‘Myrtle Beach drunk’ and 39 other slang terms you need to know before you visit
It’s well-known that the Myrtle Beach area has a unique culture that’s not quite like any other vacation destination in the world. But what some visitors don’t realize is that our little slice of oceanfront paradise has a language all its own.
Lying somewhere between Charleston’s Uppity Southern Chic and backwoods South Carolina’s downhome slang, the local parlance can be a bit tricky at first. But don’t worry — once you learn the basics you’ll feel like a local in no time flat.
To help you get the hang of it, we’ve devised this tongue-in-cheek glossary — think of it as our own, less vulgar version of Urban Dictionary — with a variety of useful, interesting and even downright silly local terms and slang words you might hear during your vacation in Myrtle Beach.
Think of some we’ve missed? Feel free to add your own variations in the comments below!
1. The Grand Strand
A roughly 60-mile stretch of sand — essentially an uninterrupted arc of beaches — that ranges from the North Carolina-South Carolina state line near Little River south to Georgetown, S.C., and the Winyah Bay. This is the preferred nickname for the overall area that includes destinations such as Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach, Garden City, Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island. The term is credited to The Myrtle Beach Sun (now The Sun News) columnist Claude Dunnagan, who first used it as a title of a column in 1949.
Example: “Man, you gotta love being on The Grand Strand!”
This is the name of the county in which Myrtle Beach resides, named for Revolutionary War hero Peter Horry, who served under the famed Brigadier General Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion. For those who want to sound like a true local, the word is pronounced “Oh-REE”, but more often than not, folks say “Or-ree” — like former NBA star Robert Horry. Just make sure you avoid the hard “H” sound and don’t say it like “Whore-ee” or you’re sure to get some funny looks.
Example: “You better take down that beach tent, or Horry County Sheriff will write you a ticket.”
3. Redneck Riviera
Despite claims by the Emerald Coast/Florida Panhandle/Panama City area to this term, anyone who has visited the area knows this beloved nickname really belongs to Myrtle Beach. Don’t believe us? Take it straight from the mouth of country music star John Rich, who has a trademark on the term. “You know they call Myrtle Beach the Redneck Riviera. I’ve always thought that was one of the greatest phrases ever. … So I trademarked the phrase and created a whole lifestyle line,” he said recently in an interview.
Example: “That guy was wearing flip-flops and socks with a Confederate Flag tank top. … Only on the Redneck Riviera.”
4. The Boulevard
The most famous road in the Myrtle Beach is Ocean Boulevard or simply “The Boulevard,” a place known as a hub of tourist activity, a great place to cruise for a taste of everything Myrtle Beach has to offer and a great place to get stuck in traffic. It’s one of many famous “the” locales around town including The Bypass (aka U.S. 17 Bypass), The Back Gate (the intersection of U.S. 17 Bypass and Farrow Parkway near The Market Common) and The Forest (a.k.a. The Carolina Forest area of Myrtle Beach).
Example: “Let’s hit the Boulevard and grab a bite to eat and then go cruisin’ for chicks!”
5. Restaurant Row
Situated in a sort of “no man’s land” between Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach is a strip of U.S. 17 known for traditionally having one of the highest density of restaurants along the Grand Strand. This northernmost part of Myrtle Beach is known as “Restaurant Row.” Here you’ll find a buffet of enormous 120-item seafood buffets including The Original Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood, Giant Crab Seafood, New China Buffett and Bennett's Calabash Seafood. Other popular eateries here include Chuck’s Steak House, Bimini’s Oyster Bar, Rossi’s Italian, La Festa, Thoroughbred’s and several others.
Example: “OMG I’m so hungry. How hungry? Restaurant Row hungry.”
