In some regions, people say "spendy," and in other regions, people have never heard the term. Do they say it in your area?

Mignon Fogarty
3-minute read

When I was researching the regionalism "needs washed," Bill Bevington recommended that I look into "spendy," which means "expensive" or "extravagant."  Here's the resulting map:

spendy dialect map


A blue pin represents one person who had heard or used "spendy" in the region. A red pin represents one person who has never heard "spendy" in the region. A purple pin represents someone who has heard "spendy," but only rarely or only from a transplant from another region. n=430+ (Go to the interactive map.) Not shown on the map: one person from the UK, one from Dublin, one from the Philippines, and four from Australia who reported that they don't hear "spendy" where they live. Apparently "exxy" is used like "spendy" in Australia.

"Spendy" Is Most Common in the Pacific Northwest and Midwest 

Clearly, "spendy" is common in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Since those regions are not contiguous, I first investigated whether there was some reason a lot of people would migrate from one region to the other. That was a dead end, but I did discover that both regions were centers of immigration for Norwegians starting in the mid-1800s. According to Wikipedia,"today "55% of Norwegian Americans live in the Midwest, although a large number (21%) live in the Pacific States of Washington, Oregon, and California."

This is what scientists call correlation and not causation. That the states with a lot of Norwegian immigrants roughly matches the states in which people say "spendy," doesn't prove that "spendy" is of Norwegian origin. It's just a correlation—a hint—but certainly not an answer.


About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.

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