Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 104

words from Appalachia

It’s time for this month’s Appalachian Vocabulary Test. I’m sharing a few videos to let you hear some of the words and phrases. To start the videos click on them and then to stop them click on them again.

1. Marry off: to get married and leave your parents. “I never did want any of my girls to marry off and leave. I knew the life ahead of them would be tougher without me and their Poppa to look after’em.”

2. Mast: a season’s accumulation of fallen nuts, seeds, berries, etc. “The amount of mast produced each year is supposed to be an indicator of the severity of the coming winter.”

3. Meadow muffin: cow dung. “I went traipsing through the yard in the dark and stepped right in a big old meadow muffin. Ole Jo’s cows got out last night and left me a mess and half to clean up.”

4. Meanness: mischief. “Granny said in the old days folks were too busy to get into much meaness. They stayed busy getting food and water and getting wood to stay warm in the winter.”

5. Mend: to improve in health. “Granny is on the mend and I’m so thankful!”

All of this month’s words are beyond common in my area of Appalachia except meadow muffin. I’ve never heard that one.



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  • Reply
    Sherry Thacker
    September 22, 2021 at 1:48 pm

    All these are just the everyday way of talking to me. I am always leavin’ the g off my words when I talk but in writing putting them on.

  • Reply
    October 1, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    Use ’em all here in southern Oklahoma!

  • Reply
    Just an old guy
    September 29, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    I think you could add “cow flop” to that list, That’s a term I’ve heard used in various places. It’s one that accurately captures the sound when gravity has finished working. One warning we used when someone unfamiliar with pastures was about put their foot down in a fresh ‘flop’ was, “Look out! You’ll cut your foot”. Mast, meanness, married off, mend and meadow muffin I’ve also heard and used. So I guess I did ‘tolerable’ well on the test, eh teach?

  • Reply
    September 29, 2017 at 11:16 am

    All are familiar, and in these parts, the acorns sound like buckshot hitting the roof as they collect into a large mast on the ground indicating a cold winter coming; haven’t seen any wooly worms yet or any of the other winter tellers.
    Dad talks of meadow muffins when reminiscing about herding the neighbor dairy farmer’s cows to the barn so the football team could clean the pasture for practice back in Kansas; but, nowadays we call them “cow patties” or “cow pies”.
    Have you ever heard of packing animal dung onto the outside of fresh clay pots before firing to give the pots special colors and sheen?

  • Reply
    Michael Miller
    September 29, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Personally, I think mast is a government word, something you’d hear the possum police or a rabbit sheriff say like, “That there corn y’all scattered ain’t natural mast an you’re huntin’ on a baited field.” Not to be confused with the fed up kind of bait like you’d get by ‘havin’ your bait of hearing Etta Mae Loudermilk talk about her gall bladder operation.’ A mast, as far as I know, is something the kids will be wearing at Halloween when they’s in their Spider Man get-up.
    We all know Etta Mae was mighty puny and took a sick bed before her operation, but they ain’t no use in going on and on about it once she went and healed up. Last week I thought I’d took my death bed with the shingles, but it passed before I had to call the undertaker.
    My mother, who listened to AM radio on the skip at night, explained a sermon she had heard from some far off place about a Bible verse. The old preacher was trying to interpret from one of the ‘Good News’ Bibles where the passage related something that was happening simultaneously to another event. To define that event the verse stated, “In the meantime….” The old preacher had put a good bit of thought into the meaning and described it thusly: “In the meantime is something we all go through now and again. Some of us are meaner than others in our meantime and others are less. No matter how much or how little we are mean, we all need to get down on our knees and get forgiveness for our meantime.”
    Even though I got down on my knees and picked up every kernel of corn out from around that deer I shot, the rabbit sheriff still wrote me a ticket for $100 for that meantime I had down in Billy Holler.

  • Reply
    September 29, 2017 at 5:01 am

    I’m familiar with all but Meadow Muffin, that one I’ve never heard. Marry off. A friend of mine, said the first Boy that came around he was gonna shoot him and hang him on the front porch so the rest would stay away from his Daughter. Don’t need no explanation.

