Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 117


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.


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1. Take up: start of school day or church service. “School had just took up when the lights went out. I heard a car hit a light pole down the road.”

2. Teetotally: completely. “I teetotally enjoyed the show those boys put on down at the store last night.”


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3. Theirownselves or Themownselves: Themselves. “Looks to me like people could handle things like that theirownselves without getting everybody else involved.”


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4. Thisaway: This way. “If you’ll hold it thisaway while your carving it’ll be much easier for you.”


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5. Toothache medicine: moonshine. “He come down here about half lit. Said he had a toothache and had to take a little nip for the pain. If you ask me he partakes of that toothache medicine a little too often.”

All of this month’s words are common in my area of Appalachia. How about where you live?


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  • Reply
    October 26, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    Tipper its funny you mention bout the moonshine. I know from experience it is good for a toothache. One time when i was a little girl, i had the worst toothache ever. The tooth was bad. It was hurting so bad i couldn’t stand it. Moma said go get her some medicine. (My dad made moonshine for a living) So he went and bought me some back. He said get you a drink and hold it on there as long as you can. O it burnt something awful. It told me not to swallow it but i did. So i did it again and again. It started easing off. It killed the nerve in my tooth and it never did hurt again. After i got grown i went ahead and had it pulled. Moonshine is good for alot of things. Medicine wise!!! Good for the flu, fever. Good one Tipper.

  • Reply
    harry adams
    October 26, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    I heard a professional discussing grammar on the radio. She pointed out the the real reason for grammar and spelling is for commonality in writing. She even said that most people would find it difficult to speak as we write. No English teacher I ever had in school would have admitted to such statements. this may explain why the words as spoken look “funny” when written down.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    October 26, 2018 at 11:23 am

    There must have been a lot of dental problems around the part of N. C. that I grew up in. My GrandPap made toothache medicine and he did a pretty good business. The demand was always high. Especially on weekends.

  • Reply
    October 26, 2018 at 10:59 am

    They all bring back the same memory — my Iowa grandparents, especially my grandfather. “Thankee kindly.”

  • Reply
    October 26, 2018 at 10:53 am

    I’ve heard and used them all though “toothache medicine” is least used. In our family, it was referred to as “cough medicine”. One of my aunts kept a pitcher of cough “lemonade” (lemon juice, honey, and whiskey) in the refrigerator. This was greatly frowned upon by my teetotaler branch of the family but she just couldn’t understand what was wrong with keeping good cough medicine around since her children so often came down with a bad cough!

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    October 26, 2018 at 10:51 am

    Tipper and old man was stopped for being drunk and the patrols called it in and said he is higher than a Georgia pine on Moonshine

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    October 26, 2018 at 10:35 am

    Tipper it is hard to get away from all these saying really not that I want too. I guess that getting puzzling looks when I hand over a word that the Mountain folk use. I guess you picked one. Hand over my ideal to you mister

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 26, 2018 at 10:05 am

    Did you hear the one about the old gent who kept his dentures soaking in “toothache medicine” in a cup beside the bed so in case he got a toothache in the middle of the night it wouldn’t wake him up?

  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    October 26, 2018 at 9:44 am

    I have heard and used all of them except toothache medicine. My family has traditionally been teetotalers, I reckon that is why.

  • Reply
    October 26, 2018 at 9:05 am

    I’ve heard all of them used except “take up” as used in your sentence. I think I heard “took up” referring more like she took up with the wrong guy.

  • Reply
    October 26, 2018 at 9:02 am

    Teetotally is one word that is used often around here. It’s been a long time since I heard anyone say take up. All the rest of the words are common as an old shoe.

  • Reply
    Larry Proffitt
    October 26, 2018 at 8:41 am

    All these examples are common to us acroos the mountain. I find it amusing that so many of our everyday phrases never seem peculiar until they are written out.

  • Reply
    Sheryl A Paul
    October 26, 2018 at 8:31 am

    Never heard it called toothache medicine. We always say myownself or theirownself like it was all one word. Ndver heard take up like you use it. We usually mean she took up twith a bad um tjis time time yo get shut of him

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 26, 2018 at 8:19 am

    I know all these and have heard them all my life. It is funny to me to see you list these words and expressions as Appalachian when they are every day language to us. I thought the whole country talked this way till I lived away from here and realized we are different!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 26, 2018 at 8:14 am

    I’ll say I’ve heard and most likely used each of these except for the ‘toothache medicine’. However, my thinking is that it has been awhile for each of them. Seems I have a dim memory of ‘take up’ being used for dishing up a meal and setting the table also. And ‘thisaway’ is used pretty much interchangeably with ‘thataway’ except that ‘thisaway’ is more about ‘right here’ and ‘thataway’ is more about ‘over there’. I think ‘theirownselves’ is a thought-out way of ‘doubling down’ for emphasis; that is ‘they’ should surely have everything they need; gumption, wherewithal, to deal with their own problems without outside help.

    These ‘tests’ really take me back to my roots. The words sound like an echo; so familiar and yet removed by time and distance. Kinda like finding a pressed flower or a four-leafed clover in a book and knowing there was some significance in it being kept.

  • Reply
    Julie Moreno
    October 26, 2018 at 7:03 am

    I have heard and use all of them except toothache medicine.

  • Reply
    October 26, 2018 at 5:20 am

    I’m familiar with all these. Speaking of Moonshine, back in the mid to late 70’s I worked at a grocery store on the weekends, and the dept managers would swap out on weekends to open the store, but before the store opened we would come in around 4 am to pull back room stock out to the shelves and every time this one dept. head would come in with us this old man would show up with a truck and several dogs in the back, and the manager would have us load several bails of sugar in his truck, sugar came in a bail and you would separate them and up them on the shelves, but for him we would just leave it whole, and I knew what it was for, but the dogs I didn’t understand why so many, the manager said he would put those dogs out tied to trees in different spots so if any body came around they’d bark at them and he’d easy off the other side of the mountain and get away.

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