According to Stacker, this is New Jersey’s strangest slang word

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Jughandle at the intersection of Route 37 and Route 166 in Toms River.
Jughandle at the intersection of Route 37 and Route 166 in Toms River.

TOMS RIVER, NJ – In New Jersey, we have bennies, shoobies, pork roll, parkway exits, the shore, mutz, and the city (New York, of course), but according to Stacker, none of those New Jersey quirks qualify as the strangest Jersey slang term.

“The United States is a vast and diverse nation with a huge assortment of languages and dialects. It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that in a country with at least 350 languages, you find a great deal of variation in the slang terms—some of which are downright strange,” Stacker said in its list of the strangest slang terms in every state.

The word is not only strange in its meaning, it’s also strange in its design, nearly unique to New Jersey.

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That word is “jughandle”. While many states utilize what New Jersey calls the ‘jughandle’, it’s most prominent in New Jersey where it is almost overused. Down here at the shore, nearly every major intersection is a jughandle.

According to Wikipedia, “A jughandle is a type of ramp or slip road that changes the way traffic turns left at an at-grade intersection (in a country where traffic drives on the right). Instead of a standard left turn being made from the left lane, left-turning traffic uses a ramp on the right side of the road. In a standard forward jughandle or near-side jughandle, the ramp leaves before the intersection, and left-turning traffic turns left off of it rather than the through road. Right turns are also made using this type of jughandle. In a reverse jughandle or far-side jughandle, the ramp leaves after the intersection, and left-turning traffic loops around to the right and merges with the crossroad before the intersection.”

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In some cases, jughandles are called “Jersey left turns”, in a state where cross-traffic left and u-turns are essentially banned at most major intersections.

“Few places in the United States outside New Jersey recognize the word “jughandle” because few places feature the awkward traffic ramps. Although they exist to some degree in a handful of states, New Jersey is covered in them. Also called “Jersey lefts,” “jughandles” are basically roadway ramps where left-turning traffic is diverted to the right side of the highway or intersection,” Stacker states.

The term jughandle first appeared in the modern lexicon in 1959 by the New York Times in a report about the new left turns lanes being built across New Jersey. By 1960, there were 160 jughandles in New Jersey.

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