Vegas Lie a Local

Vegas Like a Local: Terms and Phrases

Now that I’ve lived in Las Vegas a couple of decades, it’s easy for me to forget the words and phrases I was slightly baffled by when I first arrived. I’ve already posted a list of local nicknames for places around the valley. Here are a few other terms that might come in handy if you want to sound like a local.

Comp: Maybe this word has found its way into the national vernacular, but it’s been a local term in Las Vegas since casinos first decided to reward their high rollers. Short for “complimentary,” it’s used as both noun and verb. A “comp” in a casino can be anything from a drink or a meal to a show ticket or a room. Around town, I’ve heard the word used for something given or received without cost to the recipient. “My dentist comped me this filling.” It’s also used in place of “on the house.” “Your money’s no good. This drink is a comp.”

Dark: This describes the day or days that a show or regularly scheduled event is not occurring. “That show’s dark on Mondays” does not mean its content is a downer one day a week. It means you should look for alternate forms of entertainment, which is what the performers do on their shows’ “dark” days.

Feather Show: This term refers to the spectacular revues that used to attract crowds to the showrooms on the Strip. Among the most famous were the Stardust’s “Lido de Paris” and the Tropicana’s “Folies Bergere.” Renowned for their elaborate staging and costumes, topless dancers, and, of course, feathers, they went extinct in 2016 when “Jubilee!” at Bally’s closed after a 35-year run.

George:  This is a term used mainly by dealers in casinos, but it’s broken out into the wider community, too. A George is a generous tipper. I’ve also heard it used to mean “all around good guy.”

Graveyard: Everybody knows that a “graveyard shift” is the one in the middle of the might. In Las Vegas, the term shows up in some additional contexts. A “graveyard special” is usually a cheap breakfast in a casino cafe available from midnight or so until 6:00 a.m. Perfect for after you go “graveyard bowling!”

My Friday: The full phrase is often, “Today’s my Friday,” meaning “I’m starting my weekend, even though it’s Tuesday.” This could be a common phrase in other hospitality-centric cities, too–anyplace a lot of the the locals are working when the visitors are playing, e.g. real weekends.

Nude Dresser:  This is just one example of the kinds of specialized professions unique to Las Vegas. If “nude dresser” sounds like an oxymoron to you, it’s because you don’t realize what it takes to get a nude out on stage. She may look nude, but somebody backstage is keeping track of her rhinestones and g-strings. While nude dressers were more common during the age of feather shows (see above), they are still around, taking care of performers in other kinds of productions. Feathers may be out of style at the moment, but nudity–or perceived nudity–never gets old.

Toke: Short for “token of my appreciation,” a toke is a tip. The term is commonly used by dealers. Does “One toke over the line” mean a tip on a craps table? No.

That’s my list for now. If you can think of other Vegas-isms, I’d love to know about them.

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