According to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who popularized the term, he borrowed jabroni from the Iron Sheik, who used the word backstage. Prior to jabroni being popularized by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, the term had also been used by Scott Hall, Hulk Hogan, and other members of WCW and Steve Austin while in ECW.
Jabroni is a specialized rendition of the wrestling term jobber (“one who loses to make other wrestlers look better”). It is perhaps a humorous pseudo-Italianized form of it (see popular Italian words in American lexicon, e.g. macaroni, ravioli, Zamboni), but compare American slang/dialectal jaboney (“naive person, immigrant, hoodlum, fool”) [c. 1990], of unclear origin. Surmised in a 1994 Los Angeles Times article to be from Italian-American slang Italian giabone (“self-important fool”), from Piedmontese giambone, from dialectal giambon (“ham (bone)”). Ultimately from French jambon (“ham”), and first attested by Thomas Happer Taylor in his 1967 novel A-18, although claims of hearing the term date to at least c. 1953.
jabroni (plural jabronis)
- (professional wrestling slang) a performer whose primary role is to lose to established talent.
- Synonym: jobber
- (by extension) An obnoxious or contemptible person; a loser.
- 2013 March 27, Michael Ricci, “Semi-Charmed Kind of Word”, in Columbia Spectator:
- Sometimes a person is stuck as a jabroni for life. Geraldo Rivera--there's a guy who no matter how high he grows his hair, how full he grows his moustache, or how dangerous an assignment he goes on as an "investigative reporter," he'll always be a jabroni.
- 2014 October 8, Leah Sottile, “The Right to Vape”, in The Atlantic:
- “I don’t want to be bullied again. I don’t want to feel like I have to stand in the cold again because some jabronis want to blow a three-foot cloud,” Richter says.
- 2009, The Routledge Dictionary of Modern American Slang and Unconventional English By Tom Dalzell