Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 108

unusual words in Appalachia

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

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1. Offish: unsociable. “The rest of her family is as friendly as can be, but she’s always been offish as long as I’ve known her. Acts like she grew up in some fancy city instead of right here with the rest of us.”

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2. Oncet: once. “Oncet you get finished with that I need you to come help me get the wood in. I expect it’ll snow before morning.”

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3. One more: extraordinary event or thing. “I’m a telling you that girl is one more fiddle player.”

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4. Ourn: ours. “We never did ourn that way. We always dried them on an old piece of tin covered with a old sheet Mamaw had around.”

5. Onliest: only. “I felt bad for the little thing. He was the onliest boy out there playing while the rest of them were in here with their eye balls glued to their phones.”

I’m familiar with all of this month’s words, although I seldom hear offish anymore. Leave a comment and let me know how you did on the test.


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  • Reply
    rhonda jenkins
    March 6, 2019 at 9:51 am

    my family was born and raised (as were my ancestors) in Northeastern Kentucky. I have heard and use these sayings all my life. Even after moving to Florida. Ya’ll forgot young’ns and the baby being the least’n. minners in the crick, crawdaddies too. Afor ya’ll go out warsh yor’n selves. I miss my home….

  • Reply
    pat schoen
    February 10, 2018 at 9:19 am

    “My grandmother, who raised me, was born in 1895 and her family ancestry is Scots-Irish. Most of these words are so familiar to me.
    ‘”Offish” is painfully familiar. It applied to anyone new I brought home, until she approved them as suitable friends.. Her sisters were the same; it is both word and attitude.
    One word I did not see mentioned is “swan”.
    It meant believe, but with a touch of surprise.
    I” swan” he will really make it!

  • Reply
    February 4, 2018 at 8:07 pm

    Yep, but expect is pronounced ‘spect it’ll snow…
    Patrick Taylor, author of the Irish Country Doctor series has a great few pages where he gives N. Ireland words and meanings. So many are familiar to Appalachia (at least WV which is where my family settled a few hundred years ago). His books are charming and some of the recipes are familiar as well.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 27, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    Well let’s see here now. My desk is a big oak “teachers desk. I call it my command center. From left to right here is what I see.
    A scanner-phone-stack of CDs-recycled medicine bottles filled mostly with coins but I have one with black walnut goodies, one with guitar picks, one with scrap copper, one with scrap silver, one with powder out of shotgun shells and one with pens. Then there is a note pad-a solo cup for my honey vinegar drink-my coffee cup-NEW SKIN for cracked fingers-tweezers-an unmolded soft drink bottle and 6 knives of various sizes and shapes. In the middle is the computer monitor then-a brass toilet flush handle-a spark plug gapper-a razor blade-a gold wedding band-a 9mm combination wrench with 2 tiny magnets stuck to it-an Allen wrench-a 4mm socket-brass off shotgun shells-part of a thumb plane-a pushpin-a capo-a Snark-3 pictures of my littlest grandson-some sandpaper-a pack of scroll saw blades-an assortment of USB cables-a set of scales- the computer atop which is a CD player, 2 holly wood sculptures and 4 baseball caps stacked up-a bottle of Gold Bond with lidocaine-a cigarette lighter-a pencil-a piece of holly carved into a heart shape-some scraps of wood-some bag ties-a wart remover thingy-nail clippers-a voice recorder-a SilverSneakers card-a key without a lock-a roll of tiny copper wire from a clock that stopped-my glasses-a stack of bills and things to do and a MAGNIFYING GLASS.
    That is just the top. I have three big deep drawers on the right side-a drawer in front of me that is 2′ by 2′ by 4” deep-a door on the left that reveals a cavernous space. All this storage is full of stuff.
    My daughter offered to help me organize all my stuff. “You? I asked. You, who I have to help to find your phone, keys, pocketbook and glasses every time you come down, are going to help arrange my stuff to where I can find it?” “I always know where my stuff is unless somebody else moves it.”

