Stephanie shows off her quirky sense of humor by taking a new slant on various current topics.
Translating Southern Sayings
As a transplanted Yankee living in the South, I am often surprised and amazed by the colorful Southern expressions I hear. Of course, there are the good old standbys we all know and love, like "y'all" and "down yonder." But the richness of Southern speech goes far beyond one or two-word expressions. There's a Southern expression for every occasion.
While their images and colloquialisms tickle the funny bone, Southern expressions usually convey exactly what the speaker intended. No one can mistake the intent and meaning of "I'm going to jerk a knot in your tail!" On the other hand, there are some Southernisms that it might take a Yankee like me years to figure out without a translator.
For example, here is an expression I've never ever heard above the Mason-Dixon line: "That possum's on the stump!" (Translation: That's as good as it gets!)
Or this one: "His heart is a thumpin' gizzard." (Translation: He's cold-hearted and cruel.)
Whether you are from another part of the country or from another country altogether, I hope you enjoy this collection of Southern sayings.
When a Southerner Gets Angry:
- He's got a burr in his saddle.
- His knickers are in a knot.
- She's pitching a hissy fit.
- She's pitching a hissy fit with a tail on it. (When she’s more pissed off.)
- He has a duck fit. (One step above a hissy fit.)
- She has a dying duck fit. (Translation: Run and hide!)
Southern Sayings About Bad Character:
- You're lower than a snake's belly in a wagon rut.
- He's slicker'n owl sh*t.
- She’s meaner than a wet panther.
- He's a snake in the grass.
- Why, that egg-suckin' dawg!
- Worthless as gum on a boot heel!
When Southerners Are Busy:
- I been running all over hell's half acre.
- She's busier than a cat covering crap on a marble floor.
- I'm as busy as a one-legged cat in a sandbox.
- Busier than a moth in a mitten!
Southern Sayings About Conceit and Vanity:
- She's so stuck up, she'd drown in a rainstorm.
- She’s stuck up higher than a light-pole.
- She has her nose so high in the air she could drown in a rainstorm.
- He thinks the sun comes up just to hear him crow.
(Most of these comments are made about women. Apparently, Southern men are not stuck up.)
Southern Expressions About Being Cheap:
- He squeezes a quarter so tight the eagle screams.
- He's tighter than a bull’s ass at fly time.
- Tighter than a flea’s ass over a rain barrel.
- He’s so cheap he wouldn’t give a nickel to see Jesus ridin’ a bicycle.
Southern Phrases About Being Broke or Poor:
- Too poor to paint, too proud to whitewash.
- I'm as poor as a church mouse.
- I'm so poor I can't afford to pay attention.
- He was so poor, he had a tumbleweed as a pet.
- I couldn’t buy a hummingbird on a string for a nickel.
- I’m so poor I couldn’t jump over a nickel to save a dime.
- He doesn't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of.
Dressed Too Scantily? They Will Say:
- Those pants were so tight I could see her religion.
- Her pants are so tight that if she farts it'll blow her boots off
- You're gonna have old and new-monia dressed like that!
- Lawd, people will be able to see to Christmas!
- Law, pull that down! We kin see clear to the promised land!
Southerners Experiencing a Drought Might Say:
- It's so dry the trees are bribing the dogs.
- I swan, you all musta pissed God off somehow. It’s drier than a popcorn fart ‘round these parts. (Translation: Ya got me... I don't know what a popcorn fart is!)
Confused? In the South, They Might Say:
- He doesn't know whether to check his ass or scratch his watch.
- He couldn't find his ass with both hands in his back pockets.
- He's about as confused as a fart in a fan factory.
- She's lost as last year's Easter egg.
(As we Yankees say, "These people don't know which way is up.")
Southerners Know Happiness When They See It:
- He's as happy as if he had good sense.
- Happier than ol' Blue layin' on the porch chewin' on a big ol' catfish head.
- Happy as a dead pig in the sunshine. (Translation: Apparently pretty happy.)
- Grinnin' like a possum eatin' a sweet tater.
- Well that just dills my pickle.
Expressions About Laziness:
- Won't hit a lick at a snake. (Translation: So lazy he wouldn’t chase a snake away.)
- He's about as useful as a steering wheel on a mule.
Colloquialisms for Unmentionables:
"Over-the-shoulder boulder holders." (Translation: A very large bra.)
Irritation Brings Out Some Creative Southern Expressions:
- She gets my goose.
- He just makes my ass itch!
- Yankees are like hemorrhoids: Pain in the butt when they come down and always a relief when they go back up.
- That would make a bishop mad enough to kick in stained glass windows.
- She could make a preacher cuss!
- She could piss off the pope.
- If you don't stop that crying, I'll give you something to cry about!
- Who licked the red off your candy?
- She could start an argument in an empty house.
- He's about as useless as a screen door on a submarine/a trapdoor on a canoe.
- That makes about as much sense as tits on a bull.
- Quit goin' around your ass to get to your elbow.
Colorful Southern Expressions About Liars:
- Don't piss on my leg and tell me it's rainin'!
- Don't pee down my back and tell me it's raining.
- That dog won't hunt.
- You're lyin' like a no-legged dog!
- If his lips's movin', he's lyin'.
- You’d call an alligator a lizard.
- That man is talking with his tongue out of his shoe.
- He's as windy as a sack full of farts.
(The most creative expression about liars I've heard in the North is "Lying like a rug." Southerners have much more colorful ways of accusing a liar.)
Southernisms About Stupidity:
- If that boy had an idea, it would die of loneliness.
- The porch light's on, but no one's home.
- He's only got one oar in the water.
- If brains were leather, he wouldn't have enough to saddle a junebug.
- He's so dumb, he could throw himself on the ground and miss.
- He hasn't got the sense God gave a goose.
- When the Lord was handin' out brains, that fool thought God said trains, and he passed 'cause he don't like to travel.
