Appalachia Sayings from Appalachia

Appalachian Sayings – Plumb Foolish

Appalachian sayings plumb foolish

Brasstown – May 2016

foolish about, foolish over adjective phrase Fond of, infatuated with to the point of lacking judgment.
1925 Dargan Highland Annals 202 But he’s foolish about Ben. 1956 Hall Coll. Del Rio TN She is plumb foolish over him. (Louisa Metcalf) 1989 Smith Flyin’ Bullets 56 Reed was “full of jokes and awful foolish over th’ young’uns.” 1997 Montgomery File He’s just naturally foolish about ramps (55-year-old woman, Jefferson Co TN).

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


Let me tell you what we’re plumb foolish about.

The Deer Hunter is plumb foolish about hunting-I bet you could have guessed that one.

Chatter is plumb foolish over chocolate covered raisins.

Chitter is plumb foolish over rocks.

Granny is plumb foolish over crocheting.

Paul is plumb foolish over tennis-I bet that one surprised you.

I’m plumb foolish over Appalachia: the people, the food, the music, the colorful language, the sustainable lifestyle, the history, the folklore, the soaring mountains, and the deep dark hollers.



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  • Reply
    Brenda Anderson O'Halloran
    June 6, 2017 at 9:19 am

    The thing about the Appalachian style of speech is that it becomes genetic. My family is five generations out of Appalachia, but since reading The Blind Pig and the Acorn, I’ve come to realize that. And don’t forget “plumb starved.”

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    February 22, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    I may have told you this before – if so just consider me plumb foolish ! We were at a fish camp one weekend and someone had run over a turtle. One lady walked over to look and the turtle moved. She called out “look, it’s just purt near , it’s not plumb”.

  • Reply
    June 16, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    I think I posted this comment in the wrong place – so I’ll try again …
    Granny and I share a plumb craziness for the same thing – crocheting !

  • Reply
    June 16, 2016 at 12:49 am

    I wouldn’t say it’s often heard here, but “plumb tuckered” comes up now and again. And in answer to b.Ruth’s question, yes, we do go on! And there’s always that “do” in front of it, for emphasis…”My, I thought I’d never get out of that meeting; he DOES go on, doesn’t he?” or “Sorry, I DO go on when I get to talking about Tipper’s blog!” 😉

  • Reply
    June 15, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    Yep, I could have eventually guessed all of them but Tennis, didn’t see that one coming..

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    June 15, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    When Mitchell doesn’t feel well he says, “I’m out of plumb”

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    June 15, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    Glad to see Jim Casada’s comment on Kephart . Early in my Appalachian journey, I got a copy of Kephart’s book at the recommendation of others. I was disappointed. To me, his book was in the vein of inaccurate information about Appalachia that John Campbell was dedicated to correct–and, do something about!

  • Reply
    anita griffith
    June 15, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    I hadn’t heard plumb to Atlanta like Charline said.Mostly heard plumb to Halifax or here to Halifax.I guess that’s Halifax Virginia.Many people who settled this area were from Virginia,although my wife’s great grandfather and Cherokee great grandmother came from North Carolina.
    God bless you and yours.
    E.KY. LG

  • Reply
    June 15, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    I hadn’t planned to talk to our Radio Gal today, but when she played “He Whispered Sweet Peace to Me” and afterward said that was the Trio singing of the Blind Pig Gang
    and Katie joining them. Well, I knew better so I quickly called and told her that was Corie harmonizing with Paul and Pap. It is a wonderful song, but she wanted to know how to tell them apart. I told her Chatter played the guitar and often blended with Paul and Pap. (She would have a problem if I had told her about April, the 3rd Indian Princess.ha) …Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 15, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    Do you ever have those days when you don’t know if you are coming or going? Those are the times to wear your clothes backward. You friends and neighbors will know exactly how you feel!
    I used to wear my clothes backards when I was out walking alone. I figured if a painter or bear or something slipped up on me from behind, hit would think I was coming at it and hide in the weeds and wait. If it saw me from in front it would think I was going tuther way and sneak around to try to jump me as I passed by. It must have worked because here I am almost 66 years old with nary a claw or fang mark on my body.
    By the bye, Mary Ellen Davis is my 3rd cousin 1X removed. That would make Marty (who I didn’t know existed until today) my 4th cousin.

