Appalachia Sayings from Appalachia

Appalachian Sayings – If It’d Been A Snake It Would Have Bit You

If it had been a snake it would have bit you

Snakes sunning at Fires Creek

“If it’d been a snake it would have bit you!”

The saying simply means that what you were looking for was right under your nose the entire time you were searching for it.

I hear and use this old saying all the time-it is very common in my area of Appalachia. How about in your area?



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  • Reply
    November 9, 2021 at 11:59 pm

    I use it often as I can’t see very well. I said it to my grandson, who lives with me, just the other day.

    Rudy in Georgia

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    August 26, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    yep, that one, and also “it’s right under your nose”….

  • Reply
    September 27, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    I grew up hearing this saying from my Mother, who got it from her New Orleans born mother. I recently said it to someone from Mexico, and found out it is a common saying there. So I asked my Spanish friend who said they say “if it were a dog…” in Spain. I was wondering if the Spanish brought the saying here?

  • Reply
    Steve Foss
    July 9, 2015 at 11:46 am

    My mother used the term (she’s from England) and so did my American father. His father was a telegrapher for the railroads (before the advent of teletype) and had been born in Norway. Working for the railroads, my grand father and family had traveled with work through many states. I grew up in California and heard the phrase, “If it had been a black snake, it would have bit you.” And it’s still being said to me today, half a century later.

  • Reply
    June Woodward
    July 1, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    Up here in Maine, even on the inhabited islands, the expression is, “If it had been a bear, it would’ve bit you.” Seems like a bear would be even easier to see than a snake!

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    June 15, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    Tell Jim Casada- No! We are very snaky in this part of the world these days. Saw several the week we were in WV too-

  • Reply
    June 15, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    Tamela-Thank you for the great comments! One of the snakes was a black snake and I believe the other was some type of water snake? I’m not sure : ) They were positioned over a chilly mountain creek but the day was very warm and I’m sure the log was even warmer there in the sunshine. They didn’t seem to be bothered by each others presence either : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    June 14, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    I, too, have heard this one all my life here in Oklahoma. Use it all the time, in fact, said it to my sister-in-law yesterday when she couldn’t find the dust pan (in her son’s house). When finally she was shown where it was, she’d been right next to it at least twice and never saw it.

  • Reply
    June 13, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    Use it all the time here in MA!

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    June 13, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    Heard it often when growing up in NW PA, strangely and funnily enough, usually said about the eyeglasses of an elder, especially the elder ladies who only used them for embroidering, crochetting and the like. LOL
    God bless.

  • Reply
    June 13, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    That one goes all the way up to Western New York State, which was curious because the region was not known for snakes of the biting kind. There’s another one, featuring a snake that I didn’t learn ’til I got to the mountains: “He wouldn’t hit a tap at a rattlesnake if it was about to bite him!” A remark describing extreme laziness.
    I trust that Pap is mending well?

  • Reply
    barbara Gantt
    June 13, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    Heard this one all my life in NC. Never heard it here in Vermont, only my husband says it. Another of his favorites is, if were a bear, you’d been lunch. Barbara

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    June 13, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    Very common round my house, I am one of the worst to try to locate things, sometimes they are hidden in plain sight I’m lucky my beloved bride can find almost anything. Jim I’ve always seen more Rattlers and Copperheads above the Powerhouse on Nantahala than anywhere else. In fact on one fishing trip saw a Rattler and three Copperheads in less than 500 yards in the section above the waterfall which is about a mile above Beechertown. Needless my fishing trip was over.

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    June 13, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    Heard and used the saying all my life. I still say it.

  • Reply
    June 13, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    I have heard this all my life and I use it myself, and I grew up and still live in Richmond, Va.