- His brain rattles around like a BB in a boxcar.
- There's a tree stump in a Louisiana swamp with a higher IQ.
- So dumb he couldn't pour piss out of a boot with the instructions written on the heel.
- He don't know s**t from shinola. (Now this one I've heard in New Jersey....)
- If his brains were dynamite, he couldn’t blow his nose.
- I was born at night, but not last night! (I'm not that stupid!)
Surprised Southerners Might Come Out With This:
These are probably some of my very favorites!
- Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit.
- Well, slap my head and call me silly!
When Something Smells Really Bad, a Southerner Says:
- He smelled bad enough to gag a maggot.
- Something smells bad enough to knock a dog off a gut wagon.
If You Hear These Southern Expressions, You Better Watch Out:
Either somebody's in real trouble, or there's a fight brewing if you hear...
- I'm gonna cut your tail!
- I’m gonna jerk her bald!
- Keep it up and I'll cancel your birth certificate.
- I am going to jerk a knot in your tail.
- You don’t know dip sh** from apple butter!
- Me-n-you are gonna mix.
- You don't watch out, I'm gonna cream yo' corn.
- You better give your heart to Jesus, 'cause your butt is mine.
- I'll slap you to sleep, then slap you for sleeping.
- I’m gonna tan your hide.
- I'll knock you into the middle of next week looking both ways for Sunday!
- I'll knock you so hard you'll see tomorrow today.
Southern Expressions for Speed (Fast or Slow):
- Faster than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking competition.
- Faster than green grass through a goose.
- Faster than a hot knife through butter.
- Slower than a Sunday afternoon.
- You took as long as a month of Sundays.
- We're off like a herd of turtles.
- He ran like a scalded haint. (I don't know what a "haint" is, but apparently a scalded one can run really fast!)
- It happened faster than a knife fight in a phone booth.
Ugly or Looking Bad?
Now these are really unkind, but funny as heck!
- He's so ugly, he didn't get hit with the ugly stick, he got whopped with the whole forest!
- He fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.
- So ugly she’d make a freight train take a dirt road.
- So ugly he’d scare a buzzard off a gut pile.
- She's so ugly I'd hire her to haunt a house!
- If I had a dog as ugly as you, I'd shave his butt and make him walk backwards.
- She is so ugly, her face would turn sweet milk to clabber.
- She was so ugly when she was born that her momma used to borrow a baby to take to church on Sunday
When the ugliness is just temporary:
- I feel like I've been chewed up and spit out.
- I feel like I been 'et by a wolf and sh** over a cliff.
- He looks like ten miles of bad road.
- You look like you've been rode hard and put up wet!
Expressions About Being Well-Fed or Good Food
- Full as a tick.
- Put that on top of your head and your tongue would beat your brains out trying to get to it
Southern Observations About Weight:
- He's so skinny, if he stood sideways and stuck out his tongue, he'd look like a zipper.
- She's so skinny, you can't even see her shadow.
- She's spread out like a cold supper.
- If he were an inch taller, he'd be round.
Of the Wealthy:
- Sh**tin’ in high cotton.
- He's richer'n Croesus.
- He's so rich he buys a new boat when he gets the other one wet.
Expressions About the Good Looking Guys and Gals
- Fine as frog hair split four ways!
- She's pretty as a pumpkin but half as smart"
A Hungry Southerner Says:
- I'm so hungry my belly thinks my throat's been cut.
- I could eat the north end of a south-bound polecat.
- I'm so hungry I could eat the north end of a south-bound goat.
Colorful Expressions About the Weather:
Like some of the other Southern phrases, a few of these might not be appropriate in mixed company.
- Colder than a well digger's butt in January.
- It was colder than a witch's tit in a brass bra.
- That rain was a real frogwash.
- It rained like a cow pissin' on a flat rock.
- Hotter than blue blazes.
- It's colder than a penguin's balls.
- It’s hotter than two rabbits screwin’ in a wool sock!
- It's cold enough to freeze the balls off a pool table.
- Colder than a banker's heart on foreclosure day at the widows' and orphans' home.
- It's been hotter'n a goat's butt in a pepper patch.
- It's cold enough to freeze the tit off a frog.
- It is hotter than a jalapeño's coochie.
All-Purpose Southern Expressions We Couldn't Do Without:
- All y'all.
- Down yonder.
- Bless your pea-pickin' little heart!
- Kiss my go-to-hell.
- I wouldn't walk across the street to piss on him if he was on fire.
- If you can't run with the big dogs, stay under the porch.
- Why so sad? Did Chevrolet stop makin’ trucks?
- Deep in the South where sushi is still called bait.
- He's about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.
- That sticks in your throat like a hair in a biscuit.
- You’re so fulla s**t your eyes are brown.
- He was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a roomful of rocking chairs.
- He couldn't carry a tune if he had a bucket with a lid on it.
|Word||Part of Speech||Translation||Example|
His bread basket is bigger than a bread basket, if you know what I mean.
HIs britches are so tight they make his legs look like hot dogs.
askew or awry; cockeyed
The storm knocked the clothes on the clothesline all cattywampus!
go get/good looking
I'm gonna fetch me the most fetching filly I can find.
I'm fixin' to fix the porch door after I finish this sweet tea.
dressed up; fancy
She's so gussied up you'd think it was a beauty contest.
verb or noun
hunger or yearning
I have a hankerin' for biscuits and gravy.
fancy, pompous, or pretentious
He's so highfalutin' he thinks his sh*t tastes like sherbert.
a small amount
I can't hear a lick with all this hooplah.
adjective or verb
fiddling, puttering, or pottering around
Quit your piddlin' and get to work!
She's plumb crazy.
a disturbance or commotion
He made such a ruckus he woke the possums.
run away; hurry
You better skedaddle before you get caught!
