The South has many fascinating cultural aspects, as far as the United States goes, that you won’t find anywhere else. The love of soccer, homestyle cuisine, and quirky slang will make you think it’s an entirely different country! You may find yourself confused by all the local phrases used in places such as Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi if you ever go there. But because you’ve come to the right place, there’s no need to worry! Just trust us, you will be fluent in their languages by the time you finish reading this article. When we say that this makes it a fun way to spice up your vocabulary, we are not joking.
Aren’t You Precious
Another thing that characterizes people from the South is hospitality! The reality is that locals like to be respectful and often use compliments to conceal insults. When someone tells you, “aren’t you precious,” you might want to take it with a grain of salt. They may be being sarcastic! When they feel offended, this phrase is often used. I’m sorry, but it’s not used in any other way often, so you should be careful.
We think it’s high time for you to find out what this word is. This is exactly what you are doing if you ever want to share your opinions and thoughts. It is pretty common in the south to hear someone use this word instead of “think,” “suppose,” “imagine,” or “believe.” We’ve listed all the synonyms we can think of, so we’re confident you’ve figured it out right now! It’s a cool word.
Over where? Nope, this is not a mistake in terms of grammar. You may hear someone say this if you ever find yourself in the south and need of directions. Let us explain what Yonder really means. Not everything is so difficult to figure out. This is just another way of saying, “Over there.” There’s a good chance they’d be pointing in the general direction of wherever you need to go!
See To Christmas
No, this person is not a psychic who can see what Christmas will be like. This isn’t what the phrase refers to at all. The phrase is often used to speak of a woman wearing a skirt that can afford to be a bit longer. Maybe you’d like to think of a grandma scolding her cheeky granddaughter! She could tell the younger woman off by saying that she could do it. “see to Christmas.” You may want to cover up some more next time if you’re going to drop by her house!
This does not always mean you are unattractive physically. If you are behaving unacceptably, Southerners will call you ugly. It seems that more than looks, they value what is inside! It is an interesting phrase, but if you ever start using it this way in any other part of the country, it might lead to a lot of confusion and frustration! Feel free to use it as long as you are prepared to clarify the usage.
Sweating More Than A Sinner In Church
There are moments when the sun shines a bit too brightly. Nobody wants to feel like they’re roasting in a volcano’s pit, right? When you need it the most, it is even worse when the air conditioner does not work. This is a phrase that you will hear when you are probably literally sweating more than a sinner in a church in the middle of the summer. It also demonstrates just how religious people in this part of the US are!
Pretty As A Peach
You know when you see a lovely lady that you can’t help but feel the need to throw her a compliment? Saying generic things is easy enough, but you can give it a southern flavor as well! Southerners will likely say that someone is pretty as a peach. Naturally, this is not to be taken literally. It’s just a nice way of saying a girl looks pretty! If anybody ever says this to you, there is no need to be alarmed.
Can this phrase be any more descriptive than that? Despite this, down south, it’s just more common. When a little kid throws a tantrum when they are told no, nobody likes it. After all, calming them down after that can be hard to do. This is a good example of a hissy fit thrown by someone. The handy phrase also applies not only to children! So that you know, grown-ups also tend to throw hissy fits of their own.
When someone tells you to do a certain thing you have already planned to do, it can be annoying. All the time, this happens to us. They came up with a great way to respond to it in the South: fixin’ to. “Hey, what are you about to do?” someone asks. The response, “Well, I’m fixin’ to do the dishes then go for a six-mile run.” This just means you are going to do something to clear up any confusion.
Too Big For Your Britches
In the south, using britches to refer to pants and undergarments is not odd for locals. But what does it mean when they say that your britches are too big for you? Don’t worry, they don’t insinuate you are overweight! Often, it simply means that you get ahead of yourself. They may think you’re viewing yourself too highly. This is widely heard when parents try to discipline their children!
Full As A Tick
When was the last time after a meal that you felt way too full? When we visit our folks for the weekend, this often happens to us. You may even have to pull your pants’ zipper down to accommodate it! You can say, when you are in the south, “I’m full as a tick.” After drinking a fair amount of blood, ticks become bloated like a balloon! It’s not an attractive picture, but the shoe fits.
Hold Your Horses
Not everyone owns a horse, but you do not need one to have the phrase! It’s just a common phrase that people throw around in the South all the time. They just want you to slow down a little if someone ever tells you this. We all know that staying patient at all times requires a lot of self-control. However, simmering down and taking it easy now and then can’t hurt!