    My stuff is a mess but it is my mess!

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      January 27, 2018 at 2:15 pm

      PS: After the baseball caps the rest of the stuff listed is on the desktop not on top of the computer.

  • Reply
    January 27, 2018 at 12:20 am

    I use to live in the deep South. I heard most of these and understood them. I would like to add the popular phrase of USONS = US in particular & YOUONS = you in particular. When I left the state of Georgia in the late 70’s I remembered how the folks in California (San Diego) use to point and laugh at my accent and the way I would say things. It made me very self conscientious about how I would talk or turn a phrase. So much so I became a better speller cause I learnt you don’t spell the words are they are said. Note: I said learnt.

  • Reply
    Bobby Title
    January 26, 2018 at 11:12 pm

    My former mother-in-law was from Tennessee, and while she didn’t have much of a southern dialect, she floored me when she once asked me to “pull the door to” I couldn’t figure out how to react. I didn’t understand what she wanted me to do with the door. She finally rephrased it to “close the door, please.” That I understood.

    She and dad called themselves MAW-MAW and PAW-PAW but they put such a long, chin-dropped mouth open pronunciation to the A’s – MAWWWWW -MAAAAAWWW that my kids absolutely could not say it that way, though they found PAWWWWW-PAWWWW a but easier to say. So they grew up calling grandma “PAWWWW-PAWWWW” and their grandfather “Daddy PAWWWWW PAWWWW”. To this day (they are in their 50s, and still refer to their beloved grandmother “PAWWWW-PAWWW”

  • Reply
    harry adams
    January 26, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    These are not just Appalachian. Everyone word was used in the Piedmont area of SC. As others have said we always used stand offish.

    I have lived in Ohio 28 years and still talk with a southern accent. I can’t get rid of it, but my daughter turns hers on and off depending if she is here or visiting relatives in SC.

    I have found northern Ohioans to have a different dialect than the middle and southern Ohioans. South Ohio is part of Appalachia.

    • Reply
      January 26, 2018 at 8:26 pm

      Harry-Yes the Appalachian mountains start in Pennsylvania and end in Alabama which equals a huge amount of land space : ) So neat that folks in SC use the same words found in Appalachia. So many of our unique words came with the first white settlers from England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, etc. and of course soon after practically everyone in the US shared the same speech patterns because, well, there wasn’t that many people here LOL : ) But as time went by lots of places lost their unique dialect but for many varied reasons Appalachia as a whole has somewhat held on to much of it. And boy I’m glad they did! Thanks for the comment!!

  • Reply
    January 26, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    Only one I’m not familiar with is “one more”. I think I’m familiar with “oncet” but we’d spell it “onc’t” as though we were contracting “once that”. My parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents also used (and use) across’t and twice’t and probably do it with a few others that I can’t bring to mind just now. Somewhere, somehow I got broken of that speech practice.

  • Reply
    January 26, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    Hi Tipper,it was good to see you and your family and to hear your voices.You have mention some day you might write a book,write the way you talk !!God Bless.Jean

  • Reply
    Lee Mears
    January 26, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    I’ve never heard offish, and would never thought anything about anyone not knowing what ‘one more’ meant! That seems to make perfect sense..
    I saw on TV ‘onest’ that our speech is from the Irish but I’ve never heard Irish speak as we do as the ones I’ve heard speak add gaelic in, so I’m clueless anyway. Scots too.
    Also that our mt folk music is from Irish folk songs but you guys would know more about that than me.
    I tried to get Granny to stop adding (or dropping) “Rs” that weren’t there but it didn’t do any good. (as ‘winder’ for window.)
    One word that aggravated me for some reason was using ‘inunder’ instead of just ‘under’ the table.
    I also wonder about the very nasal sound some of us have when speaking. It’s a mystery. ?
    I’ve said here before that I was teased about my accent in many places so your Vocabulary day is always entertaining.

    We might have been able to help the WWII war effort with ‘code talking”, as the Navajos did!

