Island Life

of sayings

All the interesting and fun comments on my last post got me thinking not only about  words, but also about local sayings.

The Island is known for its expressive, and often colourful, phrases. For example:

  • “Don’t get yourself in a tizzy”  – if someone is fussing
  • “Hold your horses”  – if someone is rushing about
  • “Wait up for me”  – if you are trying to catch up to a group
  • Dressed to the nines – really dressed up and looking fine.
  • “Slow as cold molasses”  – did you ever try to pour cold molasses?
  • “Storm-stayed”  – this phrase is used when someone is unable to get home because of a snowstorm. Therefore, they are stayed by the storm.
  • If the roads are slick with rain, sleet or ice, they are “slippy” not slippery –   although, my mother, who was a stickler for grammar, never accepted that phrase as colloquial – much less the infamous “warsh” (wash).
  • In answer to the greeting  “How are you?”, you could get “Grand!” and if one is really feeling great, “Grand altogether!”

A very unique Island speech trait (perhaps Maritime – I’m not sure) is to talk while breathing in – usually saying yes or no on the intake of a breath.

It’s a peculiarly pitched sound. The louder and the more times it’s said, the more definite the answer.

“Yeh, yeh, yeh” said in one long intake of breath means the person is in perfect agreement or commiseration.

The advantage to this little idiosyncracy?

You don’t have to stop talking to breathe. You can keep going indefinitely! 


The most common phrase, used solely by Islanders, describes people who are not born here. They are called “from away”.

Sometimes they are called a “CFA”, which is an acronym for “Come From Away”, but I think that’s a more recent term. I never heard it while I was growing up.

People could be from New Brunswick, which is the province across the Strait, or as far away as Timbuktu. They are  “from away”.

Even if they have lived on PEI for most of their life, it doesn’t matter. 

If you are not born here, you are “from away”.

But, being “from away” doesn’t mean that you won’t be welcomed, loved  or even belong on our Island if you decide to become an “IBC” – an Islander By Choice.

Our most famous citizen is “proof of the pudding”!


8 thoughts on “of sayings

  1. My dad, born and raised in rural Oregon, always said warsh.I have heard and used most of those phrases although of course since I’m from away, I don’t know all of them.I love playing with words, especially being silly and pronouncing words phonetically (being married to a linguist, I do this a lot).


  2. Oh, I liked this post too, Kathie!I love the "from away" even if you’ve lived in the area a long while. That’s how it is here in my ranch country. Although I have been here for 27 years, I am still a "transplant." I’ll never really, truly be a local….especially if you’re talking to a old-timer (who has been here all his life).Fun sharing these little idosyncracies we have.JodyP.S…..I never allowed "warsh" for wash either. Many in our area say it that way.


  3. I lived in Ticonderoga, NY for 8 years, and was always "from away". The locals were wonderful to me, but if I had lived there till I was 90, I’d always have been "from away".I also lived in Texas for a while, and somewhere in my duffel have a "Texican Dictionary". If I can find it, I’ll build a post around it. What I noticed most about Texans is that everyone’s accent was different from everyone else’s.Have a great weekend!!


  4. Margaret from Sask says:

    No matter how long ago our ancestors came west whenever one visits the Island we are asked "Is this your first visit home?" It makes one feel special


  5. This was a fun post. Talking while breathing in must take some knack. :v)We have the first four sayings around here too. But I’ve never heard of the other ones.


  6. Though a CFA I’m happy to say that I’ve learned how to speak while breathing in. It doesn’t make me an Islander but I can fake it and sometimes fool someone until they ask, "who’s your father and where are you from?"


  7. These sayings are fun. From away is a lot nicer than the label the Russian cult I grew up in had for anyone not Russian or Molokan. They would say nyee nosh which translated into English means Not Ours. Have a wonderful Island Day!


  8. well even though I would be considered to be from away .. I can relate to many of those sayings. I even tried. . typing and saying yes while taking a breath and it didn’t seem at all odd. I know when Jill came to see me from Texas she thought my speaking was very distinctive. . kind of lyrical she thought. How fun. ..


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