~~Sent in by USADEEPSOUTH readers~~
Some of the most popular pages at USADEEPSOUTH.COM are those containing long lists of southern expressions. As Mark Twain once wrote: "Southerners talk music!" Yes, indeed, there's no "language" more musical. Send us your best. We'll post here so everyone can enjoy.
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Favorite Southern Expressions
From the desk of C.McP comes this.
I did not read all of the pages of southernspeak, so these might already be there. I just returned from spending three days in Birmingham, Alabama, with my Great Aunt Jo (age 83) and was reminded of these things she always says:
~~"I swaney!" (instead of I Swear!)
~~"Bless your pea-pickin' lil' heart!"
You just can't get more southern than that.
MsKitty sends these:
~~"Finer 'n froghair" or "Fine as froghair". (W Va) - (now THAT'S fine!)
~~"I'm go'a tell it now!" which means unbelievable or incredible.
My dear old friend Luzetta Watson used this quite often in Arcadia, Louisiana.
~~"Don't go gittin yer gussie up"... meaning don't get all upset or excited. (W Va)
~~"Good enough to make you wanna smack yer granny!" - meaning very, very good. (W Va)
Thanks for your groovy site!
Nick from Ohio writes:
My grandparents from West Virginia have some colorful expressions I didn't see here. Thought I would send them to you for consideration.
~~"I wouldn't spit in his ass if his guts was on far (fire)!" Meaning: I don't care for that person.
~~"Don't go gittin above yer raisin'." Meaning: Don't act higher socially than you are.
~~"Crooked as dog's hind leg." Describing: A person who is crooked or deceitful.
~~This one might be a little too "risque" to include, but I thought I would send it anyway as my late grandmother used to say this when she was mad or frustrated: "Sh*t far (fire) and save the matches!"
I still find myself saying that when I do something stupid by accident.
DrPepp e-mails us:
I'm a native East Texan, and here are a few of some of the sayings I've picked up through relatives and friends.
1) Don't that just take the rag off the bush?! (This translates into "doesn't that just apall you, or disgust you?" I finally asked my mother how it came about. She said that when she was young, people dried clothes on hedges/bushes, and if someone took some of your clothing, it was disgusting.)
2) That was a "water haul." (This is used when you run an errand and come up empty handed, such as a dry run. Again, I asked my mother where this saying came from. She explained it was when you went fishing and came back with nothing but a bucket of water - a "water haul.")
3) I don't know them from Adam's house cat.
4) Who the Sam Hill ...?
5) I'm as full as a tick. (Eaten too much. Gross, I know.)
6) Flat as a fritter
7) Lie like a rug.
8) Let 'er rip - tater chip.
9) Jump up and get it.
10) It's colder than a witch's tittie in a brass bra.
These are just the ones that came to mind. There are SO MANY MORE...
P. A. in Louisiana sent this:
"I really enjoy your web-site! The other day an elderly neighbor was telling me about a promise her daughter made to take her shopping 'next week'. Miss Laura said, 'If promises were persimmons, possums could eat good at her place.'"
~~ Good Heavenly Days! - means "Gosh, that's amazing," or "Can you believe that?"
Kim T. from Tennessee e-mailed some great expressions. These are a few of his favorites:
~~"Happier than ol' Blue layin on the porch chewin on a big ol' caitfish head"
~~"I feel like I been 'et by a wolf and sh** over a cliff" ('parently feels pretty bad)
~~"Grinnin like a possum eatin a sweet tater"
~~"Well, you'll have that..." (Seems to go well when there really ain't a good answer.)
~~"Well, you know what grandpa used to say..." (Again, goes best when there really ain't no answer, and DEFINITELY shouldn't be completed with anything...that makes sense anyway.)
~~"Bout as useful as a screendoor on a submarine"
~~"deader an a doornail"
~~"(__________) could fall into a barrel of sh** and come out smelling like a rose; me, I could fall into a barrel of titties and come out sucking my thumb." (Obviously someone who has no luck at all.)
~~"I'll whup you so bad you'll hollar 'ya'll stop' and it'll be just me."
~~"Keep it up and I'll cancel your birth certificate." (kill ya)
~~"He's as happy as if he had good sense."
Trish in California writes:
"Here are a couple of expressions from my mother, Margie, in South Carolina: 'He don't know sh** from Shineola' and 'He's so dumb he don't know his ass from a hole in the ground'. And here's one from my Dad: 'Well, Hell's Bells, Woman!' used in anger, frustration, or amazement (said to my Mom)."
Here's a good one from Gene in Ecru, Mississippi:
"On the subject of believing what I say: 'If I tell you that rooster dips snuff, you better check under his wing for the can.'"
How 'bout these from Dennis D.?
