Every spring and summer, the Eastern Shore is inundated with visitors ready to enjoy nature and the warm sun in a break from their everyday.
A few who have relocated here over the winter months will begin to explore the area’s beauty. And those of us who hibernate indoors with a warm blanket by the fireplace will again emerge in time for festivals and beach season.
To help our new arrivals, we compiled a list of Delmarva-isms. Basically, it’s an A-to-Z glossary of local sayings, places and people that make us who and what we are.
The Eastern Shore holds a special place in our hearts — and will soon be in yours, too.
ASSATEAGUE — Experience wild horses at Assateague Island, with the National Seashore and Maryland park. Beachgoers, campers, cyclists and nature lovers can explore the island from ocean to bay. With attendance climbing, there may be a wait during peak summer times.
BAYSIDE — Directions in Ocean City might include “bayside,” referring to the west of Coastal Highway or the side nearest the bay. If not specified, that typically means it’s to the east of Coastal Highway. Off Ocean City, the Assawoman Bay is the furthest north, with the Isle of Wight Bay and Sinepuxent Bay below.
THE BEACH — When going to Ocean City, locals say they are going to “the beach.” And if you’re headed to Assateague, specify and enjoy the wild horses.
THE BRIDGE — Living on a peninsula, you pretty much have to take a bridge everywhere. The official name for “the bridge” is the William Preston Lane Jr. Bridge, which crosses the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland along Route 50/301 and includes parallel spans measuring 4 miles. Connecting the Eastern Shore of Maryland with the Annapolis area, it is commonly referred to as the “Chesapeake Bay Bridge” or the “Bay Bridge.” This should not be confused with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in Virginia, AKA the bridge-tunnel.
BOARDWALK MEAL — A trip to the Boards means stuffing in as much food as possible. That traditional healthy dinner isn’t happening that night, so here’s to hoping the walk between stands burns some of the calories. Thrasher’s fries, ice cream, caramel corn, maybe some fudge. If that’s not enough, add a slice of pizza or a hotdog or some fried chicken. Whatever the menu, you’re going to leave stuffed.
CHESAPEAKE BAY — Marylanders treasure the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States, which separates western Maryland and mainland Virginia from the Eastern Shore.
CHICKEN NECKIN’ — The practice of catching crabs using raw chicken necks tied to a heavy piece of string. A weight is also often attached to sink the chicken neck to the floor of the waterway.
DELMARVA PENINSULA — A peninsula between the Chesapeake and Delaware bays, it includes the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia, along with part of Delaware (hence the name Del-Mar-Va). Water defines life here between the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay.
DOUGH ROLLER — The Dough Roller, which opened in 1980, is a fixture for pizza and buttermilk pancakes with multiple locations on the Boardwalk and Coastal Highway.
DUMSER’S DAIRYLAND — Dumser’s, launched in 1939, has seven family-owned shops that serve ice cream within hours of it being made. Their 49th and 123rd Street locations capture that diner look with lunch and dinner.
EASTERN SHORE — It’s a Shore thing — really! A region on the east side of Chesapeake Bay, including parts of Maryland and Virginia. The Eastern Shore of Maryland includes nine counties, and is divided into Upper Shore, Mid Shore and Lower Shore.
FURNACE TOWN — This site in Snow Hill preserves the 19th-century village of the Nassawango Iron Furnace. It houses a collection of historic buildings and artisan studios to study history, art and nature — and share the lore and legacy of life in the Pocomoke Forest.
FRONTIER TOWN — The Wild West-themed waterpark, RV resort and camping ground is located in Berlin. Pan for gold, ride the ponies and take a trip on a stagecoach. Experience everything from bank holdups and gun fights to jailbreaks and Native American dancing in this 1880s replica Western town.
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GOLF — Move aside Hilton Head, Delmarva has plenty to offer golfers, with courses that offer scenic views of the bays and marshes.
WILD HORSES — Assateague Island, which spans two states, features wild horses. The National Park Service maintains the herd at the Maryland parks, where horses roam free on the beach, bay and even into traffic. On the Virginia side, the famous herd is maintained by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company. The Chincoteague ponies swim the channel, with some auctioned off each year in a weeklong event called Pony Penning. Horses kick and bite, so observe this cool site of nature at a distance.
HERON — The great blue heron is the largest heron in North America at 4 feet tall, with a 6-7 foot wingspan. The majestic bird lives year-round in marshes and wetlands throughout the Chesapeake Bay region.
INLET — The Ocean City Inlet was formed by the Storm of 1933. It changed Ocean City from a small fishing village by opening the town as a fishing destination and moved into a tourist destination. Today, it’s where you can watch boats come in and see across the inlet to Assateague Island, and maybe even drop a line for fishing.
JEEPS — Yes, they have their own week, and really, what’s a beach for if not a Jeep parade and obstacle course? Other times of the year, try the Over Sand Vehicle (OSV) area at Assateague for a different kind of beach day.
