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Philly Slang

The Philly Talk "Slango" (Slang) List
How we talk in Philadelphia

Compiled with help from the Philly Talk Staff including (the late) Dee, "The DEEva of Diction"
and Sam from Bucks County.

More on this page:

More on this site

  • Page 2 - Archived content from Claudio
  • Page 3 - Archived content from Stu Bykofsky

Yo! Yeah you. Fasten your brain cells! You’re about to embark on a truly rewarding experience of learning a new language. Although Philly Slango is indigenous to Philadelphians, one can learn this exciting new language in less time than it takes to eat a famous Philly Cheesesteak. The good news is you don’t need a Ph.D. in English to speak this "slanguage". In fact, the less viable brain function you have, the more expeditiously you’ll conquer this pursuit. Just take out your teeth and go for it.

(Contributions are noted in parenthesis)
  • Aaeg - Egg
  • Addi-tood - Attitude
  • Aeneeding - Anything
  • A-ite - Alright
  • A-ready - Already
  • Arnch - Orange (Pattie) Also "Aren't you" as in Arnch you glad to see me?
  • Ac-a-me - Acme Market
  • Alrighty - Stop it already with alrighty! The word doesn’t exist.
  • Arn or Eye-urn or Eyern - Clothes Iron.
  • Aster-ick - Asterisk
  • Ath-a-lete - Athlete
  • Ats All, Dat’s All - That’s all
  • Bat-tree - Battery
  • Baff-room - Bathroom
  • Beggles - (Submitted by Sarah, 10/02))
  • Bee-yood-ee-ful - Beautiful
  • Big Ma-hoff - An ostentatious person; a big shot
  • Birff-day - Birthday
  • Bref-fist - Breakfast
  • Casina - Casino
  • Chimley - Chimney (Pattie) rare usage.
  • Caus - Because
  • Colbert - Sewer (Tom Burke, changed from Colbin, Aug 06 see feedback, Feedback Jun 07 says proper word is Culvert)
  • Coont - Couldn't
  • Cooughee - Coffee
  • Con-fra-bill - Comfortable
  • Con-ter-versy - Contraversy
  • Crown - Crayon
  • Cump-nee - Company
  • Dahnashure - At the beach as in Lannick Ciddy, OhCee, Whilewould and the
    like. The alternative is upamount'ns to the poke-noes
  • Def-lee - Definitely
  • Dis, Dat, Dey, Dees, Doze, Dem, Dough - This, That, They, These,
    Those, Them, Though
  • Dint - Didn't
  • Do-in - Doing, as in "Hal ya doin?"
  • Draff - Draft
  • Draw - Drawer
  • E - He
  • Earl - Oil
  • Figger - Figure
  • Fighdollas - Five Dollars (Patti)
  • Fluffia - Philadelphia
  • Fridge, Ice Box - Refrigerator
  • Fuss-trated - Frustrated
  • Ga head, GeHead, Gaw head - Go Ahead
  • Goff-forbid - God forbid
  • Gun-all - Canoli (the delectable Italian pastry)
  • Haff - Have
  • Hal? - How?
  • Hunnert - Hundred
  • Husbint - Husband (Pattie)
  • I-dear - Idea
  • Iggles - Eagles
  • Ice-ning - Icing
  • Ir-regardless - Regardless
  • Jeet? - Did you eat? No, Jew?- No, did you?
  • Kel-ler - Color
  • Lannick Ciddy or Lantic Ciddy - Atlantic City
  • Laasch, Las - Last
  • Leck-tric - Electric
  • Leven - Eleven
  • Lie-berry - Library
  • Lot-tree - Lottery
  • MAC - Local version of an ATM (automated teller machine)(Thanks Tommy)
  • Meer-oe - Mirror
  • My-en - Mine
  • MayazWell - May as well
  • Newsey - Nosey
  • Nuthin, Nuttin - Nothing
  • Offen - Often
  • Ollars - Dollars
  • Olney - A neighborhood in the Northeast, pronounced AH - LEN - EE or AH - LEH - NEE
  • Paa-ler - Parlor or living room
  • Pay-mint - Pavement
  • Pea-nits - Peanuts
  • Petique - Petite
  • Pix-ture, Pitcher - Picture
  • Pock-a-book - Purse
  • Plug - Fire Hydrant, specifically when used for first or third base in streetball or a boundryline. Limited neighborhood use, possibly south philly.
  • Prob-lee - Probably
  • Rawn - Ruin
  • Re-dic-liss - Ridiculous
  • Reg-a-ler - Regular
  • San-wich, Sang-wich - Sandwich
  • Sim-u-lar - Similar
  • Soar, Sol - Saw
  • Sow-Philly - South Philly, leave off the TH (Thanks Jessica)
  • Sparra-grass - Asparagus
  • Taawk - Talk
  • Tal - Towel
  • Took-en - Taken
  • Tree - Three
  • U-mid - Humid
  • U-min - Human
  • Ward-er or Whadder or Wooder - Water, H20 (Thanks Brooke for Wooder)
  • WaWa - A local conveniance store similar to but better than 7-11(Thanks Tommy)
  • Whaddya? - What do you?
  • Which-a-ma-callit - The name of a person, place or thing that Alzheimer’s has removed from your memory bank
  • Whoodaya? - Who do you?
  • Winda, Win-dill - Window
  • Wit - With
  • Wit-out - Without
  • Woont - Wouldn't
  • Yesta-day - Yesterday
  • Yea - Yes (Thanks Jessica)
  • Youse, Yziz - You (plural)
  • Zink - Sink (Patti)

