Appalachian Dialect

Airish in Appalachia

pasture and road

airish adjective
1 Of the weather: cool, fresh, breezy.
c1959 Weals Hillbilly Dict 2 = drafty, breezy, cool. “Shet the door. It feels sorta airish in here.” 1972-73 Pederson et al. LAGS = a little chilly, pleasantly cool (Cocke Co Tn, Sevier Co TN). 1974 Fink Bits Mt Speech 1 = windy, cool. “Hit’s plumb airish out.” 1996-97 Montgomery Coll. The night feels a bit airish (Brown); It was an awful airish day, wasn’t it? (Cardwell).

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

Our weather turned a bit airish over the weekend.

Several weeks ago we had a taste of fall, but as it often does this time of the year it receded quickly and we returned to temps as high as the 80s for the last two weeks.

Sunday morning it was a breezy 37 degrees which certainly fits the definition of airish.

I’m ready for airish weather to stick around and stay…and hopefully some snow will soon follow it.


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  • Reply
    October 19, 2021 at 4:23 pm

    It has been a bit airish here in our area of southeast Texas. This morning our thermometer registered 47 degrees as the overnight low. I often say it’s a bit airish when it is cool/cold and especially when the wind is blowing in a norther. We’ve heard and used that term all our lives here in our neck of the woods.

  • Reply
    Greg Church
    October 19, 2021 at 2:57 pm

    I love all the seasons but was reminded of my greatest displeasure with fall and winter this morning, I greatly dislike dry heat in the house. I feel like I can’t get my breath without going outside. Houses are just too tight to get fresh air these days.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    October 19, 2021 at 2:14 pm

    If thirty mile winds, gusting to forty-five can be considered airish then Honolulu has been a bit airish the last few days. Means winter is almost upon us. Why, it got down to almost 70° last night!

  • Reply
    October 19, 2021 at 12:48 pm

    Why, Tipper, hits even been a might airish down here in Texas of late. It uz 44 and breezing when I got up Sunday morning.

  • Reply
    GoodGriefLouise (Bill)
    October 19, 2021 at 11:56 am

    I’ve been saying Arish most of my life. I think I got it from my grandma. Born and raised in Texas but most of the folk words you use in Appalachia got here from those pioneers migrating from there to here. My greats were from North Carolina.

  • Reply
    Dennis M Morgan
    October 19, 2021 at 11:46 am

    It is airish in South Carolina also.
    Dennis Morgan

  • Reply
    October 19, 2021 at 10:30 am

    Beautiful photo of airish meadow!

  • Reply
    Donna Brewton
    October 19, 2021 at 10:10 am

    Here in the Texas Hill Country, two mornings last week, it was a bit airish in the early morning. We were breezy and in the low 40’s. But as usual we’ve returned to balmy 50 & 60 degree mornings. No matter the calendar, I don’t look for airish weather until at least Thanksgiving. I never hear this word but somehow was familiar with it. Maybe because I like to & make time to read.
    Thinking of reading……. no one has read to me ,that I recall, since as a class we all took turns reading “Tale of Two Cities” my junior year of high school. Listening to Luisa’s thoughts and her adventure out into another world in “Mountain Path” has been delightful. Thanks you Tipper.
    Cool morning blessings, DonnaB.

  • Reply
    October 19, 2021 at 9:26 am

    I had to check myself on using airish and I’ve heard and used it. When talking about someone from Ireland (Arland) or they are Arish. The A is silent. It is airish here in E.KY. this morning in the low forties.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 19, 2021 at 8:57 am

    Fall got here with a NW wind ringing our wind chimes all day Saturday then turning airish for Sunday morning. It was time and I hope we don’t go back into the 80’s.

    In my mind, “airish” also includes what we called a “keen” wind, the kind that cuts or, as we would say, blows right through you. In the James Harriot books, he said the Yorkshire folks called that a “thin wind”.