  • Reply
    June 15, 2016 at 11:50 am

    Think Ron’s got it : “plumb” meaning completely from talking about a plumb line – we might also be plumb tuckered out as an alternate to plumb wore out; or we might be plumb crazy or plumb foolish about ‘most anything we’ve taken more than a fondness too.

  • Reply
    June 15, 2016 at 11:45 am

    I’m plumb foolish over the Blind Pig. I can’t wait till I get here to see what we’re talking about each day, but I’m even more foolish over my girls, granddaughters, son-
    in-laws and great granddaughter.
    Ever since I was just a little thing, I had a dog and every new one is the BEST. Right now, I think the world of Whisky. He looks like a little Lion when he wants a strange animal to leave, but he always had a cute tail wag for the Cats…Ken

  • Reply
    anita griffith
    June 15, 2016 at 11:29 am

    I hear plumb foolish and plumb crazy.Not sure which one I hear most.So many young here are losing their culture and language.
    I told my daughter-in-law she would not work in a pie factory tasting pies.She asked what that meant? I said you’re lazy!
    LG E.,KY.

  • Reply
    Peggy Lambert
    June 15, 2016 at 11:23 am

    Tipper, I was “plumb” foolish when I went on a “field trip” to Tellico Plains, TN. last Saturday to see where Fort Armistead was located and didn’t take my insect repellent for chiggers. Those little things are miserable, big time. Never do that again. Lovely trip except for that, I’m still itching.
    Peggy L.

  • Reply
    Larry Proffitt
    June 15, 2016 at 11:18 am

    Tipper Just wait till you get grandchildren they make grandparents PLUMB silly.

  • Reply
    June 15, 2016 at 11:03 am

    Plumb. My family used this fluently, but not myself, my siblings or peers. I’ve noticed that mid-westerners say ‘clear to St. Louis’ in describing a distance, rather than ‘plumb to Atlanta’. At any rate, plumb is a wonderfully descriptive term which carries a lot of mileage for many situations. Foolish is not something I heard a lot in this context, but rather, ‘plumb gumpy about them funny books’ (comics), I did.
    I so enjoyed the other comments, especially Jim’s about the books and Bryson City, which we will be visiting soon when we take our grandson on his first visit to the Smokeys/Smokies.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    June 15, 2016 at 10:49 am

    One example I use and have heard it for as long as I can remember is plumb tuckered out as in after a long day’s work I’m plumb tuckered out.

  • Reply
    June 15, 2016 at 10:42 am

    I stay plumb tuckered out all summer from all the gardening, limb clipping, and outdoor work. I finally gave up and let somebody do the grass mowing, but I am still plumb foolish over a garden. My new resolution is to do less canning, so I guess I will have to do more eating and sharing. That grandson won’t touch a vegetable. I was so glad to get all those plants out of here and into the garden. It seems like I turned over at least one plant a week–what a mess!
    I am plumb crazy about grandchildren, and I tend to spoil them rotten. I saw where B Ruth uses the term “go in.” Well I go on and on about how wonderful those children are. If they have a little flaw I turn it into a positive.
    Winter is sometimes welcome because it gives me the opportunity to “rest my bones” and let the poison ivy heal. But, then the house has to be cleaned plumb through. We’re having fun with that word, Tipper.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    June 15, 2016 at 9:32 am

    Tipper—One of the sources you cite for foolish comes for the first version of an important and too often overlooked book, Olive Tilford Dargan’s Highland Annals. The later, better, and somewhat better known version is From My Highest Hill. Dargan and her husband bought property in the Round Top area of Swain County. He died (either in an accident or he possibly committed suicide) fairly early in their marriage but she remained in Swain County, at least part of the time, for many years.
    Unlike so many outlanders, she not only had empathy for the local people but was accepting of their ways and was accepted by them, never mind that she was eccentric as all get out (i. e., quair to the point of being plumb foolish). I’ll give two quick examples. Once she was heading to town (Bryson City) and as she often did, invited a local child to accompany her. The child, who happened to be Mary Ellen Davis (Maxwell), the mother of my longtime fishing buddy, sulled up and refused to go. She later explained why to her mother. “Momma,” she said, “she was wearing her dress backwards.
    On another occasion as Dargan walked across the Everett Street bridge in Bryson City her petticoat somehow came loose and fell down around her ankles. She never broke stride—just stepped out of it as if nothing had happened and continued walking.
    Her book does an exceptional job of capturing mountain character, speech, and love of the land. It is a striking and welcome contrast to Horace Kephart’s Our Southern Highlanders, which belittles and demeans mountain people and their ways.
    Dargan was a woman of many parts and startling contrasts—she was a dyed-in-the-wool Communist, for example—but she was a fine writer and someone with great empathy for the people of Appalachia and their ways. She will be the subject of a chapter in my next book, “Profiles in Mountain Character,” and I find her a really appealing individual.
    One other thought. Unless things have changed dramatically since I last saw them, Chitter and Chatter are plumb foolish about talking.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    June 15, 2016 at 9:23 am

