Home... Index... Articles... Links... From the Press... Snippets... Message Board... Editor's Bio... Bulletin Board... Submissions... Free Update... Writers... E-mail

Even More Southern Expressions - II
~~Sent in by USADEEPSOUTH readers~~

The Southern expressions keep rolling in from readers! Many thanks.
You send 'em; we'll post 'em.
There's no "language" more colorful.

We would appreciate your notifying us if you reprint a group of our Southern Expressions for a news article, paper, or online posting. All material at USADEEPSOUTH is protected by copyright. Thanks.

Send your contributions or requests for reprint to Ye Editor at bethjacks@hotmail.com



Jamie J from Florida writes: "Enjoying your site immensely. Here are several expressions I didn't see, but maybe I missed them.

~~~ "Like a duck on a junebug" - Similar to "like white on rice"
~~~ "Bless his/her heart" - used immediately after saying something unkind about someone
~~~ "Ugly" - mean, as in "Don't be ugly to your sister!"
~~~ Oh, and one more, we say "in" instead of "on." ~ "The kids was settin in the floor," or "The baby's in grandma's lap."


Nan K. in Mississippi sends us these comments:
I was doing some research for a screenplay I'm working on and I was running through your Southern colloquialisms page (and laughing my a** off!) when I saw you didn't have my particular favorite. Now this one comes from my dad, who is not a member of the Illiterati--he really isn't a very educated man, and God bless him, he had me, the English major type. Still, he really cracks me up with his sayings; he's like a genius at them.

The best one by far was when someone asked him if he was busy once. He said, "I'm as busy as a one-legged cat in a sandbox." I chuckled for days.


And more! Amy C. writes:
"I thoroughly enjoyed your site. I tried to read all of them and hopefully these aren't repeats although I know some are similar. Having grown up in both Kentucky and Texas, I've heard a fair share of 'em."

~~~I just about swallered my tongue. (very hungry and smells something good)
~~~Haven't seen you in a coon's age!
~~~I need to see a man about a horse/dog. (need to go to the bathroom)
~~~"Tough titty," said the kitty, "but the milk tastes sweet."
~~~He hasn't got the sense God gave a goose.
~~~She's slow as molasses at Christmas.
~~~She's lost as last year's Easter egg.
~~~He's wild as a March hare.
~~~That puppy's quiet as a popcorn fart.
~~~I'm just poor as a church mouse.
~~~Shake a leg! (hurry up)
~~~He's slicker'n owl sh*t.
~~~She was runnin' around like a chicken with its head cut off.
~~~That's like the pot callin' the kettle black. (both guilty)
~~~It was colder than a witch's tit in a brass bra.
~~~He's as useless as tits on a boar hog.

My favorite thing is mixed metaphors though. My brother-in-law mixes the last two up, "Colder than tits on a boar," he will say.


Here's a good one from ShannyTink, who wrote: "Don't forget carry, as in I am going to carry your mother downtown, meaning I am going to drive your mother downtown. My Alabama father lived all over the country in adulthood but always used this phrase."


And enjoy this classic from Keith M.:
My grandpop used to say:
"That boy's so dumb he couldn't pour piss out of a boot with the directions on the bottom!"

That's definitely my all-time favorite!


Dee in Tennessee writes to us:
"Here are sayings my mother-in-law and a friend of mine have said that I didn't see on your site. They both grew up in Kentucky."

~~ They call the sheets on their bed "bedclothes."
~~ Instead of "hand that to me," they say "reach that to me."
~~ When they're feeling ill, they say "I'm sick at my stomach."


From Athens, Georgia, Matthew S. sends these great expressions:
~~"That really stirs my stew." - This is when ya talking 'bout something done made you mad.
~~"He's about as useful as a steering wheel on a mule." - Refers to someone who's not inclined to work.
~~"You took as long as a month of Sundays." - You're taking a long time.
~~"If you don't watch out, I'm gonna cream yo' corn." - You better behave or I'll whoop your tail.
~~"Faster than a hot knife through butter" - Describes something really quick
~~"She gets my goose." - She makes me mad.


Charles M. tells us: I was enjoying the collection of Southern-isms and wanted to offer another one. I think this may be a Carolina thing - or at least that's where I learned it and I don't hear it where I live now. It's the use of "right" to mean "very" or "quite," such as:

~~"She's right smart."
~~"It's right hot today."
~~"I didn't think I would like this kind of food, but I'll admit, it's right good!"

Charles M----
originally from SE North Carolina


Dennis Dooley, who contributed some great expressions over on another page (Even More SouthMouth) tells us:

During the early '80s we had a bit of a boom here in Carbon County, Utah. We’re a coal mining area and we were short of folks to do the mining and work as inspectors. We had a lot of people move into the area from West Virginia and Kentucky, hill folks. Also folks from the Cairo, Illinois area. If you don’t think any part of Illinois is Southern you’ve never been to KAY-ro as they pronounce it.

