Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

A Closer Look At The Word Arrowy

Arrowy Appalachia

Almost every comment on yesterday’s Appalachian Vocabulary Test was the same-folks were familiar with all the words except arrowy. Most of you will remember-but for those of you who might have missed the test-I explained the word like this:

  • Arrowy: arrow. “They’ve got a arrowy painted on the road showing you were to turn off now. I reckeon they think people can’t do nothing by themselves.”

Back in the day-before I ever laid eyes on The Deer Hunter, I went on a date with a boy from way down in the lower portion of Cherokee County. We went bowling. He was trying to explain the art of bowling to me-when he told me to watch for the ‘arrowy’. I said “Watch for what?”, he said “The arrowy.” After a few times of that I finally figured out he was telling me to watch for the arrow. He sorta blushed and told me “All his family said arrowy for arrow.” I told him not to worry my family talked funny too.

I never even thought about trying to research the word arrowy-but one of you did. Sandy found this about the word:

Ar´row`y a. 1. Consisting of arrows. How quick they wheeled, and flying, behind them shot Sharp sleet of arrowy showers.- Milton.  2. Formed or moving like, or in any respect resembling, an arrow; swift; darting; piercing. By the blue rushing of the arrowy Rhone.

After I read Sandy’s great comment I found this on the Merriam Webster site:

Definition of ARROWY

: resembling or suggesting an arrow <arrowy pines>; especially: swiftly moving <the sky was radiant with arrowy bolts  — Mark Twain>
: consisting of arrows <arrowy showers>
*1616-first known use of arrowy
*marrowy rhymes with arrowy
The boy from back in the day-used the word to describe an arrow I should be watching-and he did indeed pronounce arrowy to rhyme with marrowy. The comments from yesterday more than proved the use of the word is not common today-and the young man is the only person I ever heard use it myself. But I find the information Sandy and I found fascinating. It would seem-for whatever reason the word arrowy was passed down through the generations in the boy’s family-all the way to his generation. Makes me wonder if he still says it? And if maybe his kids say it too-if he has kids?



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  • Reply
    Doris Noland Parton
    June 21, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    We pronounced it “arree” growing up in Sevier County, TN. I never heard it as above! We have variations all over the place in our dialect!

  • Reply
    susie swanson
    October 11, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Never heard it before but I have

  • Reply
    October 11, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Martina-thank you for the comments! The pretty lady is Granny : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Mrs. K
    October 11, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Miss the music too!!!

  • Reply
    October 10, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Not familiar with that word being used in this area. Who is the pretty lady in the photo collage at the top of your post?

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    October 10, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Thanks for the explanation! It does make sense if you are rhyming things, but I like the Webster explantion.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 10, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    I think “measured myself” could have been a shortened version of “measured myself for a coffin.”

  • Reply
    October 10, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    That is a great word! I have not heard anyone use arrowy but I will when I can just to confuse my children and grandchildren. We have a family trip to the Smokies next week that should be a perfect opportunity. I thought you were going to be referring to airy,ary,or sometimes nary a one. You made me smile!

  • Reply
    October 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Ah! I understand now; “One o’them pinty-lookin’ things…”

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    October 10, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    All of these terms made me think of one from my Granny. She always said measured myself for falling flat. Example:, “I ’bout measured myself stepping off the back porch.” Anyone else heard that term? She was from Monroe County, Kentucky.

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    October 10, 2012 at 11:57 am

    I am a dictionary collector…I know, I know you can’t tell it by the spellin’ in my comments…
    I said I collected ’em not read ’em!
    Now then when I looked up Arrowy in my 1800 dictionary, it was the closest at hand without going diggin’..The definition was simple and precise, to the point, so to speak! Pun intended!
    After the definition of arrow..Arrowy, follows and defines arrowy as consisting of arrows! Sweet and simple…
    I love that you and Sandy did the research on the word…Our great writers and poets must have loved the word…
    I think I will try to use arrowy in my conversation with someone and see the reaction…Have you ever gone and done that?
    Thanks Tipper, loved this post!

  • Reply
    José Luis
    October 10, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Hello tipper
    What happened to the music?, Not shown, and I need it … because I use it as background music when I’m working with the computer.
    I hope that you can re-upload.
    I’m far from Appalachia, but you know how much I love your music.
    From Buenos Aires, Best regards, José Luis.

  • Reply
    October 10, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Never heard arrowry before. You know, there’s times when we think that a certain word is not a legitimate word, then we find that it is.
    Incidentally Tipper, a couple of days ago I was stopped at a traffic light and as I looked out to the right over in the weeds I saw that mystery plant like the one that was growing under your kitchen window! I thought to myself I bet that could be one of Tippers’ buddies! Who knows?

  • Reply
    Ron Perry
    October 10, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Tipper, all of your columns are sharp, arrowy and to the point.

  • Reply
    October 10, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Never “heerd” it said like that–but “ahrr” was common around here for arrow. Same for “nahrr” as in narrow.

  • Reply
    October 10, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Tim-true! But correct word usage never stopped us before LOL! And then there are words that can be used as noun or adjective-like: fast cars or the fast only lasted 2 days; the poor need our help or I came from a poor family.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Tim Cuthbertson
    October 10, 2012 at 8:15 am

    But, the thing is that the man in your original story was using arrowy as a noun, while the precedents and definitions you found were all using it as an adjective.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 10, 2012 at 7:34 am

    I have used the word arrowy to describe to shape of an object but never to name it.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 10, 2012 at 7:29 am

    Tipper, this still, somehow, feels like a strange word to me. That’s probably just because I’ve not heard it before.
    I miss the music player and I know that you do also.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    October 10, 2012 at 7:06 am

    Yes, miss the music. thought it was my problem.
    The research on the word arrowy is fascinating. It is sad when we lose such descriptive words due to non-use. Our language is so much richer with them.

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