Most people think that "benny" is an acronym for the luggage tags that the visitors got on the trains that took them to the shore. Supposedly, the tags read "BNENY" or "BENNY" for the towns of Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, and New York. Sometimes Bergen and Essex are suggested for the towns in this acronym.
No one knows for sure, but the best summary was given by Ben (not Benny) Zimmer of the American Dialect Society (see below).
Benny is a derogatory term used by residents of Jersey Shore towns for tourists that visit each summer. Locals blame bennys for bumper to bumper traffic on the Garden State Parkway and in the shore communities. They think that bennys hog parking spaces and take over sand space. The term 'benny' is used mainly in Monmouth County and Ocean County. In Atlantic County and Cape May County, the term shoobie is mainly used. 'Benny', like 'shoobie', dates from the era just after the Second World War and refers to members of the Jewish working class from New York City and northern New Jersey who invaded the resorts in large enough numbers that their speech patterns and way of dress made them quite noticeable.
While the term is often said to be an acronym for the cities they come from, namely: Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, and New York, it is possible that 'benny' comes from Benjamin, a first name once fairly common among members of the Jewish faith (or at least it was presumed to be so). Over time the term came to be applied to daytrippers of all ethnicities. Word-Detective.com claims the "benny" label may trace its origins to a beach umbrella renter whose goods (and his presumably out-of-town customers) were marked with his name--Benny.
(Dictionary of American Regional English)
also sp bennie: See quot.
1977-78 Foster Lexical Variation 28 NJ, Bennie, referring to tourists from New York City and North Jersey, is universal in Monmouth County and is the only specific term in northern Ocean (Point Pleasant, Bricktown, and Toms River)...Probably bennie comes from Benny "Jew," well-known in working-class New York City.
Outside magazine, June 2001
Benny /beh'-nee / n.: (Archaic) A tanless tourist on the beach. Long ago, doctors believed the sun's rays were 'beneficial' to ones health, thus the term 'benny' was born. Synonyms: shoobie; fudgie. Origin: the Jersey Shore
A tourist who visits the Jersey shore from Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, or New York (or anywhere near these places.) These tourists pollute the beaches and are rude to the local.
Go home bennies. Locals only.
by somekids Mar 27, 2005 email it
Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, New York (South Jersey slang for rude visitors from NY or North Jersey to the beaches in the summer)
Top 100 Indications That You Are From South Jersey
Friday, April 28th, 2006
88. You know what a "shoe-bie" is and can pick one out at the beach.
Sources of N.J. Pride
Wednesday, April 26th, 2006
Someone at the beach once called you a benny
Posted At : March 2, 2005 7:15 AM | Posted By : Scott Stroz
There is some debate about the origin of the word, but here are the 2 definitions used most frequently:
Bums Exiting Newark and New York
Bayonne Elizabeth Newark New York
Bennys Go Home
Every summertime, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the New Yorkers head down to the shore. The biggest one: Point Pleasant. It gets crowded with tourists, and they are all from New York to. The locals, meaning anyone who lives on the shore, we have a special name for them. We call them Bennys, because they use our beaches that the locals pay taxes for and crowd our streets and cause traffic. Of course, they are nice people though, so its good for us because of the tourism profits, at least they aren't rude when they come down here. The word "benny" has many different meanings. If you ask a local, they will each tell your different stories on how the word Benny came from. If you asked me, I would tell you two different stories: "Back in the older days, they used to be a train line called Benny I think. It went from New York to Belmar and the shore." or "Benny stands for people coming from Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, and New York.". You can make up your own story and believe one you here! If you come here off peak season, You'll have no worries about the crowdedness.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Another Memorial Day weekend has passed. This signals another start to a summer season...loads of fun at the Jersey shore. Or is it?...
I've noticed more and more through the years that people can't wait for it to be summer time, yet they are so quick to complain. The complaints in my area, Ocean County, vary from person to person. However, the number one complaint is about the tourists, a.k.a. "bennies," and the traffic problems they create. Locals blame bennies for bumper to bumper traffic on the GSP and in the shore communities. "What is a Benny?" you ask....well that is the beloved term for a tourist at the Jersey Shore. Specifically, a tourist who visits the Jersey shore from Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, or New York (or anywhere near these places.) Some people think it's an acronym for those towns, I think it's more a coincidence that people choose to associate those 4 towns with those generalized regions. If you were to ask a benny, they "go down to the shore" for the weekend. The shore is a blanket term for anywhere near a beach. It doesn't matter which beach, as long as it has sand and is near the ocean.(Hence depicting the derogatory nature of the term) Locals think that bennies hog parking spaces and take over sand space. I can say that is certainly true. Just last weekend, parking spaces that were $3 and $5, suddenly jump to $20 or better yet $35 to $40 for the 4th of July. It's insane, but they will pay it. The term "benny" is used mainly in Monmouth and Ocean Counties. The benny is the equivalent to the "shoobie" of Atlantic and Cape May Counties.
WELCOME TO THE FIRST OFFICIAL WUZ-A-BENNY WEBSITE!