He's so uppity he deserves a PhD in snobbery.
whip or beat
I'm gonna whup you where the sun don't shine!
Southern Expression Poll
That's All She Wrote...
Well, that's all she wrote, y'all. I've looked all over hell and half of Georgia to find the best and funniest Southern sayings for all y'all, and I sure hope they tickled you as much as they tickled me.
And if y'all have any more fine Southern sayings, well, bless yer pea pickin' hearts, just let 'er rip, tater chip, and jot them down in the comments section below. I'm just happier than a dead pig in sunshine to have all y'all visiting me here today and taking the time to sit awhile and share your thoughts.
If you enjoyed this, be sure to visit "More Funny Southern Sayings and Southernisms from Readers."
Copyright ©2015 Stephanie Henkel
Yankees just can't pass for Southerners!
Questions & Answers
Question: Do you have any insight on where the expression "I'm going to the house" comes from? Also, do you have any good comebacks when someone asks you, "What do you know?"
Answer: "I'm going to the house" is such a common expression, I'm not sure it originated in any specific region.
"What do you know?" It's always been a rhetorical question, but I imagine someone with a quick wit could come up with a funny, sarcastic answer. I haven't heard any particular witty comebacks lately, though, have you?
Question: What does it mean when people start a sentence with “law?” I’ve enjoyed reading these. I lived in Alabama in the early fifties after living my first few years in Brazil, Ginny, I assumed everyone the US spoke like this back then.
Answer: I think that "law" is actually a form of "Lord", possibly calling on the lord tor help or understanding.
Question: Don't you think the "pants so tight you can tell his religion" refers to men and circumcision?
Answer: No, I don't. Generally, I have not heard comments about men's pants at all.
Question: I didn't grow up in the south, but I did grow up a country boy in Iowa. Almost all of these sayings were part of my growing up. The one saying which I truly don't understand is "Well, bless your heart". Some people say it's a derogatory statement, others have told me it's a good thing. What gives?
Answer: "Bless your heart" is sort of an all-purpose expression. It can be used to mean anything from, "you sweet thing" to "you're an idiot".
For example, "She takes such good care of her elderly momma and daddy, bless her heart." or
"He doesn't have the sense to come in out of the rain, bless his heart."
It is just one of those sayings that you have to hear in context to understand what meaning is intended.
Question: Have you heard anyone say “Oh, my hind foot!”? My mother and aunts used to say this if they thought someone was telling a tall tale. I’ve said it so often to my grand nieces as they were growing up, this expression is now used by the girls. Any idea where this one originated?
Answer: I don't know where this expression originated, but, yes, I have heard it. There is another similar expression that is commonly used, but is a little more vulgar. I think the "oh, my hind foot" expression is just a cleaned up version of, "oh, my a**."
Question: Happy as a lart? I’ve heard the expression 100 times but not sure if lart is the right word or if I’ve been misunderstanding
Answer: I believe that the expression is "Happy as a lark", a bird noted for it's cheerful, happy song.
Question: Would please explain the expression 'speak of the devil,' and verify that it is a Southern saying?
Answer: "Speak of the devil" is part of the expression, "Speak of the devil and he shall appear." The expression is used when one is speaking about a person who is absent and then suddenly shows up. It was also once used to warn against saying the devil's name for fear he would appear.
The expression is old and could have originated as an old English proverb. It is not a particularly a Southern saying.
Question: What is the meaning of the Southern saying "Low in the hole"?
Answer: I have not heard that one before, but I would guess that it means "keep your head down if you want to avoid trouble". Perhaps it's a term carried over from wartime when soldiers hid in foxholes to avoid enemy fire?
Question: Is there a southern way to say Merry Christmas?
Answer: Yes, Merry Christmas.
Question: What does "Wake with the South In My Mouth" mean? Does that mean a Southern accent?
Answer: I haven't heard that expression, but your explanation sounds likely.
Question: What does the phrase "he's dumber than a mud fence" mean?
Answer: Pretty dumb!
Question: What does it mean when someone says "You're sexier than socks on a rooster"?
Answer: I guess you're pretty sexy!
Question: Great collection you have here. I am from the south and have always enjoyed the expression "grinning like a jack-ass eating briars" when someone is overly proud of themselves or just has a silly grin on their face. I also like sarcastically stating something is "as pretty as a spotted poodle with the pink mange." My question though is about the exclamation "Well my lands!" or "Oh my lands!" Do you have any idea of its origin?
Answer: I've heard the expression often. "Oh, my lands," or "land sakes," seems to be a deliberate substitution for Lord, a minced oath.
Question: I'm from Northern Alabama. Here in Appalachia, we've heard all of these and many more. One expression that I've never been able to find was one used in my family. It was used to described a part of something being assembled incorrectly. Example: "That's not going to work, son. You've got that part on there Wrong Sudadderds." (Spelling a phonetic guess). Any idea?
Answer: I've never heard the expression "wrong sudadderds", but it's an interesting way of saying "assbackwards!"
Question: What does the southern saying "yuns" mean?
Answer: Yuns is a shortened version of "you ones", similar to "you all".
Question: Is there a saying for that pleasant time around dusk when the temperature cools off in a few minutes, in a pleasant way?
Answer: I just came across a word in a Dean Koontz book that I'm reading that might be what you are looking for: "darkling" or "darkle". It's not a southern expression, but might fit the bill.
Question: Do you think that "bless her/your/his heart" is an insult?
Answer: Well... it all depends on who is saying it and the intention. It can definitely be a softly worded insult, or it can mean something very complimentary.
© 2012 Stephanie Henkel
Terri on September 07, 2020:
I grew up in deep south and there are lots of things said here that don't have swearing or potty mouth type sayings. You seem to think we are all rednecks- stupid and angry. My mother should wash ya'll's mouth out with soap, beg your pardon
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 06, 2020:
I admit it! I'm trying my darnedest to understand Southern slang, but sometimes I just miss the boat. I'd love to hear your corrections.
