Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 103

unusual words used in the south

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. Lord’s bread wagon: Thunder. “I hear the Lord’s bread wagon a making its rounds. It’ll rain before long.”

2. Look for: to expect. “I look for her to come up here quarreling once she finds out, but there ain’t nothing to be done about it now.”

3. Little Noah: a heavy rain. “It come up a little Noah and washed the gravel plumb down to the pavement.”

4. Like one thing: in unusual or exceptional fashion. “Chitter can play a fiddle like one thing!”

5. Line out: a leader sings or speaks a line of song before the others sing it. “I don’t know remember the words to that one. Line it out for me and we’ll give it a try.

My thoughts about this month’s words:

  • I’ve never heard anyone call thunder the Lord’s bread wagon. Someone told me thunder was God moving his furniture around and I used to tell the girls that when they were little. I read that the reference to a bread wagon was used because thunder almost always brought rain for the crops which help make sure there’d be cornmeal and wheat for bread.
  • I’ve heard folks refer to a heavy rain as a little Noah, but no one in my family says it.
  • Look for and like one thing are beyond common in my area of Appalachia.
  • The technique of lining out a song was used back in the day when most folks couldn’t read. It is also used in Shape Note Singing. Some of my favorite videos of Pap and Paul are the ones where Pap has to line out the words of the verses for Paul because he can’t remember them.

Hope you’ll leave me a comment and let me know how you did on the test.



You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    September 3, 2017 at 9:49 am

    Nary a one this time! But an answer for Trevis – I used to work with a man who described heavy rain as “pouring like piss out of a boot.” When I asked him what on earth that meant, he said when men go fishing wearing rubber waders, if they have to “go” they will just pee where they stand and then later pour the…well, you get the idea. To this day I hope he was lying!!

  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    September 3, 2017 at 8:08 am

    Look for is very common. I still use it.
    Thunder and rain were shed ribbed two ways. For thunder — The Angels are bowling.
    For a gully washer, complete eith both thunder and rain — God is dumping out potatoes ans washing them off.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    September 1, 2017 at 8:18 am

    I too haven’t heard many of today’s words. “The Lord’s Bread Wagon” may have originated when folks realized that Lightning released Nitrogen which enriched their soil similar to some calling snow “The Poor Man’s Fertilizer”.

  • Reply
    August 31, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    I have only heard “look for”. I have never heard the rest!

  • Reply
    Larry Proffitt
    August 31, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    Well , you skunked me this time. I’m like Jim wondering about my lineage. Larry Proffitt

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    August 31, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    We called it the potato wagon. I still have a vivid image in my mind of all the potatoes rolling from one end of the wagon to the other when it started or stopped! I know “look to” and “line out” but never heard of the others.

  • Reply
    August 31, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Iining out, and bread wagon I’ve not heard, but the rest I have.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 31, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    OK a 2nd post but Jim’s ‘hang dog look’ made me think – I could use one of them ’emoticons’ for that. I could have used it today. I have a feeling I would have a lot more use for it. My Dad called it “looking like a sheep-killin’ dog”.

  • Reply
    Crystal Richmond
    August 31, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Oh how I enjoy these vocabulary words when you have them. They bring back sweet memories as well as make think how we use a lot of them still today.
    I am going to visit my 89 year old Aunt tmrw. Going to share with her.
    Crystal in Arkansas

  • Reply
    August 31, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Looks like you stumped “the Recovering Professor” on this Vocabulary Test. I recon I’ve heard and used all these except I don’t think I’ve heard “the Lord’s bread wagon”.
    I’ve been to concerts where Pap had to tell Paul the lines and thought that was amusing. I listen to the girls singing quite often, as well as all the Blind Pig Gang. Ray and Pap have one of the best songs I ever heard: “Cabin by the Side of the Road.” I bet the Lord smiles every time The Wilson Holler Bunch sings. …Ken

  • Reply
    larry griffith
    August 31, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Never heard no.1 or no.4. Have heard line out and have been lined out by Dad. Not pleasant.

  • Reply
    Janis Sullivan (Jan)
    August 31, 2017 at 11:03 am

    Got them all but the bread wagon. Use some of them now. We always said thunder was the tater wagon. Love these tests. Usually do pretty well. My folks just talked this way, i guess. My northern husband has to be educated to my speech sometimes even after 43 years. Love you all. Go sit in that swing Tipper before the summer is all gone. It will, for sure, make you feel better.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 31, 2017 at 10:37 am

    Trevis Hicks – The two phrases your grandfather uses are quite common around here. Sometimes the first one is “sanitized” a little bit to “pouring water out of a boot.”

