Appalachian Similes

Today’s guest post was written by Jim Casada.

mountains in swain county nc

All of my adult life I’ve had people respond to something I would say with looks of surprise or comments to the effect of “I never heard that before” or “that’s an interesting way of putting it.” More often than not, those responses were connected with some simile, or perhaps a traditional mountain figure of speech in another form, which for me were, to use an example of exactly what I’m referring to, “common as pig tracks.” Tipper’s recent excursions into mountain vocabulary and ways of expression got me to thinking about this in a bit more organized fashion, so I thought, off the top of my head, that I’d share some of these similes, near-similes, and colloquialisms. Here’s a starter list and I hope Tipper’s readers will draw on their own experiences and share them. Some of those offered below are a bit crude, but often crudity makes a point or paints a picture in quite clear fashion.


“Pretty as a speckled pup.”

“Fetching as a bowl of butter beans.”

“Bright as a new penny.”

“She’s got eyes as bright and brown as a chinquapin.”

“Sweet as sugar.”

“Pretty as a picture.”

“Smart as a whip.”

“Lazy as a yard dog.”

“Handy as a tool belt.”

“Honest as the day is long.”

“Sharp as a razor.”

“Fast as greased lightning.”

“Smooth as silk.”

“Sorrier than sin.”

“Nosier than a house cat.”

“Frisky as a colt.”

“Ugly as home-made sin.”

“Ugly enough to make a Greyhound bus take a dirt road.”

“Homely as a muddy hog.”

“Fatter than a hog.”

“So skinny she could hide behind a three-quarters inch water pipe turned sideways.”

“Meaner than a snake.”

“Lower than a snake’s belly.”

“Prim and proper as an old maid.”

“Harder than a whore’s heart.”

 “Tighter than Dick’s hat band.”

“Tighter than a miser’s purse.”

“Useless as a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.”

“Useless as teats on a boar hog.”

“He’s slicker than snot and about as nasty.”


“Hotter than the hinges of Hell’s gate.”

“Hotter than Hades.”

“Darker than a hundred midnights.”

“Colder than Alaska.”

“Colder than ice.”

“Colder than a whore’s heart.”

“Finer than snuff.”

“Clear as a bell.”

“Frost so heavy you could track a rabbit.”

“Whiter than snow.”

I hope you enjoyed Jim’s guest post, he offers a free monthly newsletter and has a great website, you can visit it here.

Jim said he heard the next to the last weather saying from Ken Roper. Speaking of Ken, I talked to him yesterday and he was in good spirits. During his surgery they did four bypasses. He was asking about all the Blind Pig folks. I told him we all missed him and hoped he was well enough to comment on the blog again soon.

If you’d like to call Ken or send him a card here’s the information:

Ken Roper
c/o The Laurels
70 Sweeten Creek Road
Asheville, NC 28803


Subscribe for FREE and get a daily dose of Appalachia in your inbox

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    October 18, 2020 at 11:52 am

    I remember a lot of those saying as both parents were from NC. My mother had a saying for lots of traffic when turning, “Who let the flood gate open?”
    The saying about chinquapin, I live 12 miles from Chinquapin, NC in Duplin county.

  • Reply
    October 17, 2020 at 6:42 pm

    My father (and now I do) used to say “two axe handles and a bar of soap wide” for someone or thing of largess. lol

  • Reply
    Yecedrah Beth Higman
    October 16, 2020 at 6:41 pm

    I hear these sayings regularly because I still say most of them. I never think of them as being strange but I guess to some people they are. I like to read all the sayings that the commenters write also. I am glad to hear that Ken is getting along well too.

