Diner lingo

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Salem Diner in Salem, Massachusetts, USA

Diner lingo is a kind of American verbal slang used by cooks and chefs in diners and diner-style restaurants, and by the wait staff to communicate their orders to the cooks. Usage of terms with similar meaning, propagated by oral culture within each establishment, may vary by region or even among restaurants in the same locale. It is virtually unknown outside the US.


The origin of the lingo is unknown, but there is evidence suggesting it may have been used by waiters as early as the 1870s and 1880s. Many of the terms used are lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek and some are a bit racy or ribald, but are helpful mnemonic devices for short-order cooks and staff. Diner lingo was most popular in diners and luncheonettes from the 1920s to the 1970s.[1]

List of terms[edit]


Adam & Eve on a log: two poached eggs with link sausage[2]

Adam & Eve on a raft: two poached eggs on toast[2]

Adam & Eve on a raft & wreck 'em: two scrambled eggs on toast[2]

Adam & Steve: two sausage links with toast[2]

Adam's ale: water[2]

All day: altogether[2]

All hot: baked potato[2]

All The Way: Hot Wiener with mustard, meat sauce, onions, and celery salt

Angels on Horseback: oysters rolled in bacon and served on toast[2]

Atlanta [Special]: Coca-Cola (since the company is based in Atlanta, Georgia)[2]

Arnold Palmer: Half sweet tea, half lemonade

Axle grease: butter[2] see also Cow paste and Skid grease


B & B: bread and butter[2]

B.L.T.: bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich

Baby: glass of milk

Baled hay: shredded wheat cereal[2]

Balloon juice/Belch water/Alka Seltzer: seltzer, soda water[2]

Battle Creek in a bowl: bowl of corn flakes cereal (from the hometown of the Kellogg Company, Battle Creek, Michigan)[2]

Beagle Fingers: sausage links

Beef stick: bone[2]

Betty Ford: a single order of the chicken breast dish

Biddy board: french toast[2]

Billiard: buttermilk

Bird: chicken[2]

Birdseed: breakfast

Birds in a nest: a fried egg on toast with a hole cut out of the center[2]

Black and blue: a steak cooked quickly over very high heat so that it is seared (black) on the outside and rare (blue) on the inside[2]

Black and white: chocolate soda with vanilla ice cream[2]

Black cow: (a) chocolate milk or (b) chocolate soda with chocolate ice cream (or) (c) a soda made with chocolate ice cream and root beer[2]

Blindfolded: basted egg[2]

Bloodhounds in the hay: hot dogs and sauerkraut

Bloody: very rare

Blowout patches: pancakes[2]

Blue-plate special: a dish of meat, potato, and vegetable served on a plate (usually blue) sectioned in three parts (can also refer to the daily special)

Boiled leaves: tea[2]

Bossy in a bowl: beef stew[2]

Bow-wow/Bun pup[2]/Tube steak/Groundhog: a hot dog

Bowl of red: a bowl of chili con carne (so called for its deep red color)[2]

Break it and shake it: add egg to a drink[2]

Breath: onion

Bridge/Bridge party: four of anything (from the card game bridge)

Bronx vanilla/Halitosis/Italian Garlic: garlic

Bubble Dancer: dishwasher

Bucket of cold mud: a bowl of chocolate ice cream

Bullets/Whistleberries/Saturday night: baked beans (so called because of the supposed flatulence they cause)

Burn one: (a) put a hamburger on the grill, or (b) with a BLT, to cook the bacon very crisp, as in "BLT, burn one"

Burn one, take it through the garden and pin a rose on it: hamburger with lettuce, tomato and onion

Burn the British: toasted English muffin


C-board: prepared to take-out (in cardboard)[2]

C.J. Boston: cream cheese and jelly

C.J. White: cream cheese and jelly on white bread[2]

Cackle fruit/Cackleberries: eggs[2]

Cackleberries out west: western omelette[2]

Campers - customers who "camp out" at a table, taking it up for an extended amount of time. This causes the servers to lose money because they cannot "turn the table."

