If you’re from the South, you will understand this post. If not, then you’ll learn about some popular southern sayings and their meanings before you leave.

The American South has a reputation for a lot of things: its southern style cooking and soul food; potlucks; entertaining and warm hospitality; a deep love of football, and our funny-sounding colloquialisms and southern sayings. Some might agree that the southern dialect could be its own language in need of translation.

When it comes to their own jargon, Southerners like to speak in metaphors, similes, and hyperbole. They also love to appear incredibly polite with their southern sayings, and if you’re unfamiliar with the language you may be getting insulted without even knowing it. And since they make it sound so darn charming, you’ll almost want to forgive them for it right away.

Here are a 50 southern sayings you might hear if you head south and what they mean.

Southern Sayings


Y’all being the quintessential southern phrase has several meanings in its own rights. The word typically refers to a group of people being spoken to. It can be directed towards a group or even an individual that is inherently part of a group (even if the rest of the group isn’t present). If you visit or live in the South you will no doubt here this word.

“We’re Living in High Cotton”

Cotton has long been a key crop in the South’s economy. If you’re “living in high cotton” it means you’re feeling particularly successful or wealthy.

“Bless Your Heart”

A phrase used to show appreciation to someone who brings you a glass of sweet tea (or does something nice in general) or as a sympathetic phrase to let you know that the person understands the difficult time you are going through. It can be said sincerely, but when said in the South, it can also have an edge to it and be accompanied by a good-natured shake of the head. A sympathetic phrase usually uttered when the speaker believes the recipient to be sweet, but misguided or stupid.

“I Reckon”

To suppose or believe something to be true. “reckon” could be substituted for I believe, imagine, suppose, think and more. It’s what you say when you’re telling someone something that you believe to be true.

“If the Creek Don’t Rise”

We’ll be there unless something out of our control stops us. We do our best to keep our promises, but sometimes unforeseen circumstances come up. Like trying to meet a friend for lunch but having the car breakdown on the way. To cover your bases you might say, “I’ll see you then if the creek don’t rise.” It’s a way of saying you fully plan to be there or get something done as long as nothing out of your control stops you.

“Fixin’ To”

This phrase is as southern as sweet tea. When you’re fixin’ to do something, you’re about to do it, and it will get done. It probably won’t get done right away though as you are probably fixin’ to take your sweet time in getting started.

“Hill of Beans”

In the South, a hill of beans is its own measurement. A hill of beans isn’t worth much whether you’re talking about volume or value which means whatever you’re talking about is worth less than very little.

“Over Yonder”

Over yonder is a distant direction in any direction when you’re in the South. If you need to ask someone for directions the phrase “over yonder” just might be in their answers. “Where’s the nearest restaurant?” “Oh, it’s just over yonder and down the road. The distance can be emphasized by the addition of the word “way” as in “way over yonder”.

“She Was Madder Than a Wet Hen”

Have you ever seen a wet hen? If you have, you know that being madder than a wet hen is very mad indeed. Hens sometimes go through a phase of “broodiness”. They’ll stop at no length to incubate their eggs and get agitated when you try to collect them. Hens use to get dunked in cold water to “break” their broodiness. This phrase is used to describe a woman who is beyond furious and is using that anger to cause a scene.

“‘Til the Cows Come Home”

Sit back because this could take all day. Cows aren’t known for their speed. They usually meander about until feeding time. A Southerner knows that if you’re going to do or talk about something till the cows come home, it’s going to take all day. – “They’ll be arguing about this till the cows come home.”


If something is “cattywampus” it means it’s askew, crooked, or out of sorts. For instance, if the shelf on your bedroom wall is crooked, you would tell someone it was cattywampus.

“Pot Calling the Kettle Black”

This phrase is used when someone is guilty of the very same thing in which they are accusing someone else.

“It’s Blowin’ Up a Storm”

You can feel, smell, and see a storm blowin’ up across the vast southern skies. At a moments notice, the skies can darken and summer afternoons are filled with churning winds and heavy rain clouds that cool down the southern summer heat. You might hear this phrase when a person sees these changes start to develop and goes inside to tell others that, “It’s Blowin’ Up A Storm”.

“She’s As Pretty As a Peach”

This is a high compliment in the South. This saying is used to compliment a girl, in fact; it is a common adage. Southern States are known for peaches, notably Georgia and South Carolina since they produce more peaches than any other state in the South. The compliment is likely to be given to a girl who has a beautiful complexion and blush-colored cheeks. Just like the prettiest of peaches, one can pluck from a tree.

“I’m So Full I’m About to Pop”

After a big ‘ole southern meal complete with collard greens, cornbread, and pecan pie, it’s probably pretty accurate to say you feel like you’re about to pop.

“I’m About to Fly Off the Handle”

You’ll hear this in the South when one has been pushed to their limit and is about to lose their temper over it.


The name for an object one can’t remember the name for or never knew in the first place. Other variations are thingamajig and whatchamacallit.

“Gimme Some Sugar”

Not literally passing the sugar, this phrase means more like “come over here and give me some of that sweetness – give me a kiss!” Often heard from grandma and grandpa when they see their grandbabies (another southern term) and want to give kisses as much as receive them. This phrase is mostly used among loved ones. I should also note that it would be pronounced “sugah” as we rarely use “r’s.”

“Carry Me to the [Store]”

Many southern transplants have been confused when hearing this phrase for the first time. Carry me means “provide me with transportation to a destination.” It can sound strange when hearing it if you’re not raised in the South.

“Busy as a Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”

Imagine how long a cat would stand on a hot tin roof in the heat of summer in the South – you got it, not for a split second! This is an affectionate southern way of saying that someone is so busy they don’t stop to take a breath before moving on to the next thing. It can also be a polite way to tell a friend that she needs to get her children under control before they tear the house down.