  • Reply
    October 16, 2020 at 6:05 pm

    ….a couple come to mind…. That (insert recipe here) is so good….makes you wanna smack your Momma… Slicker than snake snot…. She’s a tall drink of iced tea… She has legs from here..all the way there… @$$ on one end and toes on the other… Smart as a bag of hammers… Sharp as a bowling ball…

  • Reply
    Kat Swanson
    October 16, 2020 at 5:47 pm

    I wrote a comment about a month or so ago and asked if anyone else had heard of a BLOW GEORGE….MY mom in WISE CO VA. used it all the time about someone who was a bragger. WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
    MY research tells me this term comes from time of Revolutionary WAR ..refers to King George the THIRD…..and lasted all the way to me …born in 52 …..from Kat Swanson

  • Reply
    October 15, 2020 at 5:15 pm

    Cold as a brass bra. And in the words of the late great Jack Cristil, legendary Mississippi State broadcaster, “Colder than a pawn broker’s heart”

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 15, 2020 at 3:53 pm

    How about:
    Tough as whet leather
    Tough as an old shoe
    Sharp as a tack
    Dull as a froe
    Slicker than owl S#!t
    Hotter than 9 yards of you know where

    Not exactly similies but:
    It’s just a pour out
    I’ve looked all over hell and half of Georgia
    He’s so mean that hell wouldn’t have him

    And my all time favorite:
    Well I’ll be dipped in whipped cream!

    • Reply
      October 16, 2020 at 11:34 am

      Colder than a witch’s tit

  • Reply
    aw griff
    October 15, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    Just thought of one of my favorites that you say to someone that’s never on time. He or she would be a good person to send after a doctor for the devil.

  • Reply
    Sue McIntyre
    October 15, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    Thanks for the news on Ken. I miss his comments. I am thankful for all he, along with many others, has shared.
    All these sayings are familiar to me. I have one of my own I would like to share. “Prettier than frost on kudzu.” That one comes from the North Georgia Mountains. Nothing can kill kudzu like a heavy frost. Looking forward to the first frost of this season and all that comes with it. Happy fall ya’ll! Everyone, stay well and safe.

  • Reply
    October 15, 2020 at 2:09 pm

    Hi everybody :).. Have enjoyed going down Jim Casada’s list to see what I’m familiar with…I’ve heard some of them ,and some I’ve heard a bit differently as in ; ”Pretty as a peach”, ”Brighter than the noon day sun” … ” Sweeter than pie”. A few I’ve heard are, ”Happy as a Lark” .. ”Hotter than a July firecracker” , ” Grinning like a possum” … ” Useful as a screen door on a submarine” …I know I’ll remember more through the day :)…So glad to hear Ken Roper’s is through his surgery and in good spirits .

  • Reply
    Gaye Blaine
    October 15, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    Woody: Nuttin twist us and the North Pole but a “bob war” fence and it was down!
    My neck of the woods variation.

  • Reply
    October 15, 2020 at 10:35 am

    I might repeat, because it is hard to keep all that wonderful knowledge in my pea brain. 1) Slick as the bark on a log 2) Uglier than sin 3) To emphasize not just mean but really really mean is if they are meaner than a “striped” snake 4) stubborn as a mule 5) Dumb as a door knob 6) crooked as a dog’s hind leg 7) lies like a dog 8) crazy as a bed bug 9) black as coal 10) Busy as a one armed paper hanger (get that visual) 11) A little different here, but people who liked to brag were called a “blow George.” 12) Drunker than a skunk 13) High as a kite 14) broader than a barn 15) slick as a ribbon. Seems like this coffee has put me “on a roll.” Always enjoy Jim’s posts.

    • Reply
      Kat Swanson
      October 16, 2020 at 5:39 pm

      I wrote a comment about a month or so ago and asked if anyone else had heard of a BLOW GEORGE….MY mom in WISE CO VA. used it all the time about someone who was a bragger. WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
      MY research tells me this term comes from time of Revolutionary WAR ..refers to King George the THIRD…..and lasted all the way to me …born in 52 …..from Kat Swanson

  • Reply
    aw griff
    October 15, 2020 at 10:32 am

    He has as much use for that as a hog does a watch, can’t dance, can’t sing and it’s too windy to haul rocks, meaner than a stripp-ed snake, so ugly could stop an eight day clock, and if anybody ever ask if you have a dry pocket, say no!

  • Reply
    Melissa P. (Misplaced Southerner)
    October 15, 2020 at 10:01 am

    I’ve always heard one of these but in a more crude fashion. “Colder than a well-digger’s a**.” Colder than a witch’s (let’s just say “pointy parts”) Dumber than a box of rocks. As nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Flat as a board. Stinks to high Heaven. Stubborn as an ox. Grinnin’ like a mule eatin’ briars. His cornbread ain’t done in the middle. He’s so ugly he fell outta the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.