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      January 26, 2018 at 9:10 pm

      If inunder bothers you, try upinunder. Or backupinunder. Or waybackupinunder. “That cat had kilt it and carried it in the house. We didn’t know it ’til a few days . There got to being an offish smell in there. Found it waybackupinunder the bed it was. Oncet we got it out, couldn’t nobody sleep in there ’til we opened the winder and let it air out fer a week or two.”

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney Jr
    January 26, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    Adder – After as in, “We will dig the tatters adder we get all the corn pulled. I used adder in an oral presentation during high school in our literature class and was stopped dead in mid sentence by my teacher, Mrs Maulk. She told me to look the word up in the dictionary which turned out to be the name of various snakes. After that, I finished the presentation and have never forgotten that lesson concerning the difference in adder and after. That happened 59 or 60 years ago.

  • Reply
    January 26, 2018 at 11:50 am

    I’m familiar with these words but I still like to hear ’em. It’s kinda hard to understand us Appalachians sometimes but we do the best we can. I still have some trouble understanding some folks. I just figure they can’t tawk playne. ha. …Ken

  • Reply
    Dana Wall
    January 26, 2018 at 11:34 am

    I grew up in Western Iowa in the 1930s and 40s. My grandparents were farm folk. They, and my parents, used some of the same expressions as those recounted here as Appalachian, yet none of my relatives came from that area. Fascinating! Stand-offish was common. So was/is “warsh” in Iowa. And “rench” for rinse is not uncommon. An acquaintance from Pierre, S.D. (Say ,”Peer”) Once told me, “I lived “fir tin” years in “WaRshington” D.C. an’ got tired of people sayin’ “Pee-air” “‘stead” of “Peer” “fir” “are” town. I said, “They probably were tired of people saying “WaRshington” instead of “Washington.” She said, “Well, I “niver” said that!” Great fun.

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    January 26, 2018 at 10:40 am

    To “ourn” add “yourn”

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    January 26, 2018 at 10:27 am

    What is the Deer Hunter shooting at, and is that a Marlin 30-30?

    • Reply
      January 27, 2018 at 10:26 am

      Rooney-yes it is a Marlin 30-30 good eye! He wasn’t really shooting at anything. We went on a hike up the creek and he took the gun along.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 26, 2018 at 10:18 am

    I’ve heard these most of my life and didn’t a’one! After reading some of the comments about using our dialect to amuse ourselves and confuse others, I do this myownself quite often…So glad I’m not the onliest one that loves this game with our flatlanders and fancy school larned chilin’…LOL
    The quick ones I use are… the grocery or especially the big city big box stores. They don’t bag anymore you have to pick out a box and do it yourself…I always get a kick out of asking one of the sweet little ring in the nose gals, if they have a “poke for them aigs”? I always get “aaa whhaattt!” I just usually say nevermind and snicker to myself!
    Larry hit the nail on the head with offish…That is exactly the way my Irish heritage family was until the day they passed, well in her old age Mom got a little better at sizing up folks sooner. It used to really bother me when as a youngster bringing home friends and my Mom being offish…She wasn’t stuck up per say, it was an inborn trait from her raisin’…LOL
    And….Tipper tell all, especially Ron, that I would love to carry on more…but I got to “warsh n’ arn” today. I gotta’ lay the clothes on the big rocks near the creek…the sun’s a’shinnin’ down thar …they won’t dry up here in the shady holler this mornin’…..

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    January 26, 2018 at 9:44 am

    I have heard all these but don’t use those with the t added, I’m sure the majority of us have heard a quote that I think is credited to Stonewall Jackson in reference to his ability to move his troops rapidly. “Get there Firstest with the Mostest”.

