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Texas Sayings and Words Visitors Should Know


Since the winter is fast approaching, there are more and more northerners down here in the south. Often they are short-term visitors—not exactly snowbirds, but you get the drift. Sometimes just trying to talk to a true Texan can be a bit challenging, especially if you don't know the local sayings, phrases, and just plain-old weird Texasisms. This article came about because a friend of mine from Calgary, Alberta, asked me about a conversation they had with a Texan that left them a bit mystified.

The following is hopefully going to shine some light on the more common sayings you may encounter while in the Lone Star State. Keep in mind that Texas is huge and there are many regional sayings as well, but this should get you started.

Understanding the Lingo

He's all hat and no cattle: This is probably pretty obvious, but it is someone that likes to put on a good front or appearance but really has no credentials, real-world skills, or any knowledge about whatever he is spouting off about. In other areas, this individual is the know-it-all, blowhard, or the poser.

Toad choker: This is also referred to as a frog strangler or a turd floater, and means a heavy torrential downpour. Since most of Texas is pretty flat, heavy rains pose a true flash-flooding hazard as well as lots of issues with closed roads.

Y'all: Y'all, which is often pronounced yaaaaaallllllllll, is a way of referring to at least one other person. In general, if you are talking to more than a handful of people, the correct southern and Texas address would be "all y'all." This is sometimes a bit confusing, but just go with the flow.

Do wut? This is the standard response if you weren't paying attention or didn't hear what the speaker said for some reason. In other cultures, the way this is often expressed is "excuse me" or "pardon me" or even "could you please repeat that?" Sometimes this phrase is expanded to "Do wut now?"

Greeze and Earl: Despite what you might think, these are actually components to your car. Greeze, otherwise known as grease, and earl or oil, often cause stains on your hands or clothes. These stains are considered to be greezy, and are really problematic in hot weather. Of course, you also have to constantly keep checking the pressure in your tiyures (tires) because the hot temperatures cause problems there as well.

Uh huh: When you say "thank you," often you hear the response "uh huh." This should be interpreted in this situation as "you're welcome." It can also be a sign of agreement with the last statement made.

Bowed up: When someone is really angry and is taking on an aggressive body stance, they are said to be all bowed up. Kids that are talking back to their parents will often be told not to get all bowed up or they will get a "whipping."

Jaw Jackin: Just talking to hear yourself or talking smack to someone. Jaw jacking is often combined with getting bowed up.

Hitched but not churched: This is a way of saying that a couple is living together without being married. In the Bible belt, this is still a taboo, and there are many sayings that relate to heathens, sin, and immoral behavior.

Broke bad: Basically, this refers to anyone that seems to come from a good family but he or she has gone over to the dark side. It can refer to horses that are incorrectly "broke" or trained, resulting in mean and unfriendly animals, but in Texas, it typically refers to people.

They are proud of that: Being proud of something means that you place an unusually or unreasonably high value on some item that is really not worth near that amount. This is a subjective statement, but it is commonly heard at auctions, swap meets, garage sales, and farmer's markets.

Chunk: Ok, this one is really weird. If you are throwing something a short distance they say they are chunking it. Don't know why Texans don't say chucking it like the rest of the world, but there ya go!

Neighbor: Neighbors are the people in your community, someone you talked to once at the Dairy Queen that lives up (or down) the road, someone you are distantly related to through marriage, or someone that lives in the same county as you do. It really doesn't have anything with physical address locations and can be really misleading.

Coke: Anything that is called soda or pop anywhere else is called coke in Texas. For example, coke can be Pepsi, Sprite, Dr. Pepper, or almost anything else that fizzes and comes in a can or bottle.

Tea: Tea is always iced tea and is always sweet iced tea unless you specifically ask for unsweetened. If you have never had southern sweet tea, you may want to try a small taste before ordering a whole glass. Let's just say it is sort of like drinking icing!

Not plum but pert near: This is a highly descriptive and phonetic way to say everything isn't exactly perfect but it is close enough to be workable. If someone asks you how you are doing, you can always answer "fair to midlin," which is the equivalent of not plum but pert near!

Fixin': This is the ultimate in Texan speak. Fixin', which is not said like "fixing" but is sometimes pronounced as "fiddin," is a way to indicate that at some yet-to-be-determined time, some action is going to be taken. An example of this would be "I'm fixin' to go to the store." Notice this doesn't indicate when, and can be also used to indicate you are thinking about possibly doing something sometime.

For those Texans out there, please feel free to add a few statements of your own and help out those visitors to your great state to feel right at home, y'all!