Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 109


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. Packsaddle: a large caterpillar that stings. “Packsaddle stings hurt about as bad as waspers if you ask me.”

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2. Particular: picky; or to be careful. “He so particular with that car, why he washes it about every other day.”

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3. Peckerwood: woodpecker. “It was one of them little peckerwoods that’s been a throwing that trash out along the road and when I catch ’em a doing it I’m going to see that they pick up every blasted piece.”

4. Poke: a bag. “If you’ll hand me a poke off the table there I’ll send some of these tomatoes home with you.”

5. Piece: a distance. “Atlanta is the closest big city to us, but its still a fur piece to get there.”

So how did you do on the test?

All of this month’s words are beyond common in my area of Appalachia. I hear them all on a regular basis.


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  • Reply
    marsha king
    March 30, 2020 at 8:53 pm

    Packsaddle is the only one I didn’t know.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2018 at 6:22 pm

    My G’ma W. Used the word poke consistently and I used it the day before I read this post. Her favorite poke was an empty bag from sugar. Back in the day it had several layers of paper and was strong enough to hold a dozen eggs. Eggs were often sent home with family visiting from the city.

    We use particular and piece all the time. The peckerwood is less commonly used but familiar. I think that is because none of those seem to live around here.

    As for the corn caterpillar I know what it is and never wanted to be near one. I don’t remember ever hearing a name for it at all.

    I just love these vocabulary tests. Thanks Tipper.

  • Reply
    Clyde Austin III
    February 25, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    Packsaddle was a new one for me and I thought I was “purty good” on Appalachian vocabulary.
    Nobody over here in the flatlands knows what a poke is. I use words all the time and get these blank looks on people’s faces and then I remember I ain’t from around here (eastern NC)

  • Reply
    Lula Mae VanWinkle
    February 17, 2018 at 9:34 am

    I know and have used all the words above regularly. My brother who was always a jokester, he died last year, asked a man in the country how to get to a particular place. The man told him it was a “fur piece,” my brother said he drove forever looking for a fur piece and never did find one.

  • Reply
    February 16, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    Heard them all except packsaddle. My father frequently used peckerwood about someone he had a low opinion of. To buy a “pig in a poke” is to make a bad investment, to buy something you can’t see or examine.

  • Reply
    February 16, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    Packsaddle was new to me. I worked in Iowa corn fields more than once and don’t recall anything that stung or bit except wasps and bees. Iowa winters must be too cold for packsaddles. They are too cold for me, too.

    When I was a kid I might ask Dad which of two candy bars he wanted, and he always said, “I’m not particular. Just give me the one you don’t want. ” When my third grade shirt no longer fit my fourth grade body one Saturday, I didn’t want to wear it. Mom told me not to be so particular because I was just going outside to mess around and get dirty.

    I appreciated listening to your videos and hearing the accent, too. Thanks, Tipper.

  • Reply
    Anne D
    February 16, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    The Vocabulary posts are near bout my favorite..The similarities of the Appalachia unique terms and the deep Southern MS “sayuns” are amazing! Never heard of a saddleback, but we have had a slinky looking fuzzy black ones in early spring, pain being kin to Yellow Jackets..
    Peckerwood is a derogatory description, referring to young or immature fellas, meaning they are irresponsible or “ain’t worth the powder it’d take to blow ‘em up”. Those young peckerwoods need a good lick with a privet switch!
    Poke I’ve only heard as “pig in a poke” when someone gets cheated in a deal, and he is left with a “pig in a poke”… Here bouts, something you tote goods in is a Sack.. “we brought you a sack of Turnip greens.”
    Piece is most frequently measuring a distance. “Big Granny’s place is a good piece down the road.”
    Then there’s a whole mess of pieces – piece of cake, pie, bread- a share of an item, piece of my property, etc, etc..
    Picky is our term for unique, peculiar, and especially Particular..”My goodness, Jane, you are one Picky girl. You’ll be here all day choosing your dress.”

    Every day that I visit the B P gang, I am so very blessed ! Thanks for sharing with us your wonderful family and life and N C mountains.

    • Reply
      February 16, 2018 at 9:31 pm

      The southern Appalachians pretty much are the same as the rest of the southern USA except a little more elevated.
      There is something about the clean water and clean air that makes Appalachian folks think just a little different. They promote a free spirit, I think! Or maybe I am just prejudiced. Come on up and try it some time and let me know what you think!

  • Reply
    February 16, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    Well, I mighty just as well read all these Appalachian Vocabulary Test and see if y’all speak any English just as good as me. Of course, I re’con a few of y’all are pixilated.

    • Reply
      February 16, 2018 at 4:34 pm

      I declare I just don’t know what got in to the letter “Y”. I was typing “might just as well” when the Y” jumped on in there and changed the word might to mighty. Go figure.

