Philly-speak is one of a kind. You’ll surely notice the unique accent and terminology — unless, of course, you were born here. Many locals aren’t aware that we say things differently from the rest of the country until we leave town and someone tells us.
There are plenty of additional variations between different neighborhoods, classes, and ethnic groups, with the most typical Philly expressions prevalent in the longest-established blue-collar communities. However, many of the terms cut across boundaries and are just distinctively Philly. Here are some of the most common:
- The Blue Route: I-476, the highway that cuts through Philadelphia’s suburbs, including Delaware and Montgomery Counties
- down the shore: New Jersey beach towns, including Ocean City and Wildwood, where Philadelphians go in the summer. Usage: “I’m going down the shore this weekend,” not to be confused with going “up the Poconos,” where Philadelphians vacation in winter.
- The Drive: Kelly Drive or East River Drive
- The Expressway: the Schuylkill Expressway (pronounced “skookil”), the section of I-76 that runs through Philadelphia
- hoagie: a sandwich (or samwich in Philly) on a long roll filled with meat, cheese, and toppings, referred to as a “sub” in many other parts of the country
- Iggles: Philadelphia Eagles professional football team
- jawn: any person, place, or thing. Usage: “Pass me that jawn” (anything from a beer to the remote control); “You goin’ to that jawn?” (often a party or club, but works for any event); or “That jawn is fly” (the jawn being an attractive person).
- jimmies: small chocolate or rainbow-colored candy that you sprinkle onto ice cream, known in most places as sprinkles
- lager: Yuengling lager; when you order a “lager” in Philly, it implies the locally brewed Yuengling brand.
- wit/witout: When ordering a cheesesteak, “wit” (with) means with onions and “witout” (without) means no onions, so “Whiz wit” is a cheesesteak with Cheese Whiz and onions.
- wooder: local pronunciation of water, as in “I’ll have a cherry wooder ice,” when ordering the sweet, flavored, slushy ice treat popular in Philly
- youse or yiz: plural for you, when addressing more than one person, as in “What’re youse/yiz doin’ tonight?”
© Karrie Gavin from Moon Philadelphia, 1st Edition