“Aren’t You Precious”

Although this sounds like a question, it’s merely a statement to compliment something cute or sweet. It’s usually intended as an interjection and generally in reference to a child’s outfit or behavior. But in the South, be aware. If you hear someone saying, “Well aren’t you precious?” it’s probably being said sarcastically. It’s a phrase usually said if someone has said or done something you find stupid or insulting. Since your mama taught you that if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say nothing at all – you kill them with kindness. Someone offended you? Well, aren’t they just precious?!

“Yes Ma’am (Sir)”

This is not just a southern phrase, but yes ma’am or yes sir is the only way to answer a yes question in the South, and the same would apply if the answer is no. This requirement usually only extends to those that are your age or older with emphasis on respecting your elders, but in general, the term can be used in conversation with someone of any age when the answer is yes or no.


The opposite of backyard

“Quit Being Ugly”

This has nothing to do with physical appearance, but instead a comment about what’s inside that person or how they’re behaving. It’s usually bad. Other variations are He, or She’s ugly!

“He Thinks the Sun Comes Up Just to Hear Him Crow”

The rooster crows when the sun rises. A cocky rooster might think the sun comes up because he crows. Similarly, a cocky man might feel the same when he speaks and thinks that everyone should listen to him.

“Sho Nuff”

This phrase confirms something – “sure enough” or it can be a question – “Wait, really?”

“That Dog Won’t Hunt”

A phrase used when someone knows that something or an idea isn’t going to work out. It is also used to state that an excuse will not fly.

“Hissy Fit”

A hissy fit is a grown-up temper tantrum. Sometimes this is shortened to hissy. I might also note that any true Southerner knows you don’t “have” a hissy fit – you pitch one!

“Well, I Declare”

When someone uses this phrase, they could be declaring any number of things: happiness, surprise, or dissent. Loud and proud is the only way to declare something in the South.

“He Was Funny As All Get Out”

“All get out” has a way of finding its way into all kinds of southern phrases and it intensifies any statement. “I was shocked as all get out.” “It was crazy as all get out.” Anything that reaches the degree of “all get out” is something worth talking about.

“My Eyeballs are Floating”

This is a phrase used when someone needs to use the bathroom very badly. You sometimes hear this phrase with back teeth used in place of eyeballs.


This could mean any carbonated beverage, not just Coca-Cola©. So if you order a coke in a southern restaurant don’t be surprised if they ask you what kind.

“Worn Slap Out”

This phrase is used when you’re physically or mentally exhausted and can’t go on. You’re worn slap out when you’re dog-tired and so beat you can’t go on. It often happens on southern summer days when the heat rises as the temperature shoots past 100 degrees. Another variation is “worn slam out.”

“Hold Your Horses”

Stop right there! If someone says this to you, it’s best to slow down and be patient.

“Hush Your Mouth”

Often used when someone is talking offensively – “Hush your mouth, you shouldn’t be talking like that!” But also used in general, like when Mama whispers this to her children when they’re cutting up in church on Sunday morning.


A pejorative term in the South – when someone thinks they’re all uppity (another southern term) and have more class than they really do. When you hear a Southerner say this, you can bet it’s a huge put down on someone who’s trying to be extremely fancy when everyone knows she’s not. “She thinks she’s so highfalutin!”

“Can’t Never Could”

This is positive thinking, southern style. You won’t accomplish much if you always say or think you can’t do it. Be positive and give it a try and you might find out you could do it after all. Can’t never could do nothing!

“Give Him Two Nickels for a Dime and He’ll Think He’s Rich”

This is a way of describing someone who is not too bright.

“Too Big for His Britches”

Translated it means, “He sure does think a lot of himself. He’s so full of it he can’t fit into his pants (britches).”

“It Makes Me Wanna Slap My Mama”

This is considered a high compliment in the South and is said when something was really, really good. I’ve heard it most when getting up from the table after eating a fine southern meal. “That was so good it makes me wanna slap my mama!”

“Barking up the Wrong Tree”

This can mean being mistaken or misguided, but as a Southerner, I have heard this southern saying used more often than not as a warning for someone to back off. “You don’t wanna mess with me! You’re barking up the wrong tree!”


Plumb means totally or absolutely. “She was plumb tired out!” or “He was plumb crazy!”

“She Could Start an Argument in an Empty House”

When someone is very argumentative and always starting arguments; generally, it implies their negativity should be ignored.

“Ain’t Got the Good Sense God Gave a Rock”

This is one of those southern sayings used to describe someone who lacks common sense. “He ain’t got the good sense God gave a rock!”

“He’s Slicker Than Pig Snot on a Radiator”

This describes someone who is very, very sneaky and can’t be trusted.

“He’s About as Useless as a Screen Door on a Submarine”

This describes someone who is of absolute no help.

“There’s Not a Pot Too Crooked That a Lid Won’t Fit”

This means there is someone out there for everyone.

“Close the Door, You’re Letting All the Good Air Out”

It gets hot and humid in the South! This simply means to keep the door closed, so the cold air (or heat if it’s winter) doesn’t escape and stays inside.

“It’s Raining Cats and Dogs Out There”

This simply means it is pouring down rain outside. It’s coming down really hard, not actually raining cats and dogs.

“I’m Sweating More Than a Hooker in Church”

When you hear someone say this, it means they are really hot and sweating a LOT.

Other little southernisms…

We don’t pronounce “t’s” if they are in the middle of a word – Atlanta is Adlanna, and we rarely use “g’s” at the end of words – fishin’, lookin’ puddin’, etc..

I know there a many more southern sayings out there. I could have gone on for ages with this post, but I decided to quit with 50. What are your favorite southern sayings? Did I leave one of your favorites out? If so, I would love for you to share it in the comments. You know I love it when you talk to me. ;)

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  1. What a fun post! I never realized how often I said “Do what?” until my husband’s NYC raised coworker and friend started laughing every time I said it.

    My 7th graders responded much better to “Y’all (drawn out) sit down” over “Everyone sit down.”

    I hate seeing y’all misspelled!

