~~Sent in by USADEEPSOUTH readers~~
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ENJOY . . . AND CELEBRATE SOUTH MOUTH!
Keith D. sent us these wonderful comments:
Here are a few Southern expressions that have always been favorites of mine. These come courtesy of my maternal grandparents, Willie Brooks Trammell and Charles Truman Trammell, God rest their sweet souls, and their immediate families: Uncle Robert, Uncle Genie, Uncle English, Uncle Dewey, Aunt Louise and Aunt Onie, may God rest their souls. Growing up I heard these and so many more expressions like them that I’d probably never remember them all. But little things like this are what help to define who we are as Southerners, and I wouldn’t trade them for all the boiled cabbage in New England.
As seen in the subject line [of Keith's e-mail], “good ones” would actually sound like gooderns. Yer a lis’nin to the radio and a song you like comes on, and you say, "'air’s a goodern."
How ‘bout this’n rat’cheer: “ ‘At boy’s slower than a bread wagon with biscuit wheels.”
Or when yer very tired, yer actually “tar’d,” so the expression might actually sound like, “I’m sa dad-blamed tar’d I feel ‘bout like a mashed bug.”
And why does everybody in the South blame everything on dad? “That dad-blamed car won’t start,” or “Well, shet the dad-blamed door!”
Now, if you’s to mash all these together, you’d have sump’m what sounds ‘bout ly‘kiss rat’cheer:
" ‘At boy was supposed to brang me ‘em car parts, but he’s slower’n a bread wagon with biscuit wheels. I bin workin’ on that dad-blame car all day, ‘n now I’m sa tar’d I feel ‘bout like a mashed bug. So I thought I’d come in here an’ git me a sody-pop. Aaah! Now ‘at’s a goodern."
Then there’s, “If mama brings her collard greens to the family reunion, I’ll be on that like a duck on a June-bug.”
Ok, I have to quit because my Spell-Check has this page lit up like a Christmas tree.
Some great expressions were sent by John G., who wrote: "Howdy from North Carolina, where heaven's just a local call, not long-distance! Paw always used quite a few of these, and I used to hear them all the time, but Charlotte has experienced a deluge of carpetbaggers since I was a young man. So here's my bit of preservation for the posterity of the Old South."
~~You know more than a Philadelphia lawyer. (Meaning: You’re a smart a**.)
~~I’m gonna tan your hide. (Meaning: You’re about to get a whoopin’.)
~~It’s colder than a witch’s tit in a brass bra. (Meaning: Quite chilly)
~~Sh**tin’ in high cotton. (Meaning: Well-off)
~~Over the shoulder boulder holders. (Meaning: A very large bra)
~~So ugly she’d make a freight train take a dirt road. (Meaning: Uglier than scaring a buzzard off a gut pile)
~~All over hell and halfa Georgia. (Meaning: A very large area. Example: "I can’t find my keys; I’ve looked all over hell and halfa Georgia for 'em!")
Wait! There's more!
~~Like a cat eating a grindstone. (Meaning: Do whatever you’re doing slowly or gently. Example: "Squeeze the trigger real slow, like a cat eatin’ a grindstone.")
~~About as useful as tits on a daddy-turtle. (Meaning: Useless, utterly useless)
~~You’d call an alligator a lizard. (Liar! You might say this before a fight.)
~~No conceit in your family, you got it all. (Meaning: You’re vain.)
~~She’s stuck up higher than a light-pole. (Meaning: It ain’t worth your time to get her number.)
~~I could eat the north end of a south-bound polecat. (Meaning: Mighty hungry; if you’re not that hungry, substitute horse for polecat.)
~~Couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn -- even from the inside -- with the door closed. (Meaning: A poor shot)
~~Bowed up like a banty rooster. (Meaning: Sticking out your chest and putting your dukes up to fight)
~~You’re so fulla s**t your eyes are brown. (Meaning: You’re full of it.)
~~Sunday-go-to-meetin’ shoes. (Meaning: Where my dad grew up in Montgomery County, they had two pair of shoes, their Sunday-go-to-meetin’ shoes and their old Sunday-go-to-meetin’ shoes. When your new pair got old, you bought a new pair and wore the old ones when you weren’t barefoot. To this day my grandfather still can be seen hoeing a row of corn in tattered wingtips, even though he’s now 'shi**in’ in high cotton'.)
Mike McD. shares this one: "On a really sultry hot, muggy day, my dad would say 'Hannah is a huntin' her man'; if someone had a heatstroke, then 'Hannah done found her man'. My father was from around the Wood County area of East Texas and he said that folks around those parts used that expression. He was born in 1924 if that helps locate the expression 'Hannah's a huntin' her man' in place and time. I also live in East Texas.