Canned cow: evaporated milk[2]

Cats heads and easy diggins: biscuits and gravy[2]

Check the ice: look at the pretty girl who just came in

Checkerboard: waffle[2]

Chewed with fine breath: hamburger with onions

Chicks on a raft: Eggs on Toast

Chicago: pineapple sundae[2]

China: rice pudding

Chopper: a table knife

Chokies: artichokes[2]

Chortle Stew: Beef broth with olives[2]

Chuds: diners who take up an entire table and drink only coffee

Clean up the kitchen: hash

Coffee dry: coffee with sugar only (no cream)[2]

Coffee high and dry: coffee with no cream or sugar (a.k.a. "black")[2]

Coffee high: coffee with cream only (no sugar)[2]

Coffee regular: coffee with cream and sugar[2]

Coney Island chicken/Coney Island bloodhound/Coney Island:[2] a hot dog (so called because hot dogs were popularly associated with the stands on Coney Island)

Cops & Robbers Donuts and Coffee.

Cow feed: a salad

Cow paste: butter[2] see also Axle grease and Skid grease

Cowboy coffee: coffee made with all chicory[2]

Cowboy Western: a western omelette or sandwich

Cowboy with spurs: western omelette with french fries[2]

Creep: draft beer

Cremate it: toast the bread[2]

Crowd: three of anything (possibly from the saying "Two's company, three's a crowd")

Cryin' Johnny: burger with extra onions

Cup o' joe:[2] a cup of coffee

Cup of mud: a cup of coffee

Customer Service: attractive table

Customer will take a chance: hash


Deadeye: poached egg[2]

Dog and maggot: cracker and cheese

Dog biscuit: a cracker

Dog soup: water

Dolly Parton: two orders of the chicken breast dish

Don't cry over it: omit the onions[2]

Double black cow: double-thick chocolate shake[2]

Dough well done with cow to cover: bread and butter[2]

Down: on toast

Drag it through the garden: a hamburger, hotdog, sandwich or similar with all condiments (vegetables) on it[2]

Drag one through Georgia: Coca-Cola with chocolate syrup

Drag one through Wisconsin: serve with cheese (e.g. a cheeseburger)[2]

Draw one/A cup of mud: a cup of coffee

Draw one in the dark/flowing Mississippi: a black coffee

Drop two: two poached eggs[2]

Drown the kids: boiled eggs[2]

Dry: a hamburger, hotdog, sandwich or similar without butter, mayonnaise or other dressing (or an Italian beef sandwich without the meat juices)

Dry stack: pancakes without butter[2]

Dusty miller: chocolate pudding, sprinkled with powdered malt

Dish dog: dishwasher


Eggs up: two eggs fried on one side, unflipped with unbroken yolks which are generally runny (i.e. sunny side up) see also Fry two, let the sun shine

Eggs over easy: two eggs fried on both sides, with unbroken yolks

Egg o' Biscuit: biscuit with egg

Eighty-six (86): remove a dish from an order or from the menu (as when the kitchen is out of something)[2]

Eve with a lid on: apple pie (referring to the biblical Eve's tempting of Adam with an apple, the "lid" is the pie crust)

Eve with a moldy lid: apple pie with a slice of cheese[2]


Fifty-five: a glass of root beer

Firehouse it: add chili sauce to a dish[2]

First lady: spare ribs (based on the creation of the biblical Eve from Adam's rib)[2]

Fish eyes or Cat's eyes: tapioca pudding

Flop two: two fried eggs, over easy[2]

Flop two, over easy: fried eggs, flipped over carefully, with the yolk very runny

Flop two, over medium: fried eggs, flipped over, with the yolk beginning to solidify

Flop two, over hard: fried eggs, flipped over, with the yolk solid all the way through

Fly cake/Roach cake: raisin cake or huckleberry pie

Foreign entanglements: spaghetti[2]

Four on two over easy: Two orders of eggs over easy

Fruity fish: Raspberry compote with stewed anchovies

Frenchman's delight: pea soup

Frog sticks: french fries

Fry two, let the sun shine: two eggs fried on one side, unflipped with unbroken yolks which are generally runny (i.e. sunny side up)[2] see also Eggs up


GAC: grilled American cheese sandwich (also called "jack", from the pronunciation of "GAC")

GAC Tommy: grilled American cheese sandwich (also called "jack", from the pronunciation of "GAC") with tomato

Gallery: booth

Gentleman will take a chance: Plate of hash

Georgia pie: peach pie[2]

Give it wings: To be served quickly "Coney Island, and give it wings!"

