A Glossary of Vermont Terms

oneinathousandlogoE.O. Schaub

I’ve been compiling a list of definitions specific to the Vermont area which may come in handy to the novice Vermontian. If you are a “Vermonter” these will not be new to you. (And by “Vermonter” I mean, you were born in the state of Vermont. Also, your mother, father, grandparents, and ideally great-grandparents, were born in Vermont. It would be helpful too if your cousins, your spouse, your farm animals and pets were born in Vermont. Also, your houseplants must be native to Vermont, and ideally, you have at some point in your life been engaged in a heated debate over the merits of your favorite grade of maple syrup.)

However, if you are a “Flatlander,” that is, someone who had the great misfortune to be born in some other, icky state -and I can tell you are by the shape of your eyebrows- you may want to bone up on some of these essential terms.

(Please note, if you belong to neither of the above groups, we must assume you belong either to the category of the migrating, multi-pocketed “Second-Home Owner,” or perhaps the nocturnal, left-wing-ed “College Student,” —aka the “Snowboarding Dirt Smoker.” Or maybe you belong to that most transient of Vermont life forms, the “Tourist” —see also “Leaf-Peeper,” “Syrup-Sucker,” and “Snow-Hugger.” In these cases, the primary phenomenon that should interest you is Ben and Jerry’s “Free Cone Day.” This is a special annual holiday arranged by the Vermont legislature which should more than make up for those silly higher non-resident property taxes and tourism-targeted sales fees.)

And now the terms , arranged by subject matter:


  • “Casual”: Pajama pants optional.
  • “Semi-Formal”: Please wear shoes.
  • “Formal”: Somebody’s getting married! No flannel, please.
  • “Potluck”: Any gathering of three or more adults. (Note: Vermont newcomers, not to worry. When you move here, the state will send you a free set of Tupperware and a jar of mayonnaise.)
  • “Tea-Cup Auction”: A closely-guarded, secret Vermont-ritual on the order of the initiation rites of the Knights of Scion. Enough- I can tell you no more!


  • “Act 60”: Evil incarnate.
  • “Gold Town”: Related to the funding mechanism of “Act 60.” Refers to any town in the state which does not still use their dirt-floor schoolhouse.
  • “Posted”: Privately owned land upon which one may not hunt, fish, trap or explode fireworks without the landowner’s express permission. Although you will see many “Posted” signs throughout the state, it is a little known fact that the guidelines for such signage are very precise, and therefore most of these signs are rendered invalid for one or more of the following reasons:

-out of date registration (must be filed annually with town clerk)
-incorrect landowner listed
-incorrect size or color sign
-unattractive typeface
-bent corner
-sign illegible due to gunshot holes
-you’ve been hunting there since the landowner was in diapers

In the event that you discover an invalid Posted sign, you may consider anything moving on the property eligible for prompt slaughter and barbeque on a spit in the landowner’s front yard. (Note: it is considered polite to offer the landowner a modest portion of the meat, unless of course you have inadvertently taken out his companion animal Snookers, who actually bore a remarkable resemblance to a five point deer.)


“Homeschool”: Vermont has a notable population of independent-thinking parents who choose to opt out of the traditional public school system in favor of locking their children in the coat closet until they turn eighteen. In this way, parents may tailor the educational program their child receives to his or her specific needs and/or strengths, via the more creative teaching strategy of passing notes in the crack beneath the door. As a side benefit, homeschooled children have very few problems with teen pregnancy, smoking, and learn to socialize very well with most forms of outerwear.


“Jeezum”: Exclamation, can be either positive or negative in connotation. As in, “Did you hear Alberta won $300 at paper-sheet Bingo? Jeezum!” CAUTION- You or your ancestors must have lived within Vermont proper for a minimum of three thousand years before being considered “native” enough to use this expression without being laughed at and/or banned from the Pork Supper for life. You’ve been warned.

“Forsale”: Vermont’s most successful entrepreneur. You’ll see Forsale’s name everywhere, on farms, restaurants, second home-owner properties… you name it. The economic downturn has only increased this guy’s visibility- he must be making a killing!

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