City Cast

Translating Philly Speak

Brittany Valentine
Brittany Valentine
Posted on August 29   |   Updated on August 30
photo of Money Access Center sign from the 80s/90s in Philly

If you call an ATM a MAC machine, you’re a longtime Philadelphian. (Mirandala/Flickr)

Philly-area natives have plenty of unique slang. If you’re new to the city, here’s a quick breakdown of some common words and phrases you need to know:


In the Philly dialect, “water” is pronounced “wooder.” And of course, the city’s favorite frozen treat is commonly called “wooder ice” 🍧

MAC Machine

The first ATMs in Philly were called MAC, which stands for Money Access Center. MAC machines are no longer around, but many still use the term, like West Philly native and “Abbott Elementary” creator Quinta Brunson!

'Jeet?'/'Jeet Yet?'

These are just super quick ways of saying “did you eat?” or “did you eat yet?”  What we’re really asking is if you want to join us on a Wawa run to get a hoagie, not a sub 😆


“Bul” or “youngbul” refers to a boy or young man. This one has a lot of spelling variations.


This term, which is rooted in African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and derived from the word “joint,” can basically mean anything. It’s a multipurpose noun replacement. A car, a package of Tastykakes, an Eagles jersey, all of these are jawns.

Learn more about the history of this term and dig into the debate around language ownership and identity with linguist Dr. Taylor Jones. [City Cast Philly 🎧]

Do you use these terms? Tell me how you “speak Philly” and your thoughts could be featured in an upcoming Hey Philly jawn! 🗣️

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