Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 83

Appalachian language

It’s time for this month’s Appalachian Vocabulary Test take it and see how you do!

  1. Take on
  2. Tangle-foot
  3. Tore down
  4. Throw up to
  5. Thunder pot

Appalachian language matters


  1. Take on: to make a show of great emotion. “The way she was taking on you’d have thought she cut her whole hand off. Why it wasn’t nothing more than a paper cut once I finally got her to quit screaming and let me look at it.”
  2. Tangle-foot: homemade whiskey; moonshine. “He said he bought the bottle at the ABC store but I swear it liked to have killed me! I think he found some old tangle-foot in the barn and just poured it in a new looking bottle to fool us.”
  3. Tore down: to get drunk. “I don’t care nothing about going to no more parties up there. All everybody does is get tore down and then start arguing and fighting.”
  4. Throw up to: to remind someone of something they did that was foolish. “Just because she took on over a paper cut and then got tore down up at the party one night don’t mean you need to keep throwing it up to her every time you get mad at her. She said she was sorry now just let it be!”
  5. Thunder pot: a chamber pot. “When he was a little boy he always had to clean out the thunder pot. He’s so weak stomached he’d gag all the way outside and back.”

So how did you do? I’ve heard or read tangle-foot and thunder pot¬†enough to know what they are, but I don’t hear them in everyday conversation. I do hear all the others on a regular basis in my part of Appalachia.



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  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    November 13, 2015 at 11:30 am

    I know take on/took on, throw up to, and thunder pot.
    The other two, no. Our family is made up of teetotalers to this very day!

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    November 12, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    Throw up to and take on was the only ones I knew.

  • Reply
    November 12, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    I’ve hear all but Thunder Pot, tangle foot and tore down… Man I feel sorry for that little boy, I’d be just like him..

  • Reply
    November 12, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    Well, this is the worst I’ve ever done!

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    November 12, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    I didn’t get “tangle-foot” or “tore down”. The others were familiar to me.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    November 12, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    All but “tore down.” We said “got down” as in: Everybody got down at Shirley’s party.
    or “Hey, it’s Friday — lets get together and get down.”

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    November 12, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    I’ve heard them all but Tore down to describe a state if inebriation. I’ve heard Chamber Pot more often than Thunder Pot, the rest are fairly common.

  • Reply
    Edwin Ammons
    November 12, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    I knew all but tore down. When I first saw it I thought you might mean it as in fleeing the scene. “He tore down thu the brar patch like a haint wuz atter him.” Tore up and tore out work as well.
    Tangle Foot was what I was called as a child when I tripped over my own feet which was quite often.
    We didn’t have a Thunder Pot when I was coming up. We couldn’t afford one. You’ve heard the phrase “don’t have a pot to p–s in.” That was us. Actually we did have one. It was a blue speckled enamel one that matched the kitchenware. It was reserved for the females of the family. Us boys either held it or made the trek to the toilet. Neither rain nor snow nor gloom of night could stop nature’s call. You have heard spooky tales of lights wandering about on dark nights. That weren’t no ghost, that was just me with the lantern making my way to the outhouse.

  • Reply
    November 12, 2015 at 11:56 am

    0 for 5 on this one! I think my favorite ?? is Thunder Pot, though! That’s quite a name for such a yucky thing!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 12, 2015 at 11:46 am

    Heard them all but tore down! “Tore up” would be of the use I hear…Also “slop jar” or “thunder jug” would be slang for chamber pot here…We’ve sold many a colorful porcelain chamber pot! ha You know the ones that have all the fancy designs on them with the assorted matched toiletry holders that go with it…Never did understand why one needed a fancy patterned chamber pot….it just slid and hid under the bed anyhow. Some of the old England homes matched it all…ha
    When I think of “tangle-foot”, I see in my minds eye, some old codger side-goggling down a dirt road, swinging his arms, while holding a brown paper bag with just the top edge rolled down and singing to the top of his lungs the tune “Ninety-nine Barrels of Beer on the Wall” Ha
    Thanks Tipper….always love the vocabulary test…Most of the time we pass here…ha

