Appalachian Dialect


painting hanging on wall crooked

A few posts back Blind Pig reader Terry Stites left this comment:

“Can anyone help me with a word? Antigodlin,means lopsided or outta kilter. I’d like to know it’s origin. Any help is appreciated.”

I’ve heard antigodlin my whole life, but like Terry I don’t know where it comes from. I knew the word would be in my Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English so I went to see what it had to say. Here’s the entry:

anti-godling, anti-gogling, anti-sidling, anti-sigodling adjective, adverb Of an object: crooked, out of line, askew, diagonal. Cf catawampus, cater-corner, sig-godling.
1917 Kephart Word-list 417 antigodlin‘. 1944 Combs Word-list Sthn High 17 antigodlin, antigoglin, antisigodlin = out of plumb or square, slanting 1952 Wilson Folk Speech NC 515 antigodlin = leaning, not parallel. 1955 Parris Roaming Mts 22 Slaunchways means slanting, and si-godlin or anti-sigodling is out of plumb or out of square. 1960 Cooper Jularker Bussed He just sets with his mouth pooched out (stuck out) since he discivered (discovered) he built the walls antigodlin (not plum). 1972-73 Pederson et al. LAGS anti-godlin (Cocke Co TN, Sevier Co TN). 1992-95 Montogmery Coll. anti-godlin (Jones, Norris, Oliver); anti-gogling (Brown, Bush, Hooper, Jones, Norris, Oliver, Shields); anti-sidling (Norris); anti-sigodling (Brown, Cardwell, Hooper, Ledford, Oliver.)
[DARE anti-gogling <anti– “against, counter” + gogglin present-part/adj < goggle “to shake, tremble” (EDD, SND); anti-gogling South, South Midland, West]

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


I like the reference to slaunchways in the dictionary entry. It reminds me of Pap. I don’t recall ever hearing anyone else use the word. I also like the part about the man sitting with his lips pooched out. I’d sit with mine pooched out too if I built walls antigodlin 🙂

If you have any other information about the word antigodlin please leave a comment and share it.


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  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    September 25, 2019 at 5:14 pm

    Tipper I heard it said odd godlin out of kilter . Grandmother was of Dutch descendant and boy did she have some name to mull ovet

  • Reply
    David Frost
    September 15, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    Down in this neck of the woods it was pronounced antigoglin.

    • Reply
      David Frost
      September 15, 2019 at 7:27 pm

      North Alabama

  • Reply
    Terry Stites
    September 15, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    Tipper, thank you and all the commenters! I actually heard it pronounced “annie goglin” all my days. My people came from Georgia. We have been delving into how they got to N E Oklahoma.

  • Reply
    Brenda Schlosser
    September 14, 2019 at 11:44 pm

    I haven’t heard antigodlin or sigoglin, but now that I know the meaning, I will say my neighbor cattycorner from my house, built himself a front porch that is very antigodlin and cattywampus. Yes, it is very jack-legged and definitely leaning towards Hank’s Mill. His fence is not much better.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    September 14, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    One time I asked Daddy, “What makes a dog turn around and around before he lays down?” He said,
    “One turn calls for another.” …Ken

  • Reply
    September 14, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    My Dad used slaunchways or slaunchwise as well as cattyslaunchwise. He said kittycornered when furniture sat across a corner.

  • Reply
    Kenny Doc White
    September 14, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    I heard anti-godlin frequently from my mother and her family, particularly my grandfather who could build almost anything out of wood. Clay Co. NC

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    September 14, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    It’s new to me. I grew up with cattywampus and whomperjawed, and those still seem sufficient.

  • Reply
    Larry Proffitt
    September 14, 2019 at 11:21 am

    Antigodlin is new to me. Si-godlin or Side-goglin is common around here.

  • Reply
    September 14, 2019 at 11:19 am

    My parents always say si-gogglin’ (far southwest VA). I use it all the time.

  • Reply
    September 14, 2019 at 11:03 am

    Cattywampus, a delightful word, was once more
    common in East Texas, but you can still hear it from
    the older generation (which now includes me…).
    We never heard sigogling. I wonder if that word
    or a variant of it was used in Scotland. Any other readers know?

    Emily from Austin

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 14, 2019 at 10:56 am

    I say si-agnel [sic]. Daddy used to say “leaning toward Hanks’s Mill!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    September 14, 2019 at 10:55 am

    Daddy was a carpenter and “sigogling”! For instance” That board was put up “sidegogled” and caused the whole wall to be out of plumb”….He always said one board sigogled would make a whole house tilt..LOL He always hated a “jack-legged” way of doing things…and many a time made a helper pull off a board and start over..LOL
    Thanks for the memory..
    By the way…I think this words meaning is also a bit different from the old moonshiner leaving the holler, carrin’ a jug , “sigogling” down the middle of the road….ha

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    September 14, 2019 at 10:09 am

    and Terry Stites,
    I never heard of Antigodlin, maybe someone in my Family used it before I got here, I don’t know. We used Slanted. …Ken

  • Reply
    September 14, 2019 at 9:25 am

    I have heard all my life, but Dad was a carpenter. Thes term used commonly was “”all side gogglin.” The all was probably used for extra emphasis.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    September 14, 2019 at 9:11 am

    It was pronounced antigoglin where I grew up. Cattywampus is another I remember.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    September 14, 2019 at 8:46 am

    Never heard of Antigodlin till today. We always called it sigoglin.

  • Reply
    September 14, 2019 at 8:29 am

    Papa K’s version was Sigodlin. They were from Henderson Co.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    September 14, 2019 at 8:18 am

    I do not know anything factual about these ‘crooked’ word ideas. We said “sigoglin”. I suspect the original idea was ‘ungodly’, that is not true (square or plumb) and that an alternative sound was used for ‘god’ by many people because it was too nearly like taking the Lord’s name in vain. If I am on the right track, it was a way to reflect multiple values of the culture in invented words, including an appreciation of wit.

    Along that line, in Colonial times the door design now called ‘six panel’ was considered a double cross. The difference lies in whether one is looking at the panels or at the rails and stiles. The latter form the double cross with panels as filler between. It is all in how one looks at it.

  • Reply
    September 14, 2019 at 7:39 am

    I’ve never heard antigodlin, but my mother said sigodlin – as used in the definition. She pronounced it si-gog-lin. I honestly thought she made that word up, because I have never heard anyone else use it. But then, until I found your blog, I thought she made up a lot of words! Her family came from around Madisonville, TN and LaFollette, TN.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    September 14, 2019 at 7:26 am

    Sorry, no help on antigodlin. I hear and use sigoglin,
    Dad always used slaunchways every time he told me how our farm property lines ran diagonally from the holler to the top of ridge.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 14, 2019 at 6:14 am

    Busy day for you all! I’ve heard si-godling but it was pronounced more like si-gogling. Also heard anti-godling also pronounced more like anti-gogling, and I’ve heard si much more than anti.
    Don’t you just love how we make up our own words to fit any situation.

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