeah means Yes, and Yeah No means No. I had no idea this is apparently a Chicago thing to say
  • If you say "welp" at any gathering everyone will immediately understand it's time to start heading out
  • Any weird change in the weather can be explained away by saying "Lake effect, am I right?"
  • To a Chicagoan, everything south of Kankakee is "Southern Illinois" despite that being geographically incorrect
  • El means subway, and train means commuter rail
  • As soon as you reside within the city borders, you'll feel an overwhelming urge to correct people from Westmont or Des Plaines who say they're "from Chicago"

In a language that all Chicagoans understand, one commenter simply said:

"7-7-3, 2-0-2," referencing the iconic Luna jingle that has been a staple on Chicago-area airwaves for decades.

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