Definition of bennies
noun - plural
- A term used in Monmouth and Ocean County, New Jersey, for summer tourists to the Jersey Shore. The phrase you are most likely to hear is "Bennies, go home." Tourists are resented because they cause extremely heavy traffic and take many of the beach parking spaces. In addition, some of them act in a loud and obnoxious manner. Some people use the term to apply only to those tourists with objectionable behavior.
There are many theories but no proven origin to the term. A search of online sources turned up the first four theories. A friend supplied the last. 1. An acronym for several north Jersey towns and the city of New York, which formed an acronym used on luggage tags. E.g. Bayonne, Essex or Elizabeth, New York. 2. From the name Benjamin, evidently an anti-Jewish slur. 3. From "beneficial," either because the sun was beneficial to the tourists or because the tourist's dollars were beneficial to the Jersey Shore. 4. From the Italian word "bene." 5. A surfing term. I verified on RedBull.com that it is a surfing term for tanless nonlocals who come to the beach on weekends. Its theory as to its origins as a surfing term stated that in the 1950s, people believed the sun was beneficial to one's health (theory #3) and cited a Benny Goodman album entitled "Jersey Bounce."
I have not determined how long the term has been around. If it is of fairly recent origin, I would be inclined to theory number 4 because the current stereotype of bennies seems to me to be Italian Americans rather than Jews. In Ben Zimmer's column "On Language" in the "New York Times," he quotes part of Governor Christie's answer to a question, about the TV show "The Jersey Shore," posed by Jake Tapper, in which the governor made the point that the TV show took New Yorkers to the Jersey Shore and tried to make people think that this is what the Jersey Shore is like.
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|Definitions include: "benefit".|
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