  • Reply
    Al Shew
    October 19, 2021 at 8:40 am

    I grew up in Southeastern North Carolina (a melting pot of early European settlers) . Airish was commonly used among the old timers.

  • Reply
    October 19, 2021 at 8:37 am

    It’s a bit arish down here in Louisiana
    In the 40s had to use the heater for 1st time I’m enjoying and hoping like u it sticks around

  • Reply
    October 19, 2021 at 8:29 am

    I’m fine with it being arish for a spell, but no need to rush the snow in.

    • Reply
      Sherry Whitaker
      October 19, 2021 at 11:09 am

      Yes that was a Memaw word & so very perfect for the weather here today & yesterday. Oh how I wish it could stay, but 86 is on the way for today in Florida.

  • Reply
    Vann Helms
    October 19, 2021 at 8:26 am

    My Grandma Ratcliffe used “airish” to refer to the evenings right after sundown. She always preceded it with the word “right”. “It’s right airish out tonight.” She grew up north of Charlotte.

  • Reply
    October 19, 2021 at 8:12 am

    I absolutely love this Tipper. I was born in NYC but moved to NC when I was 3. I lived 4 years in Charlotte before my parents moved to Conover, a small town near Hickory. I met my best friend at a Bible assembly in Greensboro. Her family was Appalachian through and through. She lived in Blowing Rock, but her mom was from Ashe County and her Dad from Mitchell county. They were college educated, so they always talked “proper” around their little NY transplant guest, ME.
    But when they were talking amongst themselves in another room I would hear words and expressions that I had NEVER heard before. And I LOVED it. I started eavesdropping just for fun, and I learned A LOT of beautiful words and expressions that I still remember to this day (I’m 54 and started visiting them every summer from ages 11 to 14). I don’t remember hearing airish, but I remember reading it in a piece of Appalachian fiction. I think it’s a great word, and I can’t think of another word that’s as full of meaning. I say brisk or crisp, but I’m not sure that takes in the wind as well as the temperature. So I guess I’m going to have to add airish to my vocabulary.
    By the way, I am a biracial person and never felt anything but kindness from the Appalachian people. In the 70s and early 80s. That needs to be said. They saw my tan colored skin and long curly, braided hair , but they also saw a little girl. I received lots of little gifts from unsmiling, but kind faces. Homemade candy, cider, little items carved(or whittled) from wood. I knew they were good people. Safe people. And that felt nice for a little girl visiting from out of town.

    By the way, I recently learned a Japanese word I thought you might enjoy. Kogarashi. It means “leaf-shaking wind” ; the first cold wind of the year that let’s you know that winter is coming.
    I’m not sure if Appalachian has a word for that, but I loved it and thought I’d share.
    Thanks so much for your blog and your YouTube channel. They fill me full of warm happy feelings.

    • Reply
      October 19, 2021 at 2:05 pm

      Gabby-So glad you enjoyed the post! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  • Reply
    Margie G
    October 19, 2021 at 8:07 am

    It’s airing up here in southern WV as my thermometer in the window claims 40 degrees so I’m guessing about 35 degrees (because of being by the window.) I love to smell the leaves, crunch through the leaves and even the hickory nuts hitting my metal roof scaring the tar out of my critters! It makes for fall fun!!! Have a great day all you BP&A folks!!!

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney
    October 19, 2021 at 7:13 am

    It was not uncommon at all to hear airish used in Carter County, TN when referring to someone from Ireland. Even though the word was used both ways, one pretty much always understood in what context it was being used.

  • Reply
    October 19, 2021 at 7:03 am

    “Airish” was one of my Memaw’s words.

  • Reply
    Larry Paul Eddings
    October 19, 2021 at 6:30 am

    Yes, we’ve had a few airish mornings recently here on the Cumberland Plateau. I love that cool, clean air.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 19, 2021 at 6:20 am

    Yep, it got a little arish and it sure felt good. Fall is slowly moving in, in the mountains!

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