6. The Waterway
Known to most as The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, this is a 3,000-mile inland waterway that runs parallel to the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and to the Gulf of Mexico. Around here it’s often called the “Inter-coastal” or simply “The Waterway.” It empties into the Atlantic Ocean on the northern end at Little River and on the southern end of the Grand Strand into the Winyah Bay near Georgetown. In addition to being a setting for some of the backdrop luxurious homes and golf courses our area has to offer, The Waterway also offers tons of natural beauty and serves as a playground for watersports enthusiasts. On any given day, you can experience top-notch thrills via speed boat, jet ski, or jet pack, or relax on a pontoon boat, kayak, a guided paddleboard tour or a romantic dinner cruise.
Example: “You guys wanna hit The Waterway and cruise up to The Boathouse for Sunday Funday?”
7. The Marshwalk
Located about 15 miles south of Myrtle Beach, just over the Georgetown County line is Murrells Inlet, a town which is known as “The Seafood Capital of South Carolina.” At the heart of Murrells Inlet is a ½-mile long promenade known as the Murrells Inlet Marshwalk (or simply “The Marshwalk”). Paved partially with concrete and oyster shells and at other points with a wooden boardwalk, the area is known for its waterfront dining and view of the gorgeous saltwater-filled marsh. Popular restaurants located here include Dead Dog Saloon, Bubba’s Love Shack, Creek Ratz, Drunken Jack’s, Capt. Dave’s Dockside, Wahoo’s and Wicked Tuna. Not to be confused with “The Boardwalk” in downtown Myrtle Beach, “The Riverwalk” in Conway or “The Harborwalk” in Georgetown.
Example: “I’m headed down to The Inlet for some drinks and dinner at The Marshwalk.”
8. The Golden Mile
A stretch of Ocean Boulevard where you’ll find some of the most luxurious beachfront homes — some valued upwards of $4-5 million — in the Myrtle Beach area. Nicknamed “The Golden Mile” this prestigious area runs from 31st Avenue North to 52nd Avenue North. Since it is mostly free from the high-rise hotels, this can be a nice area to find less crowded stretches of beach by parking at one of the several public beach accesses here.
Example: “Let’s hit the beach today up by The Golden Mile. Meet me at 48th.”
9. The Cabana District
An area on the north side of Myrtle Beach highlighted by small brightly colored shacks on the ocean side and unobstructed views of the beach. Running from the 5400 block to the 6000 block of Ocean Boulevard “The Cabana District” is a nice, flat stretch of road with several beach access spots, fitness stations, and a park/playground known as Gardens By The Sea. The history of small privately owned buildings that give the area its name is a bit of a mystery, with some locals claiming they were part of the Ocean Forest Resort — which stood in the area from 1930-1974 — and others saying they originally belonged to homes that were knocked down long ago in favor of hotels and condos.
Example: “I went walk up at The Cabana District today and then took the kids to the park.”
10. Bike Week
For many years, Bike Week has been one of the most popular and well-attended events of the year in Myrtle Beach, consisting of a large gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts each May. The important distinction, however, is separating the Cruisin’ The Coast Harley-Davidson Rally (a.k.a. Myrtle Beach Bike Week/Harley Week/White Bike Week) from Atlantic Beach Bikefest (a.k.a. Black Bike Week). The former, held in mid-May, has been occurring for more than 75 years and features mostly Harley-Davidson and Roadster-style bikes with events focused mainly on the south end of the Grand Strand in the Murrells Inlet area. The latter is known as the largest African-American motorcycle rally in the U.S. and is held over Memorial Day weekend each year featuring tens of thousands of sport bikes (a.k.a. crotch rockets). You will also occasionally hear the term “bike week” or “bike rally” used in the fall, but the events held later in the year draw only a fraction of crowds that come for the spring rallies.
Example: “Bike Week here we come! Time to hit up The Beaver Bar and party at Suck Bang Blow.”
11. Boiled Goobers
Another name for one of the area’s favorite snacks and one of the most misunderstood of Carolinian delicacies — the boiled peanut. This Southern specialty also known as “goober peas” originates from 19th century African slaves and consists of slightly-raw or semi-mature peanuts that have been boiled in salt water to soften them into something resembling a pea or bean. After boiling, the peanuts take on a strong salty taste and occasionally include flavorings such as ham hocks, hot sauce, Old Bay seasoning or beer. In 2006, Gov. Mark Sanford signed a bill making boiled peanuts the official snack of South Carolina.
