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'What Is a Bodega?' Non-New Yorkers Ask Google

By John Ness | February 3, 2017 5:21pm

All of a sudden on Thursday, people started asking Google, "What is a bodega?"

Around 4 p.m. EST, people across the country (but particularly in states like Georgia, New Jersey and California) inquired about that ubiquitous feature of New York City life.

The sudden interest came as thousands joined a Brooklyn protest by Yemeni store owners against President Donald Trump's refugee policies. 

So, for all curious non-New Yorkers: bodega is a Spanish word translating to "warehouse" or "cellar," but in New York and other cities it's a colloquialism for a type of grocery/convenience store. While the bodegas are no longer exclusively associated with Spanish-speaking owners, (hence the Yemeni bodega strike) the name has stuck.

Still, a bodega is different from a deli, which revolves around a sandwich counter, and it's different from a corner grocer. (It's also common for bodegas to have beloved pet cats that have attracted their own fame.)

Merriam-Webster also saw a spike in searches and tweeted out the definition to help clear things up.

So when bodega owners from Yemen led a strike in response to their country's inclusion among seven Muslim-majority countries whose refugees are now banned from entering the country for 90 days, New Yorkers looking for a snack at their convenient neighborhood shop were met with signs like this.

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