Philly Slang: From Jawn to Youse

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The city of Philadelphia prides itself on being a little bit out there. From the food we eat to the ways we celebrate to, most notably, the way we talk, Philly locals aren’t exactly known for blending in. In a city of creativity and individuality, it seems only natural that we Philadelphians would have invented a language of our own. While Philly slang isn’t recognized as the prettiest dialect in America, it’s ours and no one can take it away from us (not that they want to).

That being said, if Philly is on your list of potential destinations, make sure to brush up on the more popular Philadelphia slang terms before your visit. Learn the lingo, it just might enrich your visit.

We made youse a list just in case:

Jawn

Illuminated light display that says 'Jawn'
Some holiday jawn

Here a jawn, there a jawn, everywhere a jawn jawn. Think Schoolhouse Rock “a noun is a person, place or thing,” but replace ‘noun’ with ‘jawn.’ A jawn can be pretty much anything from a nondescript person to an inanimate object. It could also refer to an event or location. So, like we said—pretty much anything.

Read more about the meaning of jawn.

Wooder

Water ice in cup
Wooder ice

You know, the stuff that comes out the tap? No, we’re not pronouncing it wrong and if you say different, you’re gonna be in some hot wooder, pal. Or iced and in a paper cone, if that’s what you prefer. Wooder ice is certainly popular!

Down the shore

Wooden boards leading to the beach
Downtheshore (photo: EQRoy/Shutterstock)

Once the weather gets hot and the schools are no longer in session, the great migration to the Jersey beaches is sure to follow. But we’re not going ‘to the beach,’ we’re going down the shore. No, not ‘down to the shore,’ ‘Downtheshore.’ Sometimes three words, sometimes one.

Hoagies

Wawa Italian hoagie sandwich with cold cuts, lettuce, and tomato on a Wawa wrapper
Wawa hoagie for the shore

On the way down the shore, many a jawn will incorporate a Wawa trip into their journey. Every culture has a different name for two pieces of bread with a mix of stuff in between. In Philly, we call this delicacy a ‘hoagie.’ Not a sub or a hero. HOAGIE.

The Linc

If you’re tailgating, you’re tailgating at the Linc. Short for Lincoln Financial Field, this Philly institution is where igles (Philly slang for Eagles) come to fly. If you’re not screaming “Go Birds” at the top of your lungs while stuffing your face with a Philly pretzel, get outta here! 

Jeet?

Well, did you?? Here in Philly, we don’t waste our breath. If three words can be mushed into a single syllable, all the more efficient. ‘Jeet’ is simply a faster way to ask, “Did you eat?” Work smarter, not harder. 

Jabroni

As in, “This jabroni thinks he’s hot stuff because he moved to the Main Line.” A jabroni is a poser or someone who talks the talk but could never walk the walk. Don’t be a jabroni.

Wiz wit

Cheesesteak on plate
A Dalessandro’s steak wiz wit

Obviously, you can’t talk about Philly without talking about cheesesteaks. A classic Philly cheesesteak is smothered in none other than Cheese Whiz. If you go up to the counter at Max’s or Dalessandro’s you’ll get your steak with wiz. Then you need to distinguish between a steak with or without onions, you’re either going to ask for a wiz wit or a wiz witout.

Youse

Pretty self-explanatory. Youse is just ‘you’ or ‘you all’ with a little Philly flair. For full effect, make it ‘youse guys.’

The El

An elevated train in West Philly with the skyline in the distance
The El is a way of life

If you’re going east or westbound, you’re taking the El aka the Market-Frankford Line aka an ELevated train. 

Main Line

Where all the high society folk lives in the suburbs of the city. If you’re from the Main Line, don’t tell locals that you’re from “just outside of Philly” because they will get mad. 

Yunk

Sign reading "Manayunk" over a cute street lined with businesses
One of Philly’s great neighborhoods

Yunk is a cute little pet name for Mannyunk. Okay, so maybe not so cute, but if you say ‘Yunk,’ people will know what you mean.

CHOP

This one surprisingly has nothing to cooking or restaurants. CHOP is short for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – a beloved institution in the city. It’s also a common reference point in West Philly – outside of CHOP or west of CHOP.

Bul/Boul

Similar to jawn, but a little more specific. Bul or Boul (we still haven’t reached a consensus on the spelling) can refer to any person but usually signifies a male.

Citywide

A Philly staple, all hail the Citywide. Supposedly invented by the folks at the dive bar, Bob and Barbara’s, the Citywide is a beer and shot combo (usually PBR and Jim Beam) that you can purchase for $5 or less. If it’s more expensive than $5, it’s not a true Citywide special.

Drawlin’

If you’re drawlin’, you’re acting out of character or doing something shady. For instance, you’re drawlin’ if you don’t like this article.

6 thoughts on “Philly Slang: From Jawn to Youse”

  1. Book.i used to use as a kid …leave,go somewhere,examples :let’s book on out of here,let’s book to the shore

    1. I moved to Orlando 15 years ago and everybody still says that my accent is strong,Lmoa and I’m proud of it K&A always

  2. I moved from Philly 66 years ago and I still have the Philly accent. I butcher the vowels in words and my friends and Florida relatives are always correcting me but with love.

  3. You forgot my favorite one that I use all the time— “stunad” (pronounced stoo- nod.) It basically means idiot or imbecile. Use it in a sentence, “Whadda ya? Some kinda stunad?”

    And “How about them iggles?” — “The Philadelphia Eagles”

    My Poppy used to call tap “wooder”– “Schuylkill Punch.”

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