Kentucky-isms | Southern-isms

Thanks to Grandson, Jonathan, for providing many of these words and sayings

"Appalachia" is locally pronounced “App-uh-latch-uh”- or I'll throw an Apple at cha! (at you.)
"Liked to" - Almost ("I liked to pee my pants when that car almost hit me.")
"Scared to death" - Frightened (I was scared to death the Univ. of Ky. might get beat by Univ. of Tenn.)
"Nearly jumped out of my skin" (frightened, startled.)
"Fiddle" - Deal with (I don't want to fiddle with that.)
"Died laughing" - (Really funny - I almost died laughing.)
"Yoost-uh-cud" - This word is often used by elderly men. (I used to could touch my toes.)
"Might could" - Possibly - (I might could still touch my toes if I didn't weigh 420 pounds!)
"Let on" - Have knowledge of (Don't let on like you know about her run-in with the law.)
"Pot likker" - Liquid from cooking. (Usually sopped up with biscuits.)
"Shitepoke" - He is just a shitepoke. (A type of bird OR a worthless person.)
"Hit" - It (Hit is so hot outdoors today I need to lay down and take a nap in the shade.)
"Drecklee" - Soon or directly (I'll be home drecklee after the game.)
"Chester drawers" - Chest of drawers (After you fold them clothes, put 'um in the chester drawers.)
"Done" - Already (We done finished hit.)
"Play like" - To pretend (You play like you're the nurse and I'll play like I'm the doctor.)
"Wallered out" - Make a hole bigger by reaming (The hole in my lifting leaver was all wallered out.)
"Chifferobe" - A closet-like piece of furniture (Hang up your clothes in the chifferobe.)
"Roshunear" - Roasting ear (I can't wait until the corn ripens and we have yummy roshunears.)
"Pert Neer" - (fairly near or finished - I'm pert neer done shuckin' these roshunears.)
"Flares" - Flowers (My wife loves purdy flares from the garden.)
"Node" - Past tense of to know (I node about that since I was a little whippersnapper.)
"Reckon" - Think/intend/believe/calculate/assume (I reckon I'll go to church for prayer meeting tonight.)
"Muchablige" - Another way to thank someone. Much obliged - (Muchablige for the flares.)
"Arshes" - Iris (Blue or purple flars.)
"Arsh Taters" - Irish potatoes (Pass me the ash taters, please.)
"Arn" - iron (Go git them sheets off the clothes line so I can arn 'em)
"Vyeenies" - Vienna sausages (I love vyeenie sausages. Open the can and slurp 'em down.)
"Tars" - Tires (My car must need new tars 'cause this un is leakin'.)
"Polecat" - Skunk (That polecat stinks to high heaven!)
"Backer" or "backey" - Tobacco (When you chew backer, where do you spit? In a coke can?)
"Wacky backy" - Marijuana, cannabis (Do y'all raise waky backy around here?)
"Maders" - Tomatoes (My favorite vegetables are nice, ripe, red 'maders.)
"Tard" - Tired (I'm so tard after pickin' all them maders.)
"Davenport" - (Another name for a sofa.) davenport
"Puny" - Inferior in power, size or importance, or sick. (I'm feeling puny today.)
"Sure 'nuff" - Sure enough (is that right?)
"Mush mellon" - Cantelope (musk mellon)
"Wore out" - Tired - (I'm plumb wore out after mowin' all day.)
"Hind end" (also sometimes called "hiney") - buttocks
"Slop Jar" - Chamber pot toilet used if there is no indoor plumbing (Who fergot to empty the slop jar?)
"Mess" - A goodly amount (I'm fixing a mess of beans.)
"Sorry" - Worthless, lazy (He's a sorry excuse for a husband.)
"Poke" - Paper bag (Do you want me to put that stuff in a paper poke for you?)
"Holler" - A small valley - hollow (We live up the holler, past the creek.)
"Spittin' image" - Nearly identical. Derived from Spirit and Image (He's the spittin' image of his dad.)
"Icebox" - Refrigerator (Put the milk in the icebox.)
"Piddlin'" - Killing time (I'm just piddlin' around the house, looking for something to do.)
"Fixin'" - Preparing to (I'm fixin' to leave the house.) CLICK HERE TO SEE HOW PHYLLIS REACTS
"Hainted" - Haunted (That old house is hainted.)
"Far" - Fire (Don't fergit to put out the far.)


