Appalachia Appalachian Dialect Pap Sayings from Appalachia

Appalachian Sayings – Spitting Image

The Pressley Girls and Pap
Chitter, Pap, and Chatter 

spitting image = looks just like someone

There are lots of folks who can’t tell the girls apart, don’t feel bad if you’re one of them. Most of the time folks who are around them often pick up on the differences in their personality and use those nuances to tell which one is which. However there are a few people who have trouble distinguishing between the two even though they’re around them on a regular basis.

On the other hand, I’ve never thought they looked that much alike. I will admit, when I look at photographs of them I do see the startling similarities that are found in twins.

From the very first day I laid my eyes upon them I saw Chatter as being the spitting image of her Daddy and Miss Cindy. Chitter on the other hand was a Wilson up one side and down the other as they say.

Today, I still see the family genetics clearly showing themselves in the same manner when I look at the girls.

I’ve always thought Chitter especially looked like Pap through the brow of her face. After Pap passed away we collected photos to share with folks at the funeral. Ben noticed that Pap had his eyebrow cocked in the same position in most every photo. I said “That’s it! Chitter does her eyebrow just like that sometimes!! That’s why I always think she looks like Pap!” Another time I think Chitter looks just like Pap is when she squints her eyes.

We all see things differently though.

Even though I believe Chatter gets her looks from her Daddy’s family, Pap always said Chatter reminded him so much of his grandmother Carrie. One time Zelma Mason, who lived down the road, told me the same thing about Chatter-she said “That one is the spitting image of your great grandmother Carrie.”

spitting image = looks as if the child were spit from their mouth


p.s. On the day the photo above was taken the girls played at a 9-11 Service. There was even a camera crew there to film part of it for NC Public TV. Chatter got her guitar some kind of all messed up and out of tune. Pap swooped in tuned the guitar and told the girls not to be nervous cause he’d be right there in the front if they needed anything. In other words his helpful and encouraging manner saved the day as it so often did.


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  • Reply
    May 18, 2016 at 8:48 am

    They are both beautiful young ladies! It’s so wonderful that they are also interested and invested in their Appalachian heritage.
    We lived almost next door to my grandparents and I can remember my Mamaw saying “He walks just like my Pappy” when my little brother walked home from visiting with her. It seems Pappy had a way of throwing his right leg out when he walked. It’s not exactly a spittin’ image thing–but apparently Little Brother received Pappy’s leg-throwin’ DNA.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    May 17, 2016 at 11:26 pm

    Ive heard “spittin’ image” a lot, but people have always told me I am my Mama made over.

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    May 17, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    tipper: thanks for explaining the “spittin image” ive used it a thousand times not knowing where it came from. those girls sure are purtry things . now i dont mean things im just an old fashion talker i guess . blessings to all you piggies. k.o.h.

  • Reply
    anita griffith
    May 17, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    b, Ruth UNCLE! You are right about two peas in a pod. It is used mostly to describe actions alike.That’s how it is used here too.

  • Reply
    Mrs. K
    May 17, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    My family uses the term spitting image, I’ve heard it all my life. We also used dead ringer. I can’t see the difference between your girls; I just have to remember which one plays which instrument!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    May 17, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    It took me awhile, but I learned to tell the difference those beautiful girls. Steve’s daughter April, (the 3rd Indian Princess) is just as gorgeous. Perhaps it’s because my girls had all girls, and my oldest granddaughter has a girl. I guess my daddy used up all the boy genes, he had six boys and I’m the youngest.
    Chitter is more open to folks, never met a stranger, while Chatter is more reserved. One time Chitter showed me her finger she’d cut with a pocket knife and how many stitches it took, and Chatter just listened to her sister. The Deer Hunter once told me that he had the only girls that could shoot, field dress, and bring home a deer. I’m sure Pap had a lot of Precious Memories of his Granddaughters too…Ken

