Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Liable To

According to my daughters the following statements were said by me in the last week:

“Be careful you’re liable to fall down the steps.”

“If he doesn’t watch it he’s liable to end up in bad trouble.”

“You shouldn’t go out with your hair wet because Granny said you’re liable to get sick and you already have a cold.”

“If you two perform that good next week you’re liable to be invited to go somewhere else.”

Apparently liable is one of my favorite words.


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    October 23, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    One of my favorites, too. Heard & used “liable to” all my life, as I temember.

  • Reply
    Chuck Howell
    October 1, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    Will you stop Pesterin me. Hold yer Taters. I’ve got my “Tit in a wringer here with these books.” I’ll be thar directly iffin yull jest hush yer trap. I was fair ta middlin till you commenced.
    George to Helen in 1947

  • Reply
    susie swanson
    November 2, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    Me too Tipper. Liable is my by

  • Reply
    Bobby C
    November 2, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Tipper, I use “liable to” all the time. And Ron Banks comment about “handy as a pocket on a shirt” reminded me of my wife’s dear grandma who passed away 3 years ago at 94. She used to say that all time… :'(

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    November 1, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Hey Tipper, I’ve been down in FL with my wife and boys hanging out with Mickey Mouse and about a million other people. I did manage to read your blog each day. I heard so many languages there but not one liable to or one I understood anyway. I’m sure I said it more than once since it is part if my vocabulary. I am glad to be home safely with my family. Now it’s back to the real world of work and chores. It was great to be able to still read your blog each day with today’s technology and my handy dandy smart phone! As my dad would have said, “that thing is as handy as a pocket on a shirt”!

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    November 1, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Purty Picture!

  • Reply
    November 1, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    It’s a good word!

  • Reply
    November 1, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    That’s a beautiful photo, and you’re all three “as cute as speckled pups” – that’s a compliment here in the far northern foothills!
    I have always heard and used “liable”, in fact it never occured to me that it was regional until I saw this post.

  • Reply
    jJosé Luis
    November 1, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    beautiful photography
    I really struggled to know the mom.
    I imagine that is so sweet lady eye, between a girl showing her beautiful pearls of his mouth, and another girl with a cute tuft on his forehead.
    Congratulations to Dad, first,… by choosing Tipper, and then, work together to get these two girls, big hug for him, Jose Luis from Argentina.
    With all my affection to the four!

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    November 1, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Liable is short for all them other words that one would have to use in the sentence to explain the meaning of reason!
    Heard liable, lobble all my life and don’t think it has put me at any liability fer it…
    Thanks Tipper Great Post
    PS…Had our first hard freeze here last night. It’s 35 degrees now..The hens are knittin’ little egg covers to keep their eggs warm and blankies for their nest to keep their fluffy butts warm fore they sit down…

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    November 1, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Isn’t it amazing how our children only pay attention to what we say when they want to make us aware of how often we say the same thing. Interesting that they kept close track of your use of that phrase. I wonder if they listen to the other words attached to the phrase and do what you expect them to do. I think I am liable to get into trouble here. Happy day!

  • Reply
    November 1, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Liable is one of the parts of speech, isn’t it?

  • Reply
    November 1, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Didn’t give much thought to how often I use it til I read your post. Just bet those two daughters of yours are a hoot to be around.

  • Reply
    November 1, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Yep, we used it when I was a kid and lived up in the tundra of upstate NY and in east Kentucky as well. It’s common here in West Georgia too. In most instances it appears to refer to an possible unintended consequence as a result of something you’re fixin’ to do. It doesn’t interchange with “likely” well, as that word usually indicates a more obvious consequence or condition than “liable”, i.e “It’s 30 degrees now ant the sun’s been down for an hour, it’s likely that the road across the mountain is icy and you’re liable to skid over the bank if you’re fixin’ to go to Papaw’s house.”
    That said, Stephen Ammons asked “Who’s in charge of picking the words for the dictionary?” Once a year, a bunch of smart folks who are in the trade of ‘lexicography’, meaning that they study the language and write dictionaries, gather together at some university or ‘nother and assess the importance of newly-minted words. they then pick the important ones and proclaim that they have become part of the language and so should be included in the world’s English dictionaries. Strange, but it’s true! My dictionary doesn’t get any help from this as it was printed in 1953; I don’t much care for officialdom anyway and I shall speak as I please, with or without their leave.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    November 1, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Tipper–Another version I’ve heard from time to time is that someone is “bad to”. I guess I’ve heard it connected with alcohol more than anything else–“So and so is bad to drink.” My favorite usage, however, is on the tombstone of a fellow I knew. It reads: “Leroy was bad to fish.” And he was.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    November 1, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    If I’us t see three pretty girls
    walkin’ down the street, and could
    still pucker, I’m liable to whistle…Ken

  • Reply
    November 1, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Have always used liable, as does my mom and many other relatives.

  • Reply
    Stephen Ammons
    November 1, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Wait Tipper I forgot to comment one the photo of you and your daughters.And may I say without it sounding like I am flirting that what I see is three Very Pretty young ladies. And the fact that it is in black and white seems to bring out beauty more. Those girls are gonna be heart breaker if they aren’t already. Better tell deerhunter to get the shotgun ready

  • Reply
    Kimberly Burnette
    November 1, 2012 at 11:18 am

    I have used “liable to” my whole life. Love it!