Emilee on September 05, 2020:
There’s a question on here about the britches being so tight y’all can see their religion
The lady asked if it was referring to circumcision... you said you don’t think so.
But matter of factly, it does in one way shape or form.
Richard Travis on September 03, 2020:
Here's one, After we get our rat killing done, let's go find us a glass of ice tea and some BBQ. Meaning after we get our chores done, let's go down to the cafe and have lunch.
Joe on September 03, 2020:
A haint is a a ghost. That’s what bottle trees is for, they ward off the haints. Born and bred Deep South Mississippian here. You got a many of em right on but I seen a few that weren’t quite understood by ye. Overall good for a yankee
sabrina giblin on September 01, 2020:
My mamaw used to tell me " If you aint got anything nice to say about someone...You wait till they leave"!
Dan on August 24, 2020:
have you heard "that's slicker than snot on a doorknob"
Highway Man on August 14, 2020:
Grandma used to say, I bless your heart, not your fart...We would fall over laughing and try to fart again.
Carol on July 21, 2020:
Lemonjello from 21 months ago quoted more of the says I heard being from north Georgia area.
carol on July 21, 2020:
I have lived in the northern Georgia area all my life and I am almost 70 years old. I have heard the sweet ones and a few critical comment ones. Cussing is a no no for well brought up people and christians. Even in a southern saying nasty language is looked down on.
MARY on July 14, 2020:
Sorry if anyone is offended by colloquial terms like; Wait a cotton pickin minute... Or... Have you lost your cotton pickin mind.. but I'm from Mississippi and from what I hear EVERYONE back in the day picked cotton regardless of race... So lets not pick that scab again....
Rockey157 on May 04, 2020:
Loved this article. Thank you.
OMG - Order More Grits ... or "All that and a bowl of grits." (Yankees version: All that and a bag of chips.)
' ... from Hell to breakfast.' ... having way too many goin's-on at once. (or: to be scattered hither and yon).
He's so dumb, he thinks Johnny Cash is a pay toilet!
She's was so unsightly as a child, her mama had to feed her with a slingshot.
And, finally, how about "Cain’t never could."
Joanna on April 09, 2020:
My great aunt always says "Well that's just the berries" when she likes something.
Lee on March 14, 2020:
Always heard it... "Doesn't know Sheep Sh-t from apple butter.
Angelica on March 06, 2020:
Oh my Lord, i almost die from laughing so hard. You made me be red as a tomato. My native language is not english but i enjoy learning about it, and this just cracked me up hahahahaha i´m still laughing omg, those sayings are the funniest i have ever heard! Thanks for sharing this with us! :)
Laurie Haynes on February 15, 2020:
Happier than a fat tick in a dogs back
He’s nuttier than a squirrel terd
RubioT on February 15, 2020:
As a Southerner that moved up north I loved your article.
The funniest one I ever heard was we were at at church and during a particularly vigorous sermon my grandpa said very loudly,
“If that don’t start your fire your wood’s
wet”. Our group of teenage boys found this particularly funny.
Lana Singletary on February 14, 2020:
About something you hate: I'd rather be in an ant bed with my back broke.
Lana Singletary on February 14, 2020:
You made a common Yankee error. Y'all is ALWAYS plural. We still use you as a singular. It is a contraction of the Scottish ye all as most Southerners have Scots-Irish roots. Using y'all as a singular is insulting to Southerners as it is looked at as a way of making fun of us.
Now, I'm fixing to crank up the car and go get some scrap iron (slang for moonshine).
Steve on February 06, 2020:
He is one from my grandmother. "Lord knows they can't help being ugly, but they sure could stay home."
Kelly Ann Christensen from Overland Park, Johnson County, Kansas on January 26, 2020:
This is a cute, lighthearted article. I thought I had heard a lot of expressions like this, but you have quite a few in here I have not heard. Don't forget "knee high to a grasshopper," meaning when you were little. It is refreshing to read someone who still has their sense of humor.
Danny kluver on January 22, 2020:
She’s lost as rat turd in a barrel of rice
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 21, 2020:
Elaine - I had not heard the expression "low in the hole". Thanks for the new one! As I came across various sayings, I was pretty sure some of them were reserved for "guy talk" as most women I know would not consider talk of farting appropriate.
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 21, 2020:
Bre- You are right, this was written by a Yankee, and I admit that I'm a little clueless about the origin of some expressions. In my mind, I thought cotton picker referred to anyone who picks cotton, of any race. I certainly would not have included it if I knew that the term was offensive to anyone. My apologies! I have deleted it from my article.
Kk on January 16, 2020:
From the South here... just wanted to share one from my childhood that's always been used by my family. "I will beat you like a redheaded step child." Basically was always a warning to us kids to stop causing a ruckus or misbehaving before we got our asses whooped for whatever we were doing.
Another 2 word one you might like is "crazy heifer." Personally, I use this one quite often while driving because I moved up North for work and no one seems to know how to drive.
Donna W. Smoak on January 14, 2020:
Younguns- children; She's crazy as a bat; He wuz driving like a bat outta hell; The phrase, " Bless her little pea-pickin' heart" is a positive comment, " Bless her little pea-picking heart, she was able to have that baby before the doctor got there"! ; but, when just 'bless her heart' is used, the speaker is usually gossipin' or deliberately insulting another in earshot of the conversation.Ex: " I heard that Mary Jane's no beau doesn't need a saddle to ride his horse cause he's so bow-legged, Bless her heart", " Bless her heart, Mary Jane's pound cake is flatter'n a pancake". (Said while Mary Jane or her mother are standing/sitting near by). " He's thin as a rake and 'needs meat on his bones'. (He needs to eat). When a Southerner says, " I'm fine or ok," they really aren't and are holding back emotion out of pride & privacy. If said to their significant other, there must have been a rift between the two. If to total strangers...it might mean they really are ok. But to know if family & friends are doing/feeling happy & healthy is if they answer, " I'm fine as frog's hair!"