There are many ideas about how the word BENNY (or BNENY) started. B may stand for Bayonne, Brooklyn, or Bergen. E may stand for Elizabeth, or Edison. N may stand for Newark, and of course, the NY stands for New York! And it may or may not have been in that order! Does it matter? The fact is that if you ever visited the Jersey Shore from a place more north, and now you live here, then you WUZ-a-BENNY!
Are People Talking Behind Your
Back at the Beach?
By JEN BROWN
July 22, 2005 — They are called different names in different areas of the country.
In Southern California they are "Zonies," in South Jersey they are "Shoebies" and in Bradley Beach, N.J., the focus of ABCNews.com's "By the Boardwalk" series, they are called "Bennies."
There are many different theories about the origins of the world "Benny." Phillips heard it started because people from New York would come down and spend a lot of money, or "benjamins." Bradley Beach Mayor Stephen Schueler heard the word came from boats owned by a guy named Benny that people would rent in the summer. The lifeguards at Bradley Beach believe Benny is an acronym for Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark and New York, cities close enough to the Shore that many people drive down for the day.
'Benny' or not, here they come
Natives grin and share the weekly trip to Shore
Friday, July 01, 2005
BY ANA M. ALAYA
"They welcomed the bennies for the financial 'benefits' that their vacation money brought," Gillespie said. "Those tourists were easy pickings for fleecing, to be charged high rents for ramshackle beach cottages and to be forced to wait in line at second-class restaurants."
Others believe "bennie" is derived from the luggage tags of the Shore daytrippers coming via train in the old days, when tags read "BNENY" for Bayonne, Newark, Elizabeth and New York.
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 13:52:55 -0500
Reply-To: [log in to unmask]
Sender: American Dialect Society Mailing List <[log in to unmask]>
From: Benjamin Zimmer <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Bennies
Comments: To: [log in to unmask]
On Tue, 21 Dec 2004 08:41:04 -0800, Dave Wilton <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf
>> Of Michael Quinion
>> A subscriber asks about "bennies", the slang term for summer visitors
>> along the Atlantic Coast of New Jersey. Does anyone have any firm
>> knowledge of where it comes from? I have assumed that two supposed
>> origins in initialisms are spurious.
>There were three different origin tales that were common during my youth on
>the Jersey Shore. Which, if any, is correct, I have no idea. The term got
>its start decades before I was born and, while occasionally attested to in
>newspapers, was not the type of term that left a clear trail of published
>citations. The term is mildly derogatory.
>The first is that it is simply after the name. Parts of the Jersey Shore
>were frequented by Jewish visitors from North Jersey and "Bennie" was a
>The second is that the summer visitors came for the "beneficial rays" of
This version has been given a couple of times in the New York Times, but the benefits are often described as mutual: "the visitors benefit from sun and surf and the residents benefit from the money that is spent" (NYT, Feb 21, 1993); or: "they are at once beneficial to the area's economy and benefit from the area's invaluable natural resource - the ocean" (NYT, Sep 3, 1990).
>The third is that "Bennie's" was a shoe store in North Jersey. A certain
>class of day visitors (as opposed to those who rented a place for a week)
>would come carrying their lunches in shoe boxes marked thusly.
This is also the purported origin for the similarly derogatory term
"shoobies" (< "shoeboxers"?).
>I haven't heard the initialisms explanations. Could you elaborate?
Michael Quinion says in a reply that "benny" is said to stand for "Bergen, Essex and New York" or a "BNY" luggage tag for a railway line. Here are other acronymic explanations I've seen:
* Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, New York (NYT, June 11, 2004 )
* the Bayonne-Elizabeth-Newark triangle (Wash Post, Apr 20, 1999)
* Bergen, Essex, Newark and New York (AP quoting historian Scott
Wieczorek, Jul. 17, 2004 )
* Bayonne, Edison, Newark, New York (historian Scott D. Peters )
* Baltimore, Edison, Newark, New York (reported by Evan Morris )
* "BEN E" was the luggage tag for eastbound trains from Bensonhurst (AP
quoting historian Linda Long, Jul. 17, 2004 )
* "BNENY" was the luggage tag for "Bayonne, Newark, Elizabeth and New
York" (Asbury Park Press, May 27, 2002 )
* My favorite acronymic explanation: "Be Extra Nasty to New Yorkers"
(reported by Evan Morris )
-- Ben (not Benny) Zimmer
North vs. South: An American Cultural Paradigm?
... He refers to us as "Benny's." This comes from the initial letters of northern cities: Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, New York. Imagine ...
soc.culture.usa - Aug 12 1992, 4:20 am by richard.del monaco - 9 messages - 8 authors
Disney in NJ??
The first one is below. The second is that Benny is an acronym for Bergen, Essex, Newark, New York, the source of 90% of the people so classified. ...
rec.arts.disney.parks - Aug 7 2000, 4:21 pm by Jeff Carter - 47 messages - 27 authors
by Shirley Ayres
Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing
The 1999 Memorial Day parade down Ocean Avenue includes the annual contingent of the Benny Brigade, visitors who spend their summers at Bradley Beach. The Bennys carry beach chairs, which they snap t othe beat of the music played on the boom box. They are always a crowd pleaser. The term Benny comes from the railroad baggage handlers, who labeled the luggage BNENY, standing for Bayonne, Newark, Elizabeth, and New York. Soon, the passengers were also called Bennys and the nickname stuck.