Language Carnival Worker Slang To Learn If You Don't Want To Be A Mark  

Jacob Shelton
47.5k views 18 items

You’ve probably been to a carnival or two and encountered more than your fair share of carnival workers. Even the most wet-behind-the-ears rube knows that carnival games can be rigged to separate a mark from their green. If you want to hold onto your grip, then you need to memorize these carnival code words to learn who’s on the up and up, and who’s just working a grift. 

Carnival slang was created so carnies and roustabouts could talk about marks in the open without the chumps realizing it. Commit these state fair worker codes to memory to avoid getting skinned the next time you walk the midway. 

Oach is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Carnival Worker Slang To Learn If You Don't Want To Be A Mark
Photo:  hhach/Pixabay/Public Domain


Meaning: Oach's phonology doesn't lend much of a hand to outsiders who are trying to understand the sacred language of carnies. It doesn't sound like anything, and it definitely doesn't provide any context as to its meaning. If you're oaching, you're skimming money from whatever game or concession you're working and not giving it to your boss.  

Use It In A Sentence: Mad Dog oached 15 ace notes from the chow house last night, but his boss'll never know.

Paste is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Carnival Worker Slang To Learn If You Don't Want To Be A Mark
Photo:  Hans/Pixabay/Public Domain


Meaning: To ordinary townsfolk, "paste" is nothing more than an adhesive used to hang fliers or connect popsicle sticks. In carnie speak, though, paste refers to cheap prizes played for on the midway. For instance, costume jewelry that falls apart the moment a mark leaves the carnival. 

Use It In A Sentence: It's always good to let a mark win some paste so they don't start beef.


Meaning: Is this a name? Are carnies who use this term discussing a visible impression left on one of their wagons? Not at all. In the carnival world, you're the mark - a gullible, local rube who's happy to hand over their hard-earned cash in exchange for some quality carnie entertainment. 

Use It In A Sentence: That mark just paid 20 clams to play the ring toss, and he still doesn't know it's fixed.

Cherry Pie

Meaning: Doesn't a nice slice of cherry pie sound good right now? Unfortunately, carnies who use this term aren't referring to the sweet treat. If you're getting cherry pie, you might be rolling in greenbacks - so the good news is you can buy all the dessert you want.

Someone who's getting cherry pie at a carnival is performing odd jobs outside of their normal work so they can make some extra cash.  

Use It In A Sentence: Barry normally works the Zipper, but he's getting some cherry pie in the pickled punk room tonight.