Silicon Valley teen slang

Jim Rader jrader at M-W.COM
Mon May 17 09:45:26 UTC 1999

The slangism for which RHHDAS has <jiboney> as the principal entry hs
many variants.  My father used to use /dz^@ 'lo ni/ (which I'd spell
<jalony> if I had to); for a long time I thought it was a word he had
made up.  Merriam's files have only slight evidence for members of
this word family (though I haven't searched exhaustively).  I do find
the following, collected by W.L. McAtee, a retired ornithologist (d.
1962), who contributed many cites from pulp crime magazines of
the 1950's:

"For money, some men will even kill," one of the jablonies muttered
to me. (_Detective News_ [New York], No. 1/2, June, 1956, p. 78)

McAtee was not familiar with the word, to judge by the gloss he gave
it: "exact meaning unknown; it refers to agents of an international
diamond cartel."

Jim Rader

> > Still, there's an interesting item in the list:
> >
> > >     Jabroni (n) -- An idiot; a big-time loser.
> > >  That guy's a jabroni because he can never do anything right.
> >
> > That's a word my father used (although he would have spelled it
> > differently); I'd date it to the 1930s at the latest.  His definition
> > and spelling would have been "A gibroni is some big, dumb buttinski
> > whose name I don't know."
> >
> > I thought the word was just about extinct.  Does anybody have a sighting
> > on how this anachronism turns up in teenage slang today?
> The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang has a record
> of this word, filed under "jiboney" but listing a number of variant
> spellings. We only have one example of an -r- form, listed separately
> at "gibroney." The "jiboney" form, in any case, is attested back to
> 1921, with several examples in _Variety,_ and is found continuously
> to the present (our latest example is 1993, in _Vanity Fair,_ and I
> think we have more examples that we didn't put in).
> It is just this sort of term that demonstrates how long slang can
> be current.
> Jesse Sheidlower
> Random House Reference
> <jester at>

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