Example: “I downed a ton of boiled goobers today and washed them down with like a gallon of Cheerwine.”
A distinctive style of fried seafood, popularized by restaurants in the Calabash, N.C., area, located just over the N.C. border north of Little River. Using cornmeal as the base for its batter instead of flour, the style was invented by a pair of families — the Becks and the Colemans — who ran “fish camps” in the area in the 1930s and later opened restaurants in the 1940s. Over the decades this style has expanded beyond the borders of Calabash (now known as “The Seafood Capital of The World”) and is served in restaurants and buffets across the Grand Strand. You’ll find several places using it as their namesake including The Original Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood, Crabby Mike’s Calabash Seafood and Bennett’s Calabash Seafood.
Example: “I don’t care what kind of fish that is. As long as it’s Calabash-style, I’m eating it!”
13. Sweet Tea
A Southern staple of the highest order, sweet tea is the only acceptable form of Iced Tea that should be consumed while visiting the Myrtle Beach area. Though you will find many Myrtle Beach restaurants do offer an unsweetened version for Yankees, no self-respecting local would be caught drinking this pale and bitter imitation of “real” tea. As proof to how seriously Southerners take this allegiance to the sugary substance, a 2003 bill in Georgia suggested making it a misdemeanor for restaurants serving iced tea to not offer sweet tea as well as unsweet.
Example: “Do you want sweet or unsweet, hun? Wait, excuse me … did you say ‘unsweet’ tea? That’s disgusting.”
14. Chicken Bog
A traditional South Carolinian food, specific to Horry County and its surrounding areas, Chicken Bog consists of rice, smoked sausage, chicken and spices. Similar in its nature to rice dishes like Chicken pilau, pilaf or perlo, the term “bog” come both from the sticky wetness of the dish and also from the bogginess of the region where its made. You’ll find variations of the dish which include, peppers, onions or other vegetables, but purists will tell you that the core ingredients should be enough. The Chicken Bog capital of the world is nearby Loris, S.C., — in the heart of Horry County off S.C. Route 9 — which has been hosting the annual Loris Bog-Off Festival each fall since 1979.
Example: “My momma makes the best chicken bog. I’m fixin’ to go get me some right now.”
15. Lowcountry Boil
Also known as Frogmore Stew or Beaufort Stew in certain parts of South Carolina, a Low Country Boil is a one-pot mix of some of the South Carolina Lowcountry’s favorite fresh foods, born from the Creole-like cooking and traditions of the native Gullah culture. Though many variations exist, traditional ingredients include locally-caught shrimp and/or crab, several varieties of potato, sweet corn, smoked sausage, onions and generous helpings of Old Bay seasoning. Unlike many “stews,” once cooked the ingredients are drained from their cooking liquid and transferred to a platter (or sometimes just spread out on a newspaper-covered picnic table), and eaten with your hands.
Example: “Won’t y'all stop by for the Clemson game on Saturday? We’ll be throwin’ back some beers and having a Lowcountry Boil.”
Most folks know this most core of Southern slang terms is short for you or you all. What you may not know, however is that y’all can be used to address a single person, a few people or an entire group of people. It’s versatile like that.
Example: “Are y'all headed to the beach today? When y'all think you’ll be back?”
The southern slang term meaning “there.”
Example: “How y'all doin' over dey'ah?”
A common greeting among hunters, fishermen and all forms of South Carolina good ol’ boy. Stylized from the words “Hey, boy!” it pronounced like “AY-bo” the saying has adorned many a ball cap and t-shirt, even sparking a South Carolina-based lifestyle line known as Heybo Southern apparel.
Example: “Hey-bo! What’s up, Cuh?”
A prominent South Carolinian saying for when one is about about to, preparing to or planning to do something at a later time.