He wrote: "I'm a Westerner, but grandpa was from Southern 'Missorah'. I remember instead of Yes, ma'am, it was yes'um. Also I remember: crazier 'n a stomped on pissant."
Then Dennis sent more! Enjoy . . .
Mentally challenged folks were referred to as 'simple.' We were threatened with a 'caining' if we maltreated them in any way. “Boy, ain't no difference twixt them and you 'cept God's Love.”
In a similar vein, if Grandpap did something that didn't work out right, he'd say: “Ain't I God's own fool?”
About a politician he didn't like, he'd say: “If brains was grease, he couldn't slick the head of a pin.”
Other of Grandpap's expressions:
“That man ain't got the decency to die.”
And about something disgusting or ugly: “'Nough to gag a maggot off a gut wagon.”
Grandpap was a union man. “Boy, if I ever see you cross a picket line, I'm gonna forget you ever lived.”
I love your site. Keep up the good work!
Wendy from Hammond, Louisiana shares these expressions:
1: Sip 'N See -- a shower/party for Mom and Baby after the baby is born.
2: It's hotter than the hinges on the gates of hell.
3: He's running around like a blind dog in a meat house.
4: Southernjoy said, "The Smiths are in high cotton." Around here we say, " The Smiths have been walkin' in tall cotton since Napoleon was in knee pants." (Meaning that the family has had money for a respectable amount of years.)
5: Chris C. said, "if it hair-lips the world." I met a woman named Boo at the flea market last week. She said she was going to Mexico this year "even if it hair-lips the Pope."
Ed G. offers these graphic bits of Southern Speak:
"Man, with those buck teeth she could eat an ear of corn through a picket fence."
"She's so ugly I'd hire her to haunt a house!"
"If I had a dog as ugly as you, I'd shave his butt and make him walk backwards."
From John and Shirley Crawford comes this expression:
Grandfather, when talking about a place being a long way off or taking a long time to get to, would say, "We had to go almost to Plum-Nelly!" [Plum outa the county an' Nelly (nearly) outa' tha state]
Madelyn sends these great expressions. Enjoy!
I came upon your website by accident and was reminded of Lucille, our maid, a lovely and dignified black lady from Knoxville, Tennessee. She lived with our family in our home in Southern California when my brother and I were growing up in the 50's and early 60's.
"I wasn't sittin' on the bedpost." ("I don't know their private business.")
"I'd clap my ninnies if I could!" ("Congratulations to you," said while pushing her ample breasts up, a hand on the underside of each one.)
"The land of milk & honey..." (Her reference to "Heaven" -- this image intrigued me as a child.)
I'm sure there were more. I hope they come to mind!
Ramal writes to USADEEPSOUTH:
"Here are two expressions my mama used to say -- 'She's about as mean as a bull fighting a bear.' And 'He's so rich, he buys a new boat each time his other one gets wet.'"
Hugh Ashlie sends us this joke about "North/South Differences."
A Northern fairytale begins with: “Once Upon A Time.”
A Southern fairytale begins with: "Y'all ain’t gonna believe this sh**.”
A Northern gal will say: “Yes, you may.”
A Southern gal will say: “Y’all can.”
[Note from Ye Editor: (cough, cough) I believe this gentleman is not completely familiar with the South -- but we DO have a sense of humor!]
Here is a note with some great expressions from Tucker Johnston.
"I love your website. I'm a midwesterner myself, but lived down in Jonesboro, GA a few years ago while working on a movie and fell in love with the rich colloquialisms of the South. Here are a few of my favorites that I didn't see on your site."
Don't piss on my leg and tell me it's rainin'! (Don't lie to me.)
Well, slap my head and call me silly! (Well, I'll be damned!)
If leather were brains, he wouldn't have enough to saddle a junebug.
He's so dumb, he could throw himself on the ground and miss.
She's so pretty she could make a hound dog smile.
You'll go to hell for lyin' just as fast as fer stealin' chickens.
He was as mad as a mule chewin' on bumblebees!
You're lyin' like a no-legged dog!
Excuses are like behinds. Everybody's got one and they all stink.
Is a pig's rump made of pork?
He squeezes a quarter so tight the eagle screams. (Miserly)
Deep in the South where sushi is still called bait.
From Southernjoy comes this addition to the USADEEPSOUTH list of expressions:
"To add to your storehouse--
The Smiths are 'in high cotton.' (They have a lot of money now.)
Southern girls don't sweat, they 'glisten.'
G - girls
R - raised
I - in
T - the
S - South
More to come.................Southernjoy"
Two funnies from Mark Lehr in Tennessee:
"I have read your collection of Southern Say'ins with much amusement. My late Grandmother Kathrine was born and raised in South Alabama. Among her many colorful say'ins are two that you might like.
1. That's more exciting than snuff and not near as dusty.
2. He's shakin like a hound dog shittin peach pits.
Like I said, Kathrine was colorful. Thank you for your time, and keep up the great work."
