This week, the word “jawn” has earned its spot in the dictionary.
The official recognition of the the Philly-area slang comes from Dictionary.com, a popular dictionary website and database.
Jawn graced the top of Dictionary.com’s annual list of newly-added words when they were released on Tuesday.
Below is the Dictionary.com listing:
noun. Informal. Chiefly Philadelphia. something or someone for which the speaker does not know or does not need a specific name.
Example: Can you hand me that jawn right there?
Philadelphians know that their favorite regional catchall term isn’t new — the first records of its use come from the early 2000s, when it started to be popularized in the Black community. Its addition reflects an increasing awareness of the term outside the region. Its ultimate origin is uncertain, but it may be a local Philadelphia variant of joint, which is used in a similar way in the New York City metropolitan area.
For the uninitiated, the term jawn is versatile slang, often referring to a person, place, or thing. Examples include: “Do you know what time that jawn is open until?” or “We love that jawn on the corner of New Falls Road.”
The news comes as a win for residents around the region who have treated jawn as a term for more than a decade.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Oxford English Dictionary do not (yet) feature Philadelphia’s jawn.
Urban Dictionary, a crowdsourced website focused on slag, has featured jawn for many years. It defines the term as “slang for a person, place, or thing.”
But jawn isn’t the only slang making its official dictionary debut. “Nepo baby,” a term for celebrities benefiting from their famous parentage, has also been included in the recent update.
Dictionary.com didn’t just add jawn and nepo baby to their database. In total, they added 566 new entries, created 348 new difinitions, and made 2,256 revisions to definitions, according to the website.