Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 110


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.

1. Pure out: completely, utterly. “I’m telling you that boy can pure out play a fiddle.”

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2. Pulpit: where the pastor preaches from, usually a raised area. “He was standing up there in the pulpit and he just fainted right in front of the whole congregation. Liked to of scared us half to death.”

3. Proud: pleased. “We are so proud to be here tonight. We’re always humbled when someone asks us to play for something so very special.”

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4. Pounding: to donate food to neighbors in need. “I’ve never been part of a pounding, but I think it would be a fun way to help those in need.”

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5. Popskull: poorly made liquor. “I told him he better be careful drinking that ole popskull that was made up in the holler. The way they make it, it’ll likely kill somebody.”

I’m familiar with all of this month’s words, although I don’t ever hear pounding and rarely hear popskull.

Pap often used pure out.

I believe pulpit would be familiar to all of the US, but since it’s in the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English I wanted to share it and see how many folks were familiar with it.

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


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  • Reply
    Carley Windsor
    January 4, 2019 at 10:47 pm

    On Sand Mountain, we use “proud” in this way often…and we usually give a “pounding” when a single guy from the church is moving out on his own (since the young marrieds get a “shower”). I’m not sure if I’ve heard “pure out”, but my daddy uses “purt near” often (ie. “that tank is purt near empty, might need fillin before you head to town”). And we sho’nuff use pulpit, every Sunday…

  • Reply
    Grandma Cate
    January 4, 2019 at 10:03 pm

    I’ve heard my family say all these & used most myself. Dad purely was a good story teller, especially about his adventures arranging to buy power line right of way in SW VA in the 30 ‘s. He told of standing in the yard hollering “Hello, the house!” before approaching it & accepting a bit of popskull home brew to reassure the residents that he wasn’t a “revenooer”!
    “We’re right proud to meetcha” or “proud to have you” was said a lot, & a preacher in the pulpit was just good alliteration! These speech patterns & habits are comfortable to me & when I hear them, I feel like I’m home.

  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    April 1, 2018 at 3:15 am

    Never heard of pop skull, but my husband and I received a pounding shortly after we were married in the early 60s. It was mostly pantry staples.

    Poundings for newlyweds were pretty standard where I grew up. Sometimes canned goods from the store were given. Some people took the labels off so the cans had to be opened to learn what was inside. Luckily all the cans we received had labels.

    As for popskull, my family were strongly against using alcohol, that General teaching continues. I have heard the two-word way of saying pulpit quite a bit, even lately. Both my husband and my daddy filled a pulpit every Sunday.

  • Reply
    Michael Montgomery
    March 30, 2018 at 8:52 pm

    Tipper, I put PULPIT in the dictionary because I heard it pronounced differently from the way I grew up hearing it in Knoxville. In the Smokies it sounded like two separate words, with both syllables being accented. That’s hard to represent with spelling, but I recommend making a slight pause and then pronouncing PIT as if it;s a word unto itself. So imagine it as being spelled PULL PIT. According to the Dictionary of American Regional English, such a pronunciation is used mainly in the South (Deep South and Upper South).

    • Reply
      March 31, 2018 at 9:11 am

      Michael-Ahhh! That explains it 🙂 I definitely say the word in two syllables and you’re right it does sound like I’m saying pull pit. Thank you for shedding light on the word being in the dictionary.

  • Reply
    March 30, 2018 at 1:23 am

    Pawpaw, I so agree with you that “heart to heart” is best. Many years ago, back in that troubled time during the ’60s, my young husband and our family moved to a large metropolitan area deep within a troubled area. Dear husband spent several years and efforts to bring a bit of calm and peace to the hurting folks within the inner city, befriending, loving, organizing Bible studies, youth activities, locating food/job assistance, etc. At one point, he became very ill with a bad headache and almost flu-like symptoms that defied diagnosis. After several days in hospital, he was sent home, feeling somewhat better, but still not able to get around for awhile. One evening a knock came at the door. I opened it to find several of the inner city folks, laden with with bags of groceries! Talk about heart to heart. These folks who had so little extended their love to us from what they had. I still get teary-eyed with I remember how they blessed us from their hearts.

  • Reply
    Ray Potts
    March 29, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    Nehemiah 8:4 KJV Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood.

  • Reply
    March 29, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    Pulpit is an essential church furnishing everywhere. I have heard all the terms except popskull (though eloquent) and pure our. It was ‘pure dee’ at our house.

    • Reply
      April 8, 2020 at 8:16 pm

      Knew and have used all but popskull. Would have never guessed that one. Hope you all are doing well.

  • Reply
    March 29, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    Every time I went to one of your concerts, at the ending when we were about to part, Pap would say “Go Home with Me.” That made me feel good, cause I heard that from other “Mountain Folks” too.

