Appalachia Appalachian Dialect Sayings from Appalachia

Appalachian Sayings – Hemmed and Hawed

Hemming and hawing appalachain saying

Quit hemming and hawing and play something!

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If you look in the dictionary for hem and haw you’ll find Chatter and Chitter’s photograph as the example. Those girls hem and haw before they do anything and their hemming and hawing is always accompanied by a whole lot of talking.

I was thinking the saying hem and haw was an Appalachian saying, but turns out it has a much wider scope than that. You can go here to read about the history of the phrase.

Hem and haw is still alive and well in my neck of the woods how about where you live?

Tipper

 

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26 Comments

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    April 19, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Tipper,
    For whatever comfort we can give, all of the Blind Pig Acorns are in
    grief over your Father…we are praying for the entire Wilson Family. . . Ken

  • Reply
    Garry Ballard
    April 19, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    In Australia we say um and ah or uming and ahing but same meaning

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    April 19, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    Now! Now! I know those beautiful girls do NOT hem and haw around. But I read the possible explanations of the expression and was swept away by all the details of the usage many years ago. Guess I’ll just let it be and go pull weeds!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    April 19, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Looks like I’m the first to Post. Guess everyone else is Hemmin’ and Hawin’.

  • Reply
    Patsy
    April 19, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    For some reason I can no longer see the comment feed. When I click on comment feed to re-subscribe it does not seem to do anything except show me the page format…help.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    April 19, 2016 at 11:48 am

    Well, I was thinking of entering a comment but on second thought I think I’ll hem and haw a bit, maybe I’ll comment later.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 19, 2016 at 11:17 am

    I do some Hemming and Hawing but mostly I beat around the bush. But again maybe it is the other way around. It’s kinda like looking for a needle in a haystack, you’re afraid you’ll get to the point.

  • Reply
    Bob Aufdemberge
    April 19, 2016 at 10:29 am

    I’ve heard “hem and haw” all my life out here on the edge of the plains, but like a lot of old sayings (probably due to the effects of television) it seems to be getting less common. In general, I’d say that about 60% or a bit more of the Appalachian sayings you bring up are common out here also.

  • Reply
    Quinn
    April 19, 2016 at 10:11 am

    Definitely a common saying here in my neck of the MA woods!

  • Reply
    Patsy
    April 19, 2016 at 9:51 am

    That saying is alive and well around here. In my family I would get the prize for hemming and hawing! I certainly like the definition of “looking before you leap” or “thinking things over beforehand” sounds so much than indecision. Thanks for sharing the history of the phrase! Happy Spring…………

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    April 19, 2016 at 9:45 am

    I cannot recall hearing the term “hem and haw” in this “neck of the woods”–middle Georgia–Milledgeville, where I moved in 2003. But I can imagine there was very much “hemming and hawing” when this town was Georgia’s state capitol from 1806 through 1868. It was the capitol prior to and during the Civil War, and much debate went on as to whether the state should secede from the Union. I think, too, that the term is still in vogue in practice, anyway, if not said as to the talk on politics we hear so much of today. Just listen to almost any newscast and your will hear much “hemming and hawing. The practice is still much in vogue!

  • Reply
    Rosamary Christiansen
    April 19, 2016 at 9:32 am

    My mother used a variation, hem-hawin’
    “Quit yer hem-hawin” around, and git some work done!”

  • Reply
    Tamela
    April 19, 2016 at 9:28 am

    Sometimes a body just wants to have a good conversation but the other person just hems and haws. Are they shy? Are they procrastinating? Are they tongue-tied? Are they afraid they’ll share some deep dark secret? Do they think the conversation is beneath them? Is their mind elsewhere and they’re only pretending to participate? Hemming and hawing has so many uses!!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    April 19, 2016 at 9:11 am

    Tipper,
    There has been hemming and hawing around here since I can remember. It was one of my Mother’s favorites. I can hear her say, “Well, he just hem and hawed around until it was too late to go, so he can just forget about me staying up until midnight!” This was in reference to a movie us kids wanted to go to….we got to go, but Mom wouldn’t stay for the second feature!” ha
    There is hemming and hawing when I question the better half about his playing golf on a certain day. I want to plan ahead and he wants certain days kept open just in case he gets a call to play. He will say, always leaving questions in your mind, “I’m not sure, they haven’t set up tee times, however, we usually play on Wednesday, but this week it could be, or maybe it was the next day, I haven’t got the text yet, sooo, it could they are waiting on the weather, etc. etc.” This hemming and hawing, drives me nuts! ha I want to scream, “Go call someone, find out who’s playing and set the day!” I mean if it then rains or there is a freeze cancel it! AT least we know a date!…This a wise old wife and I know what he’s up to with that hemming and hawing! ha He wants to get in as many options/chances to play as he can! ha
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    April 19, 2016 at 8:52 am

    The term is alive and well and I have heard it all over the U.S., and I am not hemming and hawing!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 19, 2016 at 8:52 am

    Yep. Heard that off and on all my life. I expect it relates to how a team of mules in harness will fidget around swinging left and right without putting their muscles into the job at hand. Similar to “don’t gee and haw with each other” meaning – as I’m sure you know – don’t get along well enough to work together.
    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  • Reply
    Cynthia Schoonover
    April 19, 2016 at 8:39 am

    I’ve heard hem and haw all my life, and I live in central Virginia.

  • Reply
    Jack
    April 19, 2016 at 8:33 am

    Perhaps the girls are just very reflective, pensive young ladies and like to thoroughly evaluate things. Then again maybe they are just wishy-washy namby-pambies. I would like to think the former.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    April 19, 2016 at 8:26 am

    We use this expression all the time, especially when trying to prepare a speach

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    April 19, 2016 at 8:26 am

    We use this expression all the time, especially when trying to prepare a speach

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    April 19, 2016 at 8:26 am

    We use this expression all the time, especially when trying to prepare a speach

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    April 19, 2016 at 8:26 am

    We use this expression all the time, especially when trying to prepare a speach

  • Reply
    grannysu
    April 19, 2016 at 7:58 am

    Yes, plenty of hemming and hawing around here too. Along with lollygagging 🙂

  • Reply
    Glynn Harris
    April 19, 2016 at 7:45 am

    Yep…..my neck of the woods too!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    April 19, 2016 at 7:22 am

    Chitter and Chatter, it’s just natural to them.
    Before playing they’ve got to hem.
    And ere that fiddle bow can saw,
    There’s got to be a bit of haw.
    Two fetching magpie misses talking away,
    I reckon they could chirp the live-long day.
    But sooner or later there’ll be resin on the bow,
    And a guitar pick in hand ready to go.
    The hem will stop and the haw will cease,
    With mighty fine music being their release.
    Pretty is as pretty does I’ve always heard say.
    And it’s pure pleasure when these fillies finally play.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 19, 2016 at 7:21 am

    Your right, Chitter and Chatter are champion class hemmers and hawers, they are also world class dawdlers. I think the distinction between these two is noise. Hemming and hawing involve conversation where dawdling can be completed in complete silence.

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