When faced with their own idiosyncrasies Utahns laugh, cringe and question things they commonly say or hear. A 2019 Deseret News article about things Utahns say attracted so much attention, a follow-up article seems necessary. Many of these common Utah sayings are direct suggestions from the people living in the Beehive State.
Here are 10 phrases you’ll rarely hear outside of Utah.
Point of the Mountain
When most people think of mountain points, they probably envision something at high altitudes. Not so for Utahns.
“Point of the Mountain” refers to a particular point of the mountain range that separates Salt Lake and Utah counties. While today you’re likely to see paragliders and hang gliders, the Utah Geological Survey notes that 18,000 years ago, “one might have heard and seen waves crashing on the shore of Lake Bonneville, glaciers calving into the lake from Little Cottonwood Canyon, and perhaps mammoths, musk oxen, or a saber-toothed cat.”
Of course, if you want to sound truly Utahn, you’ve got to say it right: “Point of the mou-unn.”
Welcome home, Elder
While most Utahns will find this phrase familiar, it must be confusing for all out-of-towners who see hordes of people gathered at the airport with posters and balloons to welcome home these rather young “elders.” Some people also mistake “elder” for a first name. (And given the uniqueness of Utah names, who could blame them?)
Contrary to referring to the aged, elder describes 18 to 20-year-old young men who serve as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s also worth mentioning that female missionaries are referred to as “sisters,” which is no less confusing if you’re hearing it for the first time.
He is looking for an NCMO
Ask anyone from Utah, specifically the Provo area, and they know what NCMO means. The acronym stands for Non-Commital Make Out. According to the BYU Universe, the term has been around for nearly two decades.
The blog Normons defines a NCMO as the chaste version of a one-night-stand. Just as the acronym implies, the idea is to make out with someone and then part ways like it never happened.
Here in the Beehive State, people are generally friendly and willing to express gratitude. But if they can do it in as few words as possible, all the better.
Explore Utah explains that “you bet” means “of course” or “you’re welcome.” If you’ve lived in Utah for any amount of time and have never heard this, try doing something nice for 10 random people and it’s likely to come up.
If the person is particularly grateful, they may go for the Minnesotan variant: “You betcha!” Then you know you’ve made a friend.
This Utah-ism term is more local to Utah County, but it doesn’t exclude. Especially if you want to make $25,000 in one summer! Summer sales is the all-encompassing term for young men and women who head out to a new city for the summer to knock doors and sell a product or service.
You can most likely expect a summer sales job pitch if someone wants to take you out to dinner, especially if it’s out of the blue.
Context is important here. One Reddit user pointed out that when someone says “sorry” to a Utahn, they cheerfully reply, “You’re fine.”
Perhaps it sounds a little more friendly than the boring old standby: “It’s okay.”
You can’t come to Utah and not hear about the Holy War, especially if it’s football season. This “war” refers to a sports game against BYU and the University of Utah. While mostly in reference to football, true fans get in the battle spirit for any sporting event.
While the exact origins aren’t known, the Holy War supposedly got its name because of the large population of Latter-day Saints living in Utah — and playing for both teams.
Besides the literal dirt in the outdoors, Utah isn’t usually lumped into any sort of dirty category. Unless it’s in reference to soda.
The media coined “soda wars” is a real thing in the Beehive State, and the contenders play dirty. Many people might remember the tense battle over the term “dirty” between Sodalicious and Swig, reports the New York Times. While both parties agreed to settle, other soda shops have grabbed hold of the marketable phrase. You can hear Utah moms and adults all over the state asking for a Diet Coke, extra dirty.
Known for the ski slopes and great snow, Utah is bound to have some ski-related phrases few others would understand. Only in Your State says, “In Utah, the powder is addictive, but it’s not an illegal drug.”
When snow falls in Utah, it’s usually to the dismay of most commuters. However, ski bums rejoice in the fresh powder-like snow coating the ski runs. Ski Utah says the snow density is 8.5%, which makes it feel like gliding through powder instead of navigating through dense, rock-like snow.
Everyone in Utah knows about the unique blend of mayonnaise and ketchup commonly called fry sauce. But if you travel out of state and ask for fry sauce, fast food workers are likely to respond with a blank stare.
According to Eater’s brief history of the popular pink-hued condiment, fry sauce was invented in Salt Lake City in the 1940s by Don Carlos Edwards, the original owner of Arctic Circle. While you may be able to find it in various locations in the western United States, fry sauce has yet to conquer the world — but it’s only a matter of time.
Just like fry sauce, Dirty Diet Cokes and frozen sugar cookies, you’ll most commonly hear these catchphrases in the Beehive State. These are just a handful of phrases you’ll only hear in Utah. Be sure to check out the original article for 11 more.
* Robert DeBry is retired from the practice of law