Donna W. Smoak on January 14, 2020:
There's" happier than a pig in slop" (slop is all the saved up bits, scraps, & peelings that humans don't eat all mixed up that is then fed to the hogs, which gives rise to another expression " to go slop the pigs".
E rok on January 13, 2020:
I was born at night but it wasnt last night...means im not that stupid
Elaine on January 06, 2020:
Low in the hole means you are broke ,no money , don't know where it comes from but I have heard it a million times! Also the expression is " full as a tick" when you have eaten too much ,lol ,that was pretty funny and I knew most of them but there were some I have never heard before ! The ones that surprised me the most are the ones that talk about farting and things like that, because that's not something southern women would say ,,well at least not around my neck of the woods ! Lol ,thank you
bre on December 30, 2019:
yall must not know what in tarnation a cottonpicker is, and we dont use it when we are surprised. we use it when we are madder than a wet hornet. think back to the mid 1800s and early 1900, what in your upright mind do you think a cottinpicker is. its a racial slur, imma leave that their, did a yankee create this cite or what?
JL Schorgl on December 18, 2019:
Slower than molasses in the winter.
Barb on December 18, 2019:
I use the phrase 'wothless as gum on a bootheel' to describe something absolutely worthess. I live in Oklahoma, but haven't heard anyone else say that
Warren Myers on December 16, 2019:
I assuming you don’t know what a cotton picker is, and I’m telling you right now we don’t use it when we’re surprised.
Angie Hale on December 16, 2019:
In response to one of the questions , wrong sudaddards, is wrong side outwards. As in putting on shirt inside out.
Vicki G Lloyd on December 15, 2019:
I have enjoyed reading your Southern expressions so much! I live in NC and visited my father and grandparents in SC for a couple of weeks each summer growing up, so I recognize most of these expressions. One that I didn't see here is one that is used around here quite frequently. I'm not sure about the spelling; phonetically, it would be "neen" or "nean," with the expression being "You just neen to do that right now! I'll do it later." Or "He nean to take her to town today; I promised to take her tomorrow." As you can see, "neen to" or "nean to" has the meaning of "might as well not." Have you ever heard this one before, or is it just a NC Foothills expression?
Paul Collier on December 08, 2019:
Works like a $2 watch. Is the saying I was lookin for.
Cindy Blankenship on November 29, 2019:
A "haint" is a ghost. Comes from the word "haunt". My grandmother used to say, "He's broke as a haint."
Also, popular around my house. "Flat as a flounder." "Hotter than who laid the rail." (railroad reference)
Riley Soles on November 28, 2019:
hey what are some if these for smelling bad
Robert E. Hays on November 27, 2019:
Mama used to say, "Fine as frog hair split four ways!"
Brooke on November 24, 2019:
Awe... stop your jaw jackin’= shut up
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 18, 2019:
Carl Van Hess - Haven't heard most of these before, they're great! Thanks for posting!
Bobi on November 16, 2019:
GRITS are made from corn, like corn meal is, but they are not corn meal. They are made from ground hominy, which is corn soaked in lye.
Carl Van Hess on November 03, 2019:
Here's a few I really like......"He was raised so far back in the woods that until he was 16, he thought asphalt was something wrong with your butt"
"It's raining so hard the animals are starting to pair up"
"She's pretty as a pumpkin but half as smart"
"Her pants are so tight that if she farts it'll blow her boots off"
"It was so crowded, you couldn't cuss the cat without gettin' fur in your mouth"
"She was so ugly when she was born that her momma used to borrow a baby to take to church on Sunday"
John Sutton on November 01, 2019:
It’s so hot I saw a dog chasing a cat and they were both walking!
May on October 25, 2019:
"Slower than molasses on a cold day"
"I'm only half as dumb as I look"
Buz Jones on October 24, 2019:
A tasty dessert: That was so good it will make you push your granny in the creek.
A fat person: They are no stranger to the fridge.
Obese person: They are about 2 biscuits shy of 300 pounds.
Poor dresser: They are not a slave to fashion.
Small town jokes:
Our town is so small that the city limit signs are on the same post.
Our town is so small that the all night cafe closes at 2 o'clock in the afternoon.
Our town is so small that once we had a parade and there was nobody left to watch.
He lives so far out in the country that they have to pump in sunshine.
Dumb: He is a few fries short of a Happy Meal.
Get off the stove Granny, you are too old to ride the range.
He rode tall in the saddle, till his blister burst.
Don't milk your cow in a windstorm baby, or you will be holding the bag.
Tussle 'bout on October 16, 2019:
We used to say "boy, girl, naked squirrel, dumber than a bean fart" thatd get the other kids all riled up.
alexis goad on October 13, 2019:
In the saying "ran like a scalded haint" you said you dont know what a "haint" is. "Haint" is a southern variation of the word " haunt" and is referring to a ghost or evil spirit. Once upon a time in the deep South, many people painted their porch ceilings a specific shade of Haint Blue, a soft blue-green, to ward off evil spirits called “haints.”
