nawf

[nawf]

What does nawf mean?

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Nawf is a dialectical pronunciation and spelling of "north," commonly associated with Black English. The popular rap group Migos to refer to north Atlanta, Georgia as the Nawf.

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Examples of nawf

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Examples of nawf
We from the Nawf, yeah, dat way (nawf)
Migos, "Bad and Boujee" (song), August 2016
CoolChaser  
Migos hails from Gwinnett County, Georgia, which, because of its wealthy white suburbs outside the perimeter, isn’t regarded as Atlanta proper. Migos haven’t shied away from that fact. But before they’d put the Nawf on the map, in their parlance, Migos first took cues from in town.
Christina Lee, Rolling Stone, September 2017

Where does nawf come from?

Wonderopolis

North, of course, is one of the four cardinal directions. In some dialects of English, including Southern English and Black English, north is pronounced like norf, a common feature of those overlapping dialects to treat th sounds as an f or v.

Nawf doesn’t emerge online until 1998, in a Texan Usenet group in which a user proudly referred to north Houston as nawfside (northside). In an Irish Usenet group, however, nawf was used to mock a Southern US accent.

Nawf began to spread in popular culture thanks to hip-hop, ever partial to spelling words as they are pronounced (e.g., mouf for mouth). Rapper Slim Thug used nawf to refer to the same north Houston, Texas neighborhood in Chamillionare’s 2004 song, “Still Tippin’ 2.” Into the 2000s, nawf was occasionally used for various northerly locations by social media users from the American South.

Nawf takes off in popular culture thanks hip-hop trio Migos’ 2016 hit song “Bad and Boujee.” In the song, the rappers boast are from the Nawf, or north Atlanta, specifically the city of Lawrenceville in Gwinnett County. Although “Bad and Boujee” gave nawf national attention, Migos had favored the term since at least 2012.

Who uses nawf?

After Migos’ success, other residents of Gwinnet County (and the greater north Atlanta area) took to using the Nawf to rep their home.

Nawf is also used to refer to northern sections of cities, especially in the South or to the northerly directions more generally. It’s especially associated with colloquial black speech and writing. It may be considered appropriative for non-black people to adopt it.

It’s important to note that pronouncing north as nawf isn’t due to ignorance but is consistent with the complex grammar of Black English.

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