When I think of California, I think sun, surf, beaches and fun times. I haven’t been there (yet!) but I can certainly image it as a place you’d have to invent new words for.
And it seems my imagination is right – The Dictionary of American Regional English shows there are a few phrases Californians can call their own.
6. Snake poison: (noun) Liquor, whiskey.
Though this word was first published in 1889 in a London magazine called The Cornhill Magazine, the story in which “snake poison” was first used was set in California (the dictionary doesn’t give the title or author). During Prohibition, the word spawned a cousin, “snake-bite,” meaning moonshine whiskey.
2. Two-bit: (adjective) “Of little value or significance; petty, small-time”
Though first published in a work called Tekel by Henry A. Bragg in 1870, Overland Monthly quickly printed it up a year later, in a story about a man panning a “two-bit prospect.” How appropriate — a gold reference! Though “two bits” literally meant 25 cents back then, “two-bit” developed into a common metaphorical turn of phrase.
(Source: LA Weekly)
I would have guessed there would be more surfer language in this list (which also includes spit bath, swap ends, and toot); perhaps my dreams of California are misguided?