Every region has its own dialect. In Western Pennsylvania, it sounds a little something like this.
Walk into a souvenir shop in Pittsburgh and you’ll be surrounded by T-shirts and postcards bearing words that Pittsburgh has claimed as its own, such as yinz, a form of the plural “you” like “y’all” or “you guys.” Like any region in the US with a distinct dialect, the way that Pittsburghers and people across Western PA talk has been shaped by centuries of immigration and by local culture.
Some of the words and phrases we’ll share you’ll probably only find in Pittsburgh—like dahntahn. Others, like yinz, pop up across parts of Appalachia, while a few, like gobs, may bleed out from Western PA into Central PA.
Below, yinz can read more about Pittsburgh and Western PA’s unique vocabulary and grammar, n’at.
Word and Phrases
Crick: This is a small stream of natural flowing water—that’s right, a creek.
Used in a sentence: When the Pittsburgh Penguins scored a goal, longtime announcer Mike Lange, now retired, sometimes shouted “Call Arnold Slick from Turtle Crick!” demonstrating the proper way to pronounce the Pittsburgh suburb of Turtle Creek.
Dahn: Down. Instead of an “ow” sound, as in “down” or “house,” some speakers of the Pittsburgh accent use an “ah” sound. (See also: Dahntahn)
Used in a sentence: Slow dahn! Jagoff.
Dahntahn: This is how Pittsburghers might pronounce “downtown,” typically used when talking about Downtown Pittsburgh.
Used in a sentence: I’m heading dahntahn to the Strip.
Dippy: This is usually used to describe eggs and to indicate that the yolks are soft and runny.
Used in a sentence: I’ll have dippy eggs with a side of toast.
Gobs: A dessert treat in which frosting is sandwiched between two soft, cake-like cookies. In other words, gobs are whoopie pies.
Used in a sentence: I made us gobs for dessert, and I have never heard of a whoopie pie in my life.
Gumband: A rubber band!
Used in a sentence: I got in trouble because I got in my mom’s gumband stash and wouldn’t stop shooting them at my sister.
Jagoff: A jerk.
Used in a sentence: Only a jagoff would steal my parking spot after a blizzard. He even moved my parking chair!
Kennywood’s Open: With the help of Pittsburgh’s famous Kennywood amusement park, you can politely inform someone wearing pants that their fly is down and that they should zip up.
Used in a sentence: Todd’s coming back from the bathroom now—oh uh, hey man, Kennywood’s open.
N’at: “And all that” or “and whatnot.” Like yinz, n’at is a popular cultural identifier you might find on shirts or bumper stickers.
Used in a sentence: We’re just hanging out at home watching the Stillers, n’at.
Nebby: Nosy or meddlesome. Often used to describe a neighbor.
Used in a sentence: My nebby neighbor keeps suggesting my grass needs cut.
Redd up: Clean up. Some community organizations use the term to market neighborhood clean-up events, like the “Homewood Redd Up,” when volunteers clean litter from the sidewalks and streets of Homewood.
Used in a sentence: James, go redd up your room, it’s disgusting.
Sled riding: Many people in Pittsburgh take a toboggan, cookie sheet, or trash can lid and find a good hill to go what they call “sled riding,” not “sledding,” even though the word requires one fewer word and one fewer syllable.
Used in a sentence: Which park has the best sled riding hill?
Used in a sentence: Be careful, that sidewalk is covered in ice so it’s slippy.
Stillers: Steelers, as in the Pittsburgh Steelers football team. The accent can change an “ee” sound into an “i,” like pronouncing “steel” like “still.”
Used in a sentence: What time do the Stillers play?
Sweeper: Not a broom—a vacuum cleaner.
Used in a sentence: I’m going to clean up these crumbs as soon as I plug in the sweeper.
Tossle Cap: A beanie, which may or may not have a tassel on the end.
Used in a sentence: Have you seen my tossle cap? My ears are cold.
Yinz: A form of the plural you to indicate a group, “yinz” is derived from the Scots-Irish plural you, “you ones.” Yinz is a gender-neutral pronoun that one can use when they want to use a phrase like “ladies and gentlemen,” but be more inclusive. People who naturally use the term yinz are more likely to be older people local to Pittsburgh (whom one may call “yinzers”).
Used in a sentence: Yinz going to the game?
Yinzer: A yinzer is a term used to mean a local Pittsburgher, usually from inside the city limits and usually older. “Yinzers” are often the Pittsburghers who’ll you’ll find with heavy Pittsburgh accents.
Used in a sentence: I live around a bunch of yinzers so there are parking chairs all over the street.
Adding an unnecessary “’s” to the end of a store name to make it possessive: This is a funny quirk that may be a remnant of the age when most of the stores in Pittsburgh were named after someone: think Kaufmann’s, a department store, or Isaly’s, a restaurant.
Used in a sentence: I’m running errands and I’ve got to go to Aldi’s, J.C. Penney’s, and DeLallo’s.
Needs done: Many folks in Western PA will drop “to be” from a phrase like “The sewing needs to be done,” turning it into “The sewing needs done.” This also means that many folks in Western PA likely need to carefully proofread their emails or texts to non-Pennsylvanian colleagues.
Used in a sentence: The car needs washed. Oh, and this job application needs proofread before I submit it.