Every region across America has its own dialect and words that are unique to them. But I would argue that none are so specific to such a small region than the dialect of Pittsburgh. What makes the way we talk so unique is that it all happens inside only one city. You go outside of Pittsburgh—even into the rest of Pennsylvania—and suddenly no one understands you. If you ever have a chance to visit our beautiful city, these are some unique words and phrases that you should know (because we probably won’t take time to explain them to you when we start talking a million miles an hour). It’s a language we like to call “Pittsburghese.” Take a look at these uniquely Pittsburghese sayings!
You all: In the 1800s, Irish immigrants in the city started using the phrase “you one’s,” which eventually evolved into “you’unz” and then the modern-day “yinz.” But don’t yinz make fun of this word. We’re Pittsburghers and we’re dang proud of it. This is one of the most popular of the uniquely Pittsburghese sayings!
Shopping cart: That word is way too long. Buggy works just fine.
Slippery: Again—why add extra letters to the work “slippery” when you can make it shorter? Besides, it’s much more fun to say.
Creek: It’s not just the sound your bones make when you get up in the morning. It’s the trickling stream that runs through your backyard, and it’s called a “crick.”
5. Get some eats
Get something to eat: At least this one is understandable, right? Except you knock out the infinitive and somehow make “eat” a noun. Perfectly acceptable.
6. Chipped ham
Sliced deli ham: Chip it, chop it, slice it. It all means essentially the same thing. The end result is still not a whole ham.
7. Gum bands
Rubber bands: My dad used to have a gigantic gum band ball that he kept on his desk at work that he added to for years. If you want to talk like a real Pittsburgher, try this one on for size. It will definitely take some getting used to.
Soft drink: Although this is definitely more of a regional difference than a uniquely Pittsburgh word, don’t try to pick a fight with a Pittsburgher over whether it’s “soda” or “pop.” And please—please—don’t ever say soda-pop. You need to pick which side you’re on.
Clean up: Yeah… I don’t know how that one got started.
Nosy: This is definitely unique to Pittsburghese. Something we use to describe a person who can’t mind their own beeswax.
Vacuum cleaner: It sweeps things up sort of like a broom. Therefore it just stands to reason that something that sweeps…should be a “sweeper.”
Washing machine: Unlike many Pittsburghese words that I’m very proud to say, this is one that I have gone to great lengths to avoid. I just don’t like how it sounds, and it’s more of an onomatopoeia than anything else. This can be used either to describe a washing machine or the actual act of washing something. “I’m going to put the clothes in the wooshing machine.” “You need to woosh the dishes.”
Remote control: I was just at a get-together the other day with two Delawareans and a Kansan (no, this isn’t the beginning of a joke) and asked them to pass me the clicker so I could turn on the TV. Man, the looks I got. Guess they never heard that one before.
14. Face rag/dish rag
Wash cloth: You use hand towels to clean your hands. So shouldn’t towels that wash your face be “face rags” and towels that clean dishes called “dish rags?” Just so we’re on the same page here. This is another of the uniquely Pittsburghese sayings.
15. Needs done
Needs to get done: You may be starting to pick up on the fact that if Pittsburghers don’t see extra words/letters as necessary, we get rid of them. “The floor needs done” or “Your hair needs brushed” is how this can be used.
Hello: It’s just easier to slide into a word than to say that “huh” sound. We’re very efficient speakers (or just plain lazy). This is yet another one of the uniquely Pittsburghese sayings.
Ketchup: There is only one real kind of ketchup in this world, and don’t you forget it. So if it’s the best, why even mention the word “ketchup?” There’s no reason to clarify.
Sandwich: Again, just making a word easier to say. You’re welcome. Just make sure you put fries on it.
Steelers: That’s our football team, people. We decide how we say their name.
20. You’re going to get a lickin’
You’re going to get whooped/spanked: As weird as it sounds…nope, never mind, it just sounds plain weird.
Now, it may seem that Pittsburghese words and phrases may make us sound unintelligent. Possibly. But in the back of our minds, we know we’re Pittsburghers through and through, and we are willing to retain that kind of dedication to the words we’ve been raised on because it’s what sets us apart—for better or for worse.