Example: “I’m fixin’ to get me some shrimp and grits for breakfast.”
20. Might could
This Southern slang term translates roughly to “would perhaps be able to” and is often used in relation to what one is “fixin’” to do later.
Example: “You fixin’ to head on down to the beach? Well, I might could go after work.”
21. Hot mess
A person or situation that is completely out of control, beyond salvation or disastrous. The generally derogatory term often refers to someone whose outside appearance seems to be together but is, in reality, in a complete state of disarray. Often a hot mess is a like a car accident … you know you should look away, but the level of utter chaos within draws your interest.
Example: “That’s the fourth guy I’ve seen her out with this week. That girl’s a hot mess!”
This is common local parlance that is used interchangeably with the word “Carolina,” referring most commonly — but not limited to — the states of South Cackalacky and North Cackalacky. Some would claim this designation is reserved only for those residing north of the N.C.-S.C. state line, but those people would be incorrect.
Example: “Let’s all jump in the truck an’ head on down to South Cackalacky for the weekend!”
23. Pluff mud
The slippery, shiny brown-gray, sucky mud is found in tidal flats and spartina grass salt marshes, such as the areas near Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island. This mixture of dirt, water and animal byproduct indigenous to S.C. Lowcountry, has a distinct and pungent odor that’s endearing to locals, but off-putting to many visitors and Northerners. Unpredictable in its sucking power, when you step in it, you never know if you’ll sink up to your ankles, or up to your knees, or even to your hips.
Example: “I went crabbing on Sunday and next thing I know I was waist deep in Pluff Mud. Lost both my shoes!”
Also known as a “Clay-eater” or a “Dirt-eater” this term refers to a low-class, countrified (usually white) person from backwoods South Carolina, North Carolina or Georgia. Often farmers or rural poor, this term likely comes from people who literally ate dirt and clay to supplement their otherwise meager diet.
Example: “Y'all seen Skeeter lately? Nah man, I ain’t see that ol’ Sandlapper nowhere…”
This is short for The University of South Carolina, never the University of Southern California — which is generally known as “Southern Cal” or “The other USC.” The school, based about 2 and a half hours west in Columbia, S.C., is also known to many as simply “SC” or “Carolina.” It’s Gamecocks sports teams are one of only three acceptable options for fans who are originally from the Myrtle Beach area — the others being the Clemson Tigers and Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. While locals may claim to understand that other college teams exist, they generally are not aware that there is a world outside of the SEC (during football season) and ACC (during basketball season). And definitely, don’t expect them to change the channel in order to put on a Big 10 or Pac 12 game.
Example: “Dang man, old ball coach looks like he got him a pretty solid squad up at USC this season!”
The most common way beach dwellers like us refer to our closest neighbor to the South — Charleston, S.C. Though some residents of this highfalutin vacation destination would like you to refer to it as “The Holy City” we think our good ol’ Redneck Riviera term for it is better. Also known as “The Chuck,” Charleston is a perfectly good place to visit if you’re looking to indulge in boutique shopping for seersucker suits, drinking tea with some uppity Southern belles or grabbing a gluten-free craft brew with some hipsters.
Example: “Who wants to head down to Chucktown with me? I’m gonna buy some bowties, get me some shrimp and grits and have my handlebar mustache waxed!”
Derived from comes from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales — More specifically the Nun's Priest Tale, a story within Canterbury Tales — The Chanticleer is a proud and fierce rooster who dominates the barnyard. Lovingly known locally as the mascot for Coastal Carolina University, a public university just west of Myrtle Beach in Conway, S.C. Since 1993, when the school broke free from being a branch campus of University of South Carolina, the school's sports teams have been known as the Chanticleers (“Chants” for short) pronounced with a soft sound and long “A” like “SHON” not a hard sound and short “A” like “CHANT.”
Example: “Y'all seen the new field at Coastal this year? The turf is bright teal with a huge Chanticleer logo in the center.”