  • Reply
    Joanne Nelson
    September 28, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    Even us, way down here in Texas use all those expressions. I have heard cow patties called meadow muffins, but never used the expression myself.
    I regularly hear acorns, nuts, berries called mast, but it’s mostly used when talking about the abundance of acorns in the fall. Looks like this winter will be a doozy.. lots of mast in the woods. Speaking of signs of winter, has anyone checked the persimmon seeds? We have ripe persimmons right now. I gotta go get some and check the seeds. The mast says it will be a cold winter.. but the persimmon seeds will let us know if it will be a cold and dry or a cold and wet winter. Now if there is a fork sign that means the winter will be mild and as fine as cats hair. Last year it was a fork and spoon.. which meant a mild and wet winter, which is exactly what we had here in our neck of the woods.
    The marrying off expression is used here too, especially by my parents and grandparents’ generations. I always detected a bit of disapproval of the marriage being spoken of when that expression of marrying off was used. You know kids pick up these little nuances in language while they are growing up without it ever being clearly explained. I was one of those kids that were little pitchers with big ears. I picked up on lots of things.
    I have used and continue to use the meanness expression. I would always tell my boys to have a good time when they would go out, but stay out of meanness.
    I have heard and used the expression someone is on the mend to describe them getting over an illness.
    You know, I probably sound a whole lot like ya’ll. I’ve been told I have quite the accent (southern). My folks came to Texas from N.C., TN., AL. several generations ago. I guess you could say Appalachia was passed down from one generation to another in my family. Believe it or not, my heart has always been in those mountains. Our son just moved for his job to N.E. Kentucky. He said he feels like he has returned home to the mountains. He is looking for him a home in the hollers outside of town.
    Joanne Nelson

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    September 28, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    Don’t believe for an instant that Deer Hunter is tryin’ to get the girls “married off”…I suspect it would take a heap of investigatin’ just to let one of them fellers date one of the girls…Ha
    As far as the acorn “mast” goes here…we just don’t have many…I think we had one of those late freaky frosts this year and “scotched” the blooms…We do have a few hickory nuts and black walnuts but not like past years…
    Meadow Muffin I’ve heard….mostly we just say “Cow Paddie”….Go to the pasture and get me some of the oldest “cow paddies” you can find and put in a bucket…for I want to make some tea for my garden plants!
    Oh yeah, meanness is a favorite in my neck of the woods. Those boys are awful quiet…bet they are into some “meanness”!
    Well Tipper, sure hope you are on the mend by this time…stay well…I hate to be a “bad news bee” but heard the flu is starting early this year…go get your shot!
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS….Stuffed Marconi Peppers in the oven….A huge pot of garden veggie soup on the stove…already sent some of it to one of our infirmed….One more thang….I’ve been painting rocks…wish I had some of your crick rocks to paint…ha No rocks can be had out of the park…ha…unless you want to spend a few years bustin’ rocks behind bars…Ha

  • Reply
    Janet E
    September 28, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    Tipper, I love your Appalachian vocabulary tests!!! Have heard, used and still use all but Meadow Muffin. The only thing is – I am from and still live in the AR Ozarks, so we’re not that much different. LOL Have a great Friday!!!!!!!

  • Reply
    Larry Proffitt
    September 28, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    All are common use to me this time especially mast as in hard mast such as acorns and beechnuts and soft mast as in wild cherries and wild grapes. Larry Proffitt.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    September 28, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    I have heard and use every one of today’s vocabulary words and in the way you define them. When a youngster growing up at Needmore the pasture served a a football field, baseball diamond and a golf course so I was very familiar with Meadow Muffins. In fact one of the best football players to spring from WNC played in a pasture and practiced cutting around Meadow Muffins, this was none other than Charlie “Choo Choo Justice who was one of the best running backs ever to carry a football at UNC then went on to play in and help build the NFL. This was before the NFL was nothing more than a bunch of spoiled unpatriotic millionaires.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 28, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    I agree with the Mr. about marrying off his daughters. If Dad picks their man for them it usually works out better for the girl. That way if things don’t work out right she can point at her dad and say “Well you picked him!”
    I have carpet of mast under my oak trees but the squirrels won’t touch it yet. They harvested a big corn field over across the road a couple of weeks ago so they are in paradise. All the local birds and deer are foundered too. The doves may not fair so well.
    I knew meadow muffins but usually call them cow patties. The dried ones make good bases when you are trying to get a softball game in before dark. Meadow is pronounced “medder” around here.
    Meanness used to be my name since I was always getting into some kind of it.
    I cut my finger on a box of Gladwrap last night. It was back in the cabinet where I couldn’t see it. I rech back in there and grabbed onto the cutter. It sliced me pretty good but I didn’t put a bandage on it because it will mend better if you don’t. It is starting to knit back together aready.
    For those who might now know the language well, rech and aready are not typos. Rech is pronounced the same as wretch. Means the same thing as reached. Aready means something doesn’t take as long as expected. “You back aready?”