    I never heard the word “Popskull” and I grew-up around Moonshiners, but all the rest are mostly familiar. …Ken

  • Reply
    March 29, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    The only one I know is “pulpit” and there are lots of pulpits in old New England churches. But did you know ships can also have pulpits? I sailed many times on a fishing boat the summer I was about 18 or 19, and learned that the extended area off the bow was called the “pulpit.” You sure do feel like something special when you’re standing above the ocean like that! I can almost smell that salt air just remembering – thanks for making me think of it 🙂

  • Reply
    March 29, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    When Yvonne and I were first married we were the recipient of a pounding. We had just moved into a garage apartment up on Alarka and I had a new job over in Andrews at Baker Furniture. I had been catching a ride every morning with my brother in law Ulies McGaha who was a supervisor there. He would stop down at the road and I would go down over the bank and get in the car. One morning I slipped on some ice and broke my ankle. I hadn’t been working long enough to get insurance and didn’t have doodly squat to live on. The neighbors gave us a pounding. There were boxes of food left on our doorstep and even envelopes with a little bit of money. All the food wasn’t what I would have bought if I had had an income but it kept us from going hungry. That made it all good.
    People still do poundings there and sometimes around here but it is not as common as it once was. Nowdays people think “Well, the government will take care of them.” Maybe so, but the government has no heart. When you give someone a pounding, you are not just giving them food, you are showing them that you do have a heart. From my experience with poundings it is mostly done anonymously so as not to embarrass the recipients. The gifts were just left on the porch or delivered by a single individual. You may not know who gave what but you know for sure that somebody cares. That makes you look at your community differently. Maybe not everybody gave but you don’t know who did and who didn’t. So you show everybody your gratitude.
    Sure some of our taxes go to feed destitute people but how much better the world would be is people took care of each other directly. Face to face, hand to hand and heart to heart.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    March 29, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    The “onliest” time I heard “Popskull” was when Daddy told a macabre story of killin’ hogs or huntin’….For instance, he might tell of and say, “I hated “hog killin’ time, for when I got older Dad would ask us boys to “popskull” that old pig!” -Or…”My bear huntin’ Uncle told of killin’ a bear right before it caught him, he pop-skulled it right in the side of its head!” The other time was reading about Civil War Secrets…etc. Their definition being bad moonshine or other alcoholic brews…
    Pounding is common but not like it used to be around here…When I was younger, I sent a pound of sugar or rice to a newly wed pounding when the couple came back from their honeymoon and moved into their new abode. This is an additional event after the wedding household showers! In fact when I got married my Mother in law sent her own version of a “pounding” when we got our first apartment…Sugar, flour, coffee, eggs etc…I teased that she may have thought I would let her boy go hungry! Funny at the time…
    Who’s in the “pulpit” this week?…Was a common question when a church had lost their preacher to another church. Right now my favorite is the wild flower…”Jack-in-the-Pulpit”…Haven’t been to my wild flower garden but I’m sure he is standing tall reading to preach the glory of Spring, for it’s time!
    Thanks Tipper
    Love the vocabulary tests…

  • Reply
    Ann Appplegarth
    March 29, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    I’ve never heard of pounding or pop skull, and I don’t think I have heard pure out — but I do say purely as in “It’s purely cold today.”” or “I’m purely tired of hearing about that.”

  • Reply
    March 29, 2018 at 11:01 am

    I’m familiar with all except “popskull” and am more likely to use “flat out” that “pure out”. Poundings are a long time Methodist tradition , at least in the midwest and points south. Maybe the bigger churches don’t do it so much any more but the smaller urban churches and the country churches (until recently) almost always welcomed a new preacher with a “pounding”, if only just for the fun of seeing what folks will come up with: a pound of butter, a pound of flour, a pound of pickles, a pound of chicken feed (just to get a giggle since so few preachers raise chickens) or a pound of birdseed, a pound of buttons (again, mainly for the humor although one crafty preacher’s wife especially enjoyed those!), even a pound of good compost! Mostly done in fun these days more than for the more practical purpose of stocking a pantry, but a Pounding can serve as a good way to acquaint the new preacher with his congregation.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    March 29, 2018 at 10:32 am

    It was rotgut I learned to describe bad moonshine. I remember hearing talk about people putting stuff like old radiators in the mash & other crazy stuff. My little hometown, Medon, TN is famous for moonshine and they used to have a moonshine festival every year. There was a country store on a hill above the train depot & most of the area moonshiners got their sugar & cornmeal there. That grocer was one of the local “rich” people & was interviewed in his later years. He claimed he never abetted shiners by selling them the makings. Many in the community got a good laugh upon hearing this.