All original material on this page is property & copyright of PhillyTalk.com


Sentence Examples by Sam:

  • E went dahnashure, but his wife woont let him geaow ta da casinas
    for e would spend a couplea hunnert ollars. (He went down the shore but his wife won't let him go to the casinos for he would spend a coulple of hundred dollars.)
  • She fell awna paymint caus she dint see da crack. (She fell on the pavement because she didn't see the crack.)
  • I dint think da Iggles would win any games lasch year. ( I didn't think the Eagles would win any games last year.)

Local Names Defined

  • Bala: Welsh for "where river flows from lake."
  • Bryn Mawr: Wlesh for "great hill." Roland Ellis of Wales settled here and named the land for his ancestral home.
  • Conshohocken: Either "pleasant valley" or a version of Native American "guneu-schigi-hacki" - "long, fine land.
  • Cynwyd: Welsh for "lively and ferocious.:
  • Juniata: "standing stone people."
  • King of Prussia: The Prussians built a brewery here in honor of their King Fredereick.
  • Kingsessing: Native American for "place where there should be a meadow."
  • Passyunk: Native Americans called the land between the Delaware and Schuykill rivers "Pachsegink" or "Pachsegonk" -- "a valley or place between hills."
  • Schuykill: Its' roots are Dutch, not Native American and it means "hidden stream," not "toxic tributary."
  • Wissinoming: Native American for "where we were frightened," derived from the Wissinoming Creek. Some daring historians theorize native were scared by something at the creek.

"Local Names" list, originally from Philly Magazine
used with permission - Link to Philly Mag


Feedback email:

February 2008

I am from N.E. Philly born and raised. I know my name makes people think other wise, but its my name. Anyway I agree with some of the people on here. Yes some I would agree to be true but there are many on here that I do not. Are from Philly? Were did you grow up around? I agree certain sections of the city the slang seems stronger but not all over and not as bad as you put it out here to be ..sorry but you should redo this page or at least listen to what we have to say.
Billie Jo

Thanks Billie Jo, I agree, some of it sounds over the top but every single one is or has been spoken that way by real people! I grew up in the Northeast just like you and while our corner of the city had a dialect that was mild in comparison many others had accents much thicker. I do appreciate your comments and feedback.

 

August 2007
I too have moved from Philly (actually Clifton Heights)and now live in Illinois. I still say "wood-er", soda, and many more. I now have my four year old granddaughter correct me! There are so many sayings that we just are not aware of, but when the news is on, and something from Philly is being highlighted, I catch that sound in their voices, and cry. Sites like yours are what all of us homesick people cling to! My all time favorite? "Ja'eet?S'go"...translation, "did you eat? Let's go"!!
Mary Spotts

Thanks Mary, I get corrected by my own kids sometimes. My wife and I just laugh at ourselves. Hey, to US we don't sound funny!

