By Ryan Miner
I first made acquaintances with the word “jagoff” when I arrived in Pittsburgh for the first time in the summer of 2003. It was my freshman year of college at Pittsburgh’s premier Catholic institution of higher learning – Duquesne University.
I first heard the word “jagoff” used when I was getting situated on the 6th floor of St. Anne’s Hall, the male-female segregated and heavily fortified freshman dormitory on the east end of Duquesne University’s Pittsburgh enclave. The RA, a big guy named Nick, laid down the grown rules for the 6th floor – also the unofficial smoking floor – of St. Anne’s, in a group meeting. Nick the RA said, “Alright, fellas, just remember to treat others with respect and don’t be a jagoff.” Turning to the Pittsburgh native standing adjacent to me in the group meeting, I asked, “What the hell is a jagoff?” My new dormitory friend looked at me incredulously.
Jagoff, according to the incredibly useful Urban Dictionary, is defined as
A rude, asshole-like person; originated in Pittsburgh.
Properly used in a sentence (Pittsburghese emphasis added), it looks like this:
“Yinz were acting like jagoffs the other night, all drunk on Ahrns n’at. Dont come bahk from da South Sahde drunk up n’at. Yinz know the Stillers play tomorrah. Make sure yinz stay away from dah jagger boosh, a pick up a case or Ihrn City.”
Growing up in western Maryland we had our own regional rules of linguistics. We said, “hon” to endearingly refer to, well, everybody; I still use “hon” in my daily life to refer to my wonderful better half, Kim, and vice versa. Growing up, Memaw Miner – my paternal grandmother – said words like, “boooshh” and pooosssh (bush and push), and when my Pap Hann – my maternal grandfather – was really mad, he’d break out the “Jesus God!” As good Catholics, confession absolved us of our sins.
Makes sense, right? Basically, jagoff is a noun; it’s a derogatory slang term used for people who are stupid and inept. It’s mostly used in Pittsburgh and the greater Western Pennsylvania area.
So it’s fitting that Mark Cuban, the billionaire businessman and investor, also a Pittsburgh native, yesterday referred to Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump as a “jagoff” during a Pittsburgh rally for Hillary Clinton. At the same rally, Cuban endorsed Clinton, claiming that he thought Donald Trump had gone “batshit crazy”
Cuban is right: Trump is affirmatively crazy.
Mark Cuban did a great service for the American people by bringing “jagoff” into the mainstream of American politics. From this moment forward, instead of referring to Trump as the “Republican presidential nominee,” we should just refer to him as “that jagoff from New York City.”
I so miss living in Pittsburgh.