Presidential Campaign

Yinz guys…it’s OK to call Trump a jagoff, n’at

It was inevitable that, if both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were going to focus their campaigns on the swath of geography between eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, the word “jagoff” would come up.

Last night, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, a suburban Pittsburgh native, used the word “jagoff” at a rally for Clinton in Pittsburgh when referring to the character of Donald J. Trump.

{mosads}National reporters were instantly mystified and intrigued by the use and meaning of the word. Some surmised that the meaning was nasty.

That’s something that anyone from Youngstown, Ohio, all points west from Erie, down to Fayette County and as far west as Adams County, Pennsylvania would find amusing.

For them the word “jagoff” is learned at birth.

The first thing you need to know is that it is not a “naughty” word (like saying like jack off). Two completely different words.

“Jagoff” is part of the Scots Irish dialect that has been here since the 17th century that initially meant to “jag” or poke at someone who is doing something annoying (i.e. “stop jagging me” a phrase still used today). It evolved from a verb into the noun, “jagoff,” which essentially means “jerk” (i.e. “did you see the way she cut her off in traffic? What a jagoff!”).

Cuban is not the first person to use the word in this presidential election year. Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, the imposing 6 ft 4, 200-plus pound Democratic primary candidate for U.S. Senate, called Trump a jagoff last spring when he was seeking his party’s nomination for the Senate.

He held a rally centered around it, his volunteers wore “Trump is a jag off” T-shirts, and even held a press conference.

Is it fair to call Trump a jagoff? Absolutely. In fact, he might even admit that it is part of his strength and appeal to the very important voters that live in the areas where the word is used.

To be a jagoff means you are annoying, purposefully agitating, going outside the boundaries of polite society, acting in an arrogant way, and just being an all around jerk.

This year, voters seem to be telling us that they are looking for someone to be a jagoff to the establishment. Whether a jag off can win or not is a completely different question that none of us know for sure.

During populist moments in our country, we’ve sent plenty of jagoffs to the House and Senate when we’ve had great big wave elections sweep across the country.

Most last a term or two until the core of the anger has settled. But we’ve never sent a true populist to the White House. In a campaign fueled by anger, resentment and disconnect, sending the jerk to Washington who will blow things up is not outside the realm of possibility this year.

Zito is a political columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Reach her at

The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags 2016 presidential election Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Jagoff Make America Great Again Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Pittsburghese Republican Party United States Yinzer

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