Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachia Vocabulary Test 48

Appalachia Vocabulary Test 48

It’s time for this month’s Appalachian Vocabulary Test-take it and see how you do.

  1. Backhand
  2. Bark
  3. Bat
  4. Beside oneself
  5. Black dark

Appalachia Vocabulary Test 48 2


  1. Backhand: to slap someone. “It was awful. I backhanded her before I knew what happened! I hated it, but I won’t listen to nobody talk about my Daddy like that.”
  2. Bark: to knock or scrape the skin off your shin or knuckle. “He came in dripping blood all through my kitchen where he’d barked all his knuckles cutting that big tree down.”
  3. Bat: a quick blink of the eye. “We pulled a good one on Dale. You should have seen him he was so shocked he didn’t even bat an eye!”
  4. Beside oneself: confused or worried. “I was beside myself! Don’t you ever stay out like that again with out calling me or your Daddy.”
  5. Black dark: night time. “Now that the times changed its black dark by 6:30.”

So how did you do? I hear and use all of this month’s words on a regular basis in my area of Appalachia. Chatter and Chitter use backhand in a slightly different manner-as well as the one given.

They are both fond of offering backhanded compliments in a teasing manner to each other and then laughing about them. When I asked them for a definition of a backhanded compliment, Chatter said “It’s when you think someone is going to compliment you but instead they insult you in a roundabout way.”



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  • Reply
    November 14, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Here in my part of Appalachia, I hear/use all but #5…though #2 I use less commonly but I have heard it plenty

  • Reply
    November 9, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    Oh how fun. I’m familiar with all of these…but I haven’t heard black dark in years and years….not since my mother was a young woman. She and my auntie from Missouri both used that phrase. Have a lovely weekend all.

  • Reply
    Edwin Ammons
    November 9, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    I have a question of Bill and Jim. Is there enough meat on Mr. Bushytail to recoup the cost of shooting him? By the time you have skunt and eviscerated him there ain’t much left. Maybe enough to flavor a gravy or stew. And that’s providin he ain’t got no wolves in him. Maybe that’s how come you never see squirrel ham or bacon or jerky? Reckon what a butcher would do if you asked him to debone a dozen of them little critters?

  • Reply
    November 9, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    You’ve been listening to me talk! Use all these except black dark. Use dark thirty–alot— and pitch black some of the time. I do love these vocab. tests!

  • Reply
    Gary Miller
    November 9, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    “Bark” threw me for a whirl too! But all the other one’s I use from time to time. By the way, those are some cute looking shoes with the kiltie.

  • Reply
    November 9, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Enjoy, enjoy…only aware of four of five. I have not heard bark used in that manner!

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    November 9, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    I am just “beside myself”! Quicker than you can “bat an eye”, a “blame-taked” hawk done snatched up one of my sweet little hens. He come back and “barked” the rear end backside of one my other big white ones. Then the next day one of my “pitch black dark” hens was gone…Remember, I put in a 6 ft rio grande type fence…It is only 24×25 square run, with chicken house in the middle..We close them up at night even within the fence. The lot/house is only about 150 feet from our house. Here I was worried over coyotes, foxes, raccoons, polecats and possums…Who’d a thunk I would get a “terrorist hawk”. I mean he is killing for killing, within sight and yes he eats the head and some gut. I am worried about my cat now, too.
    The better half armed himself with a gun and I armed myself with the broom, we were going to “backhand” him if he come back that afternoon. Shore enough he did..But by that time the broom and gun was back in the house..Roy threw a big rock at him when he landed in the tree. He just threw up a wing, give us the sign and flew off. My banty roosters are on the verge of having strokes and heart attacks! They’ve give the warning so much the last couple of days, I’m going to have to wrap their throats with kerchief and salve!
    We have spent all day putting netting over the lot.
    I am just sick, never even thought that with two big open pastures full of deer, rabbits, mice, voles, moles and plenty of doves for it to snatch up that it would come in that close to the house after my chickens…
    Another thing, we hadn’t had a problem at all this spring and summer…Wonder if some juvenile bird is just not very “skiddish”
    of the building, people, and activity, etc. and decided that our chicken lot is much easier pickin’s..!!
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…When I get over this, and can let my chickens out in the run again. I will tell you a good chicken hawk joke!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    November 9, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Bill Burnett’s mention of barking squirrels is spot on, but in addition to saving meat there was a second reason. If you picked your shots and placed them just right (low down on a tree trunk) it was possible to retrieve the lead ball and recast it. For what it’s worth, the “Overmountain Boys” who turned the tide in the American Revolution were talented squirrel hunters who “barked” their bushytails as second nature. Their marksmanship and woodsmanship played hob with the march-in-formation redcoats at Kings Mountain and Cowpens.
    In other words, we owe squirrel hunters a great deal. I would also note that Alvin York, our most decorated citizen-soldier, was a squirrel-hunting lad from Tennessee.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    November 9, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    My stars…this group of phrases sound typically “Southern”. Backhand down in MS was usually a resounding slap that could make your head spin. Also, it was kin to what the girls’ said…being a slightly twisted compliment, as in, when someone doesn’t feel comfortable handing out kind compliments, and uses sarcasm as a substitute. Bark I’ve never heard used that way. Bat an Eye is interchangable with ‘Quick as a wink’ in these parts. Oh my, I just uttered ‘beside myself’ this very morning, when I was flustered, discombobulated,upset, and, in a tizzy over an occurence. Black dark is mostly heard with Pitch in front of it.
    Dark Thirty was heard a lot when I was much younger. Good example:
    “It was pitch black dark” when we were high on one of Chunky Gal’s Mntns up your way a while back.
    My goodness, it was so dark you couldn’t see your hand in front of you…And, I have to admit, I loved there being no street lights, nor sounds of traffic, etc. It was heavenly. We are already longing for our next fall’s trip.

