Maine…”Down East” or “Downeast”or “DownEast” (Pick One!)

Dear Reader:

Friday afternoon I had a call from Anne after she had finished fiddling with both of her bands…one at the Veterans Victory House  and one at Round ‘ had been a busy weekend.

 Anne had just started reading all the observations in Friday’s post about our upcoming trip and she teasingly “warned” me to remember that we are not going to Maine…we are going “Down East.”

“Down East?” I asked puzzled…”Don’t you mean at least “Up  Down East?” “Actually Upper Upper Down East?”  Anne started laughing.

“It is an historical colloquial expression and one you ‘best’ try on before we go.” Being a social studies teacher…I knew there had to be some history behind it and I was so right. So, just in case…you don’t know why and how Maine came to be called “Down East”…read on.

“Downeast or Down East” Maine

The term “Down East” or “Downeast” is most often defined in Maine as the eastern coastal region of the State that covers Washington County and Hancock County beginning in Ellsworth and stretching to the East all the way to the Maritime Provinces. The city of Ellsworth is referred to as the “Gateway to the Downeast and Acadia Region of Maine” which includes Bar Harbor, Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park.

During the late 1700’s and throughout the 1800’s, sailors used their schooners to haul goods to and from the coast of New England. While moving in a northeasterly direction, especially during the warmer months, a strong wind would often be at their backs pushing them along.

This was moving “downwind” in the direction that the prevailing wind was blowing. Since the sailors and their ships were also moving in an easterly direction, one can understand how the two terms “down” and “east” would have been combined or even merged together as an expression of a direction to be traveling in that was common.

The expression evolved further to also mean a geographical area which, in those times, referred to New England in general. Many ships moved up and down the eastern seaboard for commerce and travel. During the 1800’s, Bangor, Maine was known as the“ logging capital of the world.” In 1828, there was a published reference to a person from the northeast as a down-easter .

Downeast Accent: Even to longtime Mainers, the Down East Accent is unique and easily recognized. The most notable one is the way “r’s” are dropped in pronunciations. An example is with Bar Harbor. It becomes “Bah Ha-bah”. Or, Car becomes “Cah.” There are so many examples. An expression that has seemed to have gone national is “Wicked Good!“ But, lets not forget “Ayuh!

In short, both “Down East” and “Downeast” are used interchangeably in Maine. The State of Maine refers to the Downeast and Acadia Region whereas the State’s most well known publication is Down East Magazine. Go figure.


No matter…I am SO READY to go Downeast! 🙂

The Jake/Boo  birthday party was yesterday and fabulous…I am returning home today and will catch you up on all the fun tomorrow. The best birthday EVER!!!!! (You will see why!)

* I just had to share this birthday card (from Joan Turner with you readers)… and with Eva Cate since she still loves unicorns …Like Joan wrote…”Well at least now we know why we no longer have unicorns!”

(This has been a “why” question from Eva Cate for a long time and now grandmother “Be-Be” has solved it! Too cute! Inside the card a verse said “Don’t miss out on all the birthday fun today” and believe me I didn’t.

So until tomorrow…I will soon pull a magical trip by heading “down east” to locate the tip top of northeast. It is all done with the “sleight of hand” or perhaps “sleight of direction.” But thank you Father for this opportunity to see more of Your beautiful Creation.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh


About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Maine…”Down East” or “Downeast”or “DownEast” (Pick One!)

  1. Sis Kinney says:

    Hi Becky,
    Had to laugh at today’s explanation of “Down East” and the accent. I remember being at my mother’s best friend’s house in the small town of Deerfield, MA – as we frequently visited from CT (my mother’s hometown) – and that’s where I first heard one of many “funny” jokes that were supposedly typically explanatory of New England life. For example: “D’ya think the rain’ll ruin the rhubahb [rhubarb]?” “Nope – not if it don’t rain!” [This is where you’re supposed to laugh.] Or: “Think it’ll evah [ever] stop rainin’?” “Always has.” And, of course the exaggerated accents that were also a “trademark,” so to speak, of the way President Kennedy talked. It’s not just Mainers who talk like that; many people along the eastern coast of Massachusetts have that same accent.
    And, trust me, y’all will hear it a LOT! And – be prepared for Mainers wanting to hear y’all speak b/c of YOUR accents! I know you’ll have a grand time! Especially since you’ll be able to stay with Anne’s family (sister, isn’t it?). Someone who’ll be able to guide you to “best” places that the average tourist might not get to see.
    Anyway, thanks for the laughs today! Looking forward to the unicorn connection for tomorrow!
    Much love,

    • Becky Dingle says:

      Accents are so much fun and I am glad that people are starting to retain their colloquial accents as part of their proud heritage and location of birth and where they grew up… instead of trying to blend into some middle of the road no accent accent. Indigenous talk makes visiting certain places more fun…like Bah Ha-Ba, Maine! 🙂 .

Leave a Reply