  • Reply
    June 13, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    A saying we use frequently here in Iowa.
    Many of the sayings are used mainly by the older generation. We all got a good laugh the day one of the grandkids who lives with us came home from school after saying something I say often and they were told that they sounded just like the other kids’ granny.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 13, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    I remember one summer cousin Crazy Joe and I decided we needed to make us some extra money. We had heard that you could catch rattlesnakes and sell them. People would milk them and use the venom to make anti-venom. We knew exactly where to find all the rattlesnakes we would need to make us rich.
    You know the railroad track that follows the Nantahala River up through the Gorge? And the rock cliffs, caves, cracks and crevices on the far side of it? Could there be a better habitat for snakes, especially rattlesnakes?
    We could just hear the riffle of greenbacks and the jingle of silver (yes, back then change was still 90% silver.)
    So, we got together some tow sacks and fashioned ourselves some snake sticks with loops on the business end and off we go. Across the swinging bridge and up the track we trudged, expecting to immediately encounter rattlesnakes sunning themselves on the track. No Snakes! Maybe further up the track? No! Maybe we needed to get off the tracks and up into the rocks, vines and blackberries where they live. Maybe not!
    “Let’s go back down the other way. Around that curve there are some caves right above the tracks. If there are any snakes in this world, a goodly portion (bunch) of them will be living there.” I reckon the snakes hadn’t heard about it yet.
    They say that the name Nantahala comes from the Cherokees and means “land of the noon day sun.” I don’t dispute that for a great deal of the gorge it is true that the sunshine only reaches the ground at midday. But, in the prime snake hunting area, the river runs roughly west to east which means old Sol comes up in the east in the early morning and sets in the west in the late afternoon and bares down mightily at all times between.
    We spent the day digging, clawing and turning over rocks out in that heat. We got blackberry scratched, chigger and tick bit, sweat bee stung and poison ivy infected. How many rattlesnake did we get? None! How many did we see? None! How many snakes of any kind did we see? You guessed it!
    I can only conclude that there were no snakes in the Nantahala Gorge or that somebody else had heard about the fortune to be made, gotten there the day before and picked all the ripe ones.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    June 13, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Heard it all my life in West Tn. & Middle, too.
    Had a sad experience yesterday, Tipper. We saw buzzards gathering & found a deer was dead in our pond. When my husband & son went to get it out they found it was a doe who had died trying to give birth. I’ve felt sad ever since.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    June 13, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    Used it all my life, and the older I get, the more occasions I have to use it! Ha!

  • Reply
    June 13, 2015 at 11:46 am

    This is a true story, I knew these
    guys: One time three of my neighbors was frog hunting while
    camping at the head of Nantahala
    Lake. Two of them were Moonshiners anyway, and they were all about half drunk. After they had shot several frogs, one looked down and
    saw a big watersnake in the boat
    with them, he grabbed a shotgun
    and “Bang”, blew a hole in the
    bottom of the boat. That put two
    a dippin’ and one a rowin’ in a

  • Reply
    June 13, 2015 at 11:31 am

    I have heard this saying often, and I myself have used it. I think I grew up with my parents using it, so I think it is a common saying as I grew up in NJ.

  • Reply
    June 13, 2015 at 11:30 am

    Use that phrase often, that picture reminds of my childhood, we played on the creeks all the time.. This time of the year we would swing on a vine at the old swimming hole and let our feet skim the water to run the snakes out of the hole so we could swim.. “Crazy” just kids having fun.. One year the snakes were so bad a buddy of mine who lived close to the creek, Mother bought us a box of 22s a piece and told us to go to the creek and kill all the snake we see, we killed over 30 that day, they were coming up into their yard often and she was freaked out about it, kinda thin them out that year..

  • Reply
    Glynn Harris
    June 13, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Yep…..same here for Louisiana. Heard it all my life.

  • Reply
    June 13, 2015 at 11:10 am

    Yep, actually said this to one of my kids this morning!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 13, 2015 at 10:52 am

    “You still lookin for your pocketknife?”
    “No, I found it a long time ago.”
    “Then what’r you lookin for now?”
    “Nothin, lookin was so much fun, I just kep agoin.”
    Actual conversation. Guess who is the sarcastic one!

  • Reply
    Debbie Nobles
    June 13, 2015 at 10:26 am

    Heard and used it all my life. I would tell my first graders that too back when I was teaching. I guess I passed a little of home on to them.

  • Reply
    Bob Aufdemberge
    June 13, 2015 at 9:35 am

    I too have heard this saying all my life, and use it occasionally myself, here in Kansas.

