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How to Speak Pittsburghese like a Yinzer

Updated on September 15, 2014
Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh, PA

The Biggest Rules of Pittsburghese

  • The "ow" sound is pronounced like "ah." Like instead of out, you say aht. (If you're having trouble pronouncing it, elongate the a so it sounds like "ah.") This is a surefire way to spot someone from Pittsburgh.

I'm going dahtahn for an ahr.

  • Long e sounds are pronounced like a short i.

The Stillers are the best football team in the universe.

  • If more than two words can be pronounced as one, then it's slurred that way.

Hey, Yinz

Every region of the world has their own dialect, accents, and colloquialisms that mark it as unique and distinct. In the United States especially, any American can pinpoint exactly where a person is from as soon as they start speaking, just because of their "accent" and the phrases they use. Because of this, cities often develop their own language, or deviations from the normal English. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is no exception to that.

What marks Pittsburghese as significantly distinctive is our use of words and phrases that don't mean anything or are completely indiscernible if you don't already know what they are. You can't figure them out on their own; not that adaptations of the English language all over the country aren't like this, but Pittsburghese is like a vernacular all its own.

Whether you need the pronunciation or the definition of a word we use, it's all right here.

Mellon Arena, AKA Civic Arena, AKA the Igloo. Home of our hockey team, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Mellon Arena, AKA Civic Arena, AKA the Igloo. Home of our hockey team, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Giant Eagle grocery store
Giant Eagle grocery store
Selection from the bakery Peace, Love, and Little Donuts. Top right is maple bacon, one of their most famous flavors.
Selection from the bakery Peace, Love, and Little Donuts. Top right is maple bacon, one of their most famous flavors.

Places

'Sliberty - East Liberty

Beer - Beaver. As in Beaver County

Mon - The Monongahela River, one of the Three Rivers of Pittsburgh

Windeez - Wendy's restaurant

Wes En - West End

Mancini's - bakery whose bread is so good you'd think it was made by angels

Igloo - Mellon Arena, AKA Civic Arena where the Pittsburgh Penguins play. It's no longer there, and now it's the Consol Energy Center. AKA Consol

Bottoms - Lower Part of McKees Rocks

Shayside - Shadyside, a neighborhood east of the city

Sahside - South Side

Dahntahn - downtown, like in Pittsburgh

Pymatooming - Pynatuning Lake, right up north off of 79

Lebo - Mount Lebanon. Also sometimes referred to as Mahnt Lebo

Lahrnsville - Lawrenceville

Jine Iggle - Giant Eagle

The Strip - Strip District, home of Wholey's Fish Market and Peace, Love, and Little Donuts

Ins and Ahts of Pittsburgh

A markerPittsburgh -
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
get directions

Kennywood Park: the iconic arrow sign with The Phantom's Revenge in the background, the park's most famous rollercoaster.
Kennywood Park: the iconic arrow sign with The Phantom's Revenge in the background, the park's most famous rollercoaster.

Phrases

Redd up - do a light cleaning; putting things away and picking stuff up off the floor, but no vacuuming or dusting

Jeet jet? - Did you eat yet?

No, dju? - No, did you?

Dahn the Rocks - in Mckees Rocks

A whole nother - another, but more dramatic

Back'air - back there

Chout - watch out

Dahnahhahs - down the house; usually what people saying when they're going home, or visiting their parents

Kennywood's open - the fly of your pants is down (in reference to our amusement park, Kennywood)

Mills on Wills - the catering company Meals on Wheels

Mize well - I might as well


Pittsburgh Steelers Song

Other Everyday Words

Gum band - rubber band

Jagoff - an idiot; usually someone who cut you off while you were driving

Jumbo - lunch meat. Typically bologna.

Babushka - scarf worn wrapped around the head and shoulders

Worsh - wash. Also Worshington

Blinkers - turning signals

Yinz - you guys. Similar to "y'all." Also yinz guys.

Buggy - shopping cart. Like at Jine Iggle

Cahny - county. Allegheny, Beaver, Worshington, etc.

Cellar - basement

Chipped ham - ham sliced so thin it's almost transparent

Clicker - remote control

Dupa - your butt

Arn - iron

Tennies - any type of sneakers, usually not worn for actual tennis. Also tennis shoes.

Hankerin - need or want, like a craving

Half-ahr - half an hour

Jaggerbush - any plant with thorns (jaggers are thorns)

An'at - and that

Keller - color (...not Helen)

Pop - any soft drink

Sweeper - vacuum

Worsh rag - washcloth

Yinzer - a native of Pittsburgh who speaks the language fluently

Slippy - slippery

Nebby - nosey

Zaksame - exact same

Are you fluent in Pittsburghese now?

See results

After a Thorough Lesson

These are the main phrases, words, and places that people from Pittsburgh use pretty much daily. The younger generations are starting to lose their Pittsburghese touch, but the ones born and raised in Pittsburgh have an accent that's still stronger than ever.

Here we go Stillers!

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    • Ally Lewis profile image
      Author

      Ally Lewis 3 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      Awe thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    • Writer Fox profile image

      Writer Fox 3 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      You've put together a fascinating list describing the accent from Pittsburgh. Enjoyed and voted up!

    • Ally Lewis profile image
      Author

      Ally Lewis 3 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      WritinginRichmond great! My family uses redd up all the time, and of course has that trademark accent.

      Billrrrr thanks! I tried to take things I knew where from Pittsburgh specifically, but I'm sure there's some overlap in the New England area. Or everywhere copied us :)

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 3 years ago from Cape Cod

      Nice job on this. Most of the words were new to me but one was similar to what we say in New England. Jeet? That's pronounced exactly the same in Boston as Pittsburgh.

    • WritingInRichmond profile image

      WritingInRichmond 3 years ago

      This is priceless! We just had a family vacation outside Harrisburg, PA and my sons kept asking what people meant by “Yinz.” I shared a couple of the PA colloquialisms I knew, as I have family from central PA and spent some time in Pittsburgh for work. In any event, I have a few folks at my office that are from Pittsburgh and can’t wait to dazzle them with my newly found “Pittsburghese.” Thanks!

    • Ally Lewis profile image
      Author

      Ally Lewis 3 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      Haha don't you mean Worshington??? ;)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I was laughing at the title; the article didn't disappoint. It seems most areas have their own language...except us in Washington, of course. :)