  • Reply
    August 31, 2017 at 10:37 am

    I flunked the test. The only one I knew was looked for. I usually do very well considering your Appalachia is quite a distance from mine.
    A little away from the subject matter, but had pondered this for awhile. My sis and I were discussing our family and why a few very musically inclined, and we wondered how much is talent and how much just plain hard work. My Dad worked out a deal with my nephew one time that if he would learn to play a certain song on a banjo he could have a banjo my dad had traded up. In no time it seems the nephew was playing the song and awarded the banjo. As far as I know he never picked it up again. This leads me to believe there must be talent, desire, and a lot of stick-to-Itivness. Talent requires hard work and a love for what you are doing, and it seems your girls have both.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 31, 2017 at 10:31 am

    The only one I can even remember hearing is the one about “little Noah” and I first heard (read) it here on your blog. I guess I’ll have to spend the day with my nose in the corner.

  • Reply
    wanda Devers
    August 31, 2017 at 10:21 am

    Oh, me, I have failed the test! Look for is the only one I was familiar with!

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    August 31, 2017 at 10:04 am

    I was told when it thundered the devil was behind the door beating his wife with a frying pan!

  • Reply
    August 31, 2017 at 9:58 am

    Well, looks like I’m in good company on this test! I only knew one of them, “look for.”
    I grew up hearing a heavy rain called a “toad strangler.”
    Our praise and worship team at church do “line out” but I’d never the term.
    Really enjoy these test!! Hope you have a great holiday weekend.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    August 31, 2017 at 9:51 am

    Look for and like one thing are the only two I am familiar with. Those other sayings must come from further up in the hills than my folks did.
    I’m looking for it to rain like one thing here today!

  • Reply
    August 31, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Only one I’ve ever heard out of this lineup is “look for”!

  • Reply
    Trevis Hicks
    August 31, 2017 at 9:16 am

    I do enjoy doing these for you. It always takes me back to my childhood and makes me remember my grandparents that have passed on and how I learned so many sayings from them. I’ve heard of some of these but had not heard of a little Noah. I have heard my grandad say it’s raining like pouring piss out of a boot and raining like a cow peeing on a flat rock. He uses these to this day. Not sure if he just made them up or if they are a part of the Appalachian dialect. Would be interested to know if any of your other readers have heard them. Keep up the good work and thank you for the memories!!

  • Reply
    August 31, 2017 at 9:13 am

    Well this is by far my worst score on a vocabulary test. I’ve only heard the”look for” and “line out” usages…Love the view from the swing; looks very relaxing and like a good place to unwind.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 31, 2017 at 9:02 am

    One and a half I guess. I have heard thunder called the tater wagon. Never heard of a little Noah but guess it must be the same as a frog strangler. Never heard of ‘like one thing’. I have heard ‘look for’ all my life. I suspect I would be very likely to say it without ever noticing I was. Somewhere I ran across ‘line out’ but I think it was after I was grown and gone from home.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    August 31, 2017 at 8:52 am

    I really failed the test today. I knew “look for” and “like one thing”. Never heard the others.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    August 31, 2017 at 8:49 am

    Tipper–This month’s test has me wondering about my hillbilly credentials. I’ve never heard of, much less heard used, two of the five. “Lord’s bread wagon” and “like one thing” are completely new to me. I’ve heard thunder described in many ways but not this one. As for “like one thing,” that seems the same as “like nobody’s business,” which I’ve frequently heard.
    On the other hand I love and use “a little Noah” and a near synonym, “it fell a flood.”
    Since you say the bread wagon is alien to your linguistic experience as well, I feel a bit better about things. Still, this is the first time I’ve ever flunked, although I guess my grade of 60 might qualify for a D- in some grade scales, and I reckon I’ll mope around all day with a hang dog look and my tail between my legs.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    August 31, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Well, I failed this test! Look for is the only one I am familiar with. I watched Chitter’s (or is it Chatter) video several times. I love to hear her talk and that smile is gorgeous.
    It looks like we are in for a Little Noah and The Lord’s Bread Wagon starting tonight. God Bless the flood victims in Texas!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    August 31, 2017 at 7:54 am

    Same here, look for and like one thing are the only ones I have used and heard. For thinder we heard as kids the devil was bowling. Gully washer, frog strangler for heavy rain. Got nothing for line out

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 31, 2017 at 7:13 am

    tip, I’ve heard the like one thing and the look for. That’s all, I’ve never heard the others. This is the worst I’ve ever done on a vocabulary test!

  • Leave a Reply