  • Reply
    November 1, 2012 at 11:13 am

    My people all say that a lot too. I don’t hear the kids say it yet but they are learning!

  • Reply
    Stephen Ammons
    November 1, 2012 at 11:09 am

    I say liable all the time and an example would be if someone make me mad enough I am liable to smack them up side the head. Now of course if they take me to court for damages the court might make me liable for the dental bills.
    Now I have a question for you or anyone in the post. Who,whom,whoever,or whatever decides what are acceptable words.Is it some very smart computer that is programmed to do so. Maybe fancy person that have never had to clean the dirt out from under their fingernails. It might be that Noah Webster feller but I think he is dead now so did he train someone to take his place.
    My point is that alot of the words used in the mountains and still used by me were around before Webster.

  • Reply
    Tim Hassell
    November 1, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Liable, as you’ve used it, is common to my area as well. Though it likely would be pronounced “loble”.
    Jim Casada’s comment about announcing your intention to do something is also common here. I think it stems from a time when your safety wasn’t a given and of course you had no cell phone to call for help. I’m afixin’ to go out behind the cow lot and fix the fence. With the understood yet unspoken thought “if I’m not back in a reasonable amount of time you know where to check on me”. In that not to distant past you’as a lot more liable to meet with an accident.

  • Reply
    Lonnie Dockery
    November 1, 2012 at 10:44 am

    I use it too! And if those girls are at all typical they are liable to pick out anything that might be considered a fault in their Mother!

  • Reply
    November 1, 2012 at 10:22 am

    love it.

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    November 1, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Our speech would have been severely limited growing up in S. C. if we had not had “liable to”. Also, “prone to” comes to mind. I think both are quite appropriate and need no apology. Rooney Floyd

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    November 1, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Granny’s hat was in the mail yesterday! I love it and I’m LIABLE to be wearing it when I go to NC this weekend!!! thanks very much!

  • Reply
    Melissa P (misplaced Southerner)
    November 1, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Yep! I’m liable ta say anything I’m fixin ta do!

  • Reply
    November 1, 2012 at 9:50 am

    I’m liable to say that word several times on any given day. Just realized I don’t generally write it, though! Wonder what I write instead??

  • Reply
    November 1, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Where I grew up they said, “Be careful you’re ‘lobble’ to fall down the steps.” I think I might still pronounce it that way if I’m talking to family. LOL! I will have to pay attention.

  • Reply
    November 1, 2012 at 8:41 am

    seems to me you are liable to get a lot of comments from people who use this word do, i am iibale to say it now and then myself.

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    November 1, 2012 at 8:34 am

    I’m liable to get caught using that word on a daily basis, too, if you listen real good.

  • Reply
    Bob Aufdemberge
    November 1, 2012 at 8:32 am

    Very commonly used out here on the edge of the plains as well. Grew up using “liable” and still do.

  • Reply
    Ron Perry, Sr.
    November 1, 2012 at 8:27 am

    “apt to” is used interchangably with liable where I grew up.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 1, 2012 at 8:03 am

    Yep, I’m liable to spit that one out too. It’s a standard!

  • Reply
    Andrew A Queen
    November 1, 2012 at 7:57 am

    I would be more inclined to apt than liable. I have a tendency to opt for an abbreviated verbalization.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    November 1, 2012 at 7:53 am

    Tipper–I think that’s common usage throughout the mountains. A common habit of mine, and I got it from Momma and Daddy, is to announce my intentions to do something by say “I’m going to” (pull up the tomato stakes, pick a mess of greens, plow the garden, or the the like). I do the same thing t announce my intention to go somewhere, such as “I’m going to go hunting this afternoon.” That’s obviously redundant, but it just slips out.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    November 1, 2012 at 7:49 am

    I heard “liable” so much when I was young that it permanently became a part of my vocabulary. I still use “liable” rather than the more-modern “likely.” This goes to show, I guess, that “old habits die hard”–even habits of speech. You whetted my curiosity so that I referred to my trusty Webster’s Collegiate and saw that two long paragraphs were expended in giving the nuances of “liable” in its various meanings! But the one that seems to match our Appalachian use of the word is this: “open, exposed, subject, prone, susceptible, sensitive”–followed by and infinitive “to….” Linquists now usually recommend using “liable” to situations when an undesirable outcome is expected. And, by way of comment, I think that’s how we’ve used it in our Appalachian expressions. And if I linger longer here, I’m liable to get so far behind with my work today I’ll never ” catch up.”

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    November 1, 2012 at 7:45 am

    My family uses it ALL the time, along with “likely to.”

  • Reply
    Bill Dotson
    November 1, 2012 at 7:40 am

    I am liable to use that several times per day.

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    November 1, 2012 at 7:35 am

    I’ve said the exact same thing when talking about falling down steps.

  • Reply
    Mordecai Byrd
    November 1, 2012 at 7:34 am

    A trio of smiling beauties looking gooood across a tasse à café ce matin. One problem though! Is the color broke in your camera?

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    November 1, 2012 at 7:32 am

    I too have used liable for as long as I can remember and will continue to use it since it is recognized by Websters Dictionary as exposed to or likely to experience something undsirable, also Susceptible. Perfectly good word in the context we use it besides it’s legal use.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    November 1, 2012 at 6:31 am

    Ha I’m liable to say it at any moment too.

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