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    September 28, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    Like others, meadow muffin is new to me. The others aren’t.
    I don’t believe that bit about getting those girls married off, either.
    Also, Tipper, it is interesting how you pronounce “interesting.” That’s a word that I actually pronounce the way the dictionary says to, but you emphasize the “rest” part. I like your way better!

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes Moreno
    September 28, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    Never used mast or meadow muffin in my group. All the others ones are common.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    September 28, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    Well, I’m like several others. Four are common but never heard of them there meader muffins. Sounds to me like they might be the grass pasture counterpart of road apples, that is horse leavings and not cow at all.
    I wonder if the “off” part of marrying off arose because of newly-weds moving away and/or marrying someone from far away. Our daughter married off to a fellow from Oklahoma. Come to think of it, a common expression I have heard all my life is, “Well, I’ll be off” in leaving. Then there is the other kind of ‘off’ such as when I tell people, “Well I’m off and besides that I’m leaving.” Keep’em guessing.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    September 28, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    We played baseball in the cow pasture. The cows didn’t mind but the bull wasn’t a baseball fan, We used the dried “cow flops” for the bases,

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    September 28, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    Mast is new to me, but all the others have long been heard and used. The most common way I have heard or used “marry off” is: They got all their daughters married off to good men.

  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    September 28, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    Everyone of them but mast. I still use meaness and mend just as you described. I always heard about meadow muffins, it doesnt come up in conversations overmuch around here. As for marry off, i grew up with it. It isnt needed very often.
    Also i use overneath. It doesnt make any sense til it is compared with underneath. I also use til instead of until. Spell check finally gave up on that one.
    Britches is used daily, so is drawers ( underwear, most often men’s around here).

  • Reply
    September 28, 2017 at 11:47 am

    Me and a bunch of us boys, after school, use to play Football in Emmit’s Meadow. He had a bunch of cows, and we’d look for fresh cow piles as we were laying off the field and marking the boundaries and goal lines. We played rough and it was serious, but none of us ever heard of a meadow muffin. We never paid any attention to the ones that were hard, just the soft, mushy kind.
    I’m like Cindy, I don’t believe the Deer Hunter either. …Ken

  • Reply
    wanda Devers
    September 28, 2017 at 10:51 am

    Haven’t heard Meadow Muffin, but like Miss Cindy I knew what it was right away. We got my cousin to taste a dried up one so many years ago. He passed away pretty young and I’ve always regretted that we let time and distance get between us. Thanks for awakening a funny memory of him!

  • Reply
    September 28, 2017 at 10:43 am

    Never heard “mast”; but have heard all the others.

  • Reply
    September 28, 2017 at 10:20 am

    I’m familiar with all five today. Meanness!!! Maybe not but the smile at the end indicates a lot of mischief is usually being instigated by her.

  • Reply
    larry griffith
    September 28, 2017 at 8:57 am

    Four are common but never heard meadow muffin. The dried ones did make a one throw Frisbee.

  • Reply
    Matthew Jones
    September 28, 2017 at 8:41 am

    Per ‘meanness’: the great Methodist minister Sam Jones, who coined the phrase ‘the tune of America is pitched to the dollar’ also coined the phrase ‘quit your meanness!’

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 28, 2017 at 8:11 am

    I don’t recall ever hearing of a meadow muffin, but hearing it for the first time I knew instantly what it was! I’ve heard cow patty. The rest of these words are all common language to me.
    One short comment on the first video…It ain’t so, he’s not trying to get the girls married off.

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