    1. No one has posted “pert near it”, meaning getting close to something being done like lunch or a job. I had a neighbor lady when I was a child that used that phase all of the time. Her husband would yell at her across the yard and ask her if lunch was almost ready and she would response “pert near it”. Also fair to middlin is another saying. When you ask someone how they are doing. The saying actually comes from grades of cotton. A lot of the old sayings are going away.

      1. Gosh! I’m so glad you posted this my Papaw says this all the time and everytime my sister and I talk about our southern language these are the 1st ones that come to mind. Followed closely by plumb my honor.

  2. So fun! I knew most of these but learned a few new ones! Thanks for the smiles!

      1. Libby Behrtank says:

        You know, I think you’ve got enough to make a second list of 50. Make sure to include these though:

        Smilin’ like a jackass eatin’ briars. – somebody is really happy and grinning ear to ear.
        Smells like rain. -literally smell the rain <5 minutes before it hits.
        Better than a one-legged man at an ass-kickin' competition. -boastful comparison of your or another's skill.
        "How's it goin'. Good, how 'bout you? Good." -the passing saying between two people that want to acknowledge the others' existance, but are not a talk.
        A talk. -when two people share every bit of information of events in both lives between now and the last time they met, usually in a public space.
        At least the ground looks soft. -when you know there is going to be a talk and you can't leave.
        The ground -whatever is underneath your feet, inside or outside.
        When it snows. -not very often (twice in twenty-five years).
        When it rains. -VERY often
        So full of it, its up to his eyes. -casual playful saying to introduce a brown-eyed friend.
        Stumpbreaker -I'd rather not say the meaning online.

        1. Lowell Branham says:

          My grandma use to say “I declare”, but my favorite Ky saying she used regularly was “Well, plumb my word and honor!”, meaning that’s hard to believe leaning toward disgust.

    1. Axel Perfecto says:

      Thank you Joyce 😂

  3. My best friend(we’re native Texans) often says, “She’ll tell you how the cow ate the cabbage”, meaning said person does not mind expresses their perspective, or getting on to a misbehaving child, or getting all over you if you meddle and cause a fuss. It basically means being told off.

  4. Kerry Seiwert says:

    I grew up cutting lights on or off, or the cutting the AC or heater on or off, but when I moved midwest (under a LOT of protest, but I love him!), I was teased a lot for it! Does no one else say that?

    1. Kristine Severn says:

      Kerry, I know you !

    2. I use cut the lights off/on (AC whatever else) and turn the lights off/on interchangeably but I’m from Virginia which is still the south, but barely.

      1. Virginia is definitely the South. It’s part of the original 13 colonies and the main Southern colony

        1. Virginia is the original South! I get very annoyed when folks say we aren’t Southern. I also get addled when I say I’m from Virginia and someone replies with ” oh , I’ve been to DC many times “. Virginia is more than just the DC area.

    3. Yes! Actually, I say ‘shut the light off’ instead of ‘turn’!!

    4. I do. I don’t always say turn off the light. It’s…cut of the light. Never really thought about it till now. LOL

  5. E. Couret says:

    Hi. Love this post! I’m from NOLA and grew up witj nearky all of these. I’m not sure if this is a Southerism but my Italian Uncke woukd all say of the cokd it was “Colder than a well-diggers a$$”! Now tgat is cold!

    Again, love this post. Thanks.

    1. Haha, E. Couret! I love it! I have a relative that says, “It’s colder than a witch’s t***y in a brass bra.” I think that would be pretty cold too. Ha! I keep having others come to me. I think I’ll eventually come back and update this post with more southern sayings. It was a fun post to do. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

      1. Ummm, pardon me ma’am. In my neck of the woods “y’all” refers to one individual while “all y’all” refers to groups.

        1. Uh, no. Y’all is plural. You all. All y’all is television Southern.

          1. Originally from GA here. We sometimes used “all y’all” hyperbolically. Like, when the kitchen is BEYOND crowded and mama comes in to cook dinner and declares. “Oh no. I need ALL Y’ALL to leave right now.” When she said that, you knew to GIT!

          2. I’m from Texas and have heard “all y’all” my entire life. Not sure if you’re just using a personal anecdote to patronize Liz, but just wanted to let you know people speak differently everywhere! :)
            Whether that be the difference in “y’all” vs “all y’all” or “coke” vs “soda”. I’ve never heard someone refer to a soda as coke in Texas either, but I won’t make a general blanket statement about Texas bc of my personal experiences ;)

          3. Sounds a bit condescending because I’m from SC and we frequently use “all y’all” when referring to a group of people

        2. Same here. I’m from Alabama.

  6. “Lord willing and the Creek don’t rise.” This saying is in reference to the Creek Indians. Creek Indians were a vicious band of Indians who killed a lot of people in the United States of American.

    1. Hi Jane!
      I have heard a bit of differing opinions in the past about creek (water) or Creek Indians regarding this phrase. Upon asking any old-timers and friends, I have who use the phrase, like myself – they mean a literal body of water – a creek or “crick.” It was interesting to learn a bit about the Creek Indians as I researched this when doing the post. I can attest to creeks and rivers flooding in our area, causing detours and closures in all kinds of places – so we hear it a lot around here in that reference. Thanks for stopping by!

      1. Stephanie says:

        I have heard from historians that it’s the creek the body of water rising, not the Creek Nation rising. If the creek rises how you gonna get to church?

    2. Cowgirl Diva says:

      My Mama always said, “IF the GOOD LORD’S WILLIN'”, or “LORD WILLIN’. I can still hear her saying that to this day and use that Southern phrase, a favorite of mine, often myself..!! ;D

    3. Cowgirl Diva says:

      When that phrase was used in my my family, the CREEK DON”T RISE part of the phrase was literally a small body of water known as a CREEK..! So, “If the Creek don’t rise”…refers to a little body of water and not an Indian.

      1. Cowgirlup says:

        My grandma said that all the time as well. Probably why I say it. It was meant as body of water not an Indian because I asked when I was a little girl. Well, at least in my family. I love this post! Use a lot of these sayings! There’s so many my grandparents use to say that I can’t remember unfortunately. I’ll keep looking for new updated posts!