The tight close hills of West Virginia were home to my friend Scott and the open country of Utah was a bit of a shock to him. We have mountains (big mountains) but people live in the broad valleys. Scott, a neighbor, pronounced his new home as “empty as a lawyer’s heart.”

It doesn’t rain much here and he was dumfounded to learn that he had to water his lawn. “I swan, you all musta pissed God off somehow. It’s drier than a popcorn fart ‘round these parts.”

He missed the ‘hills and hollers’ something fierce but he brightened up some when he found out we had lots of big gray squirrels here abouts.

One day, I saw him leaving the house with a .22 rifle under his arm.

“Hey Scott,” says I. “Goin’ huntin’?”

“Hey, yerself. Lands, yes. I fixin’ to go bark some a’ yer squirrels.” (They tried to hit the branch directly under the squirrel so as not to damage the animal too much.)

“Uhhh, Scott. We don’t eat squirrels around here.”

“Why in tarnations not? Squirrels is a delicacy, fine as frogs' hair!”

“Ummm, don’t know. We just don’t. Rabbits yes; squirrels, no.”

Well, he arrived home with a passel of dead squirrels.

“How’d ya do there, Scott?”

“Just flat tore ‘em up is all. Lordy, but these is big squirrels. Wanna come to supper?”

“Nice of you to ask, Scott, but we don’t eat squirrels around here.“

Well, I saw him the next day. “Them squirrels was awful! Them thangs tasted like ‘pine tar!’ Whyncha warn me!”

“Didn’t know,“ says I. I never ate one.” He grumbled something and went to the mine.

It gets worse. He found out we have some big carp in Scofield Reservoir. I see him leaving the house with a fishing bow. (Yes, a fishing bow. We shoot trash fish in the shallows with them. The Fish Cops are happy to have us do it.)

Hey, Scott,” says I. “Goin’ fishin?”

“Hey, yerself. Lands, yes. I fixin’ to go get me a mess a’ carp.”

“Uhhh, Scott. We don’t eat carp around here.”

“Why in tarnations not? Carp is a delicacy, good eatin’…ummm…ummm…ummm”

I won’t tell you the rest of the story; I reckon you can figure it out for yourselves.

God bless ya’ real good. -- Dennis


And later, Dennis sends us an extra helping.

"Here are a few more from Grandpa," he wrote.

~ "If that boy had an idea it would die of loneliness."
~ "Meaner than a wet panther."
~ "When the Lord was handin' out brains, [that fool] thought God said trains, and he passed 'cause he don't like to travel."
~ "His brain rattles around like a BB in a boxcar."
~ (To me once) "Boy, you got your stupid head on today?"


Here's a long list of Southern expressions from Jennifer Riggs:

"My father is from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and my mom from Jackson, and I've often made fun of of their expressions over the years, but I love them. Not long ago I tried to make a list so I could remember them and try to work them in my vocabulary and maybe a few will even be remembered. (Being born and raised in Atlanta, I'm still technically in the South, but the Southern speech in the city is just about gone.) Just out of curiosity, I searched the internet, and found the USADS lists your readers have contributed. I've heard a lot from my family, but here are a few I didn't see on the site (although it was hard to know if I was seeing all of them)."

~ I'm about to roast (I'm very hot)
~ It's hot as blazes (very hot)
~ It's hot as blue blazes (very very hot)
~ my heavenly days! (expression for surprise or alarm)
~ stinks to high heaven (it sure does smell bad) (heard this one a lot while my siblings were still in diapers)
~ my dogs are barkin' (my feet hurt)
~ that dog won't hunt (that argument doesn't make sense)
~ you lie like a rug (you're lying)
~ dead as a door-knell
~ the lights are on, but nobody's home (you're not thinking - or you're just plain dumb)
~ "might could" or "might should" as in, "I've never done that before, but I might could." (I used these myself and didn't even realize they were grammatically incorrect until I left Georgia for college.)
~ picture show (movie at the theatre - my grandmother still uses it)
~ I've got to go put on my face (apply make-up)
~ you're pulling my leg (you must be kidding me)

And from a friend by way of Tennessee:
~ gracious light! (oh my!)
~ she's just a precious angel straight from heaven! (someone - or somepuppy - that's cute or sweet)

Thanks again for your work!


"I'm a Mississippi expatriot now in Seattle, and a writer who can't help writing Southern," says Rebecca Meredith. "You're right about the music in the language. Here are a few -isms that I grew up with."

