What the Hell Is a “Chicken-Necker?” And 9 Other Terms You Should Know Before Visiting the Chesapeake Bay

All illustrations by Claire McCracken.


Chicken-necker (n.): A tourist or non-local. Derives from Eastern Shore day-trippers’ practice of using chicken necks to catch crabs.


Come-here (n.): A chicken-necker who moves to the shore.


From-here (n.): A native of the Eastern Shore.


Prog (v.): Old English term frequently heard on Smith Island, meaning to hunt for treasures—arrowheads, sea glass, old coins—at water’s edge.


Tong (v.): To use twin, long-handled wooden rakes, joined at a hinge, to collect oysters. Once the primary means of harvesting oysters before dredging.

Illustration by Claire McCracken.

Jimmy (n.): An adult male crab, distinguished by a T-shaped apron along its underbelly.


Sook (n.): An adult female crab, distinguished by a bell-shaped apron along its underbelly.


Peeler (n.): A crab just before it begins to molt.

Illustration by Claire McCracken.

Buster (n.): A crab in the process of molting, or busting out of its hard shell.


Arster (n.): A local delicacy great with cocktail sauce and a squeeze of lemon.

This article appears in our July issue of Washingtonian.