That Local Lingo Jawn

 A deer jawn sign

I’m not a native Philadelphian. Nor am I originally from southeast Pennsylvania. When I moved to suburban Philly a few years ago was when I first encountered that uniquely Philly word: jawn.

According to The Free Dictionary, jawn is defined as a catchall term used to refer to any specific item or event. Though the thing referred to is not specified by the speaker, it is understood by the listener due to context. Almost exclusively heard in the Philadelphia area. Examples: Yo, hand me that jawn. You going to that jawn later?

I appreciate that locals everywhere have their own specific words unique to their corner of the world. Yet, jawn has surprised me as how local it really is. And that makes me wonder: What other local words are there? Where are those words used? What do they mean?

I’m an English speaker, but I should think this local word phenomenon is common to every language.


  1. That is brilliant. English needs such a word generally. Well… I guess we have such a word in “thing”. Hmm. Is “jawn” a synonym for “thing” I wonder?

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