Jawn (Philadelphia Slang)
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Jawn is a word that originated from Philadelphia regional slang. The word is used as a context-dependent term and substitutes for other nouns. The word is likely derived from the term joint and is used in a versatile manner, similar to the way one may use the word "thing."
According to a Merriam-Webster article and an opinion piece in Atlas Obscura, the word "jawn" is likely derived from the word "joint," which was popularly used in African-American vernacular in the 1960s and '70s. An example Merriam-Webster cites is the song "Rapper's Delight" by the Sugarhill Gang (lyrics seen below).
…And when the sucker MCs try to prove a point / We're Treacherous Trio, we're the serious joint.
The earliest known documented use of the word "jawn" took place in 1981 as well, when a UPenn linguist made field recordings of colloquial speech in West Philadelphia, documenting, amongst others, a young Black man using the word "jawn" to refer to "a bag, a place, women and even his own genitalia." The term "joint" likely evolved into "jawn" due to people's accents in the region.
The earliest known documentation of the word "jawn" on the internet was an Urban Dictionary entry made by a user named Jay Sticky (ooowee!!) on March 7th, 2003 (seen below).
The earliest known tweet using the word "jawn" and receiving notable engagement was posted to Twitter by the Roots drummer Questlove on December 3rd, 2012. The tweet read, "so "Hollaback Girl" was a diss jawn to Courtney Love http://bit.ly/WDcp8y (& 14 other non rap disses you might not have known)," and it gathered over 190 likes in over ten years (seen below).
On February 29th, 2016, Instagram page @dollarise posted an image of various Philadelphia slang terms, including "jawn," gathering 190 likes in nearly seven years (seen below, left). On 23rd March 2016, Facebook page Meanwhile In Philly posted a meme about the use of the word jawn in Philadelphia, gathering over 800 reactions in nearly seven years (seen below, right).
On November 8th, 2016, Twitter user @jiandeleon posted a joke using the word jawn and gathered over 2,000 likes in over five years (seen below, left). On January 15th, 2019, the word made an appearance in a starter pack meme about Philadelphia skaters posted by the Instagram page @tinyhat_skatelife, gathering over 4,000 likes in over three years (seen below, right).
My son bought this jawn here and it’s scary! This shit moving thru the night lol pic.twitter.com/D0cxTiaIxA
— MeekMill (@MeekMill) December 23, 2019
 Atlas Obscura – The Enduring Mystery Of Philadelphia
 Merriam-Webster – Jawn Meaning Origin
 Urban Dictionary – Jay Sticky
 Facebook – Meanwhile In Philly
 Twitter – jiandeleon
 Instagram – tinyhat_skatelife
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