  • Reply
    November 9, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Fun time again! I wasn’t familiar with the usage of “bark”.

  • Reply
    November 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    These are all as familiar to me as the back of my own hand (pun intended), except black dark, though I do occasionally hear dusk-dark here in northern Appalachia.

  • Reply
    November 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Backhand is not new to me; it hurts more when struck with the back of the hand than with the front. Mom knew this. It may have come from Ireland as my Dad said that his mother useta say “The back o’ me hand t’ the front av y’r face an
    th’ balance av th’ day t’ yersilf! It was a threat.
    I’ve barked shins and elbows; still do, and I’m told that when we had turkey shoots using a rifle with a real turkey tied behind a log it was a popular thing to do; shoot the bark off the log where the turkey pokes his head up at.
    My wife bats her eyes whenever she wants me to do something.
    Beside myself? Oh, yeah; I raised three boys and a girl. Been there so many times I don’t know which one of me was me.
    Black dark? Nope. ‘Twas either pitch dark or pitch black. Pick one, they’re interchangeable.
    Going back the the beginning, Dad was the master of what he called “A left-handed compliment”, the same as the girls call a backhanded compliment. This is strange as he was the sire of three boys born sinister, including myself (though my first-grade teacher said that she was not going to have any of her pupils writing left-handed and changed all of that.

  • Reply
    November 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    I’m familiar with all of them but don’t really use them much.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    November 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    I have not heard black dark but dark as midnight. I have heard and used the others and I have knocked the bark off my knuckles more than one time.

  • Reply
    Tim Hassell
    November 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    I’ve heard and used them all. But it is also common in my area to use the word bark for the word cough. Gosh, now that flu season is on us, I really hate to go in Walmart with everbody barkin’ and aspreadin’ germs.

  • Reply
    Gorges Smythe
    November 9, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Backhand, around here, always meant to slap with the back of the hand as opposed to the palm. I assume it’s the same in your area. I’ve never heard “black dark” in my area, though I can’t say it’s never used. You’d be more likely to hear that it was blacker than a coal mine, or as black as the ace of spades.

  • Reply
    Gary Powell
    November 9, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Have heard and or used all of these expressions.

  • Reply
    November 9, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Most all the words are familiar
    to me. However, instead of ‘bat’
    my daddy would say “don’t just
    sit there and ‘snap’ them eyes
    at me, like a bullfrog in a hail-
    storm!” …Ken

  • Reply
    Edwin Ammons
    November 9, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Its gettin dark then its dark then its black dark. That’s the way I have always heard and used it.

  • Reply
    susie swanson
    November 9, 2012 at 10:27 am

    I’ve heard all of them except bark.. Thanks Tipper, I’ll use it good test..

  • Reply
    Kimberly Burnette
    November 9, 2012 at 10:22 am

    I have heard and used all of these. My favorite is bark!

  • Reply
    Lonnie Dockery
    November 9, 2012 at 10:20 am

    I’ve used all except “bark”. I’ve heard it. “Backhand” is especially familiar. If one managed to avoid punishment all day long Mother was fond of saying “Black dark’ll bring him in!”

