Like many cities, Philadelphia has a local vernacular. And while you don’t have to be a native Philadelphian to get it, sometimes people from other places have a little difficulty understanding what a local resident is saying. It takes a few things to become a “real” Philadelphian, and the first step is learning “Philly speak.”
As the Host Committee of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, we are kicking off our welcome to Convention guests and general visitors to the city with an inside guide on how Philadelphians speak and what it means. We hope you find this fun, useful and informative.
Avenue of the Arts: Also known as Broad Street, technically this would be 14th Street as it’s between 13th and 15th Streets. However, its official street name is Broad and it is now known as Avenue of the Arts because it’s home to a number of performing arts venues and theaters.
Citywide Special: A shot and a beer — it’s a thing here and you’ll see it around town. A “citywide” is often Jim Beam and PBR, but ask to be sure. Learn more on where you can find it here.
Down the shore: Philadelphians’ way of saying “Going to the beach,” but only when referring to beach towns in South Jersey, many of which, are just a one-hour drive away.
Gayborhood: Philly’s LGBT community based around 13th Street in Center City. From the William Way Community Center, to bars, restaurants and shopping, this area is driven by the LGBT community and is one of the oldest such neighborhoods in the country. Check out the rainbow crosswalks and street signs. Learn more about it here.
Hoagie: We hear that in other states these sandwiches are called subs, grinders or heroes. In Philly, this cold meat, veggie and cheese stacked creation is called a hoagie and is available at most pizza and sandwich shops around town. If we had to pick between a hoagie and cheesesteak, the Host Committee would probably be split down the middle. Our advice: try both.
Jawn: It covers almost everything. We’d explain it, but we should probably just link you here.
The Parkway: Short for the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which is where you’ll find our Basilica, the new Mormon Tabernacle, The Free Library of Philadelphia, The Museum of Natural Sciences, The Franklin Institute, Moore College of Art, The Barnes Foundation, Eakins Oval, The Rodin Museum, and The Philadelphia Museum of Art as well as loads of public art. The Parkway leads to Boathouse Row on Kelly Drive and the outskirts of Fairmount Park.
Salt, pepper, ketchup: This is typically how you order a breakfast sandwich in Philly. And in case you’re wondering, breakfast sandwiches from street carts aren’t just ok, they are encouraged. Philly has some incredible food trucks.
Scrapple: A breakfast treat. Scrapple is a Pennsylvania Dutch specialty — it’s a mashed loaf of pork scraps and spices. Don’t think about it too hard; just try it. You’ll like it.
“Passhunk”: The Philadelphian pronunciation of Passyunk. Both an avenue and a neighborhood, East Passyunk is the place for awesome dining (Stateside for the bourbon, Cantina for the beer, Noord for the Dutch food, and yes — cheesesteaks) plus local mom-and-pop shops.
The Phlash: The official tourist bus. It’s purple and offers quick service, with pick-ups every 15 minutes. It makes 22 stops in one loop at the city’s most popular tourist attractions, costing only $2 per ride or $5 for an all-day pass.
“Schoo-kill“: How you say one of Philadelphia’s two rivers, the Schuylkill. Philadelphia is supremely walkable — just thirty blocks river to river. The Schuylkill River Trail is a prime spot for a riverfront amble or a morning run.
Whiz wit: The quintessential cheesesteak thing. You’re probably going to get a cheesesteak (and you should), while you’re here. Ordering “whiz wit” means your steak sandwich is loaded with cheese whiz and onions. If you don’t want Cheese Whiz, ask for American or Provolone. Wit means “with onions,” so if you don’t want ‘em, don’t say it (but we hope you say it).
“Wooder” ice: It’s water ice said with a Philly accent. It’s also a Philly speciality. It’s similar to Italian Ice or Shaved Ice… but not quite the same. Check out this guide to the best “wooder” ice in South Philly.
Yo: How Philadelphians say hello.