    4. Bill Jones says:

      Bless yo little heart Jane!

    5. Lord, honey, bless your heart. The Creek were ‘vicious’ and killed a lot of people in the US…? Really? You don’t have the sense to pour piss out of a boot with the instructions written on the heel, do you? Imagine so nonchalantly just telling everybody you weren’t raised right. Bless it.

      Anyway, ‘Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise’ is definitely referring to a body of water causing a road to be out of commission. Areas in the Deep South, especially those close to rivers, are prone to flooding and many times there’s only one way to get somewhere. So if that road floods you’re stuck waiting for the water to recede. I guarantee no one says that in reference to those ‘vicious Creek Indians’. My eyes are gonna get stuck I rolled them so hard at that statement. Lord have mercy.

      1. I’ll also add I’m a member of the MOWA band of Choctaw Indians, just to counter the previous mentioned ‘expert’ opinion on the usage of ‘lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise’. Saying it doesn’t make it true.

        1. Alex, I am interested in the Choctaw historical perspective concerning the Creek and Cherokee nations. Seriously. As I and the folks commenting have the white perspective given in the history books or by word of mouth and movies

      2. Ceisd Sgil says:

        Thank you for this. You made my day. I am Mohawk Indian myself but was raised in the South and always knew that the creek was a body of water and not the aforementioned Creek Indians. Of course where I was raised, it was pronounced “crick”. My husband and I were just discussing the “Cargo Cult People” this usually refers to science, but I can see how it might be used in reference to just about any topic of discussion. The post you responded to made me think of just that.

        Anyway, enjoy your day. I know I will.


        1. Ceisd Sgil says:

          Edit* now I’m showing my own butt… I meant to say Dunning-Kruger Effect, not “Cargo Cult People”. Sheesh…. Husband and I talked about one, that led into a conversation about the other and my brain failed to negotiate the middle of the conversation. When I relayed this thread to him at breakfast this morning, he corrected me. Thank you, dear. He is such a sweetheart. So I am here, correcting my mistake.

          Anyway, thanks again!


    6. No, sorry, it’s talking about water.

    7. Surfdancer says:

      I’m a proud American, but have you have to admit that the U.S. was extremely vicious in how they treated and murdered many indians and their families. Let’s call a spade a spade here.

  7. We would say that someone “showed their butt” if they acted out or threw a fit in public. When I said this in front of my husband he thought someone literally showed their butt…I had to explain this to my northern-born sweetheart.

  8. Good gracious alive!
    If you don’t say!
    Well, if it ain’t so
    Shut yo mouth!

    So many more! Born and raised in MS

    1. Eubanks Buffy says:

      Yup! Nailed it! Fellow Mississippian here and ya spot on I’d herd’em all you shared my friend
      Few more I can think off the top of my head…
      Das wat imma talkin bout
      I’m not sleeping I’m jus resting my eyes
      She done started a hornets nest
      Sho (pronounced like shoul) don’t
      Hit him like a ton of bricks
      Either crap or get off the pot
      Lol just some random phrases I’ve heard and yes I know how to spell to any hiflutan busy bodies. Southerners pronounce incorrectly so we write them true as if straight out of the horse’s mouth. Thank you for all the sharing I truly enjoyed reading this

  9. Well, hush my mouth!
    I’ll be
    I’ll be durned
    I’ll be darned
    Dad gum
    Dad burn
    Dang fool (or dang any thing)
    Bees in her bonnet
    S**ttin’ in y’all cotton
    I’ll be hornswaggled (horns waggled)
    The sun don’t always shine on the same dog’s tail
    As pleased as a pig (or possum) eatin’ persimmons

    1. Correction: “tall cotton”

  10. Overcooked her grits- she’s had too much too drink, she’s taken on too much at work, her husband is an ass

  11. I grew up hearing this one a lot.
    “Jeet yet?”
    “Yon’t some?”
    Translation: Did you eat yet? Do you want some?

    1. Small town gal from S.E. GA and I heard those multiple times a day, especially as a hospice nurse. Folks, even in their grief, are so gracious and determined to feed you. Food and good conversation make everything better❤️

    2. I learned it: “jeet yet?”, nah, diju? Yantu? Aui’t!

  12. Laurie Higgins says:

    That’s a fun list! I use a lot of those and I didn’t grow up in the south. I did work for a southern senator once and with a woman from Arkansas and lived next door to a man raised in the south. But I didn’t learn the phrases from any of them. Except maybe “coke”. :)

    There’s no pot TOO crooked …

    Typo up there. :)

  13. Growing up my Mawmaw would always tell us “y’all are getting too big! I gotta put a pot on your head!”Referring to cast iron pots to weigh you down and keep you from getting taller.

  14. Cowgirl Diva says:

    As a TRUE SOUTHERNER, I have heard ALL of these sayings at one time or other in my Southern Life..!!

    A saying we use in my SOUTHERN family is: “He would argue with a fencepost!”

    You’re welcome..!! ;D

    1. West Texan says:

      argue with a fence post over who could stand there the longest

  15. I’m hearing the word “Goodnight!” used a lot by Southerners lately. Not the word you say before going to bed, either. I typically hear it used in response to something controversial happening. Is anyone else familiar with how this term is used and able to provide any background or context on it? I’d appreciate it! :)


    1. I use “goodnight” when the kids are driving me nuts, something is crazy or something really dumb is going on. Not sure how else to explain it. Maybe as “oh my goodness”

    2. I’ve heard it used as slang for punching someone out. Some say clocked him/her or lights out. Southerners use some words or phrases for different meanings tbh. The way we say it out loud usually gives more insight on how we meant it so “Goodnight” may or may not have meant that. Maybe this helps you though

    3. Me and my family always use this! If I do something stupid (leave something important at home, walk out of the house with two different shoes on—you get the picture; it normally is something truly out of the ordinary/a costly mistake) my mom always says “Well GOOooOOOD NIGHT!” Basically it is a phrase of disbelief and shock!