"Worsh" and "Rinch" - Wash and rinse (After you worsh the dishes, don't fergit to rinch 'em real good.)
"Zink" - Sink (The kitchen zink)
"You all" or "y'all" is singular. "All y'all" is plural.
"Favor" - To resemble (He sure does favor his Grandpa.)
"Orta" - Ought to or should (I orta go buy some grub.)
"Skeeter" - Mosquito (Pesky flying bug.) Skeeters am a humming on the honeysuckle vine.
"Lightning bug" - Firefly (Winged beetle with their own lanterns.)
"Jar Fly" - Cicadas (Big flying bug that make loud humming noises.)
"Possum" - Opossum (Small- to medium-sized marsupial.)
"Stickin'" - What snow will do if it's cold enough. (Is the snow stickin' or meltin'?)
"The Trots" or "The Runs" - A Kentucky euphemism for diarrhea.
"Flustrated" - A combination of flustered and frustrated.
"Wheel bar" - Wheel barrow (Put that dirt in the wheel bar and dump it over yonder.)
"Hisn" "Hern" and "Your'n" - His, Hers, Yours (Possessives)
"Mush" - Corn meal cooked in milk or water. ("Where's my mush for supper?")
"Gallopin' Consumption" - Tuberculosis. ("His gallopin' consumption went on for years.")
"Kissin' kin" - A family relation familiar enough to be greeted with a kiss (I know we're kissin kin.)
"Wretched" - The first name of a male, 'Richard' as in Wretched Nixon.)
"Barking up the wrong tree" - Being mistaken or misguided.
"Pawn my honor" - Upon my honor (Well, 'pawn my honor, I haven't seen you in a coon's age.)
"Aren’t you precious?" - Most always said sarcastically in response to someone being offensive.
"Actin' ugly" - This has nothing do with either appearance or theater — it means misbehaving.
"Bread basket" - Belly or stomach. Example - "The softball hit him in his bread basket."
"Chief Cook and Bottle Washer" - A person in charge who is capable of doing many things.
"Darn tootin'" - For sure. Correct. "You're darn tootin', them is good grits."
"Egg on" - To urge to do something. Example: "He only did it because the crowd egged him on."
"Heap" - A large quantity. Example: Billy got into a heap of trouble when he "bard" his dad's car.
"Hear tell" - Information was passed second hand. "I hear tell that new mini-mall is going in soon."
"Hunkey Dorey" - Everything is great.
"Hightailing" - To go as fast as possible ("Let's hightail is out of here before we get caught")
"Hot to trot" - Ready and eager ("I'm hot to trot to go to the Renfro Valley barn dance.")
"Right" - Very. Example: "You're right near the street you want to be on" or "He's a right smart feller."
"Rile" - To make agitated and angry: Upset. Example: "He's all riled up."
"Hep" - Help. Example - "Welcome to Wal-marts. Kin I hep yuh?"
"Scarce As Hen's Teeth" - Rare or unusual. (Hen don't have teeth!)
"Tarnation" - Used to indicate surprise, shock, displeasure, or censure. Example - "What in tarnation?"
"Tore up" - Upset. Example: "He was all tore up about wrecking his new Corvette." (multiple meanings.)
"Whup or whoop" - Variant of "to whip." To hit or spank.
"Sunday go to meetin' clothes" - One's best clothing.
"The good Lord willin' and the creeks don't rise" - Probable, unless there are unforeseen circumstances.
"I don't mean maybe" - do what I'm asking without question or protest.
"He bit off more than he can chew" - Is not equipped to do the job at hand.
"He's just a fish out of water" - Similar to the above statement - unprepared.
"He's in over his head" - Similar to the above statement - unprepared.
"Not worth a hill of beans" - a worthless person. Click here for a brief history of "soup beans."
"Shook up" - disturbed, shocked, annoyed, aggitated, upset, in love. Elvis sings "I'm all shook up."
"A pig in a poke" - Value of something which is much less than anticipated. See Appalachian Magazine.
"While you're at it" - While performing one action, requesting simultaneously perform another.
"Miz well" - Might as well. - "You miz well fix it while you're at it!"
"Nary" - Not any. Originally from a combination of Ne'er a.
"ID" - Idea. Cop stops a driver: "Do you have an I.D.?" Driver responds: "'Bout what?"
"Dub-Yuh" - The 23rd letter of the alphabet and the middle inital of George Dub-Yuh Bush - "W"

When you can't think of the correct word: Thingamajig, Thingy, Thingamabob, Whatchamacallit, Whatsit, Whateveritis, Doo-dad, Doo-hicky, Doo-jigger, Doo-lolly, Doo-dah, Doo-fer, Gizmo.


To see great explanations of Appalachian words and sayings,
visit Karen Nolan's wonderful blog:
Diamonds in my Coal Bucket
Appalachian Magazine

Things a True Southerner Knows

The difference between a hissie fit and a conniption fit.

Pretty much how many fish make up a mess.

What general direction cattywumpus is.

That "gimme sugar" don't mean pass the sugar.

When somebody's "fixin" to do something, it won't be long.

