Jabroni Talk (365)

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In this solo episode, Mike explores a fun little word called “jabroni” and explains what it means, where it came from, and why it’s so interesting. The inspiration for this episode came from an article by Ben Zimmer for the Wall Street Journal. Each week, Ben has a column called “Word on the Street,” and recently, he dove into the meaning and origin of “jabroni.” 

When the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship game this season, the Chief’s tight end Travis Kelce addressed Cincinnati’s Mayor for having mocked the Chiefs before the game. Kelce said, “Know your role and shut your mouth, you jabroni.” What does this funny word mean, and where did it come from? Tune in to learn more.

Key highlights:

  • Mike reads from an article by Ben Zimmer for the Wall Street Journal which covers the interaction between Travis Kelce and Cincinnati’s mayor Aftab Pureval in which Travis called Aftab a “jabroni”

  • Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and his use of this word

  • The origin and meaning of jabroni

  • Mike’s thoughts on this exchange between Kelce and Pureval

watch the video version of this episode below:

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Episode transcript below:


jabroni, word, conway, podcast, wrestling, thought, cincinnati, johnson, mayor, wrestler, origins, iron sheik, talk, find, zimmer, term, article, wrote, wwe, insult


Mike Malatesta


Mike Malatesta  00:00

In today’s episode of the HOW’D IT HAPPEN podcast, I am talking about a fun little word called jabroni and I m going to explore what it means, where it came from and why it’s so interesting. I really enjoyed making this episode and I hope you enjoy it as well. Here it is: Hey, everybody, welcome back to the HOW TO HAPPEN Podcast. I’m Mike. And thank you so much for joining me today for this solo episode. And we’re gonna have a little fun with this one I am actually going to talk about I’m actually going to read mostly read an article that I read by Ben Zimmer, Ben Zimmer is a, he’s a writer for The Wall Street Journal, and he writes a column every week called Word on the street. And what he does is he takes a word, and he basically gets into the history of the word. I know there’s a fancy term for it that begins with a knee but it’s escaping me right now. But he takes a word and research to research the history and then gives you the origin of the word or the history of the word or the various iterations of the word throughout the time it’s been used. And this one has a kind of a, a football connection to it in a number of ways. And I’m a big football fan, and so I thought this would be good to share. He calls his article trash talk for a fool or a loser, or maybe a ham when the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship game last Sunday, and this is me here and then went on to defeat my Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl. Two weeks later chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. needled Cincinnati Cincinnati’s Mayor Aftab Perivale are having mock the cheese in the lead up to the game. This is Kelsey is quote, hey, I’ve got some wise words for that Cincinnati mayor, he said during the trophy celebration, know your role than shut your mouth. You jabroni know your role and shut your mouth you jabroni the mayor, for his part was a good sport about it all tweeting? Yeah. deserve that. And as he told The Cincinnati Enquirer, he knew exactly what it meant to be called a jabroni because he had grown up watching professional wrestling in wrestling parlance, that jabroni is a fool or a loser. And this is where it got really interesting. For me the wrestler most associated with the jabroni insult is Dwayne The Rock Johnson, who frequently slung the word against his WWE rivals as he became a fan favorite. Starting in the late 1990s. Know your role and shut your mouth was also part of the rocks pugnacious ringside patter. Mr. Johnson, however, is quick to point out that he did not coined the word jabroni he gives credit to wrestling great Castro Ali, the Ziri better known as the Iron Sheik. And just as an aside here, I I was a big wrestling fan, but before WWE and all because I’m too old for that. So mine was back in the 70s when wrestling was just as I was gonna say, fake, entertaining, but not nearly as big of a show as it is today or was when when the rock was involved in it. But anyway, as the rock explained in 2015 interview with Esquire, the Iron Sheik was famous for saying the word constantly backstage jabroni, jabroni jabroni, around 1998 I thought, why can’t I say it on TV? So I started saying it publicly. But the Iron Sheik, he’s the one who is known for it. If you like what I’m doing with this podcast and want to participate in more of the things I’m thinking about and exploring, subscribe to my newsletter today. It’s super simple. Just go to Mike malatesta.com Right now, put in your email and you will get the very next issue. It’s short, thoughtful, and designed to inspire, activate and maximize the greatness in you. As for the words, origins, Mr. Johnson surmised that it was Kearney talk since wrestling used to be a feature detraction at carnivals. In fact, jabroni has much older roots as an insult for a contemptible or worthless person going back more than a century in American slang, the earliest known incarnation that’s a new word of the word was Joe bony or good bony First appearing in the writings of Jacques con Conway. In the magazine variety, written in the style of letters to friends. Conway’s columns were packed with Jazz Age slang, he’s credited with popularizing such words as scram, bimbo Palooka, and bologna in the June 27 1919. Issue of variety Conway told of New York City Grifters, who are having trouble finding chumps to swindle they ride up and down on the subway without seeing a prospect nothing but a bunch of job bonies go into work following you or Conway wrote of a baseball player this jabroni couldn’t play without he was manicured, and if he wasn’t shaved, he wouldn’t think of getting into a uniform. While the ultimate origins of the epithet are unclear, one theory posits that it comes from glam bone and Italian dialectical word for a foolish person derived from the Piedmontese spoken in northwestern Italy, which in turn comes from Jim Bong, a regional term for ham related to the France jam bomb. In American usage, the word spread in a number of derogatory directions a 1931 collection of prison slang to find a jabroni as a green horn, or a newly arrived foreigner word researcher Barry papinek discovered recently, the spelling jabroni E Y instead of jabroni in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle of November 15 1924, offered by a correspondent as an alternative name for a hobo. The only word a respectable law abiding bum would answer to is jabroni. That’s the quote from the article, the spelling jabroni, j, A, B, R, and I became popular as the word made its way into the world of wrestling, but its meaning could be more specific than any old loser a 2020 entry in dictionary.com, says jabroni can refer to a wrestler whose purpose is to lose matches against headlining wrestlers in order to build up the status and fame of the headliners. Also known as a jabber inside or outside the ring, you don’t want to be on the receiving end of the jabroni jab is how Mr. Zimmer ends his article about your burning, I thought it was fun. I have heard the term before I read this. I don’t know if I heard it when I was a kid growing up outside of Philadelphia, but maybe feels like that’s probably where I heard it. But I thought it was very funny and a little disrespectful for Mr. Kelce, to refer to the mayor of Cincinnati that way, but you know, that’s the way our politics goes. There’s not always a lot of respect, and maybe, you know, maybe it’s, maybe it’s a two way street. Maybe they haven’t earned our respect. But anyway, I thought it was fun. I hope you thought it was a little bit of fun and got a little bit of education out of it. And maybe you know now how to use the term jabroni with your friends, and you know a little bit more than you knew before listening about where that word came from, and what it means. So thank you for investing time with me today in this podcast. I hope that you got a positive return on that investment. And if you did, please consider following or subscribing to the podcast so that every episode comes to you automatically. In the meantime, until we meet again. Please do everything you can to maximize your greatness and make your future your property a future you design and are proud to own. Thanks for listening to this episode of The how that happened podcast where we believe that success doesn’t happen. Unless you make it happen. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple podcast, Google podcast stitcher or wherever you like to listen. And while you’re there, please rate it and leave a comment as well. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the show ideas for future guests or whatever you’d like to share. And of course, you can always find me at Mike malatesta.com See you next time. Thanks again for listening to the HOW’D IT HAPPEN podcast.

Alexi Cortopassi

Alexi Cortopassi

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