      1. Country raised Oklahoman here, we use a lot of these.
        Some that we tend to use ‘round here:
        * Don’t get your titties in a twist = Chill out/calm down/etc
        * Ain’t worth a sack of cow balls = useless/no good/etc
        * Faster than a fire in a hay meadow/ like a wild fire in a hay field = Super fast
        * Useless as tits on a boar hog = also means useless or not worth much
        * Ain’t worth a hill of bean = Not worth much/pretty worthless
        * All that and a bag of chips = used to describe someone who falsely thinking they’re something special
        * You couldn’t poor water out a boot if the instructions where on the heal = basically a way of calling someone dumb
        * Got two braincells and they fightin over 3rd place = this one can be used as an insult to other people calling them dumb or as an insult calling yourself dumb
        * (I) don’t give a whip = used the same as ‘I don’t give a crap/sh*t’

        There’s many more but I can’t think of them off the top of my head lol

  16. Well bless your little pea pickens heart

  17. I never realized how much I used southern sayings. A lot of these like the crack of dawn, hold you horses, pot calling a kettle black, hush your mouth, y’all, and it’s raining cats and dogs were basically the sayings I grew up with. I knew I used different terms then most of the people around me, including some family, but I never knew they were southern terms.

  18. I never realized how much I used southern sayings. A lot of these like the crack of dawn, hold you horses, pot calling a kettle black, hush your mouth, y’all, and it’s raining cats and dogs were basically the sayings I grew up with. I knew I used different terms then most of the people around me, including some family, but I never knew they were southern terms.

  19. Yes, I grew up in OK and TX and heard “good NIGHT” as an exclamation often. With emphasis on ‘night’. Sometimes followed by ‘gerty’ as in good NIGHT gerty.

    Used as an expression when you hear something outlandish or farfetched.

  20. Ken Johnson says:

    Another Southern Saying: Close the door. Were you raised in a barn?

  21. Have you heard the phrase “ He really knows his okra” when someone is an expert at something? My momma used it all the time even though she was from Oklahoma. She had lots of relatives in Louisiana so I just figgered that’s where it came from.

  22. i from the deep south Mississippi half of those are not true that we do not say some of them we say alot but other are just stupid and arnt true

    1. Lee Curry says:

      Born and raised in middle Ga. Still hear a lot of those sayings to this day… Always answer with yes ma’am/sir or no ma’am/sir, or mama would skin my hide. My Pawpaw’s favorite response when asked what he’s doing, “jus piddlin”. Your post also brought this to mind; not necessarily a like your list, but I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people in the south say, “you know they one of ya cousins don’t ya” when talking about someone. I enjoyed your post. Thank you

  23. Hayden C Matthews says:

    His balls haven’t dropped yet. – He doesn’t have the nerve.

    If a frog had wings, he wouldn’t bump his a** every time he jumps. – Used when “if” or “what if” was the beginning of your question, and they don’t have an answer or simply feel like sassin’.

    You and what army? – “I don’t think you can handle that challenge.”

    Pack a lunch! – “I am sure you can’t handle that challenge.”

    Don’t look at me in that tone of voice! – popular for parents of teens.

    See you later, alligator.
    Not too soon, you big baboon! – friendly goodbye.

    You et? – “have you eaten?”

    Sit on the floor and let your feet hang! – “come in and join us!”

    If you go home hungry, it’s your own fault. – ” I spent hours making food. Please eat all of it.”

  24. When someone is a little too boastful, we have a couple of sayings for them.

    Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while.

    It’s not hard to see a diamond in a goat’s @$$.

  25. Anthony Paolini says:

    It shows the southern antebellum way of being polite without hurting anybody’s feelings and redirecting those to understand , that somethings will not be tolerated. It also shows that Southern people of all of Multi diversified of any race, color or creed developed a form of Etiquette that assisted generations of families. As I travel throughout this great nation, I could be talking to a Black American Texan, or an Seminole Floridan, or White southerners from Appalachia mountains USA. We all quickly developed a sense of being home

  26. Heavens to Betsy! An exclamation of any emotion like surprise, anger, happiness, etc.

  27. If I had my druthers …… rough translation I would rather…….. or if I had it my way……..

  28. Debbie Dickens says:

    Regarding the phrase, “If the Creek Don’t Rise”, is does refer to unpredictable events. But, the original reference of the “creek” was actually the Creek Indians.

    Message from this federally recognized Native American Cherokee

  29. Jaycee King says:

    Busy as a bee in a tar bucket
    It’s hotter than two wolf rats fu***n in a wool sock on a hot afternoon
    It colder than a witch’s tit in a brass bra doing push-ups in the snow
    You’re sweatin more than a whore in a church house
    You want me to give you somethin to cry bout
    Want in one hand and sh*t in the other and see which one fills up first

  30. Cowgirl up says:

    Here’s one for ya …
    He couldn’t find his way around in a silo 😊 love this post! I’m from WV so I’ve heard all and used most of these all my life. Brings back good memories.

    1. Cowgirl up says:

      Oh and my mom used this one a lot. She can throw it out faster with a teaspoon than he can bring it in with a shovel. Meaning…. She spends money faster than he brings it in or the other way around…. Whoever the bread winner may be!
      Maybe she brings home the bacon and he fries it up in the pan!

  31. I loved this post! Being raised in Texas/Ok before moving to Cali I’ve heard and used most of of them. One I used the other day and shocked my granddaughter was “my little ones are eating my big ones”, meaning I was hungry! She said “WHAT? OMG I’ve got to Goggle that!”
    Is this phrase familiar to anyone else?

