"Pittsburghese" Overview

What is "Pittsburghese"?
You may be wondering why you haven't seen the term "Pittsburghese" on this website. That is because this website is about Pittsburgh speech—how Pittsburghers actually talk. Pittsburghese, on the other hand, is a reflection of how people THINK Pittsburghers talk.

If you live in the Pittsburgh area, you are are surrounded by examples of Pittsburghese, on websites, t-shirts, coffee mugs, souvenir shot glasses, and the like, and in newspaper cartoons and humorous stories about Pittsburghers. There are even dolls that say things in Pittsburghese when you squeeze their stomachs. But these examples don't all reflect things that Pittsburghers actually do in their speech, and many of them are things that people do all over the English-speaking world.

What's the difference between
"Pittsburghese" and Pittsburgh speech?

Here is a chart that compares Pittsburgh speech with Pittsburghese.

Feature of Pittsburgh speech,
in descriptions by linguists

Item in Sam McCool’s New Pittsburghese: How to Speak like a Pittsburgher



The vowel in words like “cot” and “caught” is pronounced the same way.

“Dawn” for “Don”

The vowel sounds in words like like “pout” can sound somewhat like the vowel sound in words like “pat” (but not exactly).

“dahntahn” for “downtown”

The vowel in words like “stuff” can be pronounced with the tongue further down in the mouth.

(Not Mentioned)

The vowel sound in “fire” can sound like the vowel sound
in “far.”

“Arn” for “iron”

The “l” sound can sound more like a “w” sound.

“cawd” for “called”

Words like “seal” can sound the same as words like “sill.”

“still” for “steel”

Words like “sell” can sound the same as words like “sail.”

“felled” for “failed”

Words like “pool” can sound the same as words like “pull.”

(Not Mentioned)

The vowel in words like “coat” and “home” can be pronounced with the tongue further forward in the mouth.

(Not Mentioned)

added “r” sound in wash, Washington

“worsh” for “wash”

added “l” sound in drawling

(Not Mentioned)

The final –ng in a word like “going” can have an added “g” sound when the next syllable starts with a vowel sound (so “going out” can sound like “going gout”).

(Not Mentioned)



diamond, hap, other words that are no longer in use

carbon oil (kerosene), cupboard (closet), gommed up, onion snow (early spring snow), reverend (extreme)



redd up

redd up

nebby, other forms with neb


jag, other forms with jag






chipped ham

chippped ham




sammiches ( “sandwitches”)

‘n (“and”)

couttent (“couldn’t)

dittent (“didn’t)

perch (“porch”)

spicket (“spigot”)

keller (“color”)

nize (“nice”)

filum (“film”)

Jeet jet/j’ew (“Did you eat yet?”/”Did you/”)

Ahia (Ohio)

‘ats (that’s)

Mon, Skwirohill, The Point, Strip District,
and other place names

stogie (“cigar”)

babushka (“headscarf,” “grandmother”)

boilermaker, city chicken, chitchat, carline,
living daylights, scrub for clean, sleep in,
what the cat drug in

seen, et (“seen,” “eaten”)

Ahz (“I am”)

to box (“to put in a box”)

how’s about (“how about”)

wait on (“wait for”)

in regards to (“with regard to”)

Jaynell (“J&L; Jones and Laughlin”)

crewsants (“croissants”)

pop (“soft drink”)



Some Pittsburghers use yinz,yunz, or you’unz for you when there is more than one you.


Pittsburghers may say sentences like “My shirt needs ironed” instead of “My shirt needs to be ironed”

“needs washed”

The word “anymore” can be used in sentences where there is no negative word.

“Anymore there’s so many new buildings …”

The word “whenever” can be used with things that happen only once.

“Whever I finish the car I’ll take you for a ride.

The verbs “leave” and “let” can be used in different ways, sometimes one instead of the other one.

leave for let

In some kinds of questions, Pittsburghers’ voices can suddenly get higher and then lower.

(Not Mentioned)

Why do you think things like the items in the right-hand column
appear in lists of "Pittsburghese"? Why don't all the things in the left-hand column appear in lists of "Pittsburghese"?

What do these items show about what people think Pittsbughers are like? Perhaps "Pittsburghese"
is partly more about Pittsburghers, the people, than about their speech.

The Great Pop vs. Soda Controversy
There are several traditional words for this item in the U.S.: "pop," "soda", "soda water," "coke." "Pop"
is not as common as "soda," but it is used (or at least used to be) in a large area of the U.S. This site is
based on an online research project that asked people to give the word they used. It shows where the
various words are used. As you can see, people in a big area of the northeast and midwest say they use
"pop." Maybe the reason that Pittsburghers think "pop" is a Pittsburgh word is because people in a lot
of the rest of of Pennsylvania use "soda."

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