“Jeet? Cheesesteak wit Whiz? Whatta ’bout some wooder ice? Oh, you ate that going down the shore? Okay.”
Philly slang words. It’s something else. If you don’t know what half the words in that sentence mean, don’t worry, our guide will help you understand the most common Philly lingo and phrases we use here.
To help you blend into Philly, study up on these common slang phrases and you’ll blend in in no time:
This is a question, not an exclamation or vocalization of noise! It is the super-abbreviated Philly way of saying “Did you eat (yet)?” or “Didja eat?”. It’s shortened all the way down to “‘j’eet” or Jeet?.
If someone doesn’t end it like a question it sounds particularly weird, so make sure you ask it as a question. You can also use it to ask someone if they would like to eat with you, as in a date meal or taking a friend to dinner. Take a look at our best places to eat in Philly if you need dinner recommendations!
2. Wooder Ice
Philadelphians have an accent, although they will be quick to point out that you have the accent, not them. This Philly accent is most obvious when they say “water” as it comes out as “wooder.” No one knows for sure why. All you have to know is that “wooder ice” or “water ice” means shaved, flavored Italian ice. Eat some out of a paper cone; you’ll love it.
Jawn is a catch all. We in Philly use it to mean just about anything that we can’t figure a better name for. It could be a person, place or thing depending on the context. Sometimes you can’t find the “jawn”, and sometimes you need your friend to meet you by the “jawn”. Really, we can use it for anything.
4. Wit Whiz
The word “wit” doesn’t mean “sharp tongued” or “clever” here. It means “with.” Wit Whiz means “with Cheeze Whiz”, that fake string cheeze product in a can. Philly residents could eat that all day if you let them, but they love it most on their cheesesteaks. If the thought of Cheez Whiz on your sandwich is unappealing, be sure to order it “no Whiz” so that you sound like you have lived in Philly for at least a little while.
If you’ve ever seen It’s Always Sunny, you know Mac (played by Philly’s own Rob McElhenney) loves calling people “jabronis”. It’s used to describe an idiot, or someone you don’t like.
6. Center City
Center City is downtown Philly, a.k.a., “center of the city.” Anywhere else in the country people go downtown. In Philly, if you say “downtown” people will know that you are from out of town and look at you weird. Say “center city” and nobody will bat an eyelash about you.
7. Youse Guys
Very rarely will you hear a “youse guys” anywhere else but in Pennsylvania or New York. It generally means “all of you guys” and it doesn’t take into account any females in the group. You should not take offense if you are in a group of all girls and you are still referred to as “youse guys.” It is akin to the Southern expression “y’all” or “all y’all”.
8. Down the Shore
Everyone goes down to a shore where there’s enough beach and activity to keep you busy and having fun all day. It’s pretty common in Philly to hear people talking about what they did and when they last went “down to shore”.
The rest of youse guys call this a “sub sandwich.” Philly calls it a hoagie. It’s a thing, but just don’t call it a sub sandwich. You will get some very strange looks if you do.
Scrapple is not just a Philly thing, it’s more of a Pennsylvania thing. And it’s a breakfast food made of scraps, mainly pork and flour made into a bread-like substance. It’s a common substitute for french fries or bacon – serve up some eggs and scrapple for a healthy breakfast.
A common landmark for us, CHOP is an abbreviation for the Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia. We use it for directions a lot. For example, City Tap House at University Square (one of the best rooftop bars in Philly) is just west of the CHOP. This is important because there are two City Tap Houses, and one is east of the CHOP.
12. The Linc
The “Linc” is another Philly abbreviation. It refers to the NFL Eagles home playing field, Lincoln Financial Field. Sports are absolutely huge in Philly, and you “best be knowing” where the ONLY decent football team plays! They play at The Linc. Don’t bring up any other team or you’ll be pegged for an outsider and left to sip your beer in solitary. Well, maybe not that bad because most Philly-borns are nice people, but don’t be too surprised if they get a little riled up over football.
13. The MFL
No, that’s not a typo or a Philly nickname for NFL football. It’s the abbreviated moniker for the Market-Frankford Line, one of four subway systems in Philly. However, it is the most popular line for getting around, and only the Broad Street Line comes in a close second. If you are going to visit Philadelphia anytime soon and you don’t want to sound like a tourist, study the MFL’s maps online before you go. Asking directions while taking The MFL will make you stick out like a sore thumb.
14. The El
The MFL may stand for a line, but “the el” means an elevated train, and that could be the MLF or any other East or Westbound train.
15. U City
Nowhere else is there a college campus referred to as “U City.” It makes perfect sense when you see two major colleges butted up against each other and housing tens of thousands of college kids each year. Unless you have business near or in U City, you’re not likely to go there, but you might hear it mentioned in passing.
If you ever hear that you’re “drawlin’”, that means you’re doing something sketchy. It’s a common phrase to hear when describing someone who usually acts normal and ends up drawlin’ in a specific situation. You can tell they’re drawlin’ because you know their normal behavior.
Before we started using “jawn” to describe anything and everything we used “chumpy”. Think of it as another version of “jawn” that’s slowly dying in popularity. But it was a real hit back in the 80’s.
It’s a greeting, but much like the Californian surfers use “Dude” in different ways to say things, so too will Philadelphians use “yo” to greet you. A drawn out “yooooo!” is a friend to friend or family greeting. A quick friendly “yo!” is to get your attention. A smart, angry or sharp “Yo!” means you just did something that someone else found rude or irritating. Learn the many “Yo’s” before you visit.
Yunk is simply an abbreviation for Mannyunk, a suburb in Philly. Again, we love saving breath and shortening words. There’s almost no end to what we will try to abbreviate.
You probably know it as sprinkles, but here in Philly we call them Jimmies. No one really knows why, but we stick to it. So when you get your ice cream, be sure to ask for it with “jimmies”. We will understand what you mean if you say sprinkles, but you’ll just out yourself as an out of towner.