T-Pain, Lloyd, and Plies break down a term that's ubiquitous on the charts

By Simon Vozick-Levinson
Updated August 03, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

USAGE A noun, shawty appears in the titles of five current hits: ”Shawty” (Plies feat. T-Pain), ”Get It Shawty” (Lloyd), ”Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’)” (T-Pain), ”Shawty Is da S–” (The-Dream), and ”Come Back to Me Shawty” (Tyrese).

DEFINITION(S) 1. A young woman of upstanding character; a reliable friend.
”It’s a girl that’s like your sister,” says singer T-Pain, 22.
2. A young woman possessing ample charm, intelligence, and beauty; an ideal romantic partner.
”The perfect dream girl is a shawty,” says crooner Lloyd, 21, adding, ”It’s a sign of respect.”
3. A young woman with whom the speaker desires nothing more than a casual fling.
”It’s not your girlfriend,” explains rapper Plies, 28. ”No commitment.”

ORIGIN A Southern variant of the vernacular term shorty. For some people, anyway. Says Florida-born Plies, ”It’s the same word, just different pronunciation.” Fellow Floridian T-Pain adds, ”[Shawty] originated in Atlanta. I didn’t say it, then I moved there for a month and it just rolls off the tongue!” But ATL native Lloyd says, ”Shorty is intended for someone kind of beneath you, where shawty is someone you want to be on the same level with.”