  • Reply
    November 9, 2012 at 9:30 am

    I have never heard black dark. We always say pitch dark or dark as a dungeon. May have heard bark used that way. The other three are everyday words around here.

  • Reply
    November 9, 2012 at 9:21 am

    Hello, me again. I’ve just realised that you’re using “bat an eye” in completely the opposite sense to the way we use it. If you don’t bat an eye it means you don’t react at all. Speaking of barking shins reminds me of a tale from childhood. My brother had fallen out of the old apple tree. When Dad got home from work he was greeted by my brother with “Dad, I’ve really hurt my leg bad” and as he proceeded to roll up the leg of his trousers he added “I think it’s this one!”

  • Reply
    November 9, 2012 at 9:15 am

    All of them are heard in my part of the UK though backhand is seldom used as a verb; my father often used to threaten me “If you don’t stop that I’ll be giving you a backhander”. Incidentally backhander also means a bribe in this area.

  • Reply
    November 9, 2012 at 8:52 am

    I’m at 100% on this test!

  • Reply
    November 9, 2012 at 8:32 am

    Like another commentor – we use pitch dark — and crusty old guy uses “Knocked the bark off my knuckles” all the time.

  • Reply
    B F
    November 9, 2012 at 8:32 am

    yes i,ve heard black dark as well as pitch black and only one i hadnt heard was “bark”
    now if my memory was what it should be i could come up with a whole lot more

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    November 9, 2012 at 8:29 am

    I scored a 60%; I have not heard of black dark and bark oneself. I can certainly relate with bark as I have done it a number of times in my life, but the other one I will tuck away in my brain and try to use it. It’s Friday and a beautiful crisp morning, so happy day to all!

  • Reply
    November 9, 2012 at 8:25 am

    all of these are still in use in my every day talking. the one i use the most is Beside myself. i say that one over and over.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    November 9, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Tipper–I’m more or less familiar with all of them, except I’ve never heard (or used) “black dark” by itself. I’ve always heard “pitch black dark.” Other expressions for darkness include “darker than a hundred midnights” (I think that may come from poet Langston Hughes), “dark as a dungeon” (used in a country song), “dark as sin,” and “darker than the belly of the whale” (Biblical connection).
    I’ve mainly heard “bark” used, in the context you suggest, in reference to shins. Another colloquial usage of “bark” refers to someone who has grit, as in, “That fellow, now he’s got some bark on him.”
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    November 9, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Knew them all this time! I got in trouble for not making it home to feed the cats by black dark a lot as a child.

  • Reply
    Edwin Ammons
    November 9, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Black dark in the holler is when the moons not out or its cloudy and no stars are visible. Or because you have mountains on all sides, you can’t see enough stars to give you direction. You are miles away from any source of light. You listen, hoping for a sound you can identify, but can hear nothing above the pounding of your own heart. You know you have to climb out to the top of the ridge to get your bearings but its steep and rocky and you can’t see where to place your feet. Besides that, didn’t you think you heard something earlier up there on the ridge top keeping pace with you. The breeze is starting to pick up and has a noticeable chill. Its time to make a decision even if it is to do nothing. Nobody is coming to find you. Nobody knows you are gone. Nobody knows where you are, not even you.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 9, 2012 at 7:56 am

    I know them all, Tipper. I grew up particularly acquainted with the back hand one. It had liberal use in my house. My mother was quick
    I wonder at the origin of beside oneself. Is it akin to jumping out of ones skin? If one if sufficiently fashed can they divide into two of themselves? Just how does one stand beside themselves?

  • Reply
    Barbara Gantt
    November 9, 2012 at 7:41 am

    We use all of them but bark. I never heard it used that way. Barbara Gantt

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    November 9, 2012 at 7:39 am

    I use them all plus the “Old Timers” used to bark the limb under a squirrel to prevent wasting meat.

  • Reply
    November 9, 2012 at 7:34 am

    I have heard and used all except black dark. In this neck of the woods we called it pitch dark.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    November 9, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Heard all, including the twins’ version of backhanded, but never heard the term black dark before.

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    November 9, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Bark is the only one I’m not familiar with.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    November 9, 2012 at 6:19 am

    All are either familiar or I use everyday. Bark not so much, but barked his shin comes up now and again.

  • Reply
    November 9, 2012 at 5:55 am

    I’ve used all except black dark. HAve said dark thirty meaning about the same.

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