[Ads-l] "jabroni" redux

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Fri Feb 3 22:03:27 UTC 2023

My Wall Street Journal column this week is on the epithet "jabroni," which
was recently used by Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce referring to
the mayor of Cincinnati:

https://on.wsj.com/3WYeYao (hopefully not paywalled)

I also followed up with a Twitter thread with more on the history of the


While the spelling "jiboney"/"giboney" goes back to 1919 in the writing of
Jack "Con" Conway for Variety, Barry Popik recently found "jabroney" in the
Brooklyn Daily Eagle of 1924-25, making it the earliest known variant
spelled with an "r."

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Nov 15, 1924, p. 5, col. 3
"Raspberry Garlands and Bay Leaves" by George Currie
Mr Clinton Lucerne Mosher of Summit, N.J., who in spite of his new raccoon
coat and galloping Lizzie has the heart of a vagabond, informs me that the
term hobo is being kept alive as a corn-plaster advertisement prop and that
the only word "a respectable law-abiding bum would answer to is jabroney."
It only goes to show how young America is rapidly outgrowing Mr. Noah
Webster and Messrs. Funk & Wagnalls.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jan. 2, 1925, p. 6, col. 3
"Savants And Our Language"
To wake up to the younger generation, with its "oil cans," "bimboes," "wet
smacks," "jabroney," etc. [...]


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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