Warner Sizemore writes: "My Dad use to threaten (back in East Tennessee), 'I am going to jerk a knot in your tail.'"
From Georgia comes this message from Ethan Barrett:
In South Georgia, it often rains while the sun is still shining. When that happens, my Pappy says, "Ol' Devil's beatin' his wife with a frying pan."
Connie Davis writes:
"My kids have always thought it funny that when I give an instruction, I say, "Tell you what do."
Here are some good 'uns sent by Chris C.
My father-in-law, who grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, and now lives in Birmingham, Alabama, has quite a few good Southern expressions, e.g.:
“I’m so hungry I could eat the ass out of a leather duck” (The man's hungry!)
“I’m going to go hunting if it hair-lips the world” (He's going to do what he wants, regardless of the consequences.)
“He’s a little bit BAPISH.” (BAP stands for Big Ass Pete which means you like to look like you’re rich, but really don’t have a lot of money. So, if you’re BAPISH, well, you understand.)
“It's cold enough to freeze the balls off a pool table” (Very cold!)
From: Frank Johnson in Mississippi
You may have these already, but I couldn't spot them on your page. I heard this one one summer while working at a gravel pit in Turkey Creek, Louisiana: "Nervous As A Long-Tailed Cat In a Room Full of Rocking Chairs."
Another one my Father used to say when we were kids (and which my mother was not too fond of): "Happy As A Dead Pig In the Sunshine."
Lynne Smith writes: "Just thought I would send a few expressions I’ve grown up hearing in East Tennessee--Anderson County to be exact."
-You can’t tell nobody nothing that aint ever been nowhere !
-You don’t know dip sh** from apple butter!
-Me-n-you are gonna mix. (Get into a ruckus.)
-It’s hotter than two rabbits screwin’ in a wool sock!
-You’re acting crazier than a sprayed roach!
-She can’t help that she’s ugly, but she could've stayed home!
We get letters! Here's a good one:
Janie Givens Miller, raised in the Mississippi Delta, sends this: "When something is none of your business, we say, 'none of your business, cornbread and shoe tacks.' We said that in my childhood."
Janie adds: "When my husband and I lived in Oregon back in 1976-80, I worked at Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland. The then United States Attorney General, Griffin Bell, came to Lewis and Clark to speak to the students. The speech was recorded on tape and given to the Dean's secretary to transcribe. I was working as a word processor there, and one day the Dean's secretary called me and said, "Janie, would you please come up here and help me decipher this tape that I am transcribing of Griffin Bell's speech." I proceeded to go help her. Bell had a very, very, slow, slow Southern drawl, and the secretary could not understand what he was saying. But I, even though I was a native Southerner, had a little bit of difficulty helping her as his speech was hard for me to understand too -- but we got through it. This was the first time ever (and maybe the last) that I have been asked to translate 'Southern language'."
Hello, I'm Justin Cartee from Atlanta, Georgia, and my grandfather is from Metter, Georgia. Down there they would say, "Don't let the bear get'cha." Meaning 'don't quit' or 'give up.' They would say that to my daddy when he was working down there one summer building a house in the extreme heat.
SoulKeeper from Virginia sends this descriptive bit of SouthMouth:
I live in southeast Virginia, and today I heard an old lady talking about one of my neighbors who is very homely looking. Well, the old lady said my neighbor looked like "DEATH SUCKING A SPONGE." First time I have ever heard that one.
Judy East writes to us:
Here's a southern expression we used in southwest Virginia when I was growing up to indicate somebody was telling a "tall tale" or lie: That dog won't hunt.
When somebody was drunk, he was higher than a kite.
When a tire was flat, it was flatter than a flitter. (whatever that is)
When you felt inappropriately dressed or your hair is messy, you felt like a hinkle. (what is it? my sister and I still laugh because she said it in front of some judges that she worked for without realizing what she was saying, out of habit.) One day at a restaurant I saw what I thought might be a hinkle, it was an overweight lady in bib overalls (no undershirt or bra), lots of tattoos!
When somebody was slow to catch on to what you were saying, he wasn't hooked up right. Either that or he didn't have the sense God gave a goose.
A woman who thought too much of herself was said to be high falutin.
Send us your Southern expressions! And click these links to read more submissions from readers.
Listing of Southernspeak pages at USADS
Hey, don't miss these pages of great expressions:
Shane Hill's expressions
Check out these great pages of expressions:
Even More South Mouth - II
Even More Southmouth - III
Even More Southmouth - IV
Here are more:
Jessica's Southern Talk Page
Southern Speak by Beth Boswell Jacks
Writing Southren by Carl Wayne
More to come! Send your favorites to Ye Editor.
Back to USADEEPSOUTH - I index page
Back to USADEEPSOUTH - II index page