Mitch on October 04, 2019:
Im from tha south an always been here an still live on a REAL ranch an just halfta say I saw quite a bit of stuff that’s a little off. Im not bein mean I jus thought I’d tell ya some real stuff we say. An instead of writing correctly like my phone tells me to i thought I’d write usin my authentic everyday speech so yall can get a feel for tha real thing. Anyway when we like your cookin we say, That food was so good make ya tongue slap back ya head. An when it’s real cold, it’s colder’na witches tit in a GLASS bra sometimes we add “in a ice storm” on the last part if it’s real cold out. An it’s useless as tits on a boar hog. Another is he’s holdin on so tight ya couldn’t drive a needle in is (his) ass with a ball peen hammer. He’s so sick they laid him on a beam. An barkin up tha wrong tree means you messin with tha wrong boy cause he’s way bigger’n you and fixina whoop yo ass easy like Sunday mornin. Somore (Some more) are, You know E (he) lyin cause he’s smilin like a possum eatin shit. Don’t be makin fun of eem, He own (dont) know what’s good for em. He ain’t got tha brains God give a menally (how we pronounce it) retarded masqueta ir how yall say (mosquito) ir whatever. I noticed that you got alot of tha sayings pretty close but they aint all tha way right. An we got lots more. But so far so good I guess. Pretty funny ta read too. Now that’s what I’m talkin bout!
CLAUDIA A. MARTIN on September 02, 2019:
I'm older than Noah's boat so I've heard one from my great grandmother's grandkids.
I'm gonna go light a shuck and go to.... When I asked what it meant, they looked at me and said, back before the Depression, with no wood or candles, they would light a shuck to see at night to go someplace. I asked, "A dry corn shuck?" Yep. Apparently, they were also used for toilet hygiene.
"He's shuckin' so-and-so's corn." A certain person was having relations with another person's spouse.
South Carolina was one of the few places where it was 100% humidity, and it wasn't rainin'.
I like you better'n boilt peanuts...or you're sweeter than boilt peanuts. (They are a delicious southern delicacy when not over salted. You can't use roasted nuts--must be green. I really miss them.)
When I first went there as a kid, I got a bad rep as stuck-up.? Turned out, folks would yell, "hey!" I would turn around. Hunh? Turned out, "Hey" is how they say, "Hi!"--not as an attention getter.
For those who do not get that people have cars and can drive anywhere now-a-days, the better colloquialisms travel and stick, or they fall from common useage (as with the corn cobs). I picked up the slang fast, having been exposed to foreign languages as a kid. It confuses people that meet me after hearing me on the phone... (I'm mixed Asian.) especially after hearing "southern" again. (I revert back to it from Californian.) Good work! (It's true, only northerners "have" hissies.)
Jonathan on August 24, 2019:
Here's a few I've said over the years (From Georgia) 1) I'm out like a fat kid playing dodgeball! 2) That'll go over bout' as well as a turd in a punch bowl!
Jess Sam Guyy on July 23, 2019:
I was once offered a snort of genuine Tennessee moonshine and all I did was smell it and it burned my nose so bad there was no way I was going to drink that crap. My host laughed and explained, "It's just right. Ain't so good as they'd keep it all for themselves and it ain't so bad so's it'd kill ya."
Nolalola on July 18, 2019:
Especially good hearing -
Far, far south of the Mason-Dixon line here... A elderly neighbor said of his wife: "Millie can hear a mouse pissing on a ball of cotton."
EB on July 16, 2019:
Do you know any Southern expressions for true love or falling in live?
Art Mills Texas on July 14, 2019:
Derogatory term for someone (one word)- sumbitch.
Damn has two syllables- da-yum.
There are a few more to learn in order to speak southern.
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on July 13, 2019:
OK, you got me, Bonnie. I have no idea what crossing your legs before eating boiled okra could possibly mean!
Bonnie. Hogsett on July 12, 2019:
My great-aunt would say:
Don’t forget to cross your legs before eating boiled okra.
Southerners know what that means.
I better git home or my Mama’s gonna “skin me alive”
Charles Kersey on July 10, 2019:
I live in deep south and i loved seein these, ya got most of em but ya missed some the good ones like another phrase for useless that I personally say alot is "You're as uselfess as tits on a boar hog."
Nithya Venkat from Dubai on July 04, 2019:
If you did not translate each one of the sayings I would be totally in the dark! Enjoyed reading.
Eric on June 16, 2019:
I'm feeling puny.
Bob Ross on June 10, 2019:
I forgot a couple:
“Thunder mug”. Bedside commode
“A rising”. An abscess
Just a further expansion of “bless his heart”. It seems as if you can say anything about someone as long as you end the statement with “bless his heart”. For example: “He ain’t got the brains God gave him - bless his heart”. “He shore is the ugliest boy from that litter - bless his heart”.
“Cold enough to kill hogs”. Before good refrigeration, meat had to be stored such that it would not go bad. So, you might wait until the weather got real cold before you would butcher pigs.
ANeller on May 31, 2019:
A “haint” is a ghost. Low country SC people paint the ceilings of their front porches “haint blue” to keep the spirits from entering the house.
“Dinner” means lunch and “supper” means dinner — main meal is in the middle of the day esp on Sunday (pronounced “Sundee”)
Other variant of y’all — plural possessive “all y’all’s” — used when one or more objects belongs to a group of people : “Is this all y’all’s picnic stuff?”
“Bless your heart” can actually equal “poor baby “ said as an expression of true compassion — used all the time by my mother when one of us was feeling bad.
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on May 31, 2019:
That's a new one! Thans, C. Hooper!
C Hooper on May 30, 2019:
When food is really good.
"Put that on top of your head and your tongue would beat your brains out trying to get to it"
C Hooper on May 30, 2019:
My grandmother used to describe a handsome man as
"Finer than a Frog hair split four ways"
N Gray on May 11, 2019:
My Mom was quite colorful. She used to tell us “ You can want in one hand and sh*t in the other. See which one fills up the fastest”
BigCountry on April 21, 2019:
Not from the south but was raised out in the sticks.. Here a few for ya's
* Slicker than dog snot on a door knob..
* He/She is more Nuttier than a squirrels turd.
