Appalachia Appalachian Dialect Sayings from Appalachia

Appalachian Sayings – Tough as a Pine Knot

Tough as a pine knot

The saying tough as a pine knot means, well it means you’re tough! It’s a saying I’ve heard all my life and I still hear it often in my area of Appalachia.

The saying contains a vote of confidence from the speaker. I mean who wouldn’t want to be tough as a pine knot? Even if the phrase is said about someone the speaker may not care for, it is said with a grudging respect of recognition that the individual does have at least one redeeming quality-being tough as a pine knot. When I was young if someone said I was tough as a pine knot I could feel my spine straighten a little and my resolve to be even tougher solidify.

Tipper

 

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15 Comments

  • Reply
    Grandma Cate
    July 13, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    “Tough as a pine knot & independent as the bark on a log” was my great-grandfather from Hurricane Creek on Tug River.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    January 12, 2016 at 11:53 am

    Tough as a hiccker nut. (hickory nut).
    Ed, I remember old ones calling some tough pieces in meat “whit leather”. Maybe pieces of tendons??

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    January 12, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Nope. All I have ever heard or used is: tough as a boot.

  • Reply
    Luann
    January 12, 2016 at 11:01 am

    I’ve heard tough as a pine knot but never used it….tough as nails was what I grew up using.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 12, 2016 at 10:48 am

    Tipper,
    I forgot to mention, I love pine knots…Not all that I have are rich pine, just knots…Whenever I see, even the smallest one, I save it…I love the look of them…sometimes they have little owl-like faces….I have a basket of a few in my art room…Always a conversation starter. ha
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Brian P. Blake
    January 12, 2016 at 10:48 am

    “Tough as a pine knot!” We love it!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 12, 2016 at 9:51 am

    Tipper,
    and Ed…My Grandfather had a strop of whet leather hanging from a ring by his shaving mirror. His shaving area was near the door where the daylight came in. This was in the old, very large country kitchen….He would sharpen his single edge, bone handle razor on that leather before shaving, but only after he took the foamy brush and whisk It all over his whiskers. After a few stokes with the razor, he would strop it again….until his face was clean shaven…
    My Dad and Aunt used to say that my Grandfather was tough as that old piece of whet leather strop…
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    dolores
    January 12, 2016 at 9:18 am

    The pine knot is a new one for me. I remember using ‘tough as shoe leather’ referring to a piece of meat. I need to check out the picture; I think it will have some good info.

  • Reply
    Shirl
    January 12, 2016 at 9:16 am

    Tough as nails is another way I describe the person who is tough as a pine knot.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    January 12, 2016 at 9:11 am

    I know and use it often. Being though as a pine knot was something any boy wanted to be. It was something my folks would say if you were hurt or injured.
    It was encouragement to hear that you are going to be ok because you are tough as a pine knot.
    Reading the previous post about rich pine and looking at the photo of your mother and g-mother I was amazed at how much your girls resemble your mother. They could be triplets! : )

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 12, 2016 at 8:53 am

    Well, as a lifetime hunter-gatherer rich pine is one of those treasures I tend to always notice even when I have no foreseeable use for it. My Grandma and the old man I worked with many years ago always kept a lookout for it to. We kept some around as fire starter when I was a boy. We had a wood cook stove and a coal heating stove. Some people would slosh a sliver of rich pine in kerosene (aka ‘coal oil’) and light that but we never used the kerosene.
    Something I have wanted to do for many years is to make a thin slice through a white pine branch whorl to get a 5-point star pattern of rich pine surrounded by the cream-yellow color of the sapwood then sand it down and clear coat it. If it were thin enough I think the light would show through the rich pine.
    Years ago we used to go take short stays in the cabins at Pickett State Park in Pickett County, TN and on the way over would stop on the KY side and pick up a supply of rich pine knots on the Daniel Boone National Forest. As you mention, they were best for light. These days if we stay anywhere with a fireplace I take rich pine with me when we go.
    As a former fire fighter, rich pine stumps and logs were a big part of “mop up”. But the good thing about it was once we knocked the flame out we were pretty much done. As long as it kept wicking resin out, it flamed on the surface without deep charring and embers. I like the pine resin (we called it ‘rosin’) smell both on a fresh cut and even in the smoke.
    Remember how for a time Cracker Barrel had ‘rosin-baked’ potatoes ? Wonder why they stopped ?
    Lots of good memories for me related to ‘rich pine’. Lends a new meaning to ‘rich’. Thanks.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 12, 2016 at 8:30 am

    Heard this one all my life, yes, i think of it as a complement. The near opposite being wuss and nobody wants to be a wuss.
    I have also heard tough as whet leather but I to have heard pine knot much more.

  • Reply
    Patsy
    January 12, 2016 at 8:28 am

    i NEVER HEARD EITHER OF THE ABOVE…ONLY “TOUGH AS NAILS.”

  • Reply
    Tipper
    January 12, 2016 at 6:54 am

    Ed-thanks for the comment! Yes I’ve heard tough as whet leather but not as much as the pine knot one : )

  • Reply
    Ed
    January 12, 2016 at 6:50 am

    Do you ever hear “tough as whet leather”?

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