Mapping Stoner Slang

Stoner Linguistics

As an avid marijuana enthusiast I’ve become very interested in exploring stoner culture. What are our symbols, history and ideas? Most interesting to me might be the linguistics. How has the language been influenced by issues of legality and social pressures to hide our actions? How do cannabis users talk to each other? This is my first attempt to try and build a concrete understanding of stoner language.

I’ll smoke you up/out/down

There’s this really fascinating topic of discussion that comes up every-time I smoke with a new group of people, especially if they’re from another state. Any smoker can notice every network of friends has their own lingo around marijuana use. It’s a bonding experience for groups to exchange their preferred linguistics. The debate generally centers around the use of phrases like “wanna smoke up?”, “I’ll smoke you out” and “let’s smoke down”. These are the sort of phrases we use to invite someone to share in a joint or a bowl.
What I find so appealing about this area of study is that language is a thing that organically evolves under the incentives and pressures of its environment. I’m intrigued to find some way of mapping or studying this evolution keeping an eye out for trends and groupings. Are these differences purely regional? Maybe state by state? Are the differences radically divided even in smaller segments of the population?

The most popular lingo

To try and satisfy my curiosity I’ve collected some data. Given my limited resources I concluded polling my friends and social media connections was the way to go. I made several posts online attempting to collect an accurate representation of how the language varies. My sample size was roughly 40 participants, most giving more than one answer for the most popular phrases used. I filtered out some weaker data points and graphed it all in figure 1.


The first thing that really caught my attention was the frequency of “smoke out”. This phrase is generally used to invite someone to smoke but often has an under assumption that not all parties have to share their grass. For example I might say “buy me lunch and i’ll smoke you out”, expressing that I am offering my marijuana in exchange for something while the other party doesn’t need to contribute to the bowl. I’m also surprised by the dominance of smoke up over smoke down. In my personal experience smoke down has been more popular among my friends in Colorado.

The regional analysis

The next logical step for my quest is to look at how the polling data is spread out regionally. After collecting all my responses I went through and added the state the participant currently lives in and/or has smoked frequently in. I did my best to track down the state where they developed their lingo giving me the most accurate representation of the region they learned the language from. Below is the map, figure 2, that resulted from this study. Due to my sample size I had insufficient data for many states and had to leave them blank. If the data permitted I added the second most popular phrase below the first


As my experience suggested “smoke down” was extremely popular in Colorado, the state with the most data due to my network. “Smoke down” appears to be the only popular phrase that doesn’t show up in the south, a possible trend that could be studied further. We also see the universality of “smoke out”, showing up as the most popular in 10 out of the 17 states and second most popular in Missouri.

What can we learn?

Interestingly enough there was very few groupings and trends I was able to pinpoint. It seems it a world where communication is not limited by borders our slang leaks into other areas and gets adopted with ease like a flowing river not to be stopped by arbitrary borders.
I’m surprised by the variety of phrases polled but also the consistency in major phrases showing up all over all the nation. “Smoke out” is the most common phrase. 37.5% of poll-ers listed it as their most used and it shows up in almost all the states where data was collected.

Smoke around and other phrases

I’ll never forget the time I was smoking with a new friend from Maryland. He said “smoke up” and it completely threw my crew for a loop as we had only heard “smoke out” and “smoke down”. As the debate and discussion died down we decided to coin “smoke around” as a joke to confuse future newcomers to the state. This article wouldn’t be complete without a section sharing some of the humorous and unique answers I got while collecting my data. My friend Sam from Denver mentioned he says, “Ravioli ravioli wanna smoke a bowlioni?”, a phrase I literally laughed out loud when I read. A few other friends mentioned their favorite phrases like, “schmerk a berw”, which showed up in both Colorado and Florida. “Safety meeting” was polled a few times as well though excluded from the study. Anyone who has experience smoking in the service industry is likely familiar with that phrase, it’s a stealthier way to suggest smoking to your co-workers.

So much more to study

This was an interesting thing to write about and I look forward to expanding my sample size. If you wanna share your preferred slang feel free to shoot me an email
Stoner culture is very complex. Lighter norms, price variation and much more! There’s a lot to study and i’m just scratching the surface. Join me on my quest as I quantify, map and explore the spontaneous order of marijuana culture.

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