* Sweatin like a pregnant nun in the front row of a Church meeting
* More nuttier than a port a potty at a peanut festival
* Its hotter than a mess of collard greens on the back burner of a $2 stove
* He was bangin her like a screen door in a windstorm (having sex)
*He's more confused than a blindman at a silent movie
* Happier than a fat kid in a bakery
* he/she is more fake than a set of Double D implants on a anorexic stripper
* He/ she has a champaign taste with a flat beer pocketbook
* He/ she is about as useless as a fart in a fan factory
* He/She aint the brightest crayon in the box or sharpest tool in the shed
* Your more shocking then a Junebug trapped in a bug zapper
* If brains were gasoline He/she couldnt drive a piss-ants gokart around a Cheerio
* He/she is about as nervous as a Fat bee in a fly swater convention
Thats about all of them I used or heard Hope you enjoyed them..
I sure did like reading all the others as well.. thanks for the good laughs
john youngblood on April 05, 2019:
So hot the fire needs water
Jim on April 04, 2019:
A friend from North sand mountain Alabama used to describe the rich as " have enough money to burn a wet dog".
Bob on March 28, 2019:
Grew up in the central valley CA. Here's a couple.
(Slaunch ways) = Diagonal.
(when your waiting in a long line)
Im sitting here like a penny waitin fer change!
"Im busier than a cat trying to cover it up on a tin roof.
(When a drink taste bad)
It taste like horse piss!
(When family or kin treats you bad)
The saying goes "horse piss is thicker than blood".
(someone's body is shaking in the cold)
He's shaking like a dog tryin to sh*t out prunes.
( a bad cook)
Her bread can put a dent in my car!
(when something happens fast or quick)
That was quick! We need to get you in congress!
(A signal light turns green)
Aint gonna get no greener.
(When your mad at someone)
You takin inventory of those teeth of yer's?
(And just a quick mens bathroom joke when standing at the urinals)
(While standing at the urinals with other people)
(Yell out somewhat loud) Anybody wanna play swords?
m on March 28, 2019:
Southern gal on March 27, 2019:
Hotter than a fireball
Meaner than a snake
Hairs a mess
Mess of collards
Boot of the car
Busy as a fart in a collander
Lisa on March 17, 2019:
Here's some southern expressions for y'all:
"Colder than a witch's tit in a brass bra."
"Dumber than a box of rocks."
"Crazier than a bag of frogs."
"Crazier than a fly in a bass drum."
"Busier than a one-armed paper hanger."
"If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, you can be SURE it's a duck."
Joe Benton on March 15, 2019:
um. you need to pull the third one for "surprised".
Stephanie on March 15, 2019:
And someone asked about cat cutting being a name for a pot luck - calf cutting. When it’s calf cutting time it takes so many people to run the chutes, hold the calf, clip the horns, and on and on so normally you call everyone over to help and all of the wives bring and help make food so when the workers drag up at the end of the day tired and starving, there is plenty of food.
Stephanie on March 07, 2019:
Even with all the mayonnaise in the world, you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken sh**. Meaning just because you sugar coat it, doesn’t make it right or nice.
Michael Greehaw on March 07, 2019:
Law is short for lawd ( lord ) ol in da hole is another way of saying lo and behold . Cottonpicker Can be affectionate or derogatory.
Muckeltydunn is an mustard or brown ugly color .
Slicker than owl sh*t on a sycamore limb - it’s reall slick .
Chris on February 20, 2019:
I heard this in South Carolina last week: He's as country as a cornbread weddin' cake
Nonny on February 08, 2019:
Don't know if these are Southern, but I first heard them when I was living in the Carolinas.
When someone looks like they's had a rough day doing dirty work: "You look like you've been shot at and missed, sh!t at and hit."
looked at someone dubiously: gave him the hairy eyeball.
exceptionally uncommon: rare as hen's teeth
too much stuff (clothes, knick-knacks, possessions in general): sh!t for days
When you're tried of getting the run-around (from bureaucrats or customer service reps who keep directing to someone else rather than helping solve your problem,) or when you're tired of dealing with someone or a group of people who are goofing off and acting like idiots instead of getting a job done, you might say, "I've had just about enough of this happy horsesh!t"
One who is eagerly enthusiastic about something, takes care of a task with uncommon promptness and and efficiency, or watches events with extreme attention to detail and possibly suspicion can be said to be 'all over that like white on rice' or like flies on sh!t.
Keith Blalock on February 02, 2019:
Happier'n a hog in a cool puddle of mud.
Linde Knighto on February 01, 2019:
Pants so tight you're showin your religion...Could be about circumcision, or Mormon Temple Garment, or a Native Person's medicine bag....
Amer Hooper on January 24, 2019:
I was taking care of snow elderly woman, who at the time was 100yrs young. She would tell me lots of stories, but her favorite was when she got her 1st real job at a department store she would tell her boss when asked what she did before working for him. She'd tell him that she "was shucking high gear" in the country. Hopefully I'm saying it correctly & someone knows what it means.
Therickster on January 23, 2019:
The scantily clad one is for men not women.... It's a circumcision joke.
Sarah on January 22, 2019:
What is it that people say in the south when referring to a kid who is hyper or acting crazy??? I used to hear a saying all the time when lived in North Carolina from Virginia people.
Mary on January 19, 2019:
Excellent collection of colloquialisms! I had never heard the brains were leather one!
My mother always said “didn’t know whether to wind his a** or scratch his watch”. She was from east TN. I wonder if it’s a regional difference.
FYI: A haint is a ghost
A dead pig in the sunshine dries out and the skin pulls back from his mouth to look like a grin.
Jo on December 15, 2018:
My mother was from Oklahoma and I've heard nearly all of these. She used to say she was so hungry she could eat a horse and chase the rider. We also used to say someone "didn't know shit from Shinola" and I actually bought a bottle of Shinola at an antique store. It's a lovely reminder of my family heritage lol.
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on December 03, 2018:
I haven't heard the term, but perhaps some of our readers are familiar with it.
