A Philly News Station Wonders, 'What Is Jawn?'

Philadelphia’s CBS 3 investigated the origins of the term “jawn” in a super educational segment that aired on Monday night.

This interesting analysis of “jawn” was part of the station’s nightly series, “Good Questions,” hosted by local anchor Nicole Brewer. The question of the night this time: “What is jawn?”

Good question. Before querying the people of Philly about “jawn,” Brewer immediately qualifies the report by stating, “If you’re from Philly, especially born and raised, you probably know the answer, right? But maybe you’re wondering how it got started.”


According to people on the streets of Philly, “jawn” is basically just a noun. Some very specific responses:

“Jawn. It means anything you want it to mean.”

“It’s like a noun. Like a person, place or a thing.”

“It’s a thing.”

“It’s a Philly thing.”

Anything can be a “jawn.” In her breakdown of the term, Brewer exclaims at one point, “You can even eat a jawn.”

Of course, we can’t just leave it at that. Taylor Jones, a linguistics Ph.d. candidate at U. Penn, explains: “‘Jawn’ is something that as far as we can tell originated from the word ‘joint.’ It goes back to at least the 1980s.”

It’s a good question for anyone who’s a Philly transplant or clueless non-local. CBS’s “jawn” report shows a clip from Creed where Tessa Thompson’s character briefly dissects its meaning to Michael B. Jordan’s character.


“Very interesting!” says one anchor, to finish off this equally entertaining and wince-inducing segment.

Contact the author at clover@jezebel.com.

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Snake Person

wait, but what is jawn?