The Ultimate Yinzer Pittsburghese phrases & slang decoded!

Jan 10, 2023Keith Cathcart

A newbie to our ‘Steel City’ and wondering how we speak? Well, Pittsburgh owns a unique culture that always surprises you with endless cultural magic. And, one among such wonders is the heavily accented Pittsburghese lingo & phrases.

Among the diverse dialects of America, the origin of Pittsburghese as the trademark of the ‘City of Bridges’ ages back to its history. Our blue-collar workers have gifted us with such an easy slang. But, if you just moved to the city recently, chances stay high to get lost in words and phrases of this ‘Iron City’. Does it seem odd? Not anymore, ‘cause we just curated a list of popular Yinzer phrases & lingo!

These are the common ways when you speak the Yinzer style. We love our beautiful city and its wonderful culture. So, here’s our tribute to the coolest people that make da ‘Burgh, da best; cheers, fella’ Yinzers!

Pittsburgh, Steel City, Iron City

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1. Yinz/ Younz/ Yunz

While America’s major cities modestly resolve from “you all” into “y’all”, Pittsburghese makes it altogether anew! Our Irish immigrants from the 1800s began referring to it as “you one’s”; later on became “you’unz”. But, the changes just rolled in, and finally stated it as “yinz” or “yunz”.

Though “yinz” is used instead of “you all/ones”, Yinzers don’t use them casually in any sentence. But, of course, the beauty of yelling, “yinz better watch out” is the Yinzer style!

2. Moving around da ‘Burgh

The Yinzer slang often misses out elaborate usage of vowels and sounds. Many a time, most “ow/aw” syllables just become “a”, “ee” turns out to be “i” and so on. Especially, if you ain’t a Pittsburgher, you might seem confused while asking for directions. So, here’s how to pronounce the spots in the city in the Yinzer slang.

Pittsburgh  Downtown, Pittsburgh Steelers

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  • Arn city - It’s never the “Iron” City, but the “Arn” City.
  • “Going Dahntahn” - When you go “downtown” the city, you say “dahntahn”.
  •  Pixburgh -tts” sound as just “x” when yinzers say “Pittsburgh”.
  •  Stillers - Yinzers cheer out jovially for their famous home team “Stillers” and it’s not the “Steelers”! 

3. How to do it the Yinzer way? 

A lot of terms are altogether different not just in pronunciation, but also in their usage in the Yinzer lingo. You might indeed search up a whole Pittsburghese dictionary to figure out the word meaning! :))

Pittsburgh, Things of Pittsburgh

Image By Dllu - Own work

  • Bobos - Generic shoes. Often used in mocking or sarcastic contexts (i.e. Look at those bobos Mike is wearing).

  • Buggy - “Shopping carts” is another wordy term. Hence, we just get our “buggy” filled at the mart. 
  • Bumbershoot - An umbrella. Though often assumed to be British in origin, “bumbershoot” appears to be purely American, and is most likely a quirky blend of “umbrella” and “parachute.”

  • Burm - The side of the road or the shoulder. Merriam-Webster defines this word as so: “the shoulder of a road.” Seems that non Pittsburghers are lacking in their vocabulary.

  • Cream rinse - Conditioner. Cream/creme rinse was originally made to offset the drying effect of soap-less shampoos back in the day, although they have since been replaced by rinse out conditioners. Nowadays it’s used in Pittsburgh to refer to what others call conditioner.

  • Crick - This doesn’t mean the usual “creek”. Any water streams other than a river is a “crick” in Pittsburgh.
  • Doohickey - Can you go get me that doohickey in the top drawer? Does anyone know what this doohickey is for? You get it. It’s a doodad, a whatchamacallit, a thingamajig.

  • Druthers - A choice or preference. Druthers is used as a plural noun and if applied correctly, you can blend in with the natives.

  • Dupa - Bum, derriere, rear end, bottom, behind. Many words can be used to describe the glutes, but rest assured that Pittsburghers have their own term: dupa.

  • Eve-spouting/Eve-spout - Gutters. This Americanism, or word that is characteristic of American English, dates back to 1885-90. Throughout the decades, there has been variation in its spelling: eaves spouts, eave spout, eve spout(s), eavespouting, eve spouting. Whatever exact variation you hear, just know we’re talking about gutters.

  • Grinny/Grinnie - Chipmunk or squirrel. The origin of this colloquialism is unknown, but it is commonly used in eastern and central Pennsylvania.

  • Gum band - Mostly, you carry around “gum bands” and not just “rubber bands”.
  • Gutchies/Gutcheez - Many a young Yinzer has grown up hearing some version of “pull up your pants, I can see your gutchies.” Gutchies, as you may have guessed, are underpants, of any variety. The origin of the word is unknown, but most likely comes from the Yiddish “gatkes” or Polish “gadki.”

  • Hankerin - A need or want. Example: “I got a hankerin for a sammitch.”

  • Hork - To steal. Usually used in contexts when the stolen item is of little value (ex. He horked my bike!).