28. Palmetto bug
Despite South Carolinians’ best efforts to make them sound cute, “palmetto bug” really refers to a big, ugly cockroach. According to Orkin.com, the term is a general name commonly used to refer to several species of cockroaches in the southern U.S. including the Florida Woods Cockroach. This bug, which measures up to 2 inches long and when alarmed, can eject an extremely foul smelling directional spray up to one meter. So needless to say, avoid these little guys at all costs.
Example: “That room looked clean, but I found a big, nasty Palmetto Bug under the bed. Gross!”
The Gullah are people of African descent whose ancestors were brought over from Sierra Leone, Senegal, Gambia, and Liberia. The term refers both to the people — called “Geechees” within the community — and the language they speak. Residing mostly in South Carolina and Georgia, this culture has been a part of the history of the Grand Strand and the area extending south into the lowcountry for centuries. The language, also called Sea Island Creole English,
combines African words and sentence structure with the English language and was created by slaves who were required to learn English by their masters. You can learn more about the history of the Gullah at attractions such as Brookgreen Gardens.
Example: “I’ve gotta get me one of those sweetgrass baskets them Gullah ladies is selling by the side of the road.”
A visitor who flees from their northern homeland in the freezing winter months for a warmer climate. Much of the snowbird crowd which comes to Myrtle Beach hails from areas including Canada, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and other Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states. Each year, this influx of retirees — many of whom have second homes here or who rent inexpensive condos during the off-season — hits the Grand Strand as the weather gets chilly, usually around the holidays. During the heart of the offseason, throughout December, January and February, you’ll often find these part-time residents packing buffets, shopping centers and various attractions throughout the area.
Example: “You guys wanna hit up the early-bird buffet for dinner with all the snowbirds, it’s all-you-can-eat for like $9.99? But dude, it’s only like 4:00.”
The Carolina Shag — known to most as simply “The Shag” — is the official state dance of South Caroilna. Originating in the 1940s along the beaches of Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach and Wilmington, N.C., the dance is a descendant of the Carolina Jitterbug and its predecessor, the Little Apple. This popular partner dance is a six-count, eight-step pattern similar to a six-count Swing that has been danced in the beach clubs (often referred to as “shag clubs”) along the Grand Strand for decades. The National Shag Dance Championships started in Myrtle Beach in 1984 and now take place in March with dancers from all over the world traveling to compete in North Myrtle Beach. The act of doing The Shag is known as “shagging,” not to be confused with the British connotation of the term popularized by Austin Powers.
Example: “Excuse me, would you like to dance? Of course, but only if it's The Shag, my dear!”
32. Beach music
Carolina Beach Music, often known as “Beach Music” or sometimes “Beach Pop” is a regional genre of which developed from a combination of Rock 'N' Roll, Rhytyhm & Blues and Pop music in the 1950s and 60s. Closely associated with “The Shag”, the music, the dance and the people who support it have grown into a culture of “shaggers” over time with The Grand Strand serving as the core of this culture. A quick visit to North Myrtle Beach's Main Street and you'll find several famous clubs including Fat Harold's Beach Club, Duck's Beach Club, The Spanish Galleon and more who cater to this lively culture of music lovers with DJs, live bands and SOS shag events throughout the year.
Example: “I sure do love some Beach music! There's nothing like shagging the night away to the sounds of a great live band!”
33. Ocean view
An important term to know when booking a Myrtle Beach hotel, an “ocean view” room can sometimes be deceiving in that any room with even the slightest view of the ocean can be categorized this way. Just because a room is “ocean view” doesn’t always mean the view is bad — sometimes these rooms will offer perfectly gorgeous vistas — but they are sometimes less desirable (and often less expensive) than a “oceanfront” room, which is one that faces the ocean and offers full view of the beach. When in doubt it’s best to ask for clarification when booking your trip.
Example: “I told the old lady, why not just book the ocean view room? You can still see the beach and might as well save a few bucks.”