    • Reply
      Ann Applegarth
      October 15, 2020 at 10:29 am

      And “grinnin’ like a possum eatin’ grapes”! Also “flat as a flitter” and “fast as greased lightning” and “happy as a pig in the sunshine” and “happy as a clam” (I never understood that one.). “tight as a tick” “thick as thieves”

      • Reply
        Melissa P. (Misplaced Southerner)
        October 15, 2020 at 4:02 pm

        I always heard “happy as a pig in s#*t,” but yours is much nicer.

  • Reply
    October 15, 2020 at 9:47 am

    I’ve heard and used a lot of these expressions all my life. When I taught, I often used them and my students had never heard of them. One year, one student made a list of every expression I used!

  • Reply
    Gene Smith
    October 15, 2020 at 9:01 am

    Redder than a fox’s butt in poke berry time. Harder than a mother-in-law’s heart. Colder than a well digger’s knees (that one goes ‘way back). Heard on an extremely hot day: “That sun is coming down the near way.” This one is ultra-disgusting: “As slick as two eels making out in a bucket of snot.” “It was so cold I saw a lawyer with his hands in his own pockets.” “It was so cold I saw two beagles with jumper cables trying to get a rabbit started.” “He’s as sorry as haint.” “He was shot so full of holes he had to be vulcanized to breathe.” “Biscuits so good they’ll make you swallow your tongue.” “As dark as the inside of a black cat.” Such a poor shot that “He couldn’t hit the side of a barn from the inside.”

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    October 15, 2020 at 8:22 am

    “Colder than a by-golly” “Colder than a well-digger’s knee” “Hotter than seven shades of Hades” That fits him like “socks on a rooster.” He’s a “long, tall drink of water.” “cute as a bug’s ear” “as many as Carter has pills” “slow as molasses in January” “changeable as the Texas weather” “bigger than all outdoors” “built like a brick outhouse” “slower than Christmas” “tastes so good it’ll make you slap your daddy” “skinny as a rail” “cute as a button” “black as ol’ coaly” “red as a beet” “so hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk” “so fast it made my head swim” “ugly as a mud fence” “stuck up” “a goin’ jessie” “I feel like I been run over by a Mack truck” She looked like she’d been through the wash.” “sleep like a baby” “like sleepin’ with a windmill”

  • Reply
    October 15, 2020 at 8:13 am

    What happened to “Finer than frog hair”, “Scarce as hen’s teeth” and “Homely as a mud fence”?

    • Reply
      October 15, 2020 at 9:45 am

      When Mama was alive, she said Finer than frog’s hair all the time, scarce as hen’s teeth, and slow as molasses in January.

  • Reply
    Doug Bishop
    October 15, 2020 at 8:10 am

    “She’s so skinny she could shower in a shotgun barrel” .

  • Reply
    gayle larson
    October 15, 2020 at 7:49 am

    Does it mean I am old if I remember most of these?? Wow!!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 15, 2020 at 7:45 am

    Many on Jim’s list are familiar to me. I grew up hearing them but, as usual, can’t recall when or where I last heard any of them. Regardless they make for a stroll down memory lane.

    The version of “speckled pup” I always heard was “pretty as a speckled pup under a red wagon”. Several were my Dad’s favorites; Dick’s hat band, teats on a boar hog, rabbit tracking frost are examples.

    I can relate to the “chinkapin eyes” one because I found two chinkapin nuts last week. My Grandma had brown eyes like that but I did not inherit them.

  • Reply
    October 15, 2020 at 7:36 am

    Darker than the inside of a cow’s belly is one that I have always heard. My favorite one in winter is “nothing between us and the North Pole but a barbed wire fence”. There are a few about the cold that are not fit to print as well.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 15, 2020 at 6:55 am

    “Dumb as a rock” “Sharp as a tack” “Fast as lightning” “Cold as a witches tit” I love our colorful expressions and I could go on all day remembering them, in fact I probably will. Thanks Jim!

    So glad to hear Ken is doing well!

  • Leave a Reply