  • Reply
    June 13, 2015 at 8:47 am

    I used to hear it much more than now. It is always refreshing for one of these old expressions to come out of nowhere.
    Walmart hires a lot of retirees, so sometimes they are good for at least one of our Appalachian expressions. I was pleasantly surprised when I had searched in camping supplies for a product so long I had become huffy. Finally in exasperation, I asked an older clerk for help. He belted out, “If it uuhd been a snake wud a bitcha.” I was standing right beside the display!
    May not be Appalachian, but one of my favorite is, “Measure twice, cut once.” I have become overly cautious from this one drilled into my head by jack-0f-all-trade Dad.

  • Reply
    June 13, 2015 at 8:39 am

    Always and forever…

  • Reply
    June 13, 2015 at 8:34 am

    I’ve heard and used that saying all my life (here in southern and central Ohio). It’s so common I would have thought it was used all across America.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    June 13, 2015 at 8:32 am

    This one goes all the way to Pennsylvania. We used it all the time and still do.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 13, 2015 at 8:20 am

    Oh yes, heard that one all my life. It’s about missing the obvious. Tip, that picture gives me the creeps!

  • Reply
    June 13, 2015 at 8:00 am

    you’re channeling my floridian mama agaib…

  • Reply
    Gina S
    June 13, 2015 at 7:56 am

    I’ve heard and used the expression since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. Lately I’ve been listening closely to the word choices of young folks. Makes me sad to realize many of them no longer use phrases common to my generation and that of my ancestors.

  • Reply
    June 13, 2015 at 7:53 am

    Yep…something very similar…
    “If it were a snake, you’d be on the floor flopp’n”

  • Reply
    Carol Stuart
    June 13, 2015 at 7:41 am

    Is this Appalachian?? Who knew!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    June 13, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Tipper–I would guess that there’s seldom a month goes by that I don’t use that saying, usually in connection with something I think I’ve misplaced that is lying within arm’s reach.
    I found the snake photo interesting. When I was a boy snakes sunning in the bushes and logs along Deep Creek were extraordinarily plentiful. Floating down the creek in an inner tube you might see a hundred drop into the creek.
    That’s no longer the case and it’s actually somewhat unusual to see one. My theory, and it’s little more than an observational guess, is that wold hogs have made serious inroads into the snake populations. I think that in part because in recent years I have seen far more snakes on the Nantahala River than on Deep Creek, including one rather interesting day when I killed first a rattlesnake and then a copperhead in the span of an hour.
    I’d love to know whether others have noticed a dramatic decline in snake numbers.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    June 13, 2015 at 7:34 am

    Heard and used it all my life.
    Plus, at this warming time of years, quite often, those snakes do seem to
    suddenly appear out of nowhere.
    What are the two snakes in the photograph?
    If that is water moving over that log, what are the snakes doing there? – seems a chilly place for snakes. Are they preparing for a face off?

  • Reply
    Sandy Kirby Quandt
    June 13, 2015 at 7:33 am

    Tipper, my dad grew up in Loyall, KY and my mom grew up in Homerville, GA. Both of them said this all the time.

  • Reply
    June 13, 2015 at 7:27 am

    I’ve heard and used that as long as I can remember. My wife can look all over the house for her cell phone. I call her with mine and she finds it in her pocket. If it were a snake it would have swallowed her whole.

  • Reply
    Mary Shipman
    June 13, 2015 at 7:23 am

    I hear it frequently in the Missouri Ozarks. Just said it myself yesterday, when what I was hunting was right there in front of me. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jerry in Arkansas
    June 13, 2015 at 7:19 am

    I’ve heard this all my life in Arkansas.

  • Reply
    Mary Rutherford
    June 13, 2015 at 6:55 am

    One of my favorites. Also, “Don’t let a snake bite you twice”! I find myself using that one with my students at school all the time. None of the kids understand until I explain the meaning. Even then some of them go on and get bitten a third time anyway!

  • Reply
    Richard Beauchamp
    June 13, 2015 at 6:38 am

    I hace heard this all my life and still do here in Kentucky

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