Though this is a commonly-used word, oftentimes in marketing a hotel the term “suite” gets slapped onto various types of accommodations and it’s best to be able to differentiate what it really offers. Unlike a standard hotel room (generally a single room with one or more beds and a bathroom) a hotel suite is typically a room with a larger living area that branches off into two or more bedrooms. These suites often feature full kitchens, offices, balconies, laundry rooms and other amenities. If in doubt about what your room features are, always speak with hotel reservationists to learn more about what is included.
Example: “I had the room all booked, but then my sister and her kids wanted to come, so I changed it to a suite.”
While many confuse the two, a hotel is simply an place of accommodations, with rooms and beds while a resort is a type of accommodation built around an attraction — such as a beach — which features a variety of additional amenities. While it’s true that most of the hotels in Myrtle Beach are, in fact, resorts complete with pools, water features, game rooms, gyms, and other amenities.
Example: “I couldn't believe our resort was so nice. The rooms were great, the food was good and the kids loved all the pools and waterslides.”
36. Pool cruising
A local tradition of sneaking into various hotel pools in order to cool off and experience the tourist lifestyle or — more often than not — to pick up visitors of opposite sex for a short-term fling. Though many resorts and hotel have added security measures and wristbands to combat this practice, it still runs rampant among locals and visitors alike.
Example: “Sandy and I went pool cruising the other night. You wouldn't believe the cute guys we ran into!”
37. The Dirty Myrtle
In addition to beloved monikers like “The Golf Capital of the World,” “The Grand Strand” and “The Redneck Riviera” the area has also picked up several not-so-friendly nicknames including “Dirty Myrtle” and “The Dyrtle” referring to the less-desirable aspects of beach life. Though the predominance of family-friendly fun throughout the area means you can easily have a vacation without experiencing the more “adult” side of the Grand Strand, the allure of tourism dollars has also drawn plenty of vice-based entrepreneurs to town. Whether its the boulevard’s mildly annoying t-shirt shops with crass sayings and head shops peddling ninja stars or outright seedy “gentlemen’s” clubs and after hours bars, it's best to avoid the Dirty Myrtle whenever possible.
Example: “You guys ready to hit up The Dirty Myrtle tonight? Nah man, I'm still recovering from last time…”
Also known as a scooter or a moped, you will often see these tiny motor vehicles cruising down local roads — and even dangerously on highways like U.S. 501 and U.S 17 Bypass. The D.U.I.cycle nickname is derived from the fact that in South Carolina these vehicles do not require a driver’s license to operate and many people convicted of driving under the influence use them as a means to get around. For many years, a loophole in S.C. law meant you could not be arrested for DUI while driving a moped (an ordinance which state lawmakers have recently moved to overturn). While these vehicles are a perfectly acceptable form of fun for tourists to zip around town or cruise the boulevard, chances are if you see a local driving one it’s because they’ve lost their license.
Example: “I gotta go pick up Steve so he doesn't have to ride his D.U.I.cycle to the bar again.”
39. Patio Party
A large party traditionally thrown by locals who sneak onto the premises of vacant beach houses while the owners aren’t home. This much-heralded practice was more common in the 1970s and 80s when throwing a keg party at a stranger’s house was more of a “kids will be kids” rite of passage than breaking-and-entering felony, but legend has it they still happen from time to time.
Example: “I'm headed out now to meet Ashley and then we're going to this patio party with the guys we met at the beach earlier.”
40. Myrtle Beach drunk
According to Danny McBride's movie “The Foot Fist Way” the term Myrtle Beach Drunk refers to the most drunk a person can possibly be. It's also referenced by McBride’s infamous degenerate minor league pitcher, Kenny Powers, during season three of HBO’s “Eastbound & Down” which was filmed partially in Myrtle Beach. According to Urban Dictionary, the term means “launching one's self into an absolute drunken stupor ending with great stories of bad decisions.”
Example: “It's payday and I'm getting drunk tonight, boy! I'm talkin' Myrtle Beach drunk!”