"Another expression my dad used on hot muggy days was 'I'm sweatin' like a tush hog', though some folks use 'tusk hog' instead. And another: 'Jimmy James was so stupid he couldn't pour water from a boot with instructions on the heel.'"
Cynthia S in Hollywood, California, writes: "My mom and my grandmother were from Boone, North Carolina, and I can remember some of their Southern sayings. I was delighted to see how many of them showed up on your other lists. Here are a few."
~~haven't seen you in a coon's age
~~couldn't sing her way out of a paper bag if her life depended on it
~~slower than a snail drunk on molasses crawling up an ice hill in January (my personal favorite, I think that came from my grandma Lalia pronounced "Lay-la")
~~out in the boonies and over yonder a spell
~~set yourself down a spell
~~this fog (or tension) is so thick you could cut it with a knife
~~meaner than quarreling cats in a gunny sack
~~every day of the week and twice on Sundays
~~knock you clean into next week and then some
~~deader than a door nail
~~turn sideways and she'd disappear (skinny)
~~she's so skinny you can't even see her shadow
~~can't get blood from a turnip
~~your neck of the woods
~~sugar in your hand (good lovin')
~~over yonder in the edge of nothin', way out in the sticks (really rural)
~~I know you're just playing possum (pretending to be asleep, often said when we kids didn't want to get up and go to school)
Another thing, when you meet someone from the South, they act as if you are long lost kin if you mention your mama was born there. :-)
I have never been to the South but I have met some wonderful folks from there (obviously starting with my mom).
From Kentucky comes this message from Debi M., who wrote: "Hi! I love your website! Here are a few of my mother's sayings (and their meanings). I thought you might enjoy them."
~~Run like a scalded haint...run really fast
~~Wound tighter than a new girdle...very nervous
~~Couldn't hit water if you fell out of a boat...poor aim
~~She's spread out like a cold supper...very fat
~~Lost ball in high weeds...situation hopeless
~~Useful as a broken leg...self-explanatory
~~Torn up like a New Jersey train wreck...pretty shaken
~~So hungry my belly thinks my throat's been cut...starving
~~Dug in like an Appalachian tick...there to stay
~~She looks rougher than 10 miles of bad road...looks bad
~~Gone to hell in a hand basket...no hope
Thanks and have fun! -- Debi
Here are goodies from Shannon: "I loved your web site and wanted to share a few of my favorite expressions that I did not see."
1) Too poor to paint, too proud to whitewash.
2) Uglier than homemade soap.
3) There's a tree stump in a Louisiana swamp with a higher IQ.
4) If wishes were horses, then beggers would ride.
Laura B. writes: "Here are a few I heard growing up. I've been in North Carolina for 50 years!"
1) It's cold enough to freeze the "tit" off a frog. (It's so cold it's unbelievable!)
2) That sticks in your throat like a hair in a biscuit. (When something is really hard to take.)
3) Don't pee down my back and tell me it's raining. (Don't tell me a lie and expect me to believe it.)
Here's a long list from Tom in Alabama:
1) Colder than a banker's heart on foreclosure day at the widows' and orphans' home
2) Fixin' to get into it - getting ready to fight
3) He "got in my face" - got real close in an unfriendly way
4) Mash the button - push the button
5) That man is talking with his tongue out of his shoe - he's lying
6) If I'm lying, I'm dying
7) Colder than a well digger's butt
8) Slicker than a school marm's leg
9) Slower than a Sunday afternoon
But wait! There's more!
10) Faster than green grass through a goose
11) Lonelier than a divorced widow woman
12) Rougher than a cob
13) So dumb he couldn't pour piss out of a boot with the instructions written on the heel
14) She's so sweet, sugar wouldn't melt in her mouth
Mick Gray shares the expression "blared," meaning to lose control:
~~He blared off the road and turned over in the barditch.
~~She slipped on the turn and blared into the other runner.
From Tennessee comes this group of expressions:
~~I couldn’t buy a hummingbird on a string for a nickel (tapped out).
~~I’m so poor I couldn’t jump over a nickel to save a dime.
~~What happened, did Chevrolet stop makin’ trucks (why so sad)?
~~He's tighter than a bull’s ass at fly time.
Thanks, Gary A!
Jonathan B. in NYC (but who obviously has a Southern connection) wrote:
When you get the chills or a shiver you say "a cow just ran over my grave."
SouthMouth can get a little racy sometimes. Consider this from AJ of North Carolina:
Whenever anyone in our family would assume wrong, as in, "I thought it was gonna be cold today, but it's hotter than a whore in church," my granny would respond with this phrase: "Well, you thought like Parker dreamt he was found under the bed eatin' cat sh**!"
We have no idea who Parker was or why he was under the bed eatin such.
