Appalachian Dialect

All Riled Up

man sharpening knife

A portion of a comment AW Griff left last week got me to thinking about the word rile.

“I have always known the knifes as case knifes and a Case brand knife is a totally different animal. My briggity Grandson calls them a table knife just to start a rall. My teacher Wife just told me there was no such word as rall but it should be row. Well, I grew up using rall.”

I’ve never heard the rall usage AW mentions, but as I read his comment I immediately thought of getting riled up.

roil, roil up verb, verb phrase variant form rile.
1883 Zeigler and Grosscup Heart of Alleghanies 128 The current of the stream was slightly riled; thus everything being, propitious for the sport. 1904-7 Kephart Notebooks 4:853 He was some considerably riled about it. 1966 Dykeman Far Family 81 Your’e a pretty wild mountaineer when you’re riled aren’t you? c1975 Lunsford It Used to Be 168 “Riled’ is a verb and it means to “become angry.” The old man got sort of riled about the way I voted, and he didn’t like it. 1978 Montgomery White Pine Coll. III-2 That pretty well riled White Pine up.

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


The word rile in conjunction with getting upset at a rapid rate is common across the United States, but my isn’t it a great word!

The very sound of it indicates the emotion a person feels when they get all riled up.


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  • Reply
    February 6, 2020 at 7:39 pm

    I think it a nice way of saying, Wow, she’s pi_ _ed off.

  • Reply
    February 6, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    Riled is common here, and I always assumed rile is just another way of saying roil, like roiling water. All agitated.

  • Reply
    February 6, 2020 at 10:13 am

    I think we all have been riled one time or nother. I know i have. As a teacher says there’s no such word but for us Tn. Country folk, there is.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    February 6, 2020 at 8:57 am

    Tipper maybe that why people look at me and say to themselves where are you from. I tease a lot maybe I rile them. Always heard the word riled.

  • Reply
    Gaye Blaine
    February 5, 2020 at 5:14 pm

    Have heard a family fuss referred to as a “row ” ( rhymes with How ).
    Mr and Mrs. So and So we’re having a loud row as I passed by.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 5, 2020 at 3:51 pm

    There is another word roil (pronounced the same as royal) which means to irritate or annoy. Maybe AW’s grandson’s actions served to roil him.

  • Reply
    February 5, 2020 at 10:44 am

    My goodness, I’ve used and heard the word “riled” all my life. I don’t remember “Rall” but I would understand the meaning if I heard the word “Row” used in a sentence

  • Reply
    February 5, 2020 at 10:36 am

    I do believe I use “rowld up” but think it may just be taking liberties with words as Appalachians are prone to do. The only thing I can say for certain is if I told anyone in my area that something “rowld me up” they would not look at me funny. One doctor fiend used to laugh at me for using pretty in a different way. For instance, “That meal looks pretty good.”

  • Reply
    February 5, 2020 at 10:22 am

    I’ve always heard and used “riled up”, and I’m from Richmond, Virginia.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    February 5, 2020 at 9:53 am

    I guess I have always used riled up but didn’t realize it was a fading word.
    I looked up row in Webster’s Dictionary, what I call rall, and row means a noisy quarrel. I then tried to find rall and the closest word to it is rally. Rally can mean to make fun of or tease playfully.
    My Grandson loves to tease me over some of my words. Recently we teased one another over the word talk. When he says talk it sounds like tock. I told him tock is what a clock does and people talk. Other words he speaks WRONG are wok for walk, hock for hawk etc.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 5, 2020 at 8:55 am

    I think the word AW is using is row. Like the word ow /ou/ with an r at the beginning. It’s not pronounced row with a long o like when you put chairs in a row or when you row a boat. It means a ruckus or a heated argument. Many Appalachian people like to change the ending sounds of words. Like when we pronounce wasp as wasper or when my daughter says fount instead of found.
    Riled up people usually end up in a row. AW spells it rall but I think rowl or rawl would be closer. Yes I have heard the word used often but I prefer ruckus.

    • Reply
      aw griff
      February 5, 2020 at 10:01 am

      Thanks ED. If I had read your comment sooner I would have spelled it rawl.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    February 5, 2020 at 8:37 am

    I have not heard “rile” for a good while but I know it well. I am having a hard time thinking of any other word or expression that means “to become angry”, except maybe “made me mad”. I had never made any connection with “roiled” but I get a mental picture of stirred up water with dirt, leaves and sticks in it swirling and churning. So just substitute emotions for debris and you have “riled”.

  • Reply
    Rodger Linkenhoker
    February 5, 2020 at 7:52 am

    We use the terms rile and riled up here in northern Botetourt County in Virginia. It’s the county just north of Roanoke County, in the southern end of the Great Valley of Virginia.
    The southern end of Botetourt is turning into suburbia, while the north end is still pretty rural. You hear the term mostly among the older folks, the rural speech is slowly fading away. I live in the town of Buchanan, so we call the local dialect Buchanese.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    February 5, 2020 at 7:26 am

    I have always used riled. It is a great word that leaves no doubt as to it’s meaning. I love words that present you with a picture

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    February 5, 2020 at 6:50 am

    I’ve heard and used riled up for as long as I can remember. In fact rile is in Webster’s Dictionary meaning to make angry.

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