Oct 20, 2018

Traditional Southern Sayings

Is that how you spell it?  I'll be dadgum if I know!  If you're from around here, you know these words plus a whole lot more!  Talking traditional southern words today.

Words that we sometimes use:

swanny look at Rachel and Billy sitting on the ground in their nice clothes! (see picture above.)

  • Swanee
I declare, I swear

I'll or I swanee that child is out there in the mud hole in his sunday shoes!

  • fixin to
(I use this one a lot!)
I'm getting ready to do something, anything.

I'm fixn to bake a pie for supper.

  • dabble 

1. immerse (one's hands or feet) partially in water and move them around gently.
2. take part in an activity in a casual or superficial way.
 synonyms:  toy with, dip into, flirts with, tinker with, trifle with, play with.

He likes to dabble with paint.

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

  • tinker with

intransitive verb. : to work in the manner of a tinker especially:  to repair, adjust, or work with something in an unskilled or experimental manner: fiddle always tinkering with his car.

He'll tinker with that car all day long.
She'll tinker all day, but get nothing done.

  • fidget

1. make small movements, especially with the hand or feet through nervousness, or impatience.
A quick, small movement, typically a repeated one

You'd better not fidget because you will disturb others.
You kids better quit fidgeting was heard from my mama on Sunday morning in church.

  • doggone

used to express feelings of annoyance, surprise or pleasure
verb used to express surprise, irritation or anger

Doggone it, I wanted to say that!
I'll be doggone!

  • dadgum

adjective adverb
used as a euphemism to express anger, irritation, surprise, and etc.

Dadgumit boy I told you to stop running!
I'll be dadgum!  (this could be anything from wow, surprise, anger, happiness, pretty much anything).  Depending on what you're talking about at the time.

  • Dagnabbit
(exclamation) Oldcootism used during great consternation or surprise.  Used by 1890's prospectors, cantankerous old farmers, and young people playing old people on TV in the '60's and '70's. dagnabbit.

Dagnabbit if you don't quit aggravating me!

Photo by Trisha Downing on Unsplash

high cotton or tall cotton
The term originates from the rural farming community in the antebellum (pre-Civil War) South when high cotton meant that the crops were good and the prices, were, too.  The term has generalized to mean one is doing well or is successful.

Linda Faye and her husband are living in high cotton!  They even have two ponds and a horse farm on the back 40.

back 40
Back side of the farm.  In the Homestead Acts (1860s-) farmers were granted a quarter section; a section was 640 acres, a quarter section was 160 acres, and the quarter section was itself subdivided into four quarter-quarter sections of 40 acres each; two front forty and two back forty.

Example or how we use it:
We are going to put the fish pond on the back forty.  (we do not have the amount of acreage but still use the term around here).

stomping grounds or stompin grounds
plural noun, stomping grounds
a place where someone regularly spends time; a favorite haunt.
or a place where you once spent lots of time.  familiar places.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

This next one kinda makes me sick but I heard it from the grandmas, and can't leave it out.

chew the fat
English expressions gossiping or making friendly talk.  Long informal conversations with someone.

Sue will chew the fat all day long!  Makes me tired listening.  Bless her heart!

bless her heart
This one can be used several ways. Expression used to explain pity, precious or compassion.

She's as dumb as a door nail, but at least she's pretty. Bless her heart.
Janie's baby is beautiful, bless her heart.
Jim's wife is so sick, bless his heart.

Photo by Yunqing Leo on Unsplash

These buildings look all cattywampus!

  • catawampus or cattywampus
adjective askew, awry, cater-cornered.

That picture is hanging catawampus!

That boy ain't never hit a lick at a snake!

  • hit a lick at a snake

She or he won't hit a lick at a snake!  (Meaning he is so lazy he wouldn't chase a snake away!)

I'll leave you with a few Sayings more that I grew up with.  There are many and I don't have the time nor space here to list them all, but it's been fun!

" My nose is itching company must be coming!"

"My right hand is itchin, I must be coming into some money!"

"Oh no I heard an owl hootin three times last night!" 
(superstition meaning hope nobody dies)

"He is crazy as a bed bug!"

"I love you a bushel and a peck, and a hug around the neck"
(song sung to children.)

"I'm full as a tick"
(meaning I ate way too much!)

"The lights are on but nobody's home!"
(meaning they aren't too bright.)

"You ain't from round here are you?"
(you don't know what I'm talkin about do ya?)

"I reckon"
(I suppose)

Photo by Ryan Antooa on Unsplash

"What'd you come for a match?"
(Chuck's mother taught me that one meaning: your visit was so quick" I think 😏)

"Don't let the screen door hit you where............you!"(you can finish that one if you know it! :))
I know I'm bad...😃😂😁...
or nicely put
"Don't let the screen door hit you on the backside on the way out."

"Y'all come on back now ya hear!"
(meaning I love them hope they come back soon to visit.)
(not with their mattress strapped to the top of the car! 😅😁😃)

Have a good weekend!


  1. I grew up with every single one of them and still say most of them all the time. Another favorite that I say every day is yonder. You know, it is over yonder. My Calif. husband still wants to know where yonder is. He's got no gumption at all.

    1. Hi Marty!
      I love it and you are so right I use over yonder all of the time. My girls ask me just where is over yonder mama? I laugh and keep on saying it too....Oh yeah gumption another great word we use too! It was so good to hear from you! You comment was very interesting in itself!

  2. I know so many of those, Dolly, and still use several of them. I grew up using PA venacular and there are some real oddball sayings there, too. lol
    I also like the "tighter than a tick" saying that we used. lol
    Have a blessed Sunday, Dolly- xo Diana

    1. Hi Diana,
      I'll bet those sayings you grew up with would be great to know! Oh yeah "tighter than a tick"...I did have a blessed Sunday hope you have too!

  3. Oh I loved this post! Now that we're living in KY I guess we're considered "Southerners." We hear a lot of these sayings all the time. I knew what a lot of them meant, but not all. Dadgumit is one of my favorites and I never could figure out what it actually stood for.

    1. Hi Kim, I'm smiling and know you probably are hearing a lot now. So good to hear from you....