How good a cold grape Nehi and cheese crackers are at a country store.

Knows what, "Well I Suwannee !!" means.

Ain't nobody's biscuits like Grandma's biscuits !!

A good dog is worth its weight in gold.

Real gravy don't come from the store.

When "by and by" is.

How to handle their "pot likker".

The difference between "pert' near" and "a right far piece."

The differences between a redneck, a good ol' boy, and trailer trash.

Never to go snipe hunting twice.

At one point learned what happens when you swallow tobacco juice.

Never to assume that the other car with the flashing turn signal is actually going to make a turn.

You may wear long sleeves, but you should always roll 'em up past the elbows.

You should never loan your tools, pick-up, or gun to nobody.

A belt serves a greater purpose than holding Daddy's pants up.

Rocking chairs and swings are guaranteed stress relievers.

Rocking chairs and swings with an old person in them are history lessons.


Sayings Heard Near Somerset, Kentucky

* I'm hotter than a nanny goat in a pepper patch
* The only thing bad about you is your breath
* He's sneakier than a junkyard dog
* Let's make like a horse turd and hit the trail
* Useless as a two-pound pig
* That's scarcer than hen's teeth
* People has more fun than anybody
* Nobody has more fun than chickens because they eat with their peckers
* He's as stout as a young bulldozer
* It's darker than a bag of Kingsford charcoal
* He ain't bigger than a fried fart
* You’ll have to poop in the creek in the morning to keep the woods from catching on fire
* There it was hanging upstairs in the basement
* You had to boil this soup twice to get it this hot
* I’m so thirsty I could suck Buck Creek dry
* If a frog had wings, he wouldn’t bump his ass every time he jumped
* He’s as ugly as a mud fence
* He fell out of an ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down
* They could sit on a dead horse and eat a hamburger
* He’s as crooked as a barrel of snakes
* I’m more pissed off than a Democrat at a George Bush speech
* I've got a toothache behind my kneecap (often said by Charley Robinette-Phyllis' Dad)
* She's as jumpy as a woman giving birth to a roll of barbed wire (my Grandfather's expression)
* I guaran-told ya
* He's tighter than Dick's hatband (my Dad used this expression to mean stingy, cheap, miserly)
* I ain't fur it, I'm again' it (I am not for it, I am against it - as often said by our friend, Joe Sawyer)


If someone is "madder than a wet hen," they are: angry.
"Hold your horses" means... be patient.
If your mamaw says she'll "tan your hide" that means... she's gonna spank you.
If you "got your feathers ruffled" you... let it bother you.
"I reckon" could also mean... I suppose so.
A "mosquito hawk" is a... dragonfly.
What do you do to an elevator button? mash.
If someone says "Oh, foot!" they are probably: frustrated or annoyed.
If something is "catty-corner" or "kitty-corner" or "catty-wampus" it's... diagonal.
If someone won't stop "piddling" they won't stop... wasting time.
If you're going to "bad-mouth" someone, you're going to... say mean things about them.
If something is "yonder" it's... in the distance.
A "blinker?" is a car's turn signal.
If someone says you are "being ugly" in the south, they are saying you're... rude.
"Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise." What does this mean? It'll go well, hopefully.
What's a "hissy fit?" dramatic loss of temper - similar to a "conniption fit."
If someone is "too big for his britches" he is... taking himself too seriously.
What is a "po'boy"? a baguette sandwich of meat or seafood.
What's the situation if you have "six of one, a half-dozen of the other"? both options are equally good.
Your mama probably carried a "pocketbook." What's that? a purse.
Finish this phrase: "I'm as happy as a pig..." in mud.
If someone is "fat as a tick" that means... they're full.
What does "the devil is beating his wife" mean in parts of the South? it's raining but the sun is out.
Finish this phrase: "slow as..." molasses.
"Papaw's tater wagon" Thunder ("It must be goin' to rain 'cause I hear Papaw's tater wagon."
If someone is "fit to be tied" they are... very angry.
If someone is "tickled pink" they are... delighted.
A "clicker" is a TV remote control (also called a flipper.)
What is an "alligator pear"? an avocado.
Finish this phrase: "That stinks to..." high heaven.
"I don't have a dog in that fight." means? The person doesn't care about the situation or outcome.
If your Aunt Lettie asks you for some "sugar" she probably wants... kisses.
Finish this phrase: "It doesn't amount to a..." hill of beans.
If you've been "sneetered," what has happened to you? You've been scammed.
Finish this phrase: "Cute as a..." button.
A "sweeper" is a vacuum cleaner.
Liable - He's "liable" to tell your mama on you. Might or likely to.
Your daddy tells you to go and get a "switch." He is asking for? a twig with which to spank you.
"That dog won't hunt!" What does this phrase mean? That idea won't work out.
When you order a "coke" what will you get? A question about what kind of "coke" you want.
If you are "gussied up" you took the time to make yourself look really good.
What phrase means "for a long time"? 'Til the cows come home.
If something really "gets your goose" it... makes you mad.
If you're not feeling well! You're as sick as a... dog.
If you take a big ol' truck through some mud puddles for fun, you're... Muddin'
What kind of fit are you likely to have if you're angry? A conniption fit.
Big boots are called... Clodhoppers.
Those places you used to hang out at in high school? Those are your... stompin' grounds.
When is supper? In the evening. Dinner is in the middle of the day. Breakfast, dinner, supper.
If someone is feeling a mite "peckish" they are... hungry.
A toilet is also known as a... commode.
Someone is wasting a lot of time doing nothing important. They are... Lollygagging or piddlin'.
If you go to a real redneck bar, what kind of music will be playing? Honky-Tonk.
"He's more ornery than a cat!" What does ornery mean? Stubborn.
If someone is nervous, you'd say they were "like a long-tailed cat in a room full of..." Rocking chairs.
If you have "a mind to" do something, you are: considering doing it.
When Southerners say "bless your heart," they really mean: "You're an idiot."
Finish the phrase: "Well saw my legs off and call me..." shorty.
When you want to say someone is urbanized and not country at all, you say they are: citified.
When you want to say someone is flat broke, you say they: "don't have a pot to piss in."
When you really need to use the bathroom quite badly, you say My eyeballs are "floatin'."
What are especially country Southern men often called? Good ol' boys.
A small depression in the side of a mountain, not big enough to be called a valley, is called a: holler.
When you want to indicate something isn't off to a great start, you say it's: "off like a herd of turtles."
If something or someone is pretending to be deceased, they are: playin' possum.
When someone is unbelievably exhausted, you say they're "rode hard and put away wet."
"I've known you since you were knee-high to a grasshopper."
"Raisin' Cain" - To make a commotion, disturbance, to make trouble.
"Never get off the ground" - never be successful.
"Diddly-squat" - nothing whatsoever. "He ain't doin' diddly-squat."
Susbtitute curse words - "Doggone it" "dang" "shoot fire" "gol darn it" "hello Molly" "fudge" "friggin" "heck" "gosh"