 

August 2007
I am in the Coast Guard, one day I am in a room with people from all over the country, telling a story and I say....

"I had to stop at WAWA and hit the MAC..."

The room was silent.... A girl finally spoke up and said "What's a Wawa?" and then... "What's a MAC?"
From Tommy Brabe

Thanks Tom, I figured those were universal terms but you're right. How sad is it that the rest of the country don't have a WaWa to go to?

 

June 2007
Regarding Culvert/Colbin/Sewer
I am mortified that all my life I have been using the word 'COLBIN.' I was raised deep in South Philadelphia and sometimes we threw things down the colbin becuase we didn't want to smell up our trash cans.
I just learned that the correct word is CULVERT. Where in God's name did we get colbin?
I almost want to say.....how cheap!

From "T"
Thanks T, Coming to grips with how we "tawk" is always a rude shock.

 

June 2007
AH - LEN - EE = OLNEY(is neighborhood, in case ya didnt know)
but anytime it "happens" to be on the news is always OL-NEY

from Stacey

Thanks Stacey, My wife's grandparents lived in Olney. I never had reason to even say the word until I met her so I asked her to say the name today and sure enough see says "Olenee" !!

 

April 2007
I moved to Southern Illinois and no-one....no-one understands me when I say "GeHead" for go ahead and do something...People laugh or say "What did you say?"
Very frustrating that people do not get Philly tawk. Cawfee is another one. They say cOooffee with this long drawn out o.
I love our dialect...

from philly forever,
Debbie Arnold

Thanks Debbie, Wherever we go our dialect will stick out and sound funny. I guess they don't realize how funny they sound to US.

 

February 2007
We also have “Green ivory” growing on our brick and stone walls and Philly is the only city where you can get “Ivey poison”. This is classic slang for the city people.
Rick Nagel

Thanks Nick, It took me a few seconds to get the one about "Ivey Poison" but you are so right on that one.

 

December 2006
One could make intresting comparison to Glasgow slang and Philly slang. In Glasgow they have something called "The Patter" which doesn similar word mutilations.
Jan Snyder

 

August 2006
I grew up in Kensington near a carpet factory and some kitting mills. We always played stick ball against the mill walls. This topic actually came up while I was working in Buffalo and we were comparing idioms from Buffalo and Philadelphia. I did a Google search on Philly slang and found your site. Regarding Colbin as a sewer - where I grew up it was known as a Colbert and if our pinkies or pimple balls went down there - we use a wire hanger or held someone by their arms and lowered them into it to retrieve the ball. Usually when we were playing boxball or wireball.
Tom Burke

Thanks Tom, I remember holding buddies by their ankles and lowering them down the manhole, usually the lightest kid. I was too big but I could lift any manhole by first digging the dirt out of the little nook and using one finger.

 

June 2005
I was reading the "slango" you have on your website. Makes me wonder if you are really from Philadelphia. I am from Philadelphia, born and raised. I think some of the slang you have on your website is funnyand true, but most of it I think you exaggerated just a little bit.
Example Warsh-wash?!?
Arn-iron?!?
My-zil-may as well?!? what person from Philly uses "MAY" in their vocabulary?!
Ward-er-water?!? Most of us say "Wood-er" not "Ward-er"

Brooke D.

Thanks Brooke, after looking at the original notes and your email I made some changes.
BTW - Yes I was born and raised in Philly ... from the northeast, Whataboutchew?

 

November 2002
Thank you for that slango list! My husband (from the South Jersey/Philly area) and I have discussed the Philly accent for years!! You forgot "beggles" for bagels. What a fun page!
Thanks,
Sarah.

 

May 2002
Dear Webmaster,
I feel the need to let you know that as a native born Philadelphian, I am appalled by this webpage (The "Slango" page). Although we are known for our unique accent, just as Bostonians are known for theirs, it does not mean that every word is pronounced incorrectly. Those educated know better. You are giving people the impression that Philadelphia is a city full of moronic people, and I am trying to fight against that.
Sincerely,
Pissed off

Use the Contact Us Page to contribute material or send your feedback.