  • Jag/Jagoff - If you are extremely annoying, you become a “jagoff” because you “jag”. It means you prick or annoy people like a thorn! 
  • Jeet jet/ jew - You are strolling across the street near Primanti Bros and you watch your friend coming out the eatery. Then, you ask “jeet jew/jet?” for “did you eat?”.
  • Lunch-head - If you want to mock someone like a true Pittsburgh native, call them a lunch-head, which can be a synonym for an idiot.

  • Mushball - Softball. The 16-inch ball used to play the sport is sometimes called a mushball, which seems to explain where the term originates.

  • Nebby - Your “nosy” neighbor is “nebby” because they always look into what happens at your home. And you never want any “nebby” friends at all.
  • Pumpin’ arn - Pumping iron, in Pittsburgh, does not refer to lifting weights; instead it refers to drinking beer. The phrase refers to Iron City Beer, a brand which used to be based out of Pittsburgh.

  • Redd up - You don’t “clean up” a dirty floor, instead you “redd up” before mom’s in here! 
  • Slippy - When the road or the place is slippery, yinzers say “it’s slippy!”. ‘Cause, you lose the yinzer spirit with too ‘wordy’ words!
  • Sweeper - A “vacuum cleaner” is referred to as a “sweeper”. But, don’t get it confused with “sweeping”. You just sweep the room with a broom and not with a “sweeper”.
  • Tossle cap - A colloquialism specific to Pittsburgh natives to describe a hat worn in the winter. It’s known as a knit cap, beanie, or skull cap to others.

  • Worsh - “Washing” happens to be “worshing”; so, never forget to “worsh your hands”!

  • Zapper - TV remote control. This colloquial term seems to have origins in the 80s-90s.

 Pittsburgh, Yinzer slang, PittsburgheseImage by SHAUN / FLICKR

4. What’s the Yinzer food and drink?

Pittsburgh is the food land of America. The heavy sandwiches and burgers, all loaded with fries always fill you up. Here’s how you order food in da ‘Burgh.

  • Chipped Ham - Chipped, chopped, and sliced ham from the deli is a must-try from a heavy Pittsburghese lunch. And, it definitely must be “chipped” neatly.
  • Cut - No, not the cut you get on your knee from falling, but a slice of pizza. Can I get two cuts of pepperoni?

  • Dippy eggs - When you want the perfect over-easy eggs for dipping into your toast, you order for “dippy eggs with toast”.
  • Galumbki - Stuffed cabbage. Also spelled Golumpki, this dish has Polish roots and highlights the Polish influence on Pittsburgh cuisine (heard of a Pierogi?).

  • Hoagies/Sammiches - Yinzers thrive on their delectable love, the “sandwiches”. At least once a day, they hog into their “hoagies/ sammiches”.
  • Imp ‘n Arn - A mixed drink consisting of Iron City Beer and a shot of Imperial Whisky. Although the drink’s origins are contested, it seems that it was the go-to beverage of Pittsburgh steel workers.

  • Jimmies - Sprinkles. The most popular term used in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and some Boston regions. The origin of the word is unknown, although its first documentation was in 1930.

  • Jumbo - If you sick hungry and all you want is to hog in some food, then you order for a “jumbo”, the cheese-filled bologna sandwich.
  • Oleo - Margarine. The original name for margarine was oleomargarine, and at some point different regions separated the words, with Pittsburghers sticking to the shorter version.

Pittsburgh, Foods of PittsburghImage by Dan Gigler / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • Pop - You are all the way left to show the true Pittsburgh spirits now. So, it’s neither a “soft drink” nor a “soda”; it’s not even a “soda-pop”. It’s simply a “pop”.
  • Surp - Syrup. Yinz need more surp for those waffles?

  • Wedgie - Context is important here. We aren’t always referring to when the pants uncomfortably wad in your dupa. Instead, Pittsburghers also use wedgie to refer to a half-moon shaped pizza dough filled with ingredients that are then baked in or on top of the hoagie. Wedgies are thought to be created in Pittsburgh in the early 1980s.

 5. The exclusive Yinzer things! 

There are plenty of cultural spaces in Pittsburgh, which were normalized over time as true Yinzer assets. Take a look at these exclusive Pittsburghese phrases and they will certainly surprise you.

  • Heinz - Pittsburgh is the home town for world-famous ‘Heinz Ketchup’. So for yinzers, “Heinz” itself is “ketchup”.
  • Kennywood’s open - When your “zipper’s open”, your friend can scream out “Kennywood’s open”; better watch out!

Pittsburgh, Attractions of PittsburghCredit: Getty Images

  • N'at - Finally, we have the forever signature statement from every Yinzer. “And that” is never a yinzer tongue. We like it the “n’at” way. So, we always “live, laugh, love n’at”. Visit and enjoy a wholesome time at this beautiful city amongst a bunch of cool yinzers!

Grab the exclusive collection of T-shirts and wooden souvenirs with Yinzer lingo from Yinzershop to cheer up your Pittsburghese memories!

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Comments (1)

  • We can’t forget the phraise Easliperty I nb stead of East Libert

    Nancy MERSHON

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