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Jagoff nixed



After the word "jagoff" appeared in an article on, David Shribman, the executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, sent a memo to his staff:

"Yes, I know I didn't grow up here; and yes, I know it doesn't mean what some people think it means; and yes, I know this email will be circulated and ridiculed; but, still ...

"The word 'jagoff' has no place in the Post-Gazette or on"

A Pittsburgh source says many people assume incorrectly that jagoff is a corruption of a more familiar vulgarism, but "In fact, jagoff has its roots in the Northern British Isles, 'where most of the original English-speaking settlers in this area came from,' says Carnegie Mellon University professor Barbara Johnstone, the foremost expert on local speech patterns. There, the verb 'to jag' meant 'to prick or poke' – which is why thorn bushes are called 'jaggerbushes' hereabouts. A jagoff, similarly, is simply an annoyance."

A contributor to the on-line Urban Dictionary says that jagoff is "A Pittsburgh-ese term for a person who is being a real jerk!" Another, more specific, says jagoff is "Pittsburgh slang for anyone irritating, out of line, not in love with the Steelers or not drinking Iron City on a regular basis."

You need Joshua to fight the battle of derecho:

"Nearly three full days after a severe line of storms, known as a derecho, knocked down trees and power lines in 10 states ... "

It's not well known, except maybe to weathermen. I couldn't find derecho in a standard dictionary. NPR on-line, which felt a need to explain the word in connection with last week's storms, says that the physics professor who coined the term for straight-ahead storms (way back in 1888) "decided to use the term derecho (Spanish for 'direct or straight ahead') to define these non-tornadic events since this term could be considered as an analog to the term tornado which is also of Spanish origin." And forget about Joshua. NPR says the word is "pronounced similar to 'deh-REY-cho' in English."

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