How to use "I magine" and "magine" like an ESVA local

How to use I maginemagine like an ESVA local

There are a few different ways that this shortened variant of imagine is used in conversation on the Eastern Shore. Sometimes it's a verb used the same way as imagine (i.e. to indicate a speaker’s assumption or belief about something). Magine can also mean yes or heck yeah. When used in this sense, it's basically an Eastern Shore way of emphatically agreeing, confirming, consenting, or affirming with another person. Let’s take a look at a few examples below.

The first example comes from an interview with Chincoteague native Leroy Jones (born 1919). A waterman on the island for many years, Mr. Jones was interviewed for the Chincoteague Library’s Oral History Project in 2005 and 2006.

In the 2005 interview, at approximately 1:00:35, Mr. Jones remarks, “I magine she’s worried” when talking about a local woman who had family in Evansville, Indiana -- the site of an F3 tornado on November 6, 2005. In this construction, magine is used as a transitive verb to indicate Leroy's belief or assumption about this woman; “I magine she’s worried” means “I assume/believe she’s worried [about her family in Evansville].”  

The next two examples come from Mr. Jones’ 2006 interview. At around 1:00:34 of this interview, Mr. Jones is describing a jewelry box made for him by Paul Snead from the timber of a shipwreck that occurred near the edge of Tom’s Cove in 1901. He remarks about the timber, “I magine it was -- I believe it was Honduras mahogany.” In this example, Mr. Jones begins his utterance with "I magine it was" before reforming his statement as "I believe it was Honduras mahogany."

Later in the interview, at around 1:21:35, Mr. Jones is talking about taking trips to Ocean City, Maryland as a teenager. The interviewer asks him if he used to take Route 12 to get there from Chincoteague, and Mr. Jones responds “I magine that’s the route we took.”

As mentioned above, magine can also function as an Eastern Shore variant of yes. Here are some examples of using magine as a response to another person.

A. It’s hot out there, ain’t it?

B. Magine. [Yeah, it’s a scorcher.]

A. Did you wanna wet a line this afternoon?

B. Magine. [Yeah, I’d really like to go fishing.]

A. Can I grab a bottle of water from your cooler?

B. Magine. [Yeah, help yourself.]

In these examples, a person might respond with either I magine or magine. The meanings are the same. Both are simply shortenings of the longer phrase "I imagine so."

I magine that's all for now. Thanks for reading! Be on the lookout for more ESVA dialect-related content in the near future. Feel free to leave comments on this post or e-mail Ryan Webb at

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