Gravel train: sugar bowl

Graveyard stew: milk toast (buttered toast, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, and dropped into a bowl of warm milk)

Groundhog: hot dog[2]

Guess water: soup[2]


Hamlet's Problem: a Danish and 2 poached eggs with hot sauce

Hail: ice

Hatching it: a fried egg on toast with a hole cut out of the center[2] see also Birds in a nest

Heart attack on rack: biscuits and gravy

Hemorrhage: tomato ketchup

Hen fruit or hen nuts: eggs[2] (sometimes boiled eggs)

High and dry: a plain sandwich without butter, mayonnaise, or lettuce

Hoboken special: pineapple soda with chocolate ice cream[2]

Hockey puck: a hamburger, well done

Hojack: buttered toast[2]

Hold the hail: no ice

Hold the grass: sandwich without lettuce[2]

Honeymoon salad: lettuce alone

Hope: oatmeal[2]

Hot balls: matzah ball soup

Hot blonde in sand: coffee with cream and sugar[2] see also Coffee regular

Hot one: bowl of chili con carne[2] see also Bowl of red

Hot top: hot chocolate[2]

Hounds on an island: franks and beans[2]

Houseboat[2]/Dagwood Special: a banana split

Hug one[2]/Squeeze one: a glass of orange juice


Ice the rice: rice pudding with ice cream

Indie/Indiana Jones/Indy J.: a table that arrives just before closing time; the name stems from Indiana Jones grabbing his hat from under a closing door, as the customers snatch their orders from a nearly closing restaurant.

In the alley: served as a side dish

In the weeds: a waitress/cook that cannot keep up with the tables or orders

Irish turkey: corned beef and cabbage


Jack Benny: cheese with bacon (named after Jack Benny, the comedian) [[3]]

Jackson Hole Shooters: potato cakes or tater tots covered in white gravy and chopped or diced onion

Jawa/Java/Joe: coffee

Jewish Round: a bagel

Johnny Tremain, Make It British: a chicken breast, covered with (or with a side of) marinara


Keep off the grass: no lettuce

Kettle Ploppers: Vegetables fried in old grease


Ladybug: fountain man

LEO: lox, eggs and onion, usually served as an omelete. Common in New York City.

Let it walk/Go for a walk/On wheels/Give it shoes: an order to go, a takeaway order

Life preservers/Sinkers: doughnuts

Lighthouse: salt shaker

Lil' Scooters: small sausage patties

Looseners: prunes (so called because of their supposed laxative effect)

Love apples: tomatoes

LTO: lettuce, tomato, onion

Lumber: a toothpick


An M.D./Doc: a Dr Pepper

Machine oil: syrup

Magoo: custard pie

Maiden's delight: cherries

Make it cry: with onions

Make it pucker: with lemon

Marry: consolidate food in same containers, e.g. pouring ketchup from half-filled bottles into other bottles to make full bottles

Mayo: mayonnaise

Midnight Whistleberries: black beans

Mike and Ike/The twins: salt and pepper shakers

Million on a platter: a plate of baked beans

Mississippi mud/Yellow paint: mustard

Moo/Moo juice/Cow juice/Baby juice/Sweet Alice: milk

Monkey dish: a side plate about the size of a small saucer

Mother and child reunion: chicken and egg sandwich

Motor Oil: Maple Syrup

Mouse trap: grilled cheese sandwich.

Muddy Moo: Chocolate Milk.

Mully/Bossy in a bowl: beef stew (so called because "Bossy" was a common name for a cow)

A Murphy: a potato

Mystery in the alley: a side order of hash


Nervous pudding: American Jell-O

No cow: without milk

Noah's boy: a slice of ham (Ham was Noah's second son)

Noah's boy on bread: a ham sandwich

Noah's boy with Murphy carrying a wreath: ham and potatoes with cabbage


On a rail: fast (as in "Fries, on a rail!")