Barbara L. writes us:
Don't know if you have these yet, but my dear father, who was born and raised in east Texas, right outside of Texarkana, used to crack us up with these phrases. Sadly, he passed away three years ago -- and, boy, would I give anything just to hear him say one of these again.
(These expressions were usually directed at my mother):
~~ "She could make a preacher cuss!"
~~ "She could depress the devil."
~~ "She could piss off the Pope."
(The only one decidedly NOT amused was Mom!)
Thanks for your great site--it's got me laughing out loud and feeling close to my beloved father, who's no doubt curbing his use of these expressions now that he's in Heaven.)
What a great string of expressions was sent by Nancy M. G., who said:
My Uncle Gene taught me dozens of these. Here are a few.
~~ He’s so dumb he couldn’t piss his name in the snow.
~~ He’s so cheap he wouldn’t give a nickel to see Jesus ridin’ a bicycle.
~~ You’d argue with a stop sign!
~~ Tighter than a flea’s ass over a rain barrel.
~~ Faster than a shot dog through a barn.
~~ You could start an argument in an empty house.
~~ Law, ain’t you combed your head or warshed your face? You look just like Edna Mae Hockenberry!
~~ Well, go to war, Miss Mitchell! (an all-purpose exclamation -- maybe a reference to Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With The Wind?)
And from my grandad from Scotland if we were showing off: "Quit being briggetty!"
Lisa in Johnson City, Tennessee, writes:
Hey ... how about this one when your momma was angry with you?
If you don't do what I am telling you to do, I am going to smack you nekkid!
I love the South and thank God every day that I was blessed enough to be born and raised there. I will add on as I remember. Y'all have done a great job covering everything.
Oh -- here is another one. When my grandfather found out my momma was expecting #4, he looked at her and said, "Upon my word, Hazel, you have so many youngins now that you can't say grace over all of them!"
Oh -- and a poke is a paper bag! (Referring to the expression "Don't buy a pig in a poke.")
Wait, there's more:
Only in the South will you find women who consider heifer a form of affection when referring to other women.
~~ "Hey, heifer, how'd those cookies turn out?"
~~ "I haven't talked to Tamara, because that heifer left town and didn't leave me a number where she could be reached."
To describe the feeling of being totally lost or out of place:
~~ "I felt like a lost ball in a high weed."
To describe someone who is clumsy:
~~ "That boy is worse than a blind dog in meat house."
From Becky Lou we received these:
~~ Don't snurl up your lip at me, son. (Combination snarl and curl, spoken to someone who's reacting in a sullen manner.)
~~ Put a clean hippen on that pore baby. (Diaper needs changing.)
~~ That coffee's strong enough to float an iron wedge.
~~ He's such a big mess-up, he could tear up an iron wedge. (He's hopeless.)
~~ Stop goin around Martin Hood's barn. (Get to the point. Also used when driving out of one's way.)
~~ That sure jaunered me. (Sometimes "jaundered," probably comes from jaundiced, but means to flummox or take aback.)
~~ Sygodlin -- Something that's been thrown out of line, or an animal that staggers from side to side.
~~ Juberous -- Doubtful or jumpy. (Probably comes from "dubious.")
My Deep South moniker is Becky Lou, and I live in western North Carolina. I heard my relatives say these expressions when I was growing up.
And in response to "Donna of Georgia":
"When something was messed up, my folks would say it was mawmucked up," wrote Donna from Georgia. She continued: "They were from Folkston and Waycross, Georgia. I've never heard the expression used anywhere else. It may have originated around the swamp. My grandfather owned a sawmill and the people living near the swamp areas had their own vernacular. I really enjoy your website. I love good grammar, but some of the richness of the Old South has been lost."
My daddy worked in sawmills in eastern North Carolina when he was a boy, and he used this word. I always spelled it "momacked" because that's how he said it, and "messed up" is exactly what he meant by it.
I too love good grammar, but my Mawie read Pogo and Uncle Remus to me long before I went to school, so the richness of the Southern speech has always been enjoyable to me.
Mike M. sent these observations:
"As a first-generation Yankee born to a couple of Arkansas-farmer parents, I heared some stuff that just weren't quite right -- one of which was: Who-laid-er-down. My Dad would use it in a sentence like, 'I've been hunting in these parts since 'who-laid-er-down.' [Then, regarding the saying: Happy as a dead pig in the sunshine] -- The day I FINALLY asked him exactly WHY a dead hog would be happy even if he were in the sunshine, he replied, 'Everyone back t'home always said that.'"
Send us your Southern expressions to help us fill out this page.
And read more USADS Southern expression submissions from readers.
Hey, don't miss these pages of great expressions ~
NEW! Kendall's Favorites
And here are more:
Southern Speak by Beth Boswell Jacks
Jessica's Southern Talk Page
Writing Southren by Carl Wayne
And a NEW PAGE of SouthMouth: Even More - 5
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