All original content on this page is property & copyright of
www.PhillyTalk.com and Dee the Diva of Diction

{mospagebreak}

The Philadelphia Dialect

This archived page is orignal material from Claudio Salvucci. His page left the Net sometime in 2005. If anybody knows where he moved it to please contact me. He lists two books, more on that near the end of this page.

"The dialect of the citizens [of Philadelphia],
particularly of the children... is very defective."
Anne Royall, 1826.


Introduction

The local dialect of Philadelphia is not as well known as that of its neighbor to the north, New York City, but has nonetheless been fairly well studied. Linguists have been able to confirm through studies of Philadelphia and other urban centers that not only are dialects alive and well in America, but that in many places pronunciation is actually continuing to diverge from the national standard.

Americans commonly understand the two types of dialects as northern and southern, and they would certainly recognize Philadelphian as a dialect of the northern type. However, most linguists today recognize a third group, the Midland, which runs between the true Northern dialects and the true Southern dialects. Philadelphian is classified by these linguists as a North Midland dialect. Other researchers, notably Craig Carver, recognize only two major divisions of American English: Northern and Southern, and the Pennsylvania dialects as layers of the Northern group.

Included within the general area of the Philadelphia dialect, though naturally some differences can be expected, are the Pennsylvania suburbs as well as southern New Jersey and northern Delaware.


Pronunciation

One interesting feature of the dialect, in light of its geographic position, is its clear pronunciation in all positions of the 'r', including before consonants and at the end of words. Philadelphia and Baltimore are two of the only major port cities of the Atlantic coast to retain the 'r' in these positions, in contrast to New England, New York City, and the Coastal South, where they are dropped.

The dialect also has the following pronunciational characteristics:

  • words with "-er-" like "ferry" are pronounced "furry" with the short 'u' of "cut"
  • The "l" is very indistinct (dark or vocalized l), especially at the end of words, pronounced at the back of the mouth rather than the front, and the tip of the tongue does not touch the roof of the mouth.
  • the "-ow-" sound is pronounced as "al" with the type of indistinct, backed "l" described above.
  • words with "-ore" like "core" are pronounced "coor".
  • words with "-ar" like "car" are pronounced "caur" (non-locals may hear this as 'core')
  • words with "-ague" and "-eeg" are pronounced "-egg" and "-igg" respectively.
  • words with long "i" and an unvoiced consonant such as "ike" and "ite" are pronounced "uh-ee".
  • short 'a' in two forms - tense and lax - with complex distributions according to the following consonants.

The common local pronunciation of "Philadelphia" is "Fulladulfya," very often even in careful speech. It is spoken just like the separate words "full", "a", "dull", and then the monosyllabic ending "fya", in which the 'y' is consonantal.

Vocabulary

Naturally, Philadelphian has its own peculiar vocabulary. Some words are purely local, others are being used in other regions as well. Ten of the most commonly cited usages are as follows.

anymore, at the present time, currently.
baby coach, baby carriage.
bag school, skip school.
hoagie, submarine sandwich.
hotcake, pancake.
scrapple, a local breakfast dish.
square, city block.
pavement, sidewalk.
yo, hey there; hello.
youse, you all, you plural.


For More Information

I (Claudio) have recently written two books dealing with Philadelphia speech, both of which go into much more detail than can be made available here on the web. Each of these titles is available through mail-order, or your local bookstore can order a copy for you.

Note: I have no information on where to purchase these books other than what is here

A Grammar of the Philadelphia Dialect (1995) / The Philadelphia Dialect Dictionary (1996)

Pricing and other information for these titles is available from the Evolution Publishing page at Books in American Dialectology.


Bibliography

If you have a good library near you, these articles are worth checking out and are fairly easy to read for the non-linguist:

Quinn, Jim. 1975. "How to Talk Like a Philadelphian." Philadelphia Magazine, 66:11, pp. 136-154. Nov. 1975.

Quinn, Jim. 1976. "How to Talk Like a Philadelphian Part II." Philadelphia Magazine, 67:3, pp. 124-127. March 1976.

Tucker, R. Whitney. 1944. "Notes on the Philadelphia Dialect." American Speech 19:37-42

Tucker, R. Whitney, 1964. "More on the Philadelphia Dialect." American Speech 39:157-158.

