Where does yinz come from?
In the early 17th century, southwestern Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh, was settled by Scottish-Irish immigrants. They spoke a Scots-Irish variety of English which featured you ones used as a second-person plural pronoun (vs. the Standard English use of you for both the singular and plural).
Barbara Johnstone—a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and an expert in what’s called Pittsburghese—has located the Scots-Irish you ones as the source of the Pittsburgh yinz. You ones became pronounced as you-uns by the 1800s, further smushed to yinz, among other forms like yunz, by at least the 1980s.
Yinz has since become so associated with Pittsburgh identity and pride (though forms are also found in Appalachia) that locals may refer to themselves as Yinzers.
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Examples of yinz
Who uses yinz?
Yinz is common (and useful) feature of the Pittsburgh dialect of English. It is used for the plural you just like you all or the Southern English y’all.
close enough for yinz?
— Hot Enough For Ya? (@hotenoughbot) October 28, 2018
Dawny Irse! Yinz really knows how ta do a national anthem @steelers
— Patrick Guzowski (@patguzowski) October 28, 2018
If’n yinz don’t remember…https://t.co/6C2HFzNLkd
— Seth M. (@RagingYinzer) October 28, 2018
Yinzers gonna yinz, baby.
— Blake (@CoolHipsterName) October 28, 2018
Yinz, Pittsburgh Strong pic.twitter.com/JaRlTORpYR
— Patrick 1425 (@patrick1425) October 28, 2018
This is not meant to be a formal definition of yinz like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of yinz that will help our users expand their word mastery.