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Unwritten rules of Louisville

Tell us you’re from Louisville without telling us you’re from Louisville.

Downtown city scape with trees, cars, and various buildings.

Rules are rules.

Photo by Louisville Tourism

Table of Contents

Whether you’re a Louisville native or a relative newcomer, there are just some things every Louisvillian understands to be true.

We asked our readers to share Derby City’s unwritten rules, from common city knowledge to relatable trends and local lingo. You won’t find these rules in a handbook, but they are undoubtedly absorbed by the community — and if you’re not from here, these might be a little difficult to explain.

The unspoken rule everyone knows

“There is only one way to pronounce the city of Louisville.” — Wendy W.

We’re kind to our neighbors

“The three-foot rule: If you pass within three feet of another pedestrian, say hey.” — Carole K.

“Traditionally, most Louisvillians dine at home on Sunday evenings whether with family or friends.” — Mary S.

Sports are everything

“Choose between UK or UofL sports teams before you even learn to walk.” — Peggy T.

“Every true Louisvillian transplant has a mini slugger bat that’s been collecting dust since the week they moved to town.” — John R.

“You only have one choice: UofL or UK.” — Dan S.

We still talk about high school

“You must ask someone you just met where they went to high school.” — @amyjlandon

“Always remember when asked what school you went to they are talking about high school not college.” — Maureen B.

“There’s a Catholic school dynasty. Whatever school your grandparents and parents went to, you go to. Examples are Trinity, St. X, and Sacred Heart.” — Mary S.

“Trinity High School is referred to as University of St. Matthews.” — Dan. S

Time isn’t on our side

“15-minute time rule: No matter what time they say something starts, they mean get there 15 minutes later.” — Deborah C.

Rules of the road

“Ignore the ‘no turn on red’ signs.” — Dan B.

“You have to know the location of the old Sears building as a point of reference for directions.” — Roderick C.

“Green means go, yellow means go, red mean go if the intersecting light is still red.” — @ashleyrobp

“Wait three seconds after the light turns green before you go.” — Steffanie B.

“At traffic lights, you give at least five seconds before honking. We are reasonable here. Premature honking is rude.” — Keith G.

“Give directions from where the White Castle is located.” — Jill B.

“Always back into your spot when parking your car.” — Rachel A.

“Watch out for Mustangs on the Watterson.” — @alex_simon0311

“Brush up on all the former businesses that used to be open like Ear-x-Tacy, Lynn’s Paradise Cafe, Jim Porters, and Wild and Wolly Video because Louisvillians don’t forget and will definitely still refer to them when giving directions.” — Katie M. (Luckily, we have a guide for that.)

Sometimes you just have to laugh

“Whatever you do, please don’t use your turn signal. It’s just unseemly.” — Rachel A.

Food + drink

“Nine times out of 10, your favorite brewery is also coincidentally the one within walking distance of your house.” — John R.

“The best fried chicken is not KFC.” — @carly_rob21

“Always pick a well-bourbon over other well-whiskey. We do not acknowledge Jack Daniels.” — Emily K.

“Mint juleps are only acceptable during Derby... Or maybe never at all.” — John R.

“Bars must carry ginger ale on tap to make bourbon and gingers. Not all cities have bars with ginger ale on tap.” — Scott R.

Pro tips

“Stock up on allergy meds and tissues for the KY crud.” — Peggy T.

“If you don’t like the weather, just give it 15 minutes.” — Peggy T.

“Thunder Over Louisville > Kentucky Derby” — Emily K.

“You don’t need to comment on the smell of Butchertown.” — @jt_embry_jr

What did we miss? If you know an unofficial rule that’s not on the list, let us know.

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