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10 Words That Mean Something Different In Philadelphia PA

Known as the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia PA is one of the most historic cities in the United States. As the one-time home to many of the nations most important figures, Philadelphia is rich in culture, and today’s residents are proud of their city’s past. With that being said, it should come as no surprise that Philadelphia has developed a personality all of its own, and anyone who has ever been to the area know that the people of Philly like to do things a little differently. Nowhere are these differences more evident than in the local speech. Although you may not expect Philly to have its own sort of language, it most certainly does. Here are 10 words that mean something different in Philadelphia PA.

Jawn

If there’s one word you won’t be able to escape while hanging out in Philadelphia, it’s jawn. No matter where you’re from, you’ve probably never heard anything like it, and as a result you’ll likely be very confused every time you hear someone use it – especially because you’ll start noticing that people use it to mean any and everything. Well, that’s because jawn can take the place of almost any noun. For example, a girl can be a jawn, a boy can be a jawn, and a beat up car can even be an old raggedy jawn. Seriously, any time you’re thinking about using another noun, just use jawn instead – it’ll work like a charm.

El

Unless you speak Spanish, the word ‘El’ probably doesn’t mean much to you, unless of course you’re a Philly native. In Philadelphia PA, the term ‘El’ refers to something you’d probably never expect: the train. That’s right, the El is the city’s Market-Frankford Line which can take riders across the city in a subway-like car.

Chop

To most people, the word chop is pretty self-explanatory, and it simply means to cut something into small pieces. However, if you live in Philadelphia PA, you know that CHOP also stands for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. This historic medical facility was founded in 1855, and is currently ranked the best hospital for Children.

Drawlin’

It can be easy to mistake the word drawlin’ for a compliment, but outsiders beware, being accused of drawlin’ certainly isn’t a good thing. In Philly, the world drawlin’ is a slang term for trying too hard or behaving in a way that is out of character. For example, if you’re friends notice that you always act brand new around a guy or a girl you like, they may tell you that you’re drawlin’.

Young Bull

Okay, so you’re probably thinking you know this one. You’ve heard the words young and bull before, and you think if you just put them together, you’ll be able to get to the bottom of this. WRONG. In Philadelphia, the term ‘young bull’ has nothing to do with bulls, and most of the time, doesn’t have anything to do with being young. Throughout the city, the phrase is used as a term of endearment, usually to refer to boys and/or young men.

Wawa

Philadelphia isn’t the only place that boasts Wawa convenience stores/gas stations, but it’s safe to say that nobody loves Wawa like Philadelphians. Not only does Wawa have all of the typical snacks and beverages that you’d expect at a convenience store, but it’s also got plenty of made-to-order options including sandwiches, quesadillas, and desserts. Seriously, if you have anything bad to say about Wawa, you might want to wait until you’re outside of Philly to do it.

Water Ice

If you’re not from Philadelphia, the term ‘water ice’ probably sounds like some sort of strange oxymoron. However, those who call the city home know that no summer season is complete without water ice. Mostly widely known as Italian ice, water ice is a fruit flavored frozen dessert that is sold at stands and markets all over Philadelphia.

Gravy

To most people, gravy is a white or brown sauce made from excess meat juice. However, to many people in Philadelphia, gravy refers to red tomato sauce usually used to top pasta or pizza. Although people in Philly will still know what you mean when you talk about traditional gravy, it’s good to keep in mind that gravy may not mean what you think.

Ard

To people outside of Philadelphia, the term ‘ard’ probably looks like nothing but a bunch of random letters. However, to many Philadelphians, especially the younger crowd, ‘ard’ is a slang term for alright. So when your friends from Philly text you, and you’re getting ready to blame autocorrect for making a mistake, think twice – they may have written ard on purpose.

Cheesesteak

Ok, so you’re probably thinking ‘this is dumb, everybody knows that a cheesesteak is;’ however, in Philadelphia, the home of the cheesesteak, this item has a very special place. Instead of just a simple sandwich, the cheesesteak in Philadelphia is part of the culture, and a source of pride. If you’ve never had an authentic Philadelphia cheesesteak, you haven’t lived.

Written by Camille Moore

Camille has a master's degree from Saint Joseph University's Writing Studies program. Her writing has been published on several websites, and she enjoys writing articles and short stories in her spare time. You can follow Camille on Twitter @CamealAshley.