Fwd: jawn"

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sat Nov 4 03:20:06 UTC 2000

>... I ran across the word 'jawn', which
>according to government witnesses could mean 'thing' or just about any
>other noun.  Does anyone have any information about this word.  Is there
>any possibility it comes from Jamaican creole?

Probably someone else can do better; I'm only very faintly familiar with
this word myself, and I don't find it in my conventional reference books.

I'm pretty sure this is originally a variant of "John".

A quick Web search gives the following.

(1) Simply a variant spelling of "John": used as a 'cute' 'handle'/nickname
by persons presumably named John, and apparently also when denoting a
pronunciation or dialect (i.e., in reproducing the speech of someone who
says /dZOn/ as opposed to /dZan/, I think).

(2) [Nonspecific noun], = 'thing', = 'item': not necessarily a tangible
object (apparently stands in for 'discussion topic', 'musical passage',
'picture', etc.).    [From 'john' = 'joe'/'average/unspecified/anonymous man'?]

(3) [Nonspecific noun], = 'material', = 'stuff', = 'shit' (in the general
sense of 'stuff').    [Uncountable version of (2)]

(4) Marijuana cigarette: = 'joint'.    [In this sense, I presume 'jawn' =
'john' < 'J.' < 'joint'. {I think card-players' 'john' < 'J' < 'jack' is

(5) [predicate, with "the"] [Something] fine, superlative, pleasurable,
etc.: "it's the jawn" = "it's the cat's meow/pajamas/ass", "it's the
greatest".    [Possibly from (2), like "it's (just) the thing"? Or from
(4), a parallel with 'dope' = 'cool'/'rad'?]

Web references:




[Another word with the same spelling: "jawn" = variant of "yawn".]

-- Doug Wilson

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