Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 105



western nc accent

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 to stop them click on them again.

1. Mess: a collection or portion of meat or other food sufficient for a meal. “Summer is barely over and I’m wishing I had a mess of fresh beans from the garden to cook for supper.”

2. Miseries: a general feeling of illness. “I went to visit a spell with her, but they met me at the door and said she’d took to bed with a case of the miseries.”

3. Mostest: most. “I had the mostest fun on my recent trip to Kentucky to attend the annual SEOPA Conference.”

4. Mouth: a hunting dog’s distinctive voice. “Coon-hunters can hear the difference in each one of their dogs’ mouths. From the deepest bay of the males to the light yip of the young dogs.”

5. Mullygrubs: Ill temper; sulkiness; despondency. “Sometimes I get the mullygrubs and there ain’t one reason in this world for me to have them!”

While I’ve heard all of this month’s words used in my area of Appalachia, mullygrubs, miseries, and mouth in reference to a dog are not that common. In fact I’d go so far as to say those three will be gone if we don’t teach them to some youngsters who’ll add them to their daily speech.



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  • Reply
    Garry Ballard
    November 5, 2019 at 5:20 pm

    I call small children Mulligrubs, or just grubs for short. G‘day grub is my usual greeting to my grandkids.

  • Reply
    October 28, 2017 at 7:30 am

    I’m not familiar with mulllygrubs, but the rest is common. Describing a dogs mouth was and is still very common around here with those who use dogs to hunt with, the sad part is there is not to many hunting with dogs anymore, coon population is near out of control, coyotes are taking over, but with all the so called progress around here with factories being built, hwys running every where you loose some of the solitude, and areas to hunt.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    October 27, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    How else could you possibly measure green beans? Turnip greens? We made a mess of fried green tomatoes and cornbread yesterday. I don’t know how else to say it. The “common-izing” of American dialect through television has made a mess out of descriptive talking. Colorful language became a casualty of the ‘smalling” of our world.

  • Reply
    October 27, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    I’ve heard used all of ’em except mollygrubs. We used to Posseum Hunt a lot when I was a kid, and before they’d tree, it was music to our ears. Ruby Sue is so attentive when Chitter is speaking. I use to have a dog that looked just like that, only Little Bit was a boy dog. When the girls came over the very first time, I think, they thought I had their dog. They carried Little Bit over to my garden and he really soaked that up.
    Love the Appalachian Word lists. …Ken

  • Reply
    October 27, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    I’ve heard the word “mess” used like this, and I’ve heard “mostest” used too…but in a lighthearded way. The others aren’t familiar to me. It was fun watching the videos and hearing them used in context!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 27, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    I would love to have a “mess” of fresh Spring Crappie for supper…along with some hush-puppies and fried taters n’ slaw! We use “MESS” of fish, as well as with a “MESS” of beans!
    Another way I hear “MESS” is from a friend who would say…”They always made a gomed-up MESS”?
    Gomed-up was used in front of MESS…or “They gome and mess all the time”! ha
    I’ve heard the “miseries” all my life. When I was younger I didn’t know that misery mainly meant not feeling well. I thought for years it was some sort of worry not illness. For instance…My best friend has been in the “miseries” since his dog went missing. Another instance…Since her Grandma went back to NC, she has the miseries of worry! Or…Her misery is she thinks she didn’t make it home because she has not called since she left! Don’t hear miseries much anymore around here!
    Don’t hear “mostest” anymore…Only when the Grandchildren were little…”That is the “mostest” presents I ever got for my birthday! Ha
    “That youngn’ that lives down the road has a “mouth” on him worse ‘n a sailor in port!” Hear “mouth” used along with good hunting dogs around here often. “My friend can tell his dog when he trees, from all the others by his mouth! Don’t pay a big price for a hunting dog without a good mouth for it’s a waste of time and money! As soon as our sweet beagle got on a rabbit his mouth wouldn’t stop until he nearly run faint! Ha
    I have not heard the “mullygrubs” used around here…but did in NC…Seems I’ve had them lately myownself…Ha
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    October 27, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Tipper–All five words are quite common in my lexicon, and I use them regularly in writing though perhaps less so in speech. Here are some synonyms and comments.
    *Mess–Also often used is “bait.” For example, “We fished all day and had a big bait of trout, taters, and ramps for supper.”
    *Miseries–This was one of Grandpa Joe’s favorite descriptions. He’d often say “I’ve got the miseries today,” usually referring to arthritis, but he would soon perk up and suggest that the miseries were just a by-product of old age.
    *Mostest–I’m glad you had a grand time at SEOPA and trust that was true for the twins and Matt as well.
    *Mouth–Also often used is voice. For example, “Just listen to that beagle’s voice. He’s singing a tune and making that rabbit move right along.”
    *Mullygrubs–Sometimes rendered as mollygrubs and basically can be used as a synonym for miseries. The different, at least for me, is that miseries refer to felt pain while mollygrubs more often involve depression or being down in the dumps.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    October 27, 2017 at 10:45 am

