The Steel City’s accent is a thing to behold. Words like “iron” aren’t pronounced “eye-urn” but instead like “arn.” The word “steel” is spoken like the word "still," and sometimes Pittsburgh actually sounds like "Pixburgh." Old timers often add the letter “r” into words where they don’t belong, and like many other Pennsylvanians, we often drop “to be” from sentences. So that means your Steelers jerseys don’t need to be washed, they need warshd. “The” is added to the beginning of words where they’re not necessary, so when we’re going to buy groceries, we’re going to “The Giant Eagle,” instead of just Giant Eagle. And we also add a possessive “s” to the end of non-plural names. So when you hear us say we’re going to “Aldi’s,” we are shopping and not visiting a cousin by that name.
Then there’s “yinz.” It’s sold on T-shirts all over the city. It’s the Pittsburgh way to say “you all,” and Pittsburghers are oft referred to as Yinzers. The word is unique to the region, and while lots of folks claim to hate it, it’s still affectionately used by old-school, born and bred Pittsburghers, and you can still hear it casually spoken in everyday conversation throughout the city.
The city’s accent is too difficult to teach in one article, but here is a list of Pittsburghese words and a breakdown of what they mean to help welcome you to the city.
Aht = out
Buggy = shopping cart
As simple as that but said more authentically with a slight accent. “Go aht an' grab me a buggy.”
Chipped-Chopped Ham (chipped ham) = processed lunch meat made from ham pieces, trimmings, and spices.
Usually eaten on a sandwich, sometimes with barbecue sauce called “ham barbecue.”
Crik = creek
Used for just about any flowing body of water smaller than a river. “Just have the kids go play near the crik.”
Dahntahn = Downtown
“Yinz wanna go Dahntahn, n’at?”
Dippy = appropriate level for dipping into
Mostly used when ordering eggs over easy. “I’ll take an order of dippy eggs with some toast.”
Gumband = rubber band
Western Pennsylvania term. “There are extra gumbands in the top drawer.”
Jagoff = jerk
The best yinzer word that everyone can use without judgment. “Quit being a jagoff and let the car merge into the lane.”
Jeet jet = Did you eat yet?
Best said with such a thick accent that most people can’t understand you.
Jumbo = bologna lunch meat
Probably the preferred way to order bologna at the deli counter. “I’ll take one pound of jumbo, thinly sliced.”
N’at = and that
An oft-used extender to just about any sentence. “We were watching the Pirates and drinking beer, n’at.” Of course, like yinz, "and that" isn't even a particularly common phrase in standard English, but generally n'at is a more or less meaningless casual phrase to tag on to the end of a sentence, like "and whatnot." You also might see it as a bumper sticker, spelled "n@."
Nebby = nosy, prying
Used to describe your most gossip-loving coworker, primarily used when referring to personal, yet trivial details. “Stop being so nebby about my date last night.”
Pixburgh = Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh’s talk so fast, it often comes out pronounced as this. Millennials have adopted this spelling as an affectionate term on social media.
Pop = soft drink
Pittsburgh choosing pop is the equivalent of Penguins vs. Flyers and Sheetz vs. Wawa in Pennsylvania’s pop vs. soda war. Head east, and you’ll find the opposite.
Redd up = clean, tidy up
Used by old, yinzer parents when they want you to clean your room. “Your grandparents are coming over, so go upstairs and redd up your room.”
Slippy = Slippery
Simple and used all the time in winter. “Careful: The sidewalk is slippy.”
Sweeper = vacuum
Also, the verb "sweep" is used when vacuuming, which is a bit confusing when saying, “I emptied out the sweeper and swept the carpet.”
Yinz = you all
Also sometimes said as “Yinz guys.” Yinzers love yinz. Get used to it.