Slang dictionary

Chi-town

or Chi-Town [ shahy-toun ]

What does Chi-town mean?

Chi-town is a nickname for the city of Chicago, Illinois.

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Where does Chi-town come from?

One of the many nicknames for the city of Chicago, Illinois, Chi-town (or Chi-Town) can be traced back to the early 1900s. Chi is shortened from Chicago and is itself recorded as a nickname for the city (town) even earlier, in the 1890s.

Like Chi-town, other city nicknames follow a similar pattern of shortening the city’s name and adding town, such as O-Town (Orlando, Florida) and H-Town (Houston, Texas).

Several prominent uses helped popularize the term. Among them is a 1975 song by country singer C.W. McCall “Convoy,” which includes the lyrics:

By the time we hit that Chi-town
Them bears was a-gettin’ smart
They’d brought up some reinforcements
From the Illinois National Guard.

Another comes from rapper Kanye West (who spent his childhood in Chicago), who used Chi-town in his 2009 song “Homecoming:”

Jump in the crowd, spark your lighters, wave ’em around
If you don’t know by now, I’m talking ’bout Chi-Town!

Examples of Chi-town

Miss Chicago! See you soon Chi-Town. Second favorite city! No 🧢
@SiosifaFotu, January 2020
The NBA is keeping the Chicago theme going and calling on fellow Chi-Town rapper Common to welcome fans and lead player introductions at the event.
Shanna McCarriston, CBS Sports, December 2019

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Who uses Chi-town?

Chicago has many nicknames, the most well-known being the Windy City. Chi-town is a close follower. While Chi-town is often used by visitors, in marketing, or in popular writing about all things Chicago, many locals bristle as the nickname as something they don’t use.

Chi-town has been featured in several prominent names. A notable Chicago New Year’s Eve event was called Chi-Town Rising, and a Chicago professional ice hockey team were named the Chi-Town Shooters. There is a 2018 documentary film called Chi-Town that follows basketball player and Chicago native Keifer Sykes.

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Note

This is not meant to be a formal definition of Chi-town like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of Chi-town that will help our users expand their word mastery.