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12 Funniest Philadelphian Expressions (and How to Use Them)

by Alicia Raeburn Feb 26, 2019

Most Philadelphians don’t realize how differently they talk until they go out of town. Better to stay here in Philly, where it’s safe and we are understood without having to be someone we’re not. For youse folk who happen to be visiting, these are the funniest Philadelphian expressions you’ll hear during your time here.

1. “Tap Mac”

When you need to get cash in Philly you don’t go to the ATM. You simply tap MAC.

2. “Youse”

Who has time to separate every single word out? Not us. “Youse” is our plural form of you, just like “you all” or “y’all” in the South. This can be added to another word for a full phrase, as in, “Youse guys” or “I saw youse.”

3. “Did jeet?”

Another example of Philly folks not bothering with that pesky task of separating out words. “Did you eat?” becomes “Did jeet?” or, as the most word-slurring among us can attest to, “dijeet?”

4. “Jawn”

The all-encompassing, all Philly word. “Jawn” is an object and a place, it’s an event or a sequence of events, it’s plural and singular. For example, “We brought that jawn to the jawn the other day” or “Did you go to that jawn over at Erica’s the other night?” It’s amazing how much it can be used in just about any sentence.

5. “Water and creek”

It’s the pronunciation of these two that landed them on this list. Yes, we know there is nothing wrong about the words “water” or “creek,” but it’s how they sound when we say them that gets a laugh from outsiders. Water becomes something closer to “wooder” and creek turns into “crick” on the tongues of Philadelphians.

6. “Jimmies”

Ordering a cone in Philly comes with the option of adding “jimmies” on top, in the same way as people might use “rainbow sprinkles” elsewhere.

7. “Beef and beer events”

Fundraising the Philly way involves two things: lots of beef and lots of beer. It’s unclear how this all started, but it’s effective. Major businesses use beef and beer events to raise money for their chosen charities, as do families and neighbors who host them for the sake of a sick loved one or a house fire.

8. “Down the shore”

Here, we don’t go to the beach, we go down the shore. And it doesn’t matter which direction we’re driving. Heading north will still result in us going down — there is no other way to get to the shore around here.

9. “City Special”

A lot the good old dive bars in this fine city still serve up the classy City Special: a shot of Jim Beam and a can of PBR. The original sold for $3, but as the times are a-changin’, the City Special now regularly sells for the unimaginable price of $5-8.

10. “Wiz wit?”

Always with a question mark after it and spoken by the fine folks who work at your local hoagie spot, “Wiz wit?” is one of life’s more important questions. “Wiz,” as in cheese whiz, and “wit,” as in with your cheesesteak.

11. “Water ice”

It’s not “Italian ice” in Philly, it’s “water ice.” More importantly, there are local places that serve it far better than Rita’s. Though we still appreciate a free Rita’s on its annual first day of spring promotion.

12. “Hoagie”

Most people call them “sandwiches,” some call them “subs,” and others “heroes,” but we call them “hoagies.” Don’t use those other dirty words here, they won’t be tolerated.

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