    My mother commonly used mess, and I was curious as to how much a mess actually was. As I would watch my Mother use a mess of beans, I learned how to pick just a mess. Green beans always reminds me that we ate what was being canned always, as there was so much work involved we had the simplest of meals during canning season. My sis and I often recall the home canned soup that we ate year around.
    I have heard miseries in old southern movies, but not a word ever spoken where I grew up. Back in the dark recesses of my mind it seems I can remember someone who said “the hostess with the mostest.” TV maybe? I just recently heard a friend use take in a sentence, and had not heard it this way for years. She said, I’m gonna take and fix some supper. I sometimes heard it used that way in the past, but it has been awhile. They would take and fix, take and mend, and just throw the word in randomly it seemed. I love your Appalachian Vocabulary test. I do fret when these young ones don’t know what I am talking about.
    You look really nice and trim, Tipper, in your video.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 27, 2017 at 10:33 am

    I knew all the words and have heard all of them used except but Mulligrubs. Mulligrubs and miseries are often attached to women’s monthly issues. I have heard gripes used in place of both of them.
    Have you heard “make a mouth”? or more correctly “Don’t make a mouth at me! When I tell you something, you better do it!”
    A Mess is the exact amount required. A whole mess is way more than enough. “They’ve got a whole mess of youngins running around over there. I tried to count ’em all one time but they won’t stand still long enough!” Mess, used as the mainstream does, we call a gom.
    I say Mostest oftenest.

  • Reply
    wanda Devers
    October 27, 2017 at 10:05 am

    I only use “mess” from this list. It’s funny how it seems to apply to certain foods only in my mind though. Mostly fresh stuff picked from the garden like green beans or “sallet”.

  • Reply
    October 27, 2017 at 9:41 am

    “Mullygrubs” is new to me. “Mouth”- famliar with it in reference to dogs but also used in reference to donkeys, roosters, bratty kids, and know-it-alls. “Mostest” and “mess” – everyday words though careful with whom I might use the word “mostest”. “Miseries” has four meanings and you have to look at facial expressions and body language to know which it is: 1) (just put straight out there) as you’ve described it; 2) (said knowingly and with sincere sympathy and concern) severe headaches like migraines which occur fairly frequently; 3) (said in hushed tones rather confidentially) severe menstrual cramps; 4) (said in a rather amused ‘been there, done that’ tone) usually used by the older generation in reference to a young parent having trouble managing a passle of small children or even one rebellious teenager. I’ve also hear folks speak of having “money miseries” – maybe they like the alliteration. Guess we use “miseries” as kind of an all purpose word for whatever ails or troubles you.

  • Reply
    H Lee Mears
    October 27, 2017 at 9:33 am

    Like Cindy, I’ve never heard of mullygrubs or miseries re tummy troubles.
    If they’re Scots/Irish my family missed them.
    Keep up our mountains good history. It’s fun.
    The girls are so pretty and sweet sounding, ‘like an Irish lullaby’.
    Thank you.

  • Reply
    larry griffith
    October 27, 2017 at 9:26 am

    I never hear mullygrubbs.
    My father in law was a fox hunter and would often say a dog had a purty mouth.

  • Reply
    October 27, 2017 at 9:10 am

    Mess is the only word I use but I have heard the others years ago. I hate it when I fail these test! My grandchildren will hear these word, but adding them to their daily speech might not happen.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    October 27, 2017 at 8:54 am

    I know them all but honestly I think I only use the word mullygrubs from time to time. How about the word bestest?
    “He’s the bestest dog in world.”

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    October 27, 2017 at 8:52 am

    Mullygrubs! I’ve said that for years.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 27, 2017 at 8:46 am

    Only ‘mess’ familiar to me. I’ve heard that one all my life. It has the implied quantity you mention of just enough for each person to have some. Usually refers to a single meal of a nuclear family unless a greater or lesser number of people are clear from the context. For example, ‘mess’ would not work if speaking of taking food to a church dinner where the number of people cannot be known. Unless leftovers are wanted, having just enough for everyone to have some speaks volumes about the high level of skill of those who gathered the ingredients and prepared the meal.
    It has always seemed a bit peculiar to me that ‘mess’ meant both food and disorder. It may be that that use arose from a ‘mess’ in the military used to mean a group of three to five men who prepared meals together. Each one brought what they had and it all went together, some of the time creating a ‘mess’ sure enough, like an omelet, mulligan stew or a hash.
    The one about ‘mouth’ reminds me of going coon hunting with my Dad. Interpreting what the dogs meant by their bark was a feature. Figuring out how they were moving on the terrain was also part of it. Unlike the fox hunters though, we followed the dogs, listening for the ‘barking treed’.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    October 27, 2017 at 8:39 am

    Mollygrubs and mouth are new. Miseries I actually hear quite a lot. Noth sides of my family originally settled in NC in the early 1700’s then some moved to Florida in the early 1800’s. They brought these words with them I guess as I heard them all from my family growing up. I am a 5th generation Floridian.

  • Reply
    Julie Moreno
    October 27, 2017 at 8:29 am

    We didn’t use mullygrubs. Otherwise I have heard them all and use most of them still!

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones--one of the few left who knew Byron Herbert Reece in person!
    October 27, 2017 at 8:10 am

    I knew in Choestoe, Union County, all five of your “m” words from Appalachian Vocabulary, and have used them repeatedly when still living there. But when I hit the outside world, college, teaching and living a little out of the “refined” Choestoe Community, I began to “drop” some of these colorful words. I, too, am trying to teach them to my great grandchildren! Thanks for your help and reminders of our rich heritage of AP Language!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 27, 2017 at 6:41 am

    Tip, I don’t think I’ve ever heard mullygrubs before and miseries/mouth seldom. I think your right they’ll be gone soon.

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