Alaskan 101 For Those Relocating to Anchorage

Posted by Dan Wolf on Thursday, July 23rd, 2015 at 7:50am.

Alaskans really don't speak a different language from their lower forty-eight counterparts, but it can certainly seem that way to those who have recently moved the Last Frontier. If you are going to be relocating to Anchorage in the near future, you'll acclimate more quickly by learning a few simple terms specific to life in the north country. Following are several examples of Anchoragese and what they mean.

Termination Dust
Termination dust is what Alaskans call the first snow of the season. It can occur anywhere from late August through November in the Anchorage bowl, but it's been running late for the past several years.

Freeze Up 
This is what we call it when everything starts to freeze up for the winter. Most bodies of water freeze completely solid. Freeze up has an austere beauty that can't be put into words.

Break Up
Break up is what happens during the spring when the ice and snow begins to melt. It's usually pretty muddy and messy for a couple of weeks, but it's worth it.

Yes, Alaskans really do call those from the lower forty-eight "outsiders." The term dates back to the Klondike Gold Rush and originally referred to geography rather than people. To reach the gold fields, they had to navigate Chilkoot Pass -- those who survived began referring to the places they left being as "outside."

These are specialty knives crafted by northern aboriginal tribes for processing fish and game. You'll see them in every shop window in town. If you decide to purchase one for yourself, make sure you get one that's actually been made in Alaska -- many of these are made in China for the souvenir market and are not of good quality.

Alaskans call snowmobiles "snowmachines." They're a big deal here, and are almost essential if you want to thoroughly enjoy the Alaskan winter.  Most of our friends actually call them 'sleds'.

You and your family will be speaking Alaskan like champs in no time. Meanwhile, contact us at 248-9653 or visit us online at,  if you have any questions about the meanings of certain words or phrases -- we'll be happy to translate.

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