Stories We Heard in Kentucky

Announcement Heard at Wal-mart (the spelling reflects how it sounded - we actually heard this.)
"Would the womern what wanted these bloons blowed up, please come to the counter."

Alcohol Consumption
The local preacher at the First Baptist Church when I was a young boy was "Brother Hunter" who was fiercely opposed to the use of alcohol. One day he ran into the local drunk who, obviously, had too much to drink. When Brother Hunter saw him he said:
"Drunk again, Mr. Jones."
To which, Jones answered:
"Me too, Brother Hunter."

My Father frequently told this story at the conclusion of a meal
Old man and old woman (who is "hard of hearing") after dinner:
Old Man: I've had a sufficiency.
Old Woman: You've been fishing?
Old Man: I've had plenty.
Old Woman: You caught twenty?
Old Man: You damned old fool!
Old Woman: You broke your pole? Well, that's the luck of a fisherman!

Mrs. Cooper was my 5th-grade teacher. Her son, John Sherman Cooper, was a U.S. Senator, and Ambassador to India, East Germany, as well as the USA delegate to the United Nations. His first job was working for my grandfather.

John Sherman Cooper
John Sherman Cooper with his mother (my 5th-grade teacher)

At campaign rallies he often told the story of an elderly couple celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.

Old man (feeling profound love and appreciation): I'm proud of you!
Old Woman (who is hard of hearing): What?
Old Man: I'M PROUD OF YOU!!!
Old Woman: WHAT???
Old Man: I SAID, I'M PROUD OF YOU!!!!!!!
Old Woman: I'M TIRED OF YOU, TOO!!!!!

How to spell Bumblebee With His Tail Cut Off (often recited by my maternal grandfather)
B-u-m, bum, and there's your bum.
B-l-e, ble, and there's your ble, and there's your bumble.
B double e, bee, and there's your bee, and there's your bumble-bee.
W-i-t-h, with, and there's your with, and there's your bumblebee with.
H-i-s, his, and there's your his, and there's your bumblebee with his.
T-a-i-l, tail, and there's your tail, and there's your bumblebee with his tail.
C-u-t, cut, and there's your cut, and there's your bumblebee with his tail cut.
O double f, off, and there's your off, and there's your bumblebee with his tail cut off.

Redneck Fire


Hurricanes, tornadoes, and storms...

Wind Chimes

Jonathan Ramsey - senior photo, 2020
Thanks to Jonathan Ramsey

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