From my beloved Aunt Patty:
~ "He's happier'n a dead hog in the sunshine." (I never understood it but it's so gorgeous I don't care!)

From my Grandmother Velma:
~ (Upon seeing, say, someone in a brightly colored dress) "Hmph! 'Nother nickel, she coulda had a yellow one."

And from my father Mickey:
~ "Sometimes I think, 'Well...' and then again I just don't know."

"These may be just natural talent in my family but I have heard variations on Aunt Patty's comment. I like hers best though, since it makes no sense. You have a great site for reminding me of my childhood and bringing back some real life to my writing."


F. E. Thomas of Charleston, SC, writes:
One for the South (that is; South Bend of the Catawba and North of I-85). Here we go bouncing for joy with all the relatives flaming with toys. Nea'r does little-bug Lauren smile with her styles, for her age has kept her as a child. So here we go so once again, up the Catawba and down the Old Mount Holly Road again, and again. Old dearest Grandpa Dwight, please shed unto us the wisdom of the submarine light. We miss you so much there is no doubt, however your books are elsewhere,,,,,,,,, and cannot be found. Beware of the old U-234 boat, for as a fond believer and respectable ex, your life, experiences, and troublesome times in the sea will always be remembered and respected; and of course, reflect upon me. May God Bless you and all the fine Dellinger family!


Marion Wood, Parksville BC Canada sends this message:
I don't know why someone from Canada knows these, but I've certainly heard Southern friends say....

"Dumber than a spotted dawg" meaning definitely not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and "common as pigs tracks," sort of self-explanatory: a trashy, low brow person!


P. Moore writes to Ye Editor:
My favorite Southern saying was taught to me in Atlanta by my first boss on my first job, at Ivan Allans -- "smiling like a mule eating briars." Which I take to mean a big, gummy smile (as when the mule has to roll back his lips to keep from getting the prickers in them), and one of necessity, not of sincerity.


From Diane Murphy:
When I was stationed near Hinesville, Georgia, after a Yankee youth spent outside Cleveland, Ohio, I went into a hardware store to buy a bicycle.

I asked the owner if he sold bicycles, squarely putting the accent on the "bi" part of the word. He had no idea what I was asking for. I repeated it several time, "BIcycle. You know, a BIcycle."

Suddenly, his face brightened, and he said, "Oh! You want a biCYcle."

That was my first exposure to Southern speak!


Aleisha from Richmond, Virginia writes to us:
My Nanny was from South Boston, Virginia. To read what other people have written on these expressions pages has brought to mind some of the things she used to say.
~ MIND as in "You better mind me good, young lady."
~ When I didn't mind her, she'd holler: "Ima skin you alive!"
~When leaving, she'd say, "See ya later, alligator!" And I would be expected to answer, "After while, crocodile."
~If I were pretending to sleep, she'd say I was "playing possum."
~If I were misbehaving and being ornery, she'd threaten to "string me up by my pigs (toes)."


And this note came from Shane:
I'm a yank, but I've spent a lot of time in Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, and I love Southern language (and food).

Two of my favorites:
~ "That guy couldn't get laid in a woman's prison with a handful a pardons."
~ "If his lips's movin', he's lyin'."


JoAnna P. from Memphis, Tennessee, sends these:
I love your site! Please add my expressions to your SouthMouth pages.
~ "Hear tell" -- Don't be sharing this with nobody, but I hear tell he's getting married.
~ "Satisfactual" -- I'm happy as can be 'cause everything's just satisfactual.
~ "In all my born days" -- I've never seen nothing like it in all my born days.
~ "Ain't got no call" -- Now, you know she ain't got no call to act mean like that.
~ "Big as all daylights" -- That woman paraded through town big as all daylights in nothing but her swimming suit.
~ "Used to could" -- I used to could turn cartwheels all over this yard, but now the ants is so bad I wouldn't dare to do it.
~ "Act like you're somebody" -- You're going up to Nashville and I do hope you'll do right and act like you're somebody.
~ "Rattletrap" -- I couldn't believe he came to get Myra Jo in that old rattletrap.
~ "Jack, Jack, no trade back" -- Ha, ha. It's mine now. Jack, Jack, no trade back!
~ "Standin' in the need of prayer" -- Lord, she sho nuff is in trouble now. She is flat standin' in the need of prayer.


Read more USADS Southern expression submissions from readers.

Hey, don't miss this page of great expressions!

Here are more:
Southern Speak by Beth Boswell Jacks
Jessica's Southern Talk Page
NEW! Kendall's Favorites!
Writing Southren by Carl Wayne
Even More Southmouth III
Even More Southmouth IV

More to come! Send your favorites to Ye Editor.

Back to USADEEPSOUTH - I index page

Back to USADEEPSOUTH - II index page