The first time I saw Orange is the New Black (I am native in Portuguese) I understood very little without subtitles. It was difficult even for Americans to understand the language of inmates, imagine it for me! Since 2013 several sites have tried to translate a little more of this universe, especially for those who are just starting to see the show. I made a list of the lists of the sites. Why do I think this is important? The series is so clever in its dialogues that the more we all understand, the more we realize the talent of the writers. If you are really a fan of OITNB you will want to understand everything that the inmates say. I even managed to improve my English in this process. If you remember any other slang used in Orange is the New Black which is not here, let me know that I include it!
Orange is the New Black
Starting with the name, Orange is The New Black refers to the color of the common orange uniforms of the American prison system. In addition, saying that “something is the new black” means that it is in evidence, in a clear fashion reference, since black is a color that is always on the rise, at any time of the year. This is a common expression in the United States and can be used in other contexts, almost always in an ironic way, to say that something has become popular. Thus, it would be possible to translate the series title as “Orange is fashion”.
There’s a really cool video with Danielle Brooks trying to figure out the meaning of some slang from prison.
Bang-Off: A contest between Nicky and Big Boo to see who can have sex with the most women at Litchfield. Subjects are worth a varying amount of points (Piper, 3; a guard, 10).
Big House Bugle: The name of the prison newsletter, founded by Piper Chapman.
Black Adoption Festival: An event put on by the Los Angeles County Department of Children’s Services to help match foster kids with parents. This is where season two’s villain, Vee, introduces herself to a young Taystee.
Bucks – Dollars
Coochie – or also hoo-ha, two ways to refer to the woman’s private parts, much less common than – pardon my language – pussy and cunt, more used, respectively, in the USA and the United Kingdom.
Cockroach: An insect trained to transport cigarettes from camp to solitary confinement. The ideal length for a successful roach courier is between two and four inches.
Comissary – The Commissary is the little shop where inmates can buy things like treats, hygiene and beauty products and entertainment items.
Compassionate release: When an inmate, typically one with little time left on her sentence, is released from prison early. Often happens as a result of overcrowding or illness.
Con – diminutive of convicted
Connect: A dealer who sells directly to customers. The first time they meet, young Taystee tells Vee, “Aw shit, you a connect,” but Vee rejects the title. She’s a “businesswoman.”
Counselor (counsellor) – A person whose job is to give advice to people who need it.
Dandelion: Suzanne’s pet name for Piper. Also a beautiful flower.
Dress for Success: A real-life program that teaches women how to select professional attire for job interviews. Dress for Success co-sponsors the Litchfield Mock Job Fair, so you have them to thank for the below photo.
Folic acid: A type of B-vitamin that reportedly lowers the risk of infant disease for pregnant women. When Daya mentions its prenatal benefits, her guard-boyfriend Officer Bennett jokes that it “sounds dangerous,” and makes a sizzling noise, implying that it’s real acid (Ha-ha, Bennett, but no). He later makes up for it by bringing Daya spinach, which is high in folic acid and does not burn.
Fuck Book: Nicky’s little black book of sexual conquests at Litchfield.
Funfetti: A truly delicious boxed cake mix topped with sprinkles. Vee shares some with Taystee’s crew to win them over. This is high-level strategy.
Furlough: A program that allows an inmate (Piper, in this case) to leave prison grounds temporarily.
Gay-for-the-stay: Being a lesbian only in prison. What Vee labels Taystee after seeing her cuddle with Poussey.
Golden Girls: A nickname for the elderly crew at Litchfield.
Groupon: An app that offers special discount services to users; Larry’s father uses one for a gay bathhouse.
Horsey Horse: Taystee’s suggested brand-name for the heroin that Vee sells.
Inmate – Inmate basically means “detainee” and is an official and impersonal way of treating girls who are serving time.
Lingual frenulum: The stringy connective membrane below the tongue. While being loaded onto a plane for transport to Chicago, an inmate claims she can’t lift her tongue because she has a “tight lingual frenulum.”
Litchfield lighter: A makeshift cigarette lighter that’s crafted using a battery and a gum wrapper. According to this video, it’s actually possible:
Moppett: The name of the mop with the British accent that Crazy Eyes brings to life. (Alternate spelling: Moppet.)
Nein: Translates to “no” in German. POUSSEY SPEAKS GERMAN!
Passive resistance: A nonviolent form of revolt against a law, system, person, or organization. Example: Litchfield newcomer Brook Soso’s hunger strike in protest of showering.
Pee pad: Also known as a “maxi-maxi.” Two stacked Maxi pads used to urinate, à la a diaper.
Plushious: A description for a woman with curves. Coined by Black Cindy.
Pirozhki: Stuffed buns or pies originating from Russia. Red boasts that her version of the pastry is top-notch.
Poochie: Slang for “bitch.” As one marshal says: “Can’t say bitches no more. It’s degrading.”
Prison wife: A fellow inmate considered a sexual partner and/or girlfriend.
Probation – Within the series it is used when someone has a conditional suspension from their sentence.
Safe Place: A therapeutic support group started by Officer Healy. In one meeting, he asks Flores (the woman who used to talk to Diablo in the bathroom stall) to use the “feelings chart” to express herself.
Scissoring: A sexual position that involves two women wrapping their legs in a scissorlike manner for stimulation. Poussey is not buying it: “I told you scissoring wasn’t a thing!”
Seg: Also known as Ad-seg. Short for “administrative segregation.” Also see SHU and Solitary Confinement.
Shot: A written violation for inmates who disobey the rules. Sometimes for minor things (“I don’t like your face,” says Mendez). Guards have to issue a certain amount to fulfill Figueroa’s shot quota.
SHU: Acronym for Secure Housing Unit. A room where inmates who violate prison regulations are sent alone as punishment. Also known as solitary confinement.
Sideboob: The name of Officer Joe Caputo’s band. Best known songs: “You Slay Me” and “Working in the Mine.” Fun fact: The band exists in real life.
Slock: A combination lock inside of a sock. Vee uses it as a weapon against Red.
Snatch sisters: Nicky’s term of endearment for two women who share a mutual female sex partner.
Snitch – person who reports someone else.
Stand and Deliver: A device for women who want to pee standing up. Consists of two pieces: a plastic funnel and a tube. Inventor: Poussey.
Surrender -Stop fighting or resisting someone and agree that you have been beaten
The change – slang for “menopause”.
Tiger Balm: An ointment used as a pain reliever. Not ideal for lips or eyeballs, according to Crazy Eyes.
Vig: Short for Vigorish; refers to the dealer’s cut of profits. Taystee mentions it while breaking down how much money one of Vee’s customers owes.
WWOOF: Acronym for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Also known as Willing Workers on Organic Farms. A program that links volunteers with farmers. Soso recalls “WWOOFing on a walnut farm in Xenia (which is a city in Ohio).”
Yoda: The nickname for the roach that runs smokes to solitary. Piper mistakenly ends its life. See also: cockroach.
Zoo, Bronx: The world’s largest urban zoo; also a useful insult. When Red returns from hiatus and goes to get her food, Maria calls her “a big Russian bear” and says, “She’s hibernating until she gets strong again.” Maritza retorts: “What the fuck do you know about bears? What, you live by the Bronx Zoo or something?”
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