If The Creek Don’t Rise
Maintaining a good social life when you have a lot on your plate is not easy. Sometimes, because of prior commitments, you might have to turn down invitations. In these situations, there is a good Southern phrase you can start using. A bunch of older gentlemen is shown in the picture. Let us say they meet at the same time on Tuesdays. Next Thursday, however, one of them wants to do something else. He may have made plans with his nephew, but they have yet to be verified. He might say something like, Well, Jim, if the creek don’t rise, I’ll be there.” That means that he will see but no promises!
If someone refers to you by this word, you are probably not from the South. If you are confused, this has nothing to do with baseball. This is merely a word used in the south to describe someone who is from the north. If not, maybe it’s someone who acts like that. Back in the Civil War, this term spread to the south. It was a word used to describe a Union soldier in those days.
Barking Up The Wrong Tree
This is more common on the list than the other entries. Even if you’re familiar with it, you might not know that it came from the south down here. The truth is that a lot of the time, we bark up the wrong tree. Unless someone tells us about it, we simply fail to recognize that this is the case. When they assume the wrong thing, someone is said to be barking up the wrong tree. Your parent might have once told you, “If you think I’m going to give you $100, then you’re barking up the wrong tree.”
We agree that it seems like a foolish word! However, once you start, you might be unable to stop yourself from saying it. Saying it out loud is a lot of fun! If you assumed that it had anything to do with cats, you were wrong, though. This refers to something out of sorts, like that painting that tilts to the right in the living room. Your friend from the South might say that it’s pretty cattywampus! Do you get it?
Till The Cows Come Home
Again, if you want to use this term, you do not need to have a farm of your own. Do you have a friend who promises to be right back, even if it usually takes a very long time for them? We were all there. For a situation such as that, this is a nifty phrase! You’ll be waiting for the cows to come home when that happens. This means that the wait will not be short, so in the meantime, you might as well do a different thing.
No Bigger Than A Minnow In A Fishing Pond
As you already know, people in the South are fond of their euphemisms and their metaphors. This sentence is straight to the point, but maybe you are still confused. When you are telling a story, it is a fun way to describe a small thing. People from the south will drive home the point by saying that it is no bigger than a minnow in a fishing pond! The minnows, we all know, are much smaller than the bass.
Three Sheets To The Wind
This phrase can be used by anybody who has ever been drunk in the past. In more ways than one, we tend to overestimate ourselves! You’ll probably say you’re all right when you’re on your way to getting drunk. Well, we bet that that’s not what your friends agree with. Trust us. If you do not want to make bad decisions, you should trust them! This is where the phrase at issue comes in. The phrase sounds nautical because it is. A “sheet” is a rope that is unmoored, flailing about in the wind like a drunk person.
Madder Than A Wet Hen
We have to admit that never before have we seen a wet hen. The term is, however, not meant to be taken literally. It means that you should not provoke her anymore if a woman is said to be “madder than a wet hen.” You never know, after all, what she will do when pushed to the limit! This is pretty similar to the old saying that goes, “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned.”
A Mind To
Have you ever found yourself thinking about something, planning, reflecting, and contemplating? They have a term for that in the south. It’s not something you’ll usually hear in various parts of the United States. There, you have “a mind to” do something when you are thinking of it. Here is a neat example: “I have a mind to go over to Tom’s house to help him work on his car, but I’m not sure when.”
Can you guess what it means to piddle? It means you are procrastinating or simply being lazy in the South! Therefore, if a person is the kind to “piddle” around, it implies that they are likely to waste time. If you need a longer example, here it is: “Would you stop piddling around back there and get it done?” This is another good one: “Jane was going to come out tonight but she piddled away all her money before Friday.”
Happy As A Pig In Mud
We are the city people, so we don’t know if the pigs in the mud are happy. Come on, when was the last time you saw an actual pig? We bet that it was with no mud in sight at the County Fair. We want you to know if you’re in the same boat, that they’re pleased in the mud. “Jimmy is as happy as a pig in mud at college” means that he is having the time of his life now that he is in college.
Dog Won’t Hunt
You might not be a hunter, but you can probably figure out what this means if you think long and hard. If someone uses this phrase, it means the dog refuses to do his job! It does not allow its owner to look for birds, raccoons, and other small creatures. “Dog won’t hunt,” therefore means that something “won’t work.” This can be used as a way to describe something that is not going to get you anywhere.
If I Had My Druthers
Fun fact: this is a phrase from a Broadway musical from the 1950s that demonstrates life in the South: Li’l Abner. The musical makes the lifestyle of the people who live in the rural South fun. During these moments, “If I had my druthers… “ which means “If I had my way…” or something to that effect! An example of it would be, “If I had my druthers, this party would be over by nine, and I’d be in bed by 10.”
