PA Slang Survival Guide: Pittsburgh vs Philadelphia

Korch.PASlangEver experience that incredibly awkward moment when you’re casually having a conversation with someone, and suddenly they just stop and stare at you questionably mid-sentence? Do you have something gross stuck in your teeth, or is there something growing out of the side of your head?

More than likely, the answer is no (well hopefully). The fact is, we all come from different parts of the state and have different slang that, unfortunately, doesn’t always translate here in State College. As a solid percentage of Penn State’s student population is from either the Philadelphia area or Pittsburgh area, Valley broke down some of the more common slang from both sides as a sort of survival guide against awkward conversation with strangers. So, put the puzzling looks to rest and get yourself informed on grammatically incorrect and weird geographically relevant phrases of dear old State and its inhabitants. 


Jawn: Seriously, who invented this? It was probably an academically-challenged seventh grader that was having trouble deciding what to call her new pair of gangster stunner shades, or maybe someone has peanut butter permanently stuck in the root of their mouth and was trying to say something else. Either way, “Jawn” was a trend a few years ago, and basically means any sort of object, as in “yo, bro, hand me that jawn over there”, or “she’s my baby jawn.” While we hope you still aren’t calling your BFF’s, “baby jawns,” just be aware that this can pretty much mean anything.

Salty: No, this is nowhere near the same meaning as “these fries are too salty.” Salty, for some strange reason, is considered a weird type of undefined emotion. For example, if someone is “salty,” it means they were so sure about something, stood for something, and it fell or failed. Feeling salty, in summary, means now they’re shameful or embarrassed, as in, “That person thought Michigan was going to beat Penn State on their Homecoming game, they’re so salty.” Michigan still sucks, by the way.

Pollyanna: As Christmas time is vastly approaching, this term is crucial to know in social circles. While most people refer to the action of getting a group of family or friends together, putting everyones’ names in a hat, and randomly choosing someone to buy a gift for as a “Secret Santa”, Philadelphians were taught differently. They use the term ‘pollyanna,” which may earn a few head turns and eye rolls, but it pretty much is the same thing as a secret santa,


Yinz: Although a bit cliche, ‘yinz’ is still used today in Pittsburgh and now around State College if you happen to hear it. While down South, to gather a group of individuals, the term “y’all” may be used, if you’re from western Pennsylvania, yinz is the equivalent. If yinz was in a dictionary, it would be the plural of “you all,” but the picture that would go along with it is to be determined as no one literally knows what a yinz is.

Nebby: If you’re one of those people who hear a screaming argument outside of your apartment door and may or may not go closer to the door to hear the details, you are being nebby. Nebby is the term Pittsburgh natives use to describe people getting in one another’s business. So, don’t mess with Pittsburghers, and stay out of their stuff you little nebber.

Jagoff: If you’ve been called a jagoff, and have just dismissed it as some weird encounter, you may want to re-evaluate your life a little bit, because that person was not a fan of you. Equivalent to more commonly used insulting, degrading profanities, Pittsburghers have coined jagoff from the ever endearing jerk-off.

So now that you’re a little bit informed, go out into the real world and let your peers know that you’ll stop being so nebby if they stop being a jagoff, and maybe you’ll be someone’s new baby jawn.

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