  • Reply
    March 29, 2018 at 9:59 am

    I have heard of all with exception of pounding and pop skull .
    I think ‘pounding’ would be a nice way to give to a family in need of food.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    March 29, 2018 at 9:24 am

    I’ve heard all of today’s test words and used most of them. I guess there’s not a lot of difference between Brasstown and Needmore.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    March 29, 2018 at 9:14 am

    Tipper, I think pulpit is used broadly, not just in Appalachia. As opposed to “pure out”, I’ve always used “flat out.” Re: pounding and popskull – although I knew the meaning, I never use them. “Proud to be here” brings Minnie Pearl to mind.

  • Reply
    March 29, 2018 at 9:11 am

    I am familiar with the use of only two of the words in this months test. It’s hard to believe pulpit is an Appalachian word, as I have heard it here in Louisville many times. Maybe the folks saying it are transplants like me. Proud is commonly used here in my house and that makes me as proud as a peacock. Merle Haggard was proud to be an Okie from Muskogee. I’ve never heard popskull, but I can only imagine how it got its name. Instead of pure out, we say plain out. To be more expressive, as person might say something like he plain out and out lied. I have never heard pounding used to describe donating food, but I have done it a few times.

  • Reply
    Roger Fingar
    March 29, 2018 at 9:10 am

    There is a chapter in Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings “Cross Creek” about a “pound party” she was invited to in depression era north Florida. It was surely a corruption of their version of pounding, in which a local family invited Ms Rawlings to a party and was instructed to bring a pound of anything she wished, but a certain cake she made was suggested by the host. She figured there would be a lot of people, so made a double recipe. No one but the hosting family attended and nothing else was on the table besides Ms Rawlings cake but a scrawny little host cake and a partial jar of peanut butter. One of the sons blew an obligatory tune on his mouth harp to make the party official, I guess. The starving family immediately devoured her cake and the party was over. Later the set up was confirmed to be so, at least in her mind. Another neighbor boy, who later grew up to be a writer as well, tells a much different version of the “pound party” incident.

    As comparatively uppity as Ms Rawlings might have seemed to the locals in her adopted N Fla home, she extended further generosity to this same family. She offered to make clothes for any of the kids who would go to school. They, one at a time, took her up on the offer, but their school attendance was just long enough to get the clothes. i forget if the neighbor kid (future writer) had a version of the school for clothes incident.

  • Reply
    March 29, 2018 at 8:35 am

    I have heard or used all except “pop skull” & “pounding” but perhaps “rotgut” & “house warming “ or “raisin’” could be used interchangeably.
    It is interesting how expressions are common across many regions of our great nation!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 29, 2018 at 8:26 am

    Tip, I’ve heard all these words but pounding and popskull rarely. I thought pulpit was the “official” name of a church podium. I just love our colorful language! We have such interesting ways of saying things.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    March 29, 2018 at 8:25 am

    Well, I’m a 2 and 1/2. Used to ‘pulpit’ and ‘proud’ and sort of knew ‘pure’-something but not ‘pure out’. But Julie bailed me out. It was ‘pure dee’ that was hanging around over on the edge of remembering. I’m thinking I have also heard ‘pure light’ to mean the same thing.

    As usual, some words on your tests are like seeing something “out of the corner” of my eye. But then looked at square on it’s different.

  • Reply
    March 29, 2018 at 7:43 am

    We gave our pastor and his wife a pounding when they moved into the parsonage a few years ago. One Christmas, we gave a pounding to all of the widows in our church. It is a fun way to help. Im surprised that some have not heard of it. I hope it don’t fizzle out, because it is a good way to show somebody you care .
    Never heard of pop skull, we always called that rotgut. Daddy said it would rot your guts out if it didn’t kill you.

  • Reply
    Sheryl A. Paul
    March 29, 2018 at 7:03 am

    I have never heard of a pounding or popskull.
    What a wonderful way to have a welcome to the neighborhood party. Popskull is new to me too, but what a descriptive word for cheap alcjol.
    I still use purely all t he time I am sure it comes from pure out. Proud us another I use a lot. Love the new to me words

  • Reply
    March 29, 2018 at 6:38 am

    Popskull and Pounding is not familiar to me, but your explanation of pounding brought back memories of a dear friend, Bro. Silas Lang, he had a twin named Paul and they both were Missionary Baptist Preachers, ( They were raised Quakers) he was a circuit rider preacher and had a Mule he would ride to visit all the Church’s he’d pastor, folks would feed him and keep him up for the night and give him a chicken or what ever they had to help support him. I remember one time him talking about it being so cold that he would be froze ( stuck ) to the saddle of that old Mules back.

  • Reply
    Julie Moreno
    March 29, 2018 at 6:30 am

    I have heard all but pounding. My Papaw was a preacher that spent many an hour behind a pulpit! My other Papaw was proud he didn’t make popskull, he made sippin whiskey. We always used to say pure D instead of pure out.

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