On the fly: as soon as possible

On the hoof: any kind of meat, cooked rare

One from the Alps: a Swiss cheese sandwich

One on the city: a glass of water


Paint it red: put ketchup on a sandwich or dish

Pair of drawers: two cups of coffee

Pearl Diver: dishwasher

Peel it off the wall: add a leaf of lettuce

Pigs in a blanket: sausages wrapped in pancakes

Pin a rose on it: add onion to a dish

Pittsburgh: something burning, toasted or charred

Plate o' dicks: a plate of sausages

Plop & Drop: a regular customer whose order is always the same

Pope Benedict: an eggs benedict

Put a hat on it: add ice cream

Put out the lights and cry: an order of liver and onions


Quail: Hungarian goulash


Rabbit food: lettuce

Radio sandwich: tuna fish sandwich (From the joke: "You can tune a radio, but you can't tune a {tuna} fish.")

Raft: toast, or when used with burgers, a toasted bun

Ram it & Cram it a hamburger with no bun

Run it through the garden: any sandwich, usually a hamburger, with lettuce, tomato and onion added


Sad Babies: a table with no coffee creamer

Seaboard: to go

Sea dust: salt

Schmeer: cream cheese, usually on a bagel

Shake one in the hay: strawberry milkshake

Shingle with a shimmy and a shake: buttered toast with jam or jelly

Shit on a shingle/S.O.S.: minced dried beef with gravy on toast (it was a reviled and loved standard fare in army messes)

Shivering hay: strawberry gelatin

Shoot from the south/Atlanta special: Coca-Cola (probably a reference to the fact that the headquarters of Coca-Cola is in Atlanta, Georgia)

Shot out of the blue bottle: Bromo-Seltzer

Sinkers n' Suds: Doughnuts & Coffee

Slab of moo, let him chew it: rare round steak

Sleigh ride special: vanilla pudding

Smear: margarine or butter

Soup jockey: waitress

Spit in the eye: a egg fried in the center of a holed out piece of bread

Splash of red noise: a bowl of tomato soup

A spot with a twist: a cup of tea with lemon

Stack/Short stack: order of pancakes

A stack of Vermont: pancakes with maple syrup

Stretch one: Coca-Cola

Sun kiss/Oh jay (O.J.): orange juice

Sunny-side up: eggs fried without flipping them, so the yolk looks just like a sun on white background

Sweep the kitchen/Sweepings/Clean up the kitchen: a plate of hash


Take it to Sloptown: combining multiple sides on a plate (e.g., adding corn to mashed potatoes, gravy to carrots etc.)

The works: a hamburger, hotdog, sandwich or similar with all condiments on it

Throw it in the mud: add chocolate syrup

Throw One, Throw Two, etc.: to "throw" an egg (2 eggs, 3 eggs etc.) onto the grill (as in "Throw two Over Easy)

To sell: to finish the plate

Toad in a hole: a fried egg on toast with a hole cut out of the center[4] see also Birds in a nest

Tube steak: frankfurter

Twelve alive in a shell: a dozen raw oysters

Two cows, make them cry: Two hamburgers with onions



Vermont: maple syrup


Walk a cow through the garden: hamburger with lettuce, tomato and onion

Walk-in: cooler in the back of house where food items are stored; not the freezer

Walking: to go

Walking in: a new order just arriving in the kitchen.

Warts: olives

Wax: American cheese

Well-dressed diner: codfish

We've got a gambler in the house: Hash

Whiskey: rye bread

Whiskey down: rye toast

Whistle berries: baked beans

White cow: vanilla milkshake

Why bother: Decaffeinated coffee with non-fat milk

Winnie Palmer: Half sweet tea, half lemonade

Wreath: cabbage

Wreck 'em: scrambled eggs


Yesterday, today, and forever: hash

Yum Yum/Sand: sugar

Yellow Paint: mustard


Zeppelin: sausage

Zeppelins in a fog: sausages and mashed potatoes

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Learn to speak diner lingo!". Dinerlingo.com. Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca "Diner Talk from the Swing Era". Retrieved September 12, 2011. 
  3. ^ The Village Voice - Google News Archive Search
  4. ^ "Toad In a Hole". Retrieved August 19, 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

The History of Diner Lingo and New York Eating Houses [1] research & glossary by Barbara Kuck, Culinary Historian & Curator, Chicago Culinary Museum and Chefs Hall of Fame and Tom Roberts, Szathmáry Distinguished Visiting Professor of Gastronomy