Slip Fights and the Dozens

DSM is not the first to note this linguistic quirk...

DSM is not the first to note this linguistic quirk…

Occasionally, as someone with too much time on his hands, I go on eccentric chases down obscure rabbit holes. I’ve just been on one such adventure.  It started with a word and a billionaire’s use of the word, Mark Cuban at a political rally for Hillary Clinton. The word? “Jagoff.” Cuban was talking about Donald Trump. “You know what we call a person like that in Pittsburgh? A jagoff. Is there any bigger jagoff in the world than Donald Trump?”

And suddenly I was back in Pittsburgh, back in my childhood, when it was jagoff this and jagoff that, a common word with us and one that I rarely heard anywhere else but in Pittsburgh—jagoff, an obnoxious, base person, a contemptible person. What was the origin of the word, I wondered?

I had come in my dotage to rely on Google. There in Wikipedia was jagoff: “… an American English derogatory slang term…meaning a person who is stupid or inept. It is most prominent in the Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania areas… an archetypical Pittsburgh word, conjuring warm and nostalgic feelings among Pittsburgh expatriates… the term has its roots in the northern British Isles, an area that supplied many immigrants to Pittsburgh. It is derived from the verb ‘to jag,’ which means ‘to prick or poke.’ “ Read More