Saturday, October 3, 2015


Just gazing back a little on long-ago musings, and since I’ve had a few requests for Translate-to-English for some of my Southern Idioms, a little redux from exactly six-years-ago.    The Welcome Mat’s still out:

Do come and sit at our table---you're welcome any time. The coffeepot stands ready, the tea kettle can reach a cheery boil in the time it takes to reach down a teapot, and there's usually something sweet in one cake dome or another.

You may or may not understand the language, for it's foreign to many of our visitors, at least the first time---we speak Southern, and it translates easily.

Some of the things you hear may be:

I Wishta gosh-----I do sincerely hope.

I hopeta shout----- I couldn’t agree more; it's as fervent as my hope of Heaven.

Hind Wheels of Destruction-----My first MIL’s description of either a messy house or the looks of a lady whose grooming left something to be desired.

Omtombow-----I am speaking of . . .

Hissy fit-----Angry outburst ranging from actual hissing at the object of wrath, when others may overhear, to a screeching, plate-throwing tantrum. Usually indulged in by females, but a Good Ole Boy, who has witnessed these all his life, may surprise you with quite a creditable one of his own, on occasion. Such as being on a charter boat and having the marlin get clean away. With his $700 Star Chair Rod.

Screamin’ heenie-----Ditto, but starts out full-blown, without any of the hissy buildup.

Slick over cloudy-----Raining and gonna get worse.

Come up a wind-----Started to storm.

Commenceta rainin’-----Began to rain, especially spoken by someone WAY out in the field when the storm started.

Takin’ on-----Crying or wailing or gnashing of teeth.

Don’t let on-----Do not dare speak of what I just told you.

Havin' a Dog in the fight-----An interest beyond curiosity in whatever’s happening. If the proceedings will affect you personally, you can complain, speak up, or sue. Otherwise, hush up about it.

Lit a shuck-----Ran fast, usually AWAY from something. Paralleled by Bat-outa-Hell.

Puttin’ on the dawg-----Putting on airs; or dressing, entertaining, or purchasing beyond your means.
Puttin’ the big pot in the little one-----Entertaining a big crowd.

Might could-----Perhaps I’ll be able to.

Ditten GO to-----Did not mean to.

Don't know Pea Turkey-----Has absolutely no knowledge of the person, place, happening or idea. (but is usually willing to talk lengthily about it, anyway)

Ain't seen Hide nor Hair of him-----Have not been in his presence, nor have I even waved at him in the road

A Coon's Age-----A LONG time, as referenced by the supposed years of a long-lived raccoon. Spoken mainly to someone you haven't seen in a while----Why, I haven't seen YOU in a coon's age.

Drunk as Cooter Brown-----WAY past inebriated, up into the territory of the mythical (or factual) Cooter, who seems to be the epitome of tosspots

Great Day in the Morning!-----Exclamation of surprise, shock, or admiration, depending in inflection

Shine-----Moonshine---the clear, distilled corn squeezin's sold in quart jars from the back of pickups, or WAY down country roads; take a left at the dead Maytag and flash your lights.

I DO declare!-----Exclamation of mild astonishment. I'd totally forgotten the froufraw when my Sis' college roomate was all up in arms that her Not-from-the-South Sister-in-Law was about to name the new baby niece Heidi Claire. Poor thing just didn't know. I don't remember how that came out.

I Swannee!-----I DO declare, but exasperated or amazed.

You DO beat all-----Also depends on the inflection and voice---can be a form of approval, in expressing admiration or thanks. In an exasperated tone---getting close to ON MY LAST NERVE.

Which brings us to various levels of anger:

There's spittin' mad, and there's "it flew all over me," and there's "I could just pinch his head off," as well as "so mad I could fly." REALLY bad occasions are reserved for "I could just go to bed and eat Velveeta right out of the box."

And Chris' personal favorite: The famous last words of Good Ole Boys:




Kathy said...

This is great! I knew some of them. Not all are southernisms. My grandmother, a Yankee through and through, used to say some. She was born in 1884 though so maybe they were common throughout the country back then. Thanks for this post. I really enjoyed it.

A Super Dilettante said...

My dear Rachel,

It is absolutely charming to see your autumnal harvest decoration in your first picture. I find it very educational to read about the Southern idioms and dialects you share in this post. I have a huge admiration for the writers from the South (I think that we discussed this somewhere before) because of their unique way of speaking which is different from the standard way of speaking. It brings so much colour and character in the figure of speech.

Thank you so much for your most delightful comment. My dear, you are a wonderful letter writer. Your messages are always a joy to read (to me, they are more like letters than ordinary messages) and I know that they come from the heart. I can feel it from the way it is composed (you write beautiful things). I take them as personal gifts from you and I'm very grateful.

Best wishes, ASD

Chesapeake said...

Have to admit some new ones for me there, as Southern as I consider myownself!

BeachGypsy said...

How about " bit my head off" " fixing to" over yonder etc. Lol loved this post!!

BeachGypsy said...

Darken the door!! As in "they had not darkened the door to that place in a blue moon or a coons age" ha ha ! Meaning they hadn't been there in ages

Chronica Domus said...

Adore that you Southerners have your very own dialect. For such a huge country, I'm surprised there aren't more regional variances than there are. In the UK (which occupies a speck on the map vs. the USA), there are lots of different regional accents and localisms that never fail to stop me in my tracks for a few seconds to ponder their meaning when they come my way.

From your list, I think I'll adopt "Hind Wheels of Destruction". Could there be a more colorful Southernism? Just perfection! Thank you for the morning chuckle and education.

GSL said...

LOVE this Darling Rachel! Ohhh to be in your kitchen and hear your renditions of these little gems...

Kim S. said...

I always love seeing this list! Like going home! Thank you.