    • Reply
      February 16, 2018 at 4:43 pm

      Hey Tipper, have you seen anyone pixilated? Pixilated refers to someone under the influence of pixies. They are usually silly and dancing about in a joyful way or a bit “touched in the head” in a non violent way. You know like little girls do when they play. Mischievous behavior or look. My grandma use to say my sister was pixilated all the time because she would play by herself instead of with us boys.

      • Reply
        March 11, 2018 at 7:33 pm

        Jumpoffa-seems like I have heard that saying before but I just can’t place my finger on where or when! Thank you for the comment 🙂

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes Moreno
    February 16, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    All of them but the first one for me!

  • Reply
    February 16, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    I’m familiar with all these words on the Vocabulary Test. Back when we had a big cornfield and plenty of help, we liked to get the corn hoed in the early part of the day. By evening the packsaddles
    made their way down on the corn blades and they sure made you pay attention. We didn’t wear shirts and some of us got sunburned, but those packsaddles hurt like Hell. …Ken

    • Reply
      February 16, 2018 at 4:16 pm

      Did ya have any fuzzy bears come out too?

      • Reply
        February 16, 2018 at 4:30 pm

        Fuzzy bears are caterpillars that have brown or reddish brown front and back ends with a patch of white in between and really fuzzy. You can pet them.

        • Reply
          b. Ruth
          February 17, 2018 at 1:58 am

          Never heard of a Fuzzy bear except in the poem….Fuzzy Wussy was a bear, Fuzzy Wussy had no hair, Fuzzy Wussy wasn’t very Fuzzy was he?
          We call the caterpillars with Auburn/ Reddish Brown fuzz on the front end and back end with Black in the middle…a Wooly Bear Caterpillar that predicts the weather according to the amount of black or not showing..etc…

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    February 16, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    I’ve heerd near about all these words used and abused all my lifelong. Some of them very near and “particularly” close to my heart…
    “Packsaddle” I can tell you is painful and will hurt from now until a few days later or you get used to it whichever comes first…I grabbed a Oak tree while “un-sidled” down a hill on our ridge. I was trying to get ahold to keep from slipping and slap dab grabbed one right in the middle of my hand. He was restin’ and didn’t like that I smacked him right on his stinging parts…I did take the time to stomp it to death before screaming in pain…It takes a few seconds for the immense stinging to begin…
    “Peckerwood”…has been a common term in my family forever. Dad always used the term peckerwood when he saw one at the feeder. We would laugh and Mom would scold him telling him to use woodpecker instead…Nope, he never did and guess as Mom would say he was as hardheaded as a Peckerwood…What did she say ?..I think she just like saying it without getting called out…We have so many peckerwoods here that I have to keep two or three suet cakes to keep there belly’s full on these cold winter days…
    Poke is a favorite of mine used to astound and astonish the check-out folks…And you just can’t keep a pig-in-a-poke unless you layer many brown pokes…and then it would have to be a little piggy…maybe the one that went to market!
    A “Piece”…is further away than I want to be from my coffee this morning…I have a “piece” of breakfast cake sitting in the microwave…but it too is a fer piece from this computer…so I’ll hush, get up, refill my coffee and retrieve that cake before I have to “piece” it out with you know who, after eatin’ his piece already..
    Thanks Tipper,
    Loved and always love this post…

    • Reply
      b. Ruth
      February 17, 2018 at 2:38 am

      Been pondering over sayings for the device you carry a small or large items in after purchasing them at the store or from the garden of a friend…A Poke…as I use it, is a brown paper bag/poke and used for groceries or to take home maters, squash or new onions from the neighbors garden. A Sack…in my neck of the woods and heritage was a sewn piece of cloth pretty stout that sausage was stuffed in or ham was put in and stored in the smokehouse…Then there’s the loose woven brown toe sack. Previously held dry corn or feed for hogs or cattle…then used for taters, large cured onions and corn put in from a very generous neighbors garden.. A sewn light weight muslin sack…contained flour or home ground corn meal from the neighbors mill.. Mom would say also that large pure cotton sacks, that were printed with flowers or paisley…the ones that previously contained chicken feed and cracked corn, was ripped down the seam and her school dresses were made…then quilts also were made with the scraps of feed sacks…A bag…back in the day was something used to carry personal items in…some large enough to carry extra clothes for travel…
      You don’t even hear at the check out anymore Paper or Plastic…What’s the world coming to…Guess we’re going to market with a reusable hand-basket…lol

  • Reply
    February 16, 2018 at 11:16 am

    I can’t shut up! When I was a youngin, when we bought or sold a weaned pig, we used a special “pig carrier”. A pig in a poke. We’d catch ’em and put them in a tow sack and tie it at the top. We’d then sling them across our shoulder and carry them off down the road to their new home. They would squeal and wiggle and kick for a little while, then settle down. Tow sacks are porous enough that they got plenty of air. For most of the trip they would be happy as a pig in a poke, but every once in a while the pig would wake up and have a wiggling fit which would throw you off balance and ist about cause you to hit the ground.