All Get Out
It’s a lot of fun to say this, just so you know. In describing something very extreme, “All get out” is used. This is a sentence that you can use throughout the day in various situations. Adopting the phrase might be a good idea. When you’re dying of hunger, you can simply say, “I’m hungry as all get out.” If you are happy with the concert, you can also exclaim, “That concert was as good as all get out.”
The truth is that this word is used in various situations by many people from across the country. They generally do not know, however, that it has its origins in the South. It’s nice to hear that there is gumption in you. It means you’re brave and bold, after all! This is typically not used negatively, so when someone says something about you along those lines, you should not be defensive. In fact, it means they admire you!
Keep in mind that you need to use this at the beginning of a sentence if you want to add this to your vocabulary. In reality, no matter what you say, you can use it. You should, however, truly believe in whatever it is! “I do declare, it is hot today!” is just another way that you think that it is very hot. “I do declare, this is some good chicken you cooked,” meanwhile, means that you like the dish.
Living In High Cotton
It is not exactly a secret that the cotton industry was important in the South. It has shaped the culture in certain ways in this part of the country. There are many cotton fields you will find down there, and it makes sense that there is more money when there is higher production of cotton. That is why there is no concern about a person who is “living in high cotton” about their next meal. If you ever land a nice job, you can tell all your friends that you are “living in high cotton now.”
Hush Your Mouth
Well, it’s not like it’s difficult to figure this one out. It is straight to the point! You can ask them to hush their mouths when your pal keeps speaking, even when they shouldn’t. In a lot of ways, you can say this! Others might say shut your lips instead or put a sock in it. This one has a more southern flavor, so if that sounds good to you, you can use it. In the South, when your parents talk, you hush your mouth.
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
Southerners like to use animal metaphors more than anyone else, as you can see. What does “cat on a hot tin roof” even mean? Let us just say that there is a very interesting definition of this. A person on a hot tin roof who is like a cat behaves in a sketchy and anxious way. If you think about how a cat would behave on a literally hot tin roof, it could help! Are you getting it now?
We bet you didn’t have any idea what this meant! Allow us, if that were the case, to fix this error. Essentially, this just means a place you consider home. Once you leave for college or a job, you can use this sentence to describe your childhood hometown. Did you come from the South but live somewhere else now? If this is the case, you can always say that your old stomping ground is the “hood.”
Can’t Make A Silk Purse Out Of A Sow’s Ear
We have yet another animal reference on the list, to no one’s surprise! You know, southerners don’t speak of a literal female pig. Instead, they are actually using it as an insult. If someone has ever called you this, they’re poking fun at your taste. Usually, this is used to talk about tacky clothing, so you should respond accordingly. We keep our fingers crossed, so you don’t even have to hear it aimed at you!
You Can’t Carry A Tune In A Bucket
It must suck a lot if you’ve ever been told something along these lines by someone. Let us explain exactly what it means when a tune in a bucket can’t be carried. It simply implies you’re not the best singer out there. All in all, it’s pretty simple indeed. A bucket ought to be enough most of the time to help you sound better. It’s probably time for you to give it up and pass the microphone to someone else if this does not improve things.
There’s More Than One Way To Skin A Cat
Of course, there is no one out there who has tried different ways of skinning a cat! Again, in their lexicon, Southerners simply like to use animals. Functionality has something to do with this phrase. Once you hear it, keep in mind that it only implies different ways of doing something. You might be tired of eating soggy cereals, for instance. If this is the case, to make it less soggy, you should add the milk before the cereal!
God Don’t Like Ugly
Can it get any further south than this? We doubt that! We talked about what it means to be ugly down south earlier in this article. “God don’t like ugly” is even worse than that, however! This is a clear sign that no one likes it when you are acting in an unwanted way. If you do not want to hear this phrase, it is important to remain positive. That should never happen as long as you do not dwell on the negative side of life.
Cuttin’ A Rug
For this one, you do not need to grab a knife or pair of scissors. The only thing you need, as a matter of fact, is music. Cuttin ‘a rug, after all, means dancing! Next weekend, you may want to ask your friends to cut a rug. We cannot wait to hit the dance clubs again as soon as the pandemic is over! If you see a couple moving impressively to the beat, you may think, “Wow, they’re cuttin’ a rug.”
Whatever Floats Your Boat
There are times when you will be asked for your opinion by other individuals. What do you say when there’s no strong feeling about it in any way? Sure enough, if you feel like it, you can always just shrug. However, this southern line, which would have the same effect, can also be added: whatever floats your boat. This is just another way of telling someone that whatever they want, they are free to do.
