Do you say Cali?

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CALI vs CALIFORNIAThe first time I heard the apocopation Cali I cringed. I almost broke London etiquette and corrected the offenders on the tube. They had smart Prada bags, looked like they were in PR, and were discussing a recent trip to “Cali”.

Erm, no one in California would actually use the term Cali. They might name their cat Cali. But please don’t say Cali in the presence of a native Californian. They will immediately think you are an idiot. Just saying.

I didn’t actually articulate my thoughts, instead I just shook my head (with highlights from our recent California trip) and speculated.

Cali vs California

Having lived in the UK for the past 20 years, I wondered if I was out of touch. Maybe my fellow Californians have abandoned their morals and say Cali. After all, it’s so much easier to say Cali than California. Stepping back from the I-was-born-there-don’t-you-dare-play-with-the-name attitude, it’s a kinda cute abbreviation. Plus #Cali takes up much less social medial real-estate, and is easier to type out on your iPhone (which was created in California, btw).

My first go-to was my family. A firm no from my Dad, 86, who moved from Ohio to Southern California to be a tennis star (didn’t happen, but he did have five wonderful kids :D). Mom (born in Santa Maria) just rolled her eyes. My geeky engineering brother (52) thought about it for a little while and just said no.

My 40-something friends? “Only people who weren’t born in California use Cali” (one of my best friends in high school). Another sorority friend said “It’s as cringe-worthy as using Frisco for San Francisco”. I was sensing more and more heated responses. They were obviously just as annoyed at the prospect as I was. Are you frigging joking? (another college friend).

I told my daughters (who have grown up in the UK and have British accents) never to say Cali. It’s uncool, I explained to my daughters, one who was clad in a pastel blue coloured Hollister T-shirt that had Cali emblazoned on the front.

But then my 12-year-old daughter pointed out that my parent’s neighbour in Silicon Valley (age 13, a California native, and avid soccer player and instagrammer) uses it. And so do some of her friends.


No, no, no. That’s just wrong. You can’t just make up words like that (unless you are Dan Quayle).

And then she showed me #Cali on Instagram, which has more than 8 million tags.

Cali vs California: So here’s my conclusion..

>>If you are over 25 and were born and raised in California you would never, ever say Cali.

>>If you are under 25 and live in California, you may say Cali. Mainly to annoy your parents.

>>If you are not from California and don’t know anyone from there, you won’t really care.

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  1. Rick
    27/12/2015 / 05:02

    Saying Cali sounds douchey but tbh, I don’t have a problem if people use the term. To be quite honest though, the only time I’ve ever heard it used is in rap songs or when traveling on the east coast. They’ll ask where I’m from and I say L.A. and you hear different things, “oh, cali?” “I love cali people!” “Ohhhh I love cali!” I think I don’t have a problem with it though bc I’m a big Biggie fan and ‘goin back to cali’ is definitely one of his best songs. I think though, in my experience, that it is definitely a generational thing. I’m 27, born and raised Angeleno and it seems my generation and the one after seem to use it more often. It is definitely used within the gang culture as well. Idk, to each their own. SoCal and NorCal are definitely used a lot though.

    • Scott
      18/04/2016 / 20:04

      goin back to Cali is LL Cool J, not Biggie. Just FYI. Also, I’m 39 and hearing Cali never bothered. me. I was born and raised here….

  2. 22/10/2014 / 07:17

    When I was growing up Chippenham (where I live) was often called ‘Nam, like Vietnam because it was quite rough.But again it was only used by kids, not their parents.

    • 15/11/2014 / 06:53

      The language that locals make up fascinates me!

  3. 20/10/2014 / 12:40

    Haha! Love this! Ironically, the only people I know who say “Cali” are my mates from Cali! Some had grown up there, some moved there in their 20’s! Makes me wince tbh! 😉 x

    • 15/11/2014 / 06:54

      That’s the thing about language … once people start using it, it sticks eventually. I wonder when Cali will have an entry in a dictionary!

  4. 19/10/2014 / 18:30

    This made me smile – I’d like to call it Cali because that would make me feel more like I’m down with the kids 😉

    • 15/11/2014 / 06:55

      You know, I’m getting more and more used to it. x

  5. 19/10/2014 / 14:53

    Loved this, it’s really funny. My husband get shot under the collar when people say they ‘Are from Notts…and does he support Notts Forest? Nottingham born and bred, it really riles him. Like you say, I don’t really care as Im from Derbyshire 😉

    • 15/11/2014 / 06:56

      And your comment is equally funny. x

  6. 19/10/2014 / 10:33

    Ha ha that made me laugh. I love reading your California posts, I have such happy memories of holidays there. xx

    • 15/11/2014 / 06:57

      I do too! *thinks of sunshine while looking outside at Autumn rain*

  7. 19/10/2014 / 08:04

    I grew up in Macclesfield, everyone called it Macc, mainly because of The Macc Lads, a pretty gruesome and lewd band whose lyrics I can’t repeat. So I always prefer Macclesfield. I would never think to say Cali, California rolls off the tongue and just sounds so much more like I imagine the place to be, cool!

  8. I remember when I moved from San Francisco to San Diego, all of a sudden there were a lot of people who had moved to California in their 20s. Some did say Cali. They were the same ones who said ‘Frisco’ when I told them where I was from. *shudder*