  • Reply
    Lee Mears
    February 16, 2018 at 11:07 am

    Seen the worms but didn’t know their name. I would have said Packsaddles went on donkeys back. How do all the pests live thru the freezing winters?
    I haven’t heard ‘poke’ in 40 years but of course heard it down at Messers store when I was little, tagging with my grandfather hoping for a Brownie drink. Good memories.

  • Reply
    February 16, 2018 at 10:55 am

    The other day a sweet little thing asked, “Would you like your milk in a bag?” I replied, “No, I want it to roll around in the floorboard of my truck and gather up dirt. That’s how I keep my truck cleaned out.” I usually say, “No, just put it in a poke.” Or, “No just leave it in the jug, it’ll keep longer thataway.”

  • Reply
    February 16, 2018 at 10:48 am

    I first learned “packsaddle” referring to that stinging caterpillar from Blind Pig a year or so ago. “Particular” and “piece” are common for my family. While I’ve heard of “pig in a poke” (always thought that meant a pig what had been skewered for roasting over a pit) and even though my Mom worked her High School years taking orders, bagging and delivering them for her little town’s grocery story in Kansas, I never heard her refer to grocery sacks at “pokes” – but then it wasn’t her branch of the family that came from W, Va.. “Peckerwood” -now that one has a very different meaning around here! I didn’t hear it until I started teaching Middle School – or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention – but I’ve heard it many times since and most always referring to a pre-adolescent or young teen boy who is “feeling his oats” a little too much – or in a similar sense as Mike McClain mentioned but usually with reference to manly ability or limitations thereof.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    February 16, 2018 at 10:11 am

    Never heard “poke” used but I knew what it was. Getting stung by a packsaddle made me think I’d have to go to the doctor-what a strange sensation! I always get a kick out of the vocabulary–it may be my favorite.

  • Reply
    Janis Sullivan
    February 16, 2018 at 9:34 am

    These are super common to me. Use them all the time. i still have to explain every one to my husband, but I am not going to change the way I talk. It is just me.

  • Reply
    February 16, 2018 at 9:20 am

    They are all beyond common to me as well. I hate the plastic bags we get at the grocery store nowadays and get so excited when I find a store that still uses pokes. I might come home with twenty plastic bags for every $10 I spend. The plastic gets reused as much as possible and I give the rest to a small thrift store down the road. My pokes never get donated!

  • Reply
    February 16, 2018 at 9:09 am

    I’ve got just one thing to say, if the the packsaddles in Brasstown are big enough that you can hear them creeping up behind you, I would befur getting on my camel Clyde and riden on out of that place.

    • Reply
      February 16, 2018 at 9:58 am

      I’m sorry! She didn’t say she heard a packsaddle, she said she felt one creeping up. Maybe it’s footsteps were shaking the Earth! Maybe she felt it’s breath on the back of her neck. Either way I’d be doing my Clyde ride.
      -,,~~,,> At’s a pitcher of Clyde at full stride.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    February 16, 2018 at 8:33 am

    5 for 5. Sounds like home to me. I think ‘poke’ is the one that has probably faded the most with the switch from paper to plastic. Remember the ‘jot’em down store’ where the bill was jotted down with a pencil on a paper poke? Oh my, the change to plastic has all happened in my lifetime.

    And you remind me of the time a co-worker called me ‘a red-headed country peckerwood’. (He was more than half right. I’m just not red-headed.)

    I’ve come a far piece in both time and distance from my childhood. But the ‘mystic cords’ still hold.

  • Reply
    February 16, 2018 at 8:16 am

    Packsaddle is the only new one for me. I guess we didn’t have those critters where I lived. A packsaddle to me is when
    two people cross their arms and grab wrists to make a seat to carry another person.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    February 16, 2018 at 8:09 am

    I knew all of these. The word “peckerwood” is a woodpecker, but also was used as a derogatory term for a person who has no sense or might be considered useless.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    February 16, 2018 at 7:24 am

    Tipper–All of the words are quite familiar to me. As for a packsaddle sting, if you make really bad contact with one it’s like rubbing elbows with the fires of hell. They seem to be particularly bad on corn, or at any rate that’s where I’ve gotten the most stings.

    As for poke, the first cash money I ever earned (I was in the 2nd grade in school) was when I picked a teacher who loved poke sallet a poke of poke (and that’s what she called it).

    I’ve often wondered about the “pig in a poke” saying because no paper bag is anywhere near strong enough to contain a pig. Mind you, metaphorically speaking, I imagine most of the blind pig folks reading your daily dose of Appalachian tea have made purchases at some time or other where they’ve been had. I know I have.

    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 16, 2018 at 7:18 am

    Oh yes, know and hear all of these on a regular basis!

  • Reply
    Sheryl PaulI
    February 16, 2018 at 6:16 am

    Packsaddle is new to me, but the only one of the other words I use is particular. The rest I have heard others use. Words and their uses are a hobby of mine. I look forward to this one each month. I am a 5th generation Floridian with noth my mother’s and father’people coming from NC. It amazes me how many of the words have lasted throughout the generations

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