As residents of the DC area, we often get a reputation of saying and asking things that have underlying meanings. In an article published last week, Thrillist put together a list that translates some of the common phrases heard around DC.


The list starts with one of the classic lines that we have likely all asked someone we don’t know: “So what do YOU do?” While some people may be genuinely interested in what the other person does, the Thrillist translation implies that the only thing we care about is whether the other person has a job that would be a good networking resource to us. Though at first this makes us sound self-serving, DC tends to have a reputation where who you know and who your networking contacts are matters. As those of us in PR know, there are often just a few degrees of separation between people – so this is a good ice breaker for determining if you know any mutual people.

As a recent article from the online magazine Punch states, Washington, DC is one of the most creative cocktail cities. A bar or restaurant with unique cocktails often comes with a higher price tag than the standard happy hour gin and tonic. If someone describes a place as having craft cocktails, Thrillist’s translation implies that the cocktails are so expensive that two will cost the same as your weekly groceries. When looking at this from a public relations perspective, even though the drinks at a place that serves craft cocktails are expensive, the use of the words ‘craft cocktails’ may help strength that particular bar’s image as a place that better understands the art of cocktails.

Like in many cities, each neighborhood in DC has its own character. Many of DC’s neighborhoods, like Shaw for example, have experienced a rebirth, making them attractive locations to live. As Thrillist translates, if someone says they live in Shaw, it means they know the trendiest bars and restaurants in DC.

A Business Insider article from early June lists the 20 most expensive cities for renters. Not surprisingly, DC and other East Coast cities place high on the list. That said, it not uncommon to hear people comparing rental prices with comments like, “It’s only $1,950 a month.” Thrillist translates a phrase like this to mean people from out-of-town have apartments where one room alone is bigger than a typical DC apartment. Part of a public relations campaign entails specific words and phrases to portray a certain image about an individual or organization. So, when someone makes such a comment about their apartment, they may also be trying to show that they are in a place where they can afford such an apartment.

Thrillist’s article translates several other common phrases heard in DC, including comments about dealing with the Metro, going to brunch on the weekend and how frequently we tend to use Uber. Do you agree with how Thrillist translates what people say in DC?

Stay tuned…