Vaina == jawn?

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Philly has jawn — see Ben Zimmer on "The Etymology of Jawn", or listen to this story from WHYY:

According to Philly native Mary Seaborough, who works at Cook-Wissahickon elementary, where my kids attend school, "It really can mean anything you want it to mean."  Seaborough grew up in South Philly. She uses "jawn," and she helped me understand the word's versatility. It is used mainly to refer to places and things, but it can even be a person, specifically a pretty woman. "A guy might say, 'Man, did you see that jawn over there?'" Seaborough said.

Or there's Dan Kelley's article "Jawn — it's the new 'Yo'", Metro 12/1/2015:

“Creed might be the movie that introduces jawn to the rest of America,” said Taylor Jones, a linguistics graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania who uses social media to study how words, and slang, change.  In the film, “Jawn” is introduced by actress Tessa Thompson, who plays the Philly-born female love interest opposite Michael B. Jordan, who plays the film’s title character, Adonis Creed.  She drops the j-word, while ordering a cheesesteak — “put some peppers on that jawn.”

But according to Joanna Hausmann, Venezuela has vaina:

Some of the many other meanings of vaina in other places (sheath, scabbard, husk, shell, problem, snag, nuisance, bore, fluke, piece of luck, swindle, screw, twit, nitwit, dork, …) are listen here.


  1. Andrew Bay said,

    August 12, 2016 @ 4:23 pm

    Sounds a bit smurfy to me.

  2. Rubrick said,

    August 12, 2016 @ 5:20 pm

    At least Venezuela has something these days…

  3. goofy said,

    August 12, 2016 @ 7:28 pm

    "Vaina" is cognate with "vanilla" and "vagina".

  4. Robert said,

    August 12, 2016 @ 7:54 pm

    "Jeet that jawn?" "Yeah, joo?"

    BTW, I noticed some of the other meanings of vaina include "thingamajig" and "whatchamacallit."

  5. Coby Lubliner said,

    August 12, 2016 @ 11:54 pm

    Vaina is not just Venezuelan but Colombian as well.

  6. Not a naive speaker said,

    August 13, 2016 @ 3:38 am

    From the horse's mouth:

  7. Yet Another John said,

    August 13, 2016 @ 11:17 am

    Not just Venezuelan and Colombian, but apparently Dominican as well.

    I'm pretty sure I heard the Dominican-born actor Ivan Camilo say "vaina" in the latest episode of the HBO series "The Night Of" in the bodega scene, but I can't find the clip — can anyone else confirm?

  8. Sybil said,

    August 14, 2016 @ 11:27 am

    Yes, vaina is definitely Dominican, appears in Oscar Wao many times.

  9. Sybil said,

    August 14, 2016 @ 11:29 am

    plus, I hear it around here all the time.

  10. speedwell said,

    August 14, 2016 @ 6:35 pm

    If I heard someone use "jawn" to refer to a person, especially a woman, I would assume it came from Northern Irish "yer one".

  11. Stan Carey said,

    August 15, 2016 @ 5:57 am

    Yoke is the Irish English equivalent.

  12. ian morris said,

    August 17, 2016 @ 4:06 pm

    the only other place i saw the word used was in transformers vs gi joe #3: Brawn wrecks the jawn

  13. Sergey said,

    August 19, 2016 @ 2:05 pm

    There is also the word "shit" used in the same way, not to mention "thing".

  14. Crystal said,

    August 25, 2016 @ 12:36 pm

    "Vaina" is cognate with "vanilla" and "vagina".

    What is the etymon and is it attested?

  15. Goofy said,

    August 25, 2016 @ 5:32 pm

    Crystal: Latin uāgīna "sheath"

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