If I have to be sick in bed this weekend, I at least get this entertainment! Robert and I were talking about Southern expressions (my novel takes place in the rural South) the other night and I realized that, despite living in Georgia my whole life, I haven’t heard half of the things he was saying. Is it because my dad was from the north? Or because I live in a college town? I told Robert that I’m from Georgia, I should know these things, and he said: “Sweetheart, if a cat had kittens in the oven, I wouldn’t call ‘em biscuits.”
I asked my FB friends for the most southern expressions they could think of and was blessed with a long list. Here’s a sample, in no particular order – with many thanks to my friends Haley, Rebecca, Abbie, Sarah, Jo, Jamie, Leila, Tiffanie, Wynn, Amy, Clare, Claire, Teri, Lizzie, Lisa, Rebecca, Yvonne, Jenny, Jennie, Janet, Susan, Annaka, Wendy, Grace, Caitlin, JoAnna, Ashley, Shelby, Robby, Jill, Melissa, Carrie, Tara, Diana, Heather, Pamela, Shane, Pascale, Renna, Hazel, Chris, Rhiannon, Kim, Denise, April, Courtney, Jessie, Katherine, Aunt Marietta, Julie, Camille, Traci, Mary Beth, Macon, Victoria, and Allison (plus anyone I inadvertently left off this list!).
If you can think of more, let me know.
SOUTHERN VERNACULAR: A SHORT PRIMER
Fixin’ to = going to do something
Bless your heart = you’re an idiot
Tumped= knocked over, usually used with bucket/wheelbarrow/cup of liquid
Like to have or Like to (“You moving your arms so much you liked to tump the bucket”)
Might could/Used to could/Might should
Comin’ up a cloud=about to storm
Frog strangler=heavy storm
Hit a lick at a snake =to have been productive (ie “You so lazy, you haven’t hit a lick at a snake all day”)
Roll on over so I can hug on you
“Might as well, can’t dance and it’s too wet to plow” (though this phrase might be particular to a certain relative)
Puttin’ up a stink/pitch a fit =acting unhappy
Put on the dog = act pretentiously to impress someone
Get in the bed
Mash the button = press a button
Cut the grass
Carry/tote someone = drive them someplace
Cut on/off the light
Hateful/ugly = Acting mean (“Don’t be ugly”)
Poke = bag (ie: “Put my groceries in a poke in the buggy”)
I Suwannee = I swear
Y’ont to?/Yowntu = you want to?
Eat on it = we made a big turkey and will eat on it a few days
Cattywumpus/higgledy piggeldy = crooked, messed up
Don’t know shit from Shinola (a shoe polish product)
Slicker-n-eel shit = a phrase my husband heard the writer Terry Kay say when describing something slippery, ie: Someone is slicker-n-eel shit. (My friend Mazie has also heard “That road is slicker than owl shit.”)
How’s come/Why’s come?
Rode hard and put up wet = looking rough
How’s your mama (daddy, etc)-n-em?
Ugly as homemade sin
Headin’ to town=going shopping
Do what now?
Hug your neck
Gonna get a whoopin’ – gonna get spanked
Go get me a switch – get me a tree branch that I will use to spank you (!)
Take some exercise= to exercise
Land o’ Goshen = oh my
Play-purty (Play-pretty) = toys OR to act nicely
Hotter than a two dollar pistol
Colder than a well digger’s shovel
Home trainin’ =the way you were raised
You lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas
Stove up=messed up, often used when referring to bodily injury (“He worked so hard he’s stove up today”)
Worn slap out =exhausted
Slap in the middle = right in the middle
Over yonder = over there
Directly=right now (“I’ll do that directly”)
Fell out = fainted
Plum=totally (“Plum tuckered out”)
Aint = aunt
Come to Jesus = serious talking-to or intervention (“We have to have a Come to Jesus moment”)
Jake leg = moving funny (“You got the jake leg”)
“When I get ahold of you your tail won’t hold shucks!” = Spanked so hard you wouldnt be able to use corn husks as toilet paper
Describing things by landmarks that are no longer there, ie: “Turn left yonder where the gas station was afore it burnt down…” (Sometimes followed by, “Y’all ain’t from round here, are ya?”)
And here are but a few gems from those supplied by writer/editor Rebecca McCarthy:
Gimme sugar, sug (pronounced Shug). Let me lay eyes on you. Sorry, real sorry and sorry sumbitch. You spread that mess from heaven to breakfast. She’s so short she could walk under a duck with a high hat on. He’s so short, when he passes gas, he blows sand in his shoes. Take up some ice. Lay out the table. Case knives. Cash money. Lord, Rebecca, I’m losing my religion over you. I’m on my last nerve. You don’t know split beans from coffee. You don’t know big wood from brush. You don’t know if it’s 2 o’clock or Sunday. Hey, can you carry me to church on Sunday? I’m a gonna need help toting this cake. Even a cat can look at a king. Even a blind hog finds an acorn.
Well, butter me down and call me a biscuit.