  32. How about his or her picket is broken.

    1. What about:
      You don’t know shit from shinola.
      He ain’t got a pot to piss in.
      You ain’t right.
      You can put that where the sun don’t shine.
      Ain’t that nice.
      Happier than a pig in shit.
      All y’all kin folks.
      I’ll be.
      Are you out of your pea pickin mind?
      Ain’t no never mind.
      Rat killin. Get back to my rat killin.
      Yon’t to. (you want to)
      I reckon.
      Finer than a frogs hair.
      Let’s go jukin. (Dancin)
      I don’t give two shits about it.
      I’m fuller than a tick.

      1. I ain’t been jukin in a cook’s age.

    2. James Justiss says:

      Another one from my grandfather (born in 1905):
      “He’s just barking’ to hear his head rattle”. It was a nice way of calling someone a self-righteous jackass…

  33. My favorites-
    “Might could “ and “Usta could”

  34. Don’t have to call me Mister, Mister says:

    This was fantastic! I was lmao reading it. Do you know how many times I have read a list like this, gotten through about number four, and turned the page, saying to myself “some jack wagon from Pennsylvania must’ve written this“ This was the most spot-on list of sayings that I’ve ever read. Well done! You can tell “where at” you were raised! haha

    We are from up here in the deepest mountains of NC, so we actually do have our own language. Appalachianisms (and that’s “lach” as in “latch” not “Laych” as in . . . . point proven) are part of that language and share many of the same sayings, only adjusted per geographic location.

    -Colder than a well diggers *ss
    -Colder than a witch’s t*tie in a brass bra
    -Hotter than a fox in a forest fire
    -Shakin’ like a dog sh*tin chicken bones
    -Busy as a one legged man at an *ss kickin’ contest

    Goes on and on – lol. But anyways thank you for makin my afternoon a little funnier.

  35. James Justiss says:

    When I was a kid in the 1960’s my grandfather used the phrase “tall cotton” (instead of “high cotton”). I asked what it meant and he explained that tall cotton was much easier to pick than short cotton (you wouldn’t have to bend over as much to reach it), and it made the harvest much less backbreaking. He grew up on an East Texas plantation so he knew all about cotton and hard work in general. After that I always understood what he meant.

  36. Shannon St Claire says:

    Born and raised in the South and I never once heard anyone ask for a Coke when they didn’t want a Coca-Cola. I’m convinced that this is something made up by non-Southerners and just repeated because people think it sounds funny.

    Something that you didn’t mention that I think many don’t appreciate: the term “sweet tea” isn’t a Southern thing. If you ask for “tea” in the South, it’s expected that it’s sweet and iced. If you want UNsweetened tea, that’s what you have to ask for. But if you ask for “tea” you’ll receive an iced beverage that’s as sweet as lemonade. Asking for “sweet tea” is redundant.

    1. You may have been raised in the south somewhat more recently than others. Asking for a Coke and waiting to be asked “what kind” is how I ended up with a Coke instead of a sprite when visiting cousins up north. It’s not as heard as much anymore, too many damn Yankees down here!

      1. W Gregory French says:

        True. The south is losing some of its regional dialect

      2. I am a native Texan and you ordered a Coke and the waiter or your mama had to ask what kind. It was usually Dr. Pepper. :)

    2. Each community has its own phrases or words that come from such a melting pot frenzy so I guess I strongly practice hospitality first in order to show respect for all. Some people see the glass half full and others see same glass as half empty so upbringing has taught me to shut my mouth cuz pissing in the rain would me more productive. However I’ve got to add my own insight regardless sometimes just for plumb dumba$$ southern bred cornbred fed and proud of it. Coke is referenced to any yep I said ANY soda here. Order from any restaurants here & they will ask you “Is Pepsi ok, or blah blah blah” so we all need to agree to disagree on some things because just because we haven’t experienced some words or phrases doesn’t mean we are experts on every one’s southern upbringing

    3. In Virginia we get a choice of sweet or unsweetened. If you just ask for iced tea , that’s the response. I think that’s true in most of the South since the rise of health consciousness and diabetes. Even go to chick FIL a. You need to specify sweet tea.

    4. In Virginia we get a choice of sweet or unsweetened tea. I was out in Tennessee recently and I asked for iced tea at a restaurant. They didn’t have sweet tea there. It’s not ubiquitous.

    5. Sasha Tejeda says:

      Born and raised in the south. Arkansas to be exact. I’m 37 years old. I always called every kind of soda a coke until I visited my father in Kansas City, Missouri, when I was 13 and the flight attendant accompanying me on my flight told me they called it soda or pop, not coke.

  37. I always heard y’all is derived from you all, meaning a group of people. It’s like the northerner’s version of you guys.

    1. That’s correct, but we use it in many more circumstances than just a conversation about “you guys”. I rarely use y’all for one person, but if it slips that way, it doesn’t matter. There are definitely two diff type of y’all. Think about when all your cousins are in one place for the 4th of July picnic. Some are fixin to go fishin. Mama says “are all y’all goin fishin or just sum o’ y’all?”

  38. Thank you for writing this article. It brings back so many fond childhood memories. One of my favorite phrases my Granny said when I visited her when I was home from college was, “Why don’t we move over yonder to the front porch and sit a spell. You can fill me in on the cane you’ve been a’raisin’.” We took turns spinning yarns and to my delight I could usually get at least one “Lord-a-mercy!” out of her. Oh how I miss her, my auntie and my momma.

    1. Hi Shari! Thanks for sharing your sweet memories here with us. Your granny sounds a lot like my Mama Minnie. Reading what you shared sent me down memory lane. And I can picture both our southern grandmas’ saying Lord-a-mercy. Thinking of you as you you miss your loved ones.

  39. I recently used the phrase, “God willin’ and the creek don’t rise.” It’s nice seeing I’m not the only one familiar with this phrase and many others. Thanks!

  40. How about “don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya!”

  41. A phrase that my granny used and I’ve never heard used by anyone else. Well if that don’t beat the bugs a fightin.

  42. Being from the South, Texas, OK, North Carolina. I use alot of these praises. Applachia is a totally different Southern dialect which I had to learn at 10 years old.

