Philly Slang: From Jawn to Youse

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.


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.


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.


Water ice in cup on a counter.
Wooder ice

You know the stuff that comes out the tap? That’s wooder. No, we’re not pronouncing it wrong. And, if you say differently, you’re gonna be in some hot wooder, pal. Or iced and in a paper cup, if that’s what you prefer.

Also, under the ‘wooder’ umbrella is wooder ice (aka water ice), one of the most popular spring and summer treats. Ice, sugar, and fruit is combined to make something a bit like granita and a cousin to sorbet, but it’s all water ice and all Philly. Try some at John’s for the classics or D’Emilio’s Old World Ice Treats for lots of unique flavors like birch beer or peppermint starlight if you’re in South Philly. In Bucks County, Yardley Ice House is the place to go. Try their Bordeaux cherry and thank us later.

Down the shore

Seagrass in sand dunes by the ocean.
Downtheshore in Ocean City

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.


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.


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. 

The Linc

Stadium packed with fans watching football players and cheerleaders on the field.
The Iggles taking the field at The Linc

If you’re tailgating, you’re tailgating at The Linc. Short for Lincoln Financial Field, this Philly institution is the house where Jason Kelce dominated and where the Superbowl winning “Philly Philly” play is forever immortalized in a statue of quarterback Nick Foles and coach Doug Pederson.

The Linc is located in the Sports Complex near Citizens Bank Park, where the Phillies play, and the Wells Fargo Center, home of the Flyers and 76ers. It’s where iggles (Philly slang for the 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! 


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.


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. It runs from the Frankford Transportation Center to 69th Street. The best part of riding the El is the spectacular views, including the city skyline and the dozens of murals that are part of the “A Love Letter for You” project.

Main Line

“The Main Line” is shorthand for where the high society folks live in the suburbs northwest of the city. Mostly in Montgomery County and Chester County, it includes towns like Ardmore, Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Merion, Narberth, and Wynnewood parallel to Lancaster Avenue.

If you’re from the Main Line, don’t tell locals that you’re from “just outside of Philly” because they will get mad. 


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

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

Manayunk is one of the city’s neighborhoods along the Schuylkill River. Known as a place with great restaurants and bars, its name is derived from a Lenape word meaning “place to drink.” If you’re looking for your own place to drink along Main Street, check out the beers at Fat Lady Brewing or head to Taqueria Amor for stellar margaritas, tacos, and chorizo fundido–it’s been a favorite of ours for a decade.


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.


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.


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.

15 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.”

  4. Never heard one person ever say ‘Jawn’ till it magically became some slang rumor meem that we all say outta philly. ofc then we all started saying it purely out of irony at that point.
    Seriously never met anyone who knows anyone, who said that, till after it became some famous thing we say here…

    1. You’ll usually hear young boys or girls in the hood (short for neighborhoid) use the word Jawn. And you will also hear the same young boys in the hood call females “shorty” . Its a hood thing.

    2. I had a neighbor who once came to me complaining because she saidhi to my son and he said ” what up dawg” she thought he called her a dog. She never heard the word Dawg used before .

    3. Me and the guys grew up usinh that word; from West Philly, all the the way up through Germantown; and l’m alsost seventy yrs old homeboy, where you been?

  5. Here are some more slang words and phrases from out of Philly:

    1. nut – a person who is considered not the norm, crazy, or a downright fool.
    2. federal – when some says your whole legal name in public or in front of a group of people.
    3. Fiddy Sicond Street – 52nd Street
    4. Huntingdon Park – Hunting Park
    5. Stettin Avenue – Stenton Avenue
    6. Outta pocket – someone’s behavior that’s not right.
    7. Norf – North Philly
    8. Wes’ – West Philly
    9. Uptown – West Oak Lane, Germantown, Mt. Airy, Somerville, Olney, E. Germantown.
    10. The County – Any community that’s on the outskirts of Philly such as Montgomery, Chester, or Delaware Counties; since Philly it’s its own county.

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