    I’m with Miss Cindy, I’m plumb foolish over my kids. I’m also foolish over my wife. I get pretty foolish over this blog. It is my dose of sanity and clarity before I start my day.
    These are my favorite posts. I love the Appalachian language.
    One more thing about sustainability, there is a song on the new Blake Shelton CD called “I was green before green was a thing.” My son thinks it’s a hoot. My daughter, however, is way into “Crazy Arms.” She is plumb foolish over the Pressley Girls.
    Thanks for a great day starter.

  • Reply
    June 15, 2016 at 9:19 am

    Plumb crazy is what I grew up hearing. I would rather go fishing than to eat when I’m hungry, so I guess that really does make me plumb foolish.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    June 15, 2016 at 8:59 am

    I thing “plumb” is one of my favorite words to use here lately! I’m “plumb wore out” after a walk to the garden in this humid, hot East Tennessee weather !
    Have you or your family used the term…”Go on” ? I use it sometimes…for instance, I might say, “Oh they “go on” about their new car, every time we see them…but mine’s a’runnin, still shiny and paid for!” OR “She was “going on” when we left and when we got back she was still ‘a’goin’ on’ about that new grandbaby!”
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…We’re in the All Star Tournament….Yes, our grandson made it, no doubt about it…I’m “plumb proud” of him and yes, I “go on” about his savvy baseball playing, inherited from his Dad and Grandfather! ha

  • Reply
    Vann Helms
    June 15, 2016 at 8:55 am

    I remember my mom always saying she was “plumb wore out” after working too long. “Plumb” is a very descriptive word for us Southerners…

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    June 15, 2016 at 8:34 am

    Like Chitter I’m plumb foolish over rocks. I walk with my eyes to the ground looking for the elusive point or tool left behind or lost by some ancient hunter.
    I’m also plumb foolish over shooting handguns. My wife is plumb foolish over Pintrest and decorating. Our boys are plumb foolish over tennis, martial arts and Minecraft.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    June 15, 2016 at 8:16 am

    Guess we each have one or more plumb foolish streaks. I guess I’m that way about ecology or genealogy. It didn’t seem so at the outstart but along the way the feeling grows that maybe I have put too much into it for indefinite return.
    Does anybody know why we say “plumb” ? The only connection in my mind is ‘truly vertical’ as in ‘plumb bob’. So ‘plumb’ means ‘completely’.

  • Reply
    June 15, 2016 at 8:04 am

    I’m plumb foolish over the Blind Pig and the Acorn!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 15, 2016 at 7:57 am

    I’m plumb foolish over my kids and my cats. My kids would be you, Tip, the Deer Hunter, Chitter, and Chatter. My cats would be Yoda, a big gray cat and Robert, a black cat with some serious fangs.
    That’s a lovely picture!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 15, 2016 at 7:04 am

    More interesting is “plumb” I have come to the conclusion that this word has a different meaning South of the Mason-Dixon line than it does in,the south. I do get the strangest looks when I use the word.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 15, 2016 at 7:04 am

    More interesting is “plumb” I have come to the conclusion that this word has a different meaning South of the Mason-Dixon line than it does in,the south. I do get the strangest looks when I use the word.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 15, 2016 at 7:04 am

    More interesting is “plumb” I have come to the conclusion that this word has a different meaning South of the Mason-Dixon line than it does in,the south. I do get the strangest looks when I use the word.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 15, 2016 at 7:04 am

    More interesting is “plumb” I have come to the conclusion that this word has a different meaning South of the Mason-Dixon line than it does in,the south. I do get the strangest looks when I use the word.

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