What does jawn mean?

Jawn is Philadelphia slang for anything ... literally anything.

Jawn is used as an all encompassing substitute for any person, place, or thing. Like this definition, an informative jawn.

Related words:

  • doodad
  • someshit
  • thingamajig
  • whatever
Examples of jawn


Examples of jawn
Zombie movie based in Philly "JAWN OF THE DEAD"
@theRegularDead, June, 2018
Check out this jawn: The Nationals are 10-4 against Philadelphia this season.
Scott Allen, The Washington Post, August, 2016
We don't need a dictionary telling us what we already know to be true: Jawn is a versatile jawn.
@PhiladelphiaGov, October, 2017

Where does jawn come from?

Jawn evolved from joint, 19th-century slang used by New York gangsters for a “meeting point.” By the 1930s, a joint—apparently because the criminal underground is where the cool kids are—expanded to mean a place where something’s happenin’. By the late 1970s, East Coast rappers were using joint for anything “excellent.” In 1979, New Jersey group The Sugarhill Gang, for example, referred to themselves as a “serious joint” in hip-hop’s first ever Top 40 hit, “Rapper’s Delight.”

In 1981, as part of his research into Pennsylvania dialects, linguist William Labov recorded a young black man using the word joint even more generally than the East Coast rappers did. This man used the word in a whole new way—referring to everyday objects, various places, women, and, well, even his own genitals as joints. Due to his dialect, his pronunciation of joint sounded more like the word jaunt.

Wooder Ice

Philadelphians came to drop the final T sound, leaving jawn. The word became so closely associated with Philadelphia that it was given a scene in the 2015 film, Creed, set in the city.

Who uses jawn?

Need to refer to something? A girl? A movie? Really, anything? Well, if you’re from Philadelphia, you may just use the every-word jawn.

We like our regional identities, so it’s no surprise that folks from Philly take pride in jawn.


Philadelphians have a sense of humor about their jawn, though, and may joke about its use—or overuse.

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