"Not Empty Sea, MTC": 12 Hilarious Lingo Mix-Ups Latter-day Saints Understand All Too Well


Sometimes it's easy for lifelong members to forget not everyone grew up a Latter-day Saint. All it takes is a new member, investigator, or non-member friend to remind us that sometimes, we're speaking a different language. 

Get a chuckle out of these common lingo misunderstandings. 

What we say: “My brother just went to the MTC today.”

What others think: “The Empty Sea? Where’s that? Nevada?”

What we really mean: "The MTC" = Missionary Training Center, where young members who volunteer to proselyte go to learn. And they would all be thrilled to go to Empty Sea, Nevada, if the Lord called them there! 

What we say: “Eight cows? No, no, she’s a ten-cow wife!”

What others think: “You rate your spouse on a scale of cows? Is that an old pioneer tradition or what?”

What we really mean: "Eight cow wife" = a reference to Johnny Lingo, a favorite LDS film short, where everyone is shocked that the rich Johnny Lingo pays eight cows to marry a girl that they wouldn't give two cows for. 

What we say: “She’s a member of my ward.”

What others think: “Um… wait. Did you escape from a mental asylum?”

What we really mean: Ward = congregation composed of the neighbors and friends who live relatively close to you, and who make some interesting jell-o dishes for ward potlucks. 

What we say: “The ward party is at the stake center.”

What others think: “Steak? Sweet! I’ll totally come!” 

What we really mean: Stake = regional group of congregations, an area also known as a few square blocks if you live in Utah! 

What we say: “We’re going to a fireside tonight. Wanna come?”

What others think: “Will there be s’mores?”

What we really mean: Fireside = an additional sermon taught in the evening. Hopefully with snacks provided. 

What we say: “I’m so glad my baby is finally old enough to go to the Nursery!”

What others think: “You have a nursery in your church building? What kind of plants do you grow? Is that part of food storage? And why is your 18-month-old going?”

What we really mean: Nursery = a place where parents can drop off their kids, where they will be watched by other adults during the last two hours of church.

What we say: “Sorry, I’m so tired. I went to seminary before school.”

What others think: “Whoa. You’re only 15 and you’re already studying to be a pastor?”

What we really mean: Actually...yeah! In a way. Seminary = church study for teenagers, in some areas taught before school (Zzzzzzz!), in other areas taught during school on "released time" away from the high school campus (no skipping, not even if McDonald's is involved). 

What we say:  “The Sunbeams are going to sing in church today.”

What others think: “Is that a metaphor? Like, 'the hills are alive with the sound of music'?”

What we really mean: Sunbeams = the youngest class for children in a ward. The class many people are initially afraid of teaching, but that proves incredibly fun and rewarding in the end.

What we say: “Remember, guys, tomorrow is Fast Sunday!”

What others think: “Are the meetings shorter or do you do everything more quickly or something?”

What we really mean: Fast Sunday = the first Sunday of the month when we fast (go without eating or drinking) for 24 hours to draw closer to the Lord. This usually results in a very moving testimony meeting.

What we say: “I went and did sealings at the temple yesterday.”

What others think: “I didn’t know you were an architect! Can you fix my ceilings?”

What we really mean: Sealings = proxy marriages for time and all eternity for deceased couples and their children. The only ceiling involved is the one over your head in the sealing room.  

What we say: "I need to magnify my calling."

What others think: "Do you have a special phone with font too small for you to read?"

What we really mean: Magnify = to serve with dedication and view our role at Church as an opportunity to serve God (we all try to do this a little better); Calling = a specific set of responsibilities within the ward (we all try to do these a little better, too). 

What we say: "He's getting the Aaronic Priesthood tomorrow!"

What others think: "What's ironic about your priesthood?"

What we really mean: Aaronic = a derivation of Aaron, brother of Moses; boys are usually given the Aaronic Priesthood at age 12. Nothing ironic about that!

Stay in the loop!
Enter your email to receive updates on our LDS Living content