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    May 17, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    They are so much alike! Personally, l think they look more like each other, but definitely have the resemblances of the Wilsons and Pressley’s!
    In other words the sprit and image of each other.
    Have you ever noticed married folks, or those that live together many years, (per adoption, etc.) how they tend to resemble each other in actions , speech and facial appearance?
    The girls sure have that kinetic energy!
    Yes, “spitin’ image” is in common use around here. “Two Peas in a Pod” was used more if their actions were alike!
    Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    May 17, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Used to hear it often as well as “made over”. Your girls are beautiful and what a gift they have had to have such loving support from their grandfather. As one who has missed a strong father figure in life, I see the value and joy of it. I believe their lives will be enriched forever by Pap’s loving influence.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 17, 2016 at 11:54 am

    I am more likely to hear “made over”. She is her mamma made over. Or sometimes “picture”. She’s a picture of her grandma.
    Any way you look at them, your twins are a delight for the eyes!

  • Reply
    May 17, 2016 at 11:53 am

    LOL I guess it is an illusion : ) One is slightly taller but its not the one that appears to be in the photo. Chatter is actually slightly taller than Chitter. 

  • Reply
    May 17, 2016 at 11:48 am

    Ed-Ive never heard it said that way before but I like it! I think another commenter mentioned it too. 

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    May 17, 2016 at 10:03 am

    Well, I have never heard “spittING image,” but I’ve heard spittin’ image all my life. I read once the same thing Keith Jones mentions: that the expression is a casual pronunciation of “spirit and image.”
    But, Tipper, in this photo at least, both lovely girls are the spittin’ image of Pap!

  • Reply
    May 17, 2016 at 10:03 am

    Yes, a very common saying among families. Often, there seems to be something common in family traits. The picture is a beautiful memory of the girls with Pap. I enjoy your sharing such wonderful and meaning memories of Pap and the family.

  • Reply
    harry adams
    May 17, 2016 at 9:39 am

    The comment from Gary from Australia made me wonder where the phrase came from. England? I found this site that gave a good explanation as well as similar phrases in other countries.

  • Reply
    anita griffith
    May 17, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Thanks Tipper,didn’t know the definition of spitting image,although I used it all my life.We also say two peas in a pod or plime blank alike.Well,regardless they are both beautiful young ladies.I enjoy their music.
    Is that an optical allusion or is one slightly taller?

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    May 17, 2016 at 9:14 am

    I’ve never had a lick of trouble telling the girls apart by looks, and there is also a very distinct difference in their speech. But Susan says she still has a hard time of it.
    Maybe it’s because of some training I got back in high school, when I dated a pair of twins (but not at the same time!). In fact, I went steady with both of them. One of them broke up with me and gave me back the birthstone ring I’d given her. About 10 days later, her twin sister took up with me, and since that birthstone ring was obviously the right one, I gave it to her;-)
    I never got it back, so I guess we’re still going steady. Don’t tell Susan.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    May 17, 2016 at 9:00 am

    In my neck of the woods, we shortened it to just “spit.” When my son was born my Gramma took one look at him and said “That child is the spit of his Daddy.”
    Does anyone else use it that way?

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 17, 2016 at 8:00 am

    I guess we take the gene pool characteristics given to us and make them uniquely our own. Wasn’t it nice that the gene pool represented both families, with Chatter leaning a little more toward the Deer Hunters family and Chitter a little more toward your side. However, remember we are all uniquely us!
    Sometimes I look at the girls and they look just alike and sometimes they look entirely different. I actually think they look more alike in photos than they do in person. They are beautiful girls any way you look at them….spoken like a true grandmother.
    I’ve heard spittin’ image all my life, I’ve also heard dead ringer but less than spittin’ image.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 17, 2016 at 7:35 am

    There is some kind of very deep meaning in that constancy of characteristics through the generations, that information is stored ‘in the genes’. I wish I could get ahold of it.

  • Reply
    Keith Jones
    May 17, 2016 at 7:08 am

    Another source of “spittin’ image” is that it’s a contraction of “spirit and image,” in other words they have a similar personality as well as looks.

  • Reply
    Garry Ballard
    May 17, 2016 at 4:59 am

    We use ‘spitting image’ the same way in Australia but there’s another term that means nearly the same here too. That’s ‘dead ringer’, so we’d could also say the girls are a dead ringer for their mother or that boy is a dead ringer for his grandfather! Meaning there is an uncanny similarity but maybe not identical.

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