  • Reply
    scott stephens,,,
    November 12, 2015 at 11:07 am

    well well Tipper,,, a couple of them I don’t know,,, but thunder pot is new to me by that name… we called it the thunder mug…throw up to is an oldie but goody,,,but tangle foot and tore down I don’t know..there is one I still use,,its “plime blank” meaning exactly alike… like ” he looks plime blank like his daddy…
    now maybe I missed something,,do you have a volumn of all these sayins and grannyisms?? I shore would like to have one..although I have lived it Louisville, ky for the last 48 yrs I am still a dyed in the wool hillbilly and proud of it…. I am from Floyd county, ky…

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    November 12, 2015 at 9:37 am

    I use take on and throw up to. Haven’ heard others.

  • Reply
    November 12, 2015 at 9:33 am

    Okay! You got me on all of the words this time! Thanks for the education.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    November 12, 2015 at 9:25 am

    I’m not familiar with tangle foot or tore down. We would use tore up and shine for homemade liquor. ” He went up to Earl’s with a jar of shine and got so tore up he was trying to fight everyone.” Throwing up something to someone is very common where I’m from.
    I remember dad talking about the thunder pot and I thought that was the funniest thing when I thought about where the thunder part came from.
    I’m sure thankful for flushable toilets!!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    November 12, 2015 at 9:14 am

    Three of five, but with a special pleading. Missed ‘tangle foot’ entirely. I thought of dog hobble, also known as leucothe, the dark green shiny arching semi-shrub that roots when it touches the ground and grows along Appalachian creeks. As for ‘tore down’ I have always heard it as the way of saying ‘torn down’. Don’t recall having heard it as meaning ‘drunk’.
    Have always heard ‘taking on’ and ‘throw up to’. To me these two usually carry an inference of disapproval; taking on because, as in your example, it is excessive and throw up to as being discourteous by dreging up things that should be considered over and done with.

  • Reply
    November 12, 2015 at 9:07 am

    Throw up to is the one used often around here. Instead of tore down, we say tore up. I’ve used a lot of chamber pots, but never heard them called anything else. I’m sure Daddy got into some tangle foot a few times when I was little. At least that’s what Mom said. I’ve never heard take on used like your example.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    November 12, 2015 at 8:27 am

    Tipper–I’m familiar with all of them although I’ll add a couple of “extras.” Tanglefoot, which is highly expressive and goes right to the heart of the matter, evidently is not limited to the mountains. Archibald Rutledge, a renowned writer who lived in Low Country South Carolina, used the term in his work.
    To me, “tore up,” or more often “all tore up,” applies not merely to inebriation but any highly agitated state.
    As always, I particularly enjoy the vocabulary tests. They remind me, in a most meaningful fashion, of my roots.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Bobby C
    November 12, 2015 at 7:27 am

    I’m familiar with the same three of the five that you hear on a regular basis. Only around here, we would say tore up instead of tore down. I thought that was kind of funny. Always enjoy the vocabulary tests!

  • Reply
    Gina S
    November 12, 2015 at 7:26 am

    I’ve never heard of ‘tangle foot.’ The term is descriptive, though. Grandpa, who turned pottery, made and kept thunder jugs under every bed in his home. He and Grandmama referred to them as thunder mugs, though. When I was very young, I forgot the name and instead told Mama that I needed the rumble bucket.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    November 12, 2015 at 7:22 am

    Wow, the only one i hAVE HEARD IS TAKE ON. usual.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 12, 2015 at 7:21 am

    Tip, I’ve heard take on, throw up to, and thunder pot but to tell the truth none of these words are ones I hear regularly. Sometimes I like to think about how our expressions came to be. Thunder pot I can imagine an origin for but Tangle foot, not so much. Tore down I suppose in down drunk, meaning unable to walk.
    Their all interesting and amusing.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    November 12, 2015 at 7:18 am

    Never heard “tangle-foot” or “tore down” but am familiar with the others. Grannie called the pot the “chamber”, or the “slop jar”.

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