Regional term: shopping buggy

Mike Salovesh t20mxs1 at CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU
Mon Jan 24 22:56:03 UTC 2000

Allan Metcalf wrote:
> A student from Florida tells me that shopping carts/baskets at grocery stores
> are called buggies where he lives. On the Internet I find one "shopping
> buggy" in Boca Raton, Florida, and quite a few in Canada, especially British
> Columbia. Anybody else push a buggy when shopping?
> - Allan Metcalf

No, hereabouts a buggy is a baby carriage.  Other compounds including
the word buggy (e.g., "dune buggy") seem to have been built around a
model of "baby buggy".

British Columbia tries to be more British than the Queen.  Walk around
in Vancouver and you'll see miniscule gardens straight out of whatever
the British equivalent of a Norman Rockwell painting would be.  I
wouldn't expect to see or hear of a baby buggy there, where I'm sure
they must use prams.  If that's so, then there's little chance for
confusion about the referent if a shopping cart is called a buggy.

Reading over my shoulder, my wife adds that she has problems with the
label "shopping basket" as an alternate for "shopping cart".  For her, a
basket is something you carry by its handle (in your hand or over your
arm) and it has no wheels.

Idiosyncratic as usual, I call the wheeled things I find in a grocery
"buckets".  For that term, I think I'm in a dialect community by myself.

-- mike salovesh                    <salovesh at>

P.S.:  The other day, I was surprised to hear someone who otherwise
seemed to speak present-day U.S. English call a "grocery store" a
"greengrocer's". I know that there are places in the U.S. where the term
is still used -- I have the impression that "greengrocer's" can even be
heard in New York City, as well as Boston.  Here in the Middle West,
"greengrocer's" strikes me as sign language -- i.e., the kind of thing
somebody might put on a store's sign, in search of some distinguishing
mark to stand out from the crowd.   (If I saw a store with such a label,
I'd put it in a class with places calling themselves "Ye Olde Booke
Shoppe".) People from this part of the world would never drop
"greengrocer's" into a conversation.

Not that "greengrocer's" was a foreign term in my (Chicago) youth. It
was an occasional variant for "the grocer's". (The "sign language"
variant was likely to be "produce", as in "Joe's Produce".) That was
over fifty years ago, when you could find individually-owned drug stores
(with soda fountains), and butcher shops (stocked with sides of beef,
but also with live chickens, to be killed and prepared to order), and
shoe repair shops, and grocer's shops within easy walking distance in
most parts of the city.  Chain stores, stripmalls, and giant shopping
malls put most neighborhood grocers out of business a long time ago.

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