JIMMIES AND SOOKS — “Jimmies” are male crabs and “sooks” are female crabs. You can tell the difference by looking at the crab’s abdomen: Males have a narrow triangle mark in the middle, while females have a broader, rounder mark.
JUNEBUG — No, not the Japanese beetle kind. A Junebug is what locals call the senior week graduates who swarm Ocean City in the month of June. While they may be called “senior weekers,” they visit the resort town throughout the entire month.
K-COAST SURF SHOP — K-Coast opened in 1989 and caters to the surf and skate culture, from boards to clothing.
LIFEGUARDS — Ocean City lifeguards, or surf rescue technicians, are specifically trained for ocean rescue scenarios. On a busy summer weekend with rough surf, the team might perform more than 100 rescues. Putting safety first, “keep your feet in the sand until a lifeguard is in the stand.”
MERLIN — No, not the wizard. It’s how old families pronounce “Maryland.”
NORTHSIDE PARK — From Sundaes at the Park to fireworks, this 58-acre complex at 125th Street in Ocean City offers a break from the sand. In November and December, it’s also home to Winterfest of Lights.
OLD BAY — The McCormick spice that should sit on the table next to the salt and pepper. Old Bay is best associated with eating crabs, but we love it so much in Maryland that we put it on everything from popcorn to chips — and even in vodka.
OYSTERS — Sometimes it’s “ersters,” sometimes it’s “orsters,” but one thing is certain — it’s never “oye-sters.”
PICKIN’ CRABS — The process of picking crabmeat from its shell and eating it. Everyone seems to have a style or trick they think works best. And fast-paced “crab pickin’ ” is an art form here.
QUIET STORM — Beginning as a small surf shop in 1983, Quiet Storm has grown to 11 stores (two in Ocean City), selling apparel and surf boards.
RIDES — It isn’t a trip to Ocean City without catching the rides at Jolly Roger or Trimper’s. Both amusement parks on the boardwalk are full of memory-making fun.
SEAGULL — The mascot of Salisbury University. Also a flying bird (some joke “rat”) that steals your fries at the beach, then has the nerve to squawk at you.
SEACRETS — For when you need more reggae in your life, try Seacrets bar and restaurant. The more Pain in De Asses you order, the more you might find yourself on the dance floor (so drink responsibly).
SHOREBIRD — The Delmarva Shorebirds are an Orioles affiliate that plays at Arthur W. Perdue stadium in Salisbury. It’s where to see rising baseball stars.
SMITH ISLAND CAKE — Layer on the goodness. Traditional Smith Island cake, the official state cake of Maryland, has been made on the remote Somerset County island since at least the 1800s and passed down through the generations. The cake features eight to 10 pencil-thin layers of buttery yellow cake with chocolate fudge icing that’s set between each layer, thought to keep the cake fresh.
TELESCOPES (Scopes) — If you’re an Ocean City regular, you can probably mark your family’s growth through the years with this vacation trinket: tiny keychain telescopes with a photo.
UBER BAGELS — A native New Yorker opened his first location in Ocean City in 2010, and now it has lines that can easily stretch out the door as fans flock to enjoy the heavy, doughy breakfast (and really all day) favorites.
UGLY T-SHIRTS — Harsh? Perhaps, but you can find almost anything you can imagine on Boardwalk T-shirts, and often no matter your taste in sayings.
VINEGAR — Thrasher’s French Fries is a Boardwalk must, and the stand has carried this craved condiment since its creation in 1929. Expect a salty response if you’re looking for ketchup, though — they don’t have any. Locals prefer to douse their buckets of crisp fries with vinegar.
WHITE MARLIN OPEN — The world’s largest billfishing tournament is based in Ocean City and draws celebrities like Michael Jordan. In 2021, the big winner took home just over $3.2 million with an 85.5-pound white marlin. Total purse for the event was $9.2 million, with 444 boats registered. That’s some serious fishing.
WESTERN SHORE — There is no life west of the Eastern Shore. OK, not really but life really has a different pace “across the bridge.”
WHOLE-NOTHER — Meaning something else entirely, as in, “That’s a whole-nother story.”
WORCESTER — Pronounced “Woo-ster.” Just don’t pronounce the “rce” in the middle.
WARSH — “Warch” (wash) your hands in the sink. So we add an R.
ExTREAM — We admit X used in this way is overdone, but in our defense, xylophone and X-ray aren’t going to make the list. And if you’re relaxing at the beach just so, maybe you don’t need the Xanax as much. So we’re going to own “eXtream” — we’ve got the extreme sports of surfing, waterskiing, body boarding, kiteboarding, sailing and jet skiing. And Ocean City Skate Bowl is the oldest operating municipal skate park in the United States.
YELLOW BOAT — One of the cruises visitors can take is on the OC Rocket, a bright banana yellow, high-speed boat owned by Talbot Street Watersports.
SALISBURY ZOO — The Salisbury Zoological Park is the perfect way to bring out the kid in all of us. The free, 13-acre zoo features Andean bears, wallabies, lynx and more.