Pot Calling The Kettle Black
This is not a phrase anybody would like to hear. If someone ever says this to you, they’re basically calling you a hypocrite. When you say that a pot calls the kettle black, you say that someone is accusing another person when they are also guilty. This isn’t the way, folks, to live. If you say it as a joke, it should be okay. You might, however, want to be careful before seriously throwing it around.
It Doesn’t Amount To A Hill of Beans
If you’ve watched Casablanca, you may have heard this phrase before. Humphrey Bogart says this to Ingrid Bergman in the classic movie as he bids her goodbye: “Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” This has something to do with the fact that you can grow beans very easily. Usually, when someone says this, they say that someone or something is of little significance.
Bless Your Heart
The truth is that there are many meanings to “Bless your heart.” This depends on the use. This can be a passive-aggressive way to say that somebody is wrong, for one thing. If it’s not that, it could be a way to show sympathy as well! You can also, on the other hand, use it as nothing more than an exclamation. To figure out what they mean by it, you should be on the lookout for the tone and delivery. Reese Witherspoon once talked about it and said, “How we feel about everybody… It’s what we say literally about everybody we know. And we mean it. We do.”
Heavens To Betsy
It’s a fun little phrase, but nobody knows how it turned out to be. “Heavens to Betsy” is a phrase used to show surprise at something that has just happened. It has something to do with Betsy Ross, a lot of people think, but this remains unverified. In the fifth volume of an American journal called Ballou’s Dollar Monthly Magazine, its first known usage was. This was posted back in January 1857, all the way back. There are also those who believe it was instead a euphemism for “Hell’s bells.”
I’m Finer Than Frog Hair Split Four Ways
Most of the time, people tell you that they are fine when you ask how they are doing. In the south, maybe you’ll hear them say, “I’m finer than frog hair split four ways.” This was intended to be an ironic way to talk about how faring they were. It first appeared in the Diary of C. Davies in 1856. He said, “I have a better flow of spirits this morning, and, in fact, feel as fine as frog’s hair, as Potso used to say.” We do not know who Potso is, but this is certainly a fun way to clarify your answer to a common question like that.
I’ve Got A Hankerin’
There are several meanings associated with “hankerin.’” Etymonline says that it is to “have a longing or craving for” or a “linger in expectation.” When someone in the South says they’re hankering for something, it means they’re hungry for something. This goes back to the term “hankeren” in Flemish and the word “hunkeren” in Dutch. They both mean “to long for something.” This term might be an intensive form of “hangen,” which is Middle Dutch for “to hang.”
I Might Could
You might think that it sounds odd, but in the south, this double modal is used. It means that there may be something a person can do in the future. Let us pretend you were asked by somebody, “Are you going to work on the car later?” You can always respond by saying, “I might could.” Southern slang involves cutting down the number of words you need in the answer, as you might have figured out by now. This is just a shorter way to say something to someone, “I’m not sure but I might decide to do it later.”
It’s Blowin’ Up A Storm
We’ve talked about metaphors a lot, but this one means what it means to look like. You use this phrase in the South to talk about the smell, look, and feel of a storm approaching. You may notice that the temperature has dropped, or you have suddenly felt a strong breeze. This also includes the rain scent, as well as the sight of lightning. We really wouldn’t mind other people using this phrase in the same way if you ask us!
Can’t Never Could
Here is another example of a double modal from the south! What does it mean when someone “can’t never could”? The truth is that this southern phrase has a simple reasoning behind it. If you believe that you can not do something, you will never achieve your objectives. You tend to derail your shot at actually achieving this goal when you focus on the negative aspects of the task at hand!
Well, I S’Wanee
In the south, taking out unnecessary words is a pretty common practice. This time around that is not the case. For some purpose, “I swear” morphed into “Well, I S’wanee.” According to Southerners, it has something to do with the Southern Suwannee River or a small town called Sewanee, Tennessee. It may also be another way of saying “I s’wan” or “I s’wan ye.” Both of which come from the northern English dialect and mean, “I shall warrant (you).” In our opinion, this is such an interesting way to swear something!
Worn Slap Out
Well, you probably already know that being worn out means being exhausted. However, it takes things even a step further to be “worn slap out.” It implies, in essence, that you are both mentally and physically tired. You will probably hear this a lot in the middle of the summer when temperatures go up to the triple digits. Heat strokes no one enjoys! Another fun southern slang you might want to add to your vocabulary is this.
Busier Than A Moth In A Mitten
Fair enough, like the other entries on the list, this one is not used as much. At any rate, every now and then, this is still a handy Southern phrase. A month of eating the material inside a wool mitten would probably be busy. This expression is not all that difficult to figure out. We all know that moths just love to chow on our favorite wooly dresses. When they have many things on their plate at the moment, a person is “busier than a moth in a mitten” That’s not so complicated, is it?