    It’s not ya’ll for them, it’s “you-uns”
    A bar is not a bar to drink in. It’s a bear.
    A rugrat is a reference to what can or cannot be annoying children.
    Going to see a man about a horse is the reference to going to take a pee. (not just Applachian)
    Big Hat No Cattle means big talker and nothing to back it up. (Texan)
    Happier than a Pig in S**t, means satisfied.
    I’ll pray for you, in certain situations means you acted inappropriately and it is a scolding.

    Don’t leave the barn door open means shut the door anywhere.
    Don’t let the door hit you in the ass means you can’t leave fast enough, a put-down.
    Crazier than a bedbug just means crazy.
    And a Coke is absoultely any soft drink. Or in NC it’s called “Pop”

  43. Fun list! Another one for the collection “be a good ol boy and suck a big ol’ pecker!”

  44. When someone asks how your doin … hangin in there like a hair on a biscuit

    1. Rosemary Rogers says:

      Ha! Love that. I’m gonna use it.

      Has anyone heard, “I’m gonna go lie down in a heap in back”? Or momma died in a heap in back?
      My mother used it a lot in the 60s from Marlin, Texas.

    2. Love it! I just wanted to add that I hear this one in WV as “hanging in and out like a hair in a biscuit.”

  45. Lisa Crosby Roberts says:

    Love these! My Aunt Ina was a treasure trove of sayins. Some of my favorites…
    Slicker than owl shit.
    Bout as nervous as a dog shi#tin a peach seed.
    Lost as a blind calf in a snowstorm
    Can’t recall them all but a good number of them utilized the word “shi#”
    My Uncle Bruce had a VERY limited vocabulary: eYup , Naw, ahight, wut, and a slew of other one syllable grunt words.

  46. Marjorie Offield says:

    Hey Kim, loved the article.
    What about:
    “She’s no bigger ‘n a piece of soap after a hard day’s wash”
    (My grandparents said that one)
    “She hasn’t got the sense God gave a goat.”
    Or: dumb as a rock. Or, getting this response when you ask your hostess if you can help:
    “You just sit there and look pretty”
    My father said, “good night Nelly” or “good night nurse!” when frustrated with us.
    Or, my personal favorite,
    “Jee Roo Za LEM. “Jerusalem)

    1. Good ones! we use most of these but use a few slightly different “ain’t got the sense God gave a goose.” and “dumb as a coal bucket” or alternatively “dumb as a bag full of claw hammers.” which always makes me giggle for some reason lol.

  47. My grandmother would use the phrase “she ain’t got enough clothes on to pad a crutch” when someone was wearing “skimpy” clothing. I also grew up hearing “she/he could go bear huntin’ with a switch”. If that person wasn’t very attractive. I thought it was mean, but I grew up hearing it.

    1. We use the “could go bear huntin with a switch” in response to someone being meaner’n hell mostly rambunctious children but if it’s got the unattractive connotation attached I will be careful how I use that in the future thanks!

  48. Jane, dear. It is a shame that you are so addle-brained that you don’t realize the Native Americans were here long before pioneers came along. We invaded there lands and pert near annihilated them in the process. This was a travesty against the “Creeks”. You owe them an apology.
    The creek rising is a stream of water that can cover a road when there is a lot of rain in rural areas.

  49. “Well, shit fire and save the matches! “ was an exclamation I often heard from my Dad. And, yes indeed, we still use southern colloquialisms liberally in North Texas!

  50. TennesseeCherokee says:

    Great article!
    How ‘bout……
    “Fixin’ to”
    “Messin’ & a gommin”
    “Put that in a poke”
    “Come to Jesus meeting’”
    “Hairbrained idiot”

  51. Jonathan Greene says:

    Not sure how old this story is but thought I’d ask since it’s an old saying. I’ve been trying to find the etymology for it but I can’t find it anywhere. Our family/town has always said “three fits and a quire spell” for when someone is going to pitch an awful fit. Has anyone else ever heard this?

  52. These are great. We use many of these almost daily. Would be better without the Typos:

    1. The Sign on “Makes Me Wanna Slap My Mama” says “SPAP my Mam”:
    2. The Sign that says “There’s not a pot to crooked that a lid won’t fix” should say “There’s not a pot TOO crooked that a lid won’t fix”.

    Thanks for the article.

  53. When I was a whiny child, my Sicilian Grandmother used to look at me disgusted and say, .
    . And people in Hell want ice water 😆 is that southern?

  54. Dan, I’m not sure of it’s history, but my mother would always say, “GOODNIGHT, NURSE!” when she heard or, maybe, saw something shocking or unbelievable (like, perhaps, when she was watching a movie and wasn’t expecting something in particular to happen).

  55. Jeannine Henley says:

    “Forever more.” My great aunt used to respond when given some info.

  56. Don’t forget tighter than Dick’s hat band. the boot of the car. whampusscat. use to could. I’m as confused as a baby in a titty bar.

  57. This is funny, didn’t even realize that some of these are southern. I thought that’s the way all y’all talk.

    He’s so far behind he thinks he’s in the lead.
    He’s lost as a ball in weeds.
    That’s as screwed up as a football bat.
    Show’s over, monkey died.
    Cut that out.

  58. Julia McCullough says:

    “Oh, my hind foot!” I heard this from my mother and other east Texas relatives when they thought someone was telling a lie….also, “Every cotton pickin’ time I turn around…” heard this one when someone was irritated. “Living high on the hog” meant living beyond your means and “Puttin’ on the dog” meant someone was showing off. To be told you would get a “yankee dime” for doing something meant you would get a kiss instead of money. “Solid quarter” meant a single coin, not two dimes and a nickel. “He doesn’t know his ass from his elbow, or his ass from a hole in the ground” applied to almost any man who wasn’t following orders, Being in “high cotton” meant you had money and “it’s colder ‘n hell out there” meant it was really really cold outside. I could go on forever. I’m drilling “oh, my hind foot” into my grand nieces heads, who by the way, weren’t even aware that they are Southern Belles. What is the world coming to? I’m grateful to you for this post, it brought back so many memories.