If you can't get a hold of the journal American Speech, then consult the section on Pennsylvania in H.L. Mencken's American Language, Supplement II, which discusses Tucker's article. Hans Kurath's Word Geography has a few paragraphs on Philadelphia terms as well.

This next source is very difficult to track down, but it's well worth it for the serious student of the dialect, containing 300 local expressions, many of which are not found anywhere else, and their distributions among various age groups, ethnic groups, and neighborhoods:

Lebofsky, Dennis Stanley. 1970. The Lexicon of the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area. PhD. dissertation, Princeton University.

This page was originally written by Claudio Salvucci.

{mospagebreak}

Stu Bykofsky's Page

Note: The following material used to be available on the Net but has since been lost. It is archived here essentially intact with only a few edits.

Stu Bykofsky

 

How to talk like a Philadelphian by Stu Bykofsky

Stu is a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News
which you would already know if you weren't from out of town.

A few tips from Stu's "Little Black Book"

Philadelphia, like many cities, has its own manner of speech -- how we tawk, if you will.

We gots our awn way aspeakin, and yuze can figger out wot weir sayen, by uzen Stu's pronunciation and translation guide to Philly's langwich:

  • Ack A Mee: Acme, a local supermarket.
  • Addytood: Attitude.
  • Be Yoo Dee Full: Beautiful.
  • Bin Dare: I've been there.
  • Samson Shtreet: Sansom Street.
  • Senner Siddy: Center City.
  • Dah Iggles: Philadelphia Eagles.
  • Dah Fills: Philadelphia Phillies.
  • Dah Fliers: Philadelphia Flyers.
  • Dah Semi Sixes: Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers.
  • Downashore: The beach (as found along the New Jersey shore).
  • Fluffya: Philadelphia.
  • Goddago: I have to go.
  • Goes: Use in place of "said," as in "He goes, `I'm not feelin' so good.'"
  • Guh Head: Yes, you may do that.
  • Langwich: Language.
  • Jeet Yet?: Have you eaten yet?
  • Jeez Take: Cheesesteak.
  • King a Presha: King of Prussia.
  • Mondee, Twosdee, Whensdee, Thirsty, Frydee, Saradee, Sunny: Days of the week.
  • Niceta Meechas: Nice to meet you.
  • Nint Shtreet: Ninth Street.
  • Sammich: Sandwich.
  • Scrapple: Local delicacy made from ground pork products.
  • Scappleinecks: Scrapple and eggs.
  • Siddy Haw: City Hall.
  • Skeeve: Hatred/disgust. (Example: "I skeeve raw scrapple.")
  • Skowne On?: What's going on?
  • Sow Fluffya: South Philadelphia.
  • Sow Shtreet: South Street.
  • Trawley: Trolley.
  • Wah?: Excuse me, what did you say?
  • Weubin?: Where have you been?
  • Whachoolookinat?: What are you looking at? (Often a challenge.)
  • Yo: Either "hello" or "hey." (Should be used like expensive cologne. Sparingly.)
  • Yo Supp. Hello, what is going on?
  • Yunner Stan?: Do you understand?
  • Yuze (youze, yiz): You people.
  •  


    Stu Bykofsky's Little Black Book:

    A Gentleman's Guide to Philadelphia

    How You Can Own a Copy (Or Buy One for Someone Else):

    As anyone I work with at the Philadelphia Daily News could tell you, I don't write for free.

    If you enjoyed my guide to "tawkin' like a Fluffyan," and would like to know more inside stuff (or if you're planning to visit Philadelphia and would like a real Fluffyan's take on everything from after-hours clubs to all-night drug stores, you SHOULD order this book. Here's how:

    Write a check or money order for (Note: I do not yet have new pricing info - PGB)$12.60 (includes tax, postage and handling) to Black Tooth Press and mail it (yes, folks, I still believe in snail mail) to:

    Black Tooth Press (contact the publisher before sending any orders)

    Stu Bykofsky's Little Black Book
    P.O. Box 3212-C
    Philadelphia, PA 19130

     

    Material on this page was originally composed by Ellen Gray of the Daily News

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