  • Reply
    January 26, 2018 at 9:22 am

    I have heard all the words and still say most of them. I have learned to change offish to standoffish so these wannabes I associate with can better understand me. When my cousin tries to say ours, it comes out sounding like hours. I understand it’s hard to say a new word when you’ve said airs and airn all your life. It’s no wonder the folks around here look puzzled when I tell them my grandson is one more ball player. I still say it though and leave them wondering if they are the ones who missed something in school.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    January 26, 2018 at 9:19 am

    I don’t recall hearing offish but it’s possible.
    The others are very familiar to me. My mother used theses words all the time and so did I growing up. My oldest sister speaks this way too. These words make me realize how much I miss my mother. She was a true Appalachian woman.

  • Reply
    a.w. griff
    January 26, 2018 at 8:52 am

    I guess one more would be misunderstood by some. What we reall y mean is they are a really good fiddler, hunter, mechanic gardener, etc. They really stand out.

  • Reply
    January 26, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Yep, I’ve head them all my life, except we said “standoffish.” I don’t hear any of them much any more. I think television has done a terrible thing to our regional speech. Such a shame.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 26, 2018 at 8:33 am

    I don’t know how to score myself. Let’s see offish, oncet, one more, ourn, onliest. The only one I’m sure of is ‘one more’. I don’t think we added a “t” or an”n”. But I am not sure.

    I am with Wesley. I use ‘quaint’ words intentionally in fond memory and honor of my people and our homeplace. I know that some people may judge me because of it but most of the time I just think ‘let’em’. And it mystifies me that everybody doesn’t know ‘warsh’ is the proper spelling and pronunciation.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 26, 2018 at 8:14 am

    Tip, I’ve heard all of these words through my life. The ones I hear most now are one more and onliest. I just love our colorful language!

  • Reply
    a.w. griff
    January 26, 2018 at 8:13 am

    I hear offish used as in that boy is stand offish. Ourn I can’t even spell like I hear it, but it isn’t ourn or ours. Maybe rrs.

  • Reply
    Larry Proffitt
    January 26, 2018 at 8:11 am

    Tipper, It brought a smile when I saw oncet. I realized it is common to my everyday speech. I have heard today’s other words used occassionally. About 20 yrs ago an older turkey hunting buddy from western oklahoma said “ I guess you thought I was pretty stand-offish at the start”. I told him “not at all we Scots/Irisn of the Appalachians will keep you at a long arm’s length until we see what you will do and what you won’t do” Larry Proffitt

  • Reply
    January 26, 2018 at 8:02 am

    I hear them all except offish, actually never heard it before. Kinda strange how you hear a certain way we talk and never really give it any thought that it is strange to other folks.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    January 26, 2018 at 8:02 am

    I love all versions of Off. I’ve heard it used in my neck of the woods as meaning not being at home. If you aren’t in the holler or home, you are Off. I went Off to college. I could have gone to OU Chillicothe, but I went Off. I live Off in Cleveland.

    When my son was little, he liked JoJos. Where I’m from we would have called them steak fries or great big French fries. Anyway, my son asked my Dad for JoJos. I had to explain, he said to my mom that James was Offish.

    Being Off makes me feel off. That’s why I rely on the Blind Pig to keep my head on straight.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    January 26, 2018 at 7:13 am

    Tipper–All are quite familiar to me, and in the addition of “t” category I would add “firstest.” For example, we’uns were the firstest to get there.

    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Wesley P Bossman
    January 26, 2018 at 6:21 am

    Good morning! I had to post this morning when I heard “acrosst” mentioned. I grew up in far western New York state, and said acrosst, as in “acrosst the street” or “I’m right acrosst from you.” , without thinking a thing of it until it was brought to my attention when I was in my 30’s. I still remember the occasion and how it mystified me that other people weren’t saying that word like I did. Thanks to Blind Pig, I figured out that my Mom, who grew up in eastern Kentucky, had passed on some linguistic gifts to me that I never realized. I treasure them now. My sister still says “warsh” instead of wash, and is chided for it fairly frequently but I suspect, like me, she holds onto it as a little gift from Mom.

  • Reply
    Sheryl PaulI
    January 26, 2018 at 6:17 am

    I know all the words this month, nut have only used oncet and the phrase like one thing. Onct was removed from my dpeach by my second grade teacher though

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