    1. in Appalachia we use both “my hind foot” as well as “my hind end” when we think we are being lied to lol both these are said in the same tone of voice you’d say “Good Night” when you hear something shocking or outlandish.

  59. Has anyone heard “in two shakes of a lambs tail?” My momma & grandma both said that one. I believe she mostly used it if I was into somethin’ I ought not be into. “Get outta that or I’ll be in there in 2 shakes of a lambs tail & bust your hind end!” I miss them so much. I’d give anything to hear them fuss at me right now.

  60. I enjoyed this article. My family was from up north, but I grew up in Virginia and spent time living in North Carolina and Tennessee. I’m not sure if they are more northern or southern sayings, but I remember my family saying, “Your momma wasn’t a glass maker!” If someone stood in front of the television blocking the screen. As for the “Letting the good air out,” I don’t think I have heard it that way too often, but I have heard “What, were you born in a barn?” when someone leaves the door open. If it is cold outside, I’ve heard “Close that pneumonia hole!” and “We ain’t paying to heat the outside!” when the door is left open. If it is hot outside, I’ve heard “We ain’t paying to cool the outside!” and “What do I look like I’m made of money?” which could be regarding the door but also applied to other expensive things.

    1. I grew up in VA where you cross either the WV or KY Statelines in 10 minutes depending on the direction you were driving and all of these are staples! My dad got onto us for blocking the TV like that all the time lol thanks for adding those!

    2. L. McCready says:

      I had a Southern neighbor say something was “chankey bias”.
      Where did that term come from?

  61. I love ALL these!! Here’s one:

    How much you lack? – As in, how much time do you have left.

  62. I said to my Connecticut daughter-in-law:
    He’s got a long row to hoe.
    She asked her husband (my son) what that means.

  63. These are great, and as a Southerner I’ve heard almost all of ‘em! We like to run words together too. Catch me in the right mood, and something like this happens:
    “What are you talking about?” >>>>> “whahyoutawin’bou’?”

  64. Macey Moore says:

    Loved all these! Common phrases for me were:
    “Sittin pretty”
    “Oh Law”

    1. Macey Moore says:

      My brother reminded me of a few more..
      Proud as a peacock
      Pitch a hissy fit
      Madder than a wet hen

  65. A couple more:
    Dumber than a box of rocks
    Meaner than a box of snakes
    Busier than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
    Hotter than a goat’s ass/the floor of hell
    Crazy as a shithouse rat
    Bass-ackward (screwed up)
    Up to my ass in alligators
    No bigger than a minute
    Crooked as a broke-back snake
    Mad as a sore-paw bear
    Too pooped to pop

    1. a few more:
      ‘Too far and snaky’ – excuse not to go somewhere
      ‘You’re smelling your upper lip’ – when you complain of something smelling bad
      ‘too short in the poop’ – too small to do something

  66. I’ve been all over the country and some of these are just universal. I wonder if it’s because people are so mobile these days. Either way, we are more the same than some people would like to admit.

  67. It’s sad that some people don’t consider Virginia the South. We were the original South! I grew up hearing ” I declare” ( sometimes shortened to ” I ‘care”) Also we Virginians say ” I stamp!”. Which means , I am dead serious, or for real. Also ” slower than molasses running down vinegar hill”. Virginia will always be home to me. God bless!

  68. MY mother in law, and now I do too, say ” I suwanee” instead of I swear”

  69. Thank ya sir:) Interesting summary. Haven’t heard a couple. Kinda Old for me, maybe. The saying. Here’s mine. You can Throw a Hissy, Or Pitch a Fit. Both very miniscule, I believe, attempts to share your true feelings. At that moment. The Fit Pitchin’ moment, you are Trying to share your true, angry, usually building feelings. Careful if you lean in. Thank you for finding a way to comfortably reach me. ‘Preciate that😁. like to hear some of yours, Someday. Maybe. Bless your…nah.

  70. Belinda Kay says:

    I remember my uncle finishing his meal declaring (even if others were still working on their plates), “I do believe everybody has eaten.” I think it was a compliment that meant he’d enjoyed his meal and couldn’t possibly eat anymore? Another phrase my mom said once or twice was “She talks like a train ran over her!” That is, she was talking nonsense. We are originally from Alabama. Anyone else hear of either of these phrases?

  71. You missed the most used one of all: ‘Bless your heart’ which can be used as both a comforting statement or an subtle insult.

    1. Hi Kay!
      “Bless Your Heart” is the third one on my list.;) You’ll have to go back and check it out.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  72. I’m 59 years old now, but when I was in school the teachers always tried to teach my southern out of me. I always got low grades on my writing because I refused to change my language. On time in Elementary school my teacher told me the word tote was not a word that I had to change my ways because it was not in the dictionary. I told her I read it in the Atlanta Journal Constitution every week so it had to be a word. She said oh really, I said yes mam Snuffy Smith says it every week. I did not change her mind got a low grade. I still use the word daily and yes it is now in the dictionary!

    One of my favorites is:
    Who’s milking this chicken? I say it when someone is trying to help and I really don’t need the help. They stop long enough to think about what I said, by then I’m finished!

  73. We’re you born in a barn? Shut the door!
    Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
    Beggars can’t be choosers.
    Your face is gonna freeze like that!
    Where the rain don’t shine.
    Hurry up, we’re burning daylight.
    Born and raised in Kansas but lived my entire adulthood in the South.

  74. Most of those aren’t southern, I recognise many of them from England that were being used long before you emigrated to the US.

    1. More like liberated to the US!

  75. Raised in southern Virginia familiar with all that are mentioned here and didn’t see this one…..
    I’m plumb tuckered!
    Are you tuckered?

  76. G’day from Australia!
    Being from the other side of the world, most of the Americanisms (or Southernisms in this case) I’ve heard are from TV. It’s honestly fascinating to find out the meaning of some of the phrases. “I reckon” has a similar meaning here, as well.

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