Sandy Weter on December 02, 2018:
Looking for a reference for a “cat cutting”. I heard this term frequently in the 50’s when people referred to a big group of people having a party with food, music and sometimes beer. Anybody else know this term?
Tinkeroo on November 11, 2018:
If you're born to hang, you ain't gonna choke on a chicken bone!
ally on November 05, 2018:
I mean...I'm from Buffalo and we use damn near all of these...
lemonjello on October 24, 2018:
hey....... I’m from Louisiana and I’ve only heard a few of these sayings. however I’ve heard a lot of the stuff from the ‘southern slang’ section. so, I’ll put some of the sayings I’ve commonly heard:
Cattywompus/cattyconkered - askew or scattered
wait a cotton-picking minute - the equivalent of ‘hold on a second’
coke - any kind of soda
s/he couldn’t see the forest for the trees - said when someone overlooks the obvious
yuppie - a northerner/city person
city-slicker - yet another term for a northerner or a city person
mudbugs - crawfish
catch - a term for a person who seems like a good suitor
kids who hunt and fish don’t steal and deal - a common bumper sticker saying. also used to imply that your children (especially ones who hunt and fish) are higher class/better behaved than drugheads
it got me - what we say when we get hurt suddenly (for example, if we burn a hand on a stove, or get nipped by a lizard, or poked by a fish hook)
if you put them in a room together you still wouldn’t have a full set of teeth - said when referring to a group of hillbillies or a group of people who don’t have a lot of teeth, such as those who live in poor neighborhoods
this car can turn on a dime - used when referring to a vehicle that can make sharp turns
mudriding - when you (sometimes with friends) go out in a side by side or on a four wheeler, and ride through large mud puddles in the woods
crack shot - a sharpshooter
hootenanny - a party or get together
country yokel - used when fondly referring to one of your friends when they venture out into the city
dollar store brand - used when referring to a crappy off brand product
s/he won’t go swimming in the rain for fear of getting wet - used to refer to a pessimist and/or an idiot
cow patties - what cows leave in the pasture (cow dung)
put out to pasture - retiring something or throwing it away
this makes you want to slap ya mama - said when something is spicy
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on October 14, 2018:
Cadmus Cornfoot - Well, you sure gave us a good taste of southern culture! Thanks for writing in!
Cadmus Cornfoot on October 13, 2018:
I got a few from Florida, Georgia and Tennessee not on your list. You live any amount of time growing up between the swamp and the mountains and you're bound to hear a wide variety of accents and nonsense you just won't hear anywhere else. I appreciate many things about southern culture that are independent of race/gender/creed. Everyone contributes a little bit to it which is what makes it such a joy to meet folks from all walks and every neck of the woods.
Sometimes 'show' means movie (like picture show) and 'stories' can refer to soap operas.
Tractor-trailers are semi-trucks
Yams are sweet-potatoes
It's all "six and one-half dozen" when there ain't no difference.
Grits are just corn meal similar in a way to cream of wheat. Add plenty of butter, maybe a little milk to thicken it, eat it as is or use it like a gravy that makes everything taste a bit better when you dip in it.
G.R.I.T.S. are also girls raised in the south
Slug burgers used to only cost a nickle (or slug, old slang), they don't put slimy slug worms in them. Tater logs are just jumbo sized french fries that are seasoned properly. Don't be afraid to try fried gator tail, if it's done in oil separate from the fish fry it's a really tasty white meat.
P.E.T.A. stands for people eating tasty animals. Roadkill either ends up on the dinner plate or getting processed at the dog food plant.
Stand up-wind of anyone who eats too much roadkill if you start to hear "barking spiders", you'd swear whatever it was they ate smelled rather like it crawled up inside them and died!
If the moonshine tastes like water you'd best sit down and rest your dogs awhile before it lays you out cold. (!!SERIOUS ADVICE!!)
When it's time to work there ain't nothin to it but to do it. I don't know how southern it's origins are but plenty will tell ya if it ain't broke, don't fix it, you best leave well enough alone. But by all means, if it is a complete waste of time
you may have to remind someone that they "can't polish a turd."
When pay day would come we would say it's "the day the eagle sh*ts"; or farts in the case of a slow week or a new hire that wasn't getting much on their check. "It's gonna sh*t in everyone's hand 'cept you. It's just gonna fart in yours."
Lib'da (lie-b-duh) is a word I'm not certain I spelled right but it means 'likely to': Don't even think about sassin' momma, she's lib'da slap you stupid
Also don't go around buttin' in on other people's gossip asking, "who?" They lib'da tell ya,"What'you mean 'WHO'? Your leg don't fit no tree!"
This isn't a saying so much as a fact that anything and everything gets pickled in the south and you can usually find it in a big jar on the counter at the corner store. Many will eat anything "assh*le-to-snout."
"Love, peace and chicken grease."
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on October 08, 2018:
AUCADC - Thanks for your contribution to some funny Southern sayings!
Nate clemhoff on September 29, 2018:
Here's one...busy as a one eyed cat watching two ratholes. Another one....lazy as a hog in a mudhole in the sunshine. Another....bright as a burnt out lightbulb in a fifty foot hole at midnight.
mimorr on September 14, 2018:
"my dauber be draggin"
for "very tired"
but when I ask people they have never heard of it. Does anyone else use it?
Deb Baker on September 10, 2018:
A haint is a ghost. The ceilings of porches are painted haint blue to ward off ghosts.
Singh on August 21, 2018:
Funny and useful! Also, some of the expressions are familiar here in Sacramento, Ca.
Turquoise on August 18, 2018:
My Mama used to say: who do you think you are; the Queen of Sheba?!
Annie on August 08, 2018:
when someone kids were bad granny would say:those children are bader than
kerosene and a lit match
And if a woman has a big butt: look at that big rump she has
once u go country u will never go hungry:that means if u marry a country girl (she knows how to cook) an a country man( he knows how to hunt)