Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 121

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. Wampus cat: imaginary cat used to warn children. “Granny used to scare us kids to death telling us tales about the wampus cat getting children who were bad.”

2. Washy: weak, diluted, insubstantial. “I can’t stand to drink her coffee! She’s so cheap she barely uses any grounds and the coffee is always washy.”


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3. Whip up: to repair or prepare quickly. “It won’t take me but a minute to whip up some supper if you’ll stay.”


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4. Whistle pig: ground hog. “He set a trap for that whistle pig. I swear it’s eat more of the garden this year than we have.”


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5. Whoop and a holler: short distance. “I just love to go visit Granny. Its a good thing she just lives a whoop and a holler away or I’d be on the road all the time.”

I have never heard anyone use wampus cat and have only heard washy a few times. The others are all very familiar to me. I hope you’ll leave a comment and let me know how you did on the test.


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  • Reply
    Patricia Price
    March 10, 2021 at 9:53 am

    My Dad used to sing a song that went, “I’m a wampus cat’s kitten and a (something something) child.” I can’t remember what the (something something) words were, and he’s been gone nearly 22 years.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    February 23, 2019 at 11:37 am

    Heard all except “washy”. We’ve been tortured for years by “whistle pigs” eating our garden. Years ago I saw a great big fat one lying up in the crotch of a tree out back! didn’t know they could climb!

  • Reply
    February 22, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    I’ve heard wampus cat used as a common name for cougars. Most wildlife officers in NC and TN downplay the presence of cougars in our mountains. However there were at least 10 confirmed sightings of cougars in West Tennessee over the past several years. Any number of mountain folk will testify to seeing one or hearing one. They were present long ago in these mountains and who knows if they’ve come back. There’s a lot of places in these mountains folks don’t go or don’t come back to tell tales about.

  • Reply
    Janice Chapman
    February 22, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    There’s a small town high school not too far from here whose sports teams are called the Wampus Cats!

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    February 22, 2019 at 11:39 am

    All of the terms are familiar to me but “washy.” My family always said “weak as dishwater” for something weak. Every now and then I hear the term “wampus cat” but probably more just reading about Appalachia rather than living here and hearing it. The other words are part of my every day vocabulary.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    February 22, 2019 at 10:35 am

    Use them all but washy, I have heard it”Weak as Cat Water” to describe weak coffee.

  • Reply
    February 22, 2019 at 10:07 am

    Whip up is about the only one I can remember growing up hearing, and occasionally hear it now. Yall need any rain, we got plenty, and be willing to share.

  • Reply
    February 22, 2019 at 9:28 am

    I have heard them all except washy. Have been called a wampus cat but never knew what it was supposed to be.

  • Reply
    February 22, 2019 at 9:19 am

    Same here with WCR’s post. Catty wampus used by my dad. Whistle pig and whip up are occasionally heard. Another word I heard growing up was Boomer for a type of red squirrel. I only heard this in my own household, as Dad did not like their predatory nature.
    Commonly we would “whip up” a batch. I just figured batch to be as little or as much as you wanted. As far as distance there are so many cute expressions that it would be a subject in itself. I have heard for distance “fur piece” down the road, it will take you a “good little bit” to get there, “cut left” at the barn, it will take you a “good while” if you go the “old way.” Many years I had to take phone directions, and it was amusing to see how many different ways folks would give directions. Hearing directions was the best way to realize you were in Appalachian country. It was my best bond with my people, because I totally understood them.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    February 22, 2019 at 9:12 am

    All but ‘washy’. My Dad said, “weak as dish water” which is as close as I can get. Heard about, but have never seen, a wampus cat. The last three I know well.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    February 22, 2019 at 8:45 am

    I too heard catty-wampus instead of wampus cat. Not sure I have heard washy used that way. We always used wishy-washy to describe a person that their stance on anything could be changed by whoever they might be talking to. They hold no strong beliefs of their own.

  • Reply
    February 22, 2019 at 8:36 am

    I grew up hearing there are wampus cats in them woods or branches. And if something wasn’t straight it was catty-wampus. or something opposite was catty-wampus from the object. ( Put this piece like this and the other catty-wampus from it.)

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    February 22, 2019 at 8:26 am

    We said wishy-washy, but not washy. And I still whip up tasty dishes in my kitchen. Catty-wampus means crooked, as in that picture is hanging catty-wampus — you need to straighten it. The rest of these gems are new to me. We have lots of whistle pigs here, though, so I’ll start calling them that!

  • Reply
    carol harrison
    February 22, 2019 at 8:10 am

    i have heard them all except wampus cat. my dad always called groundhogs whistle pigs. he took us with him to hunt and kill them on farmers property because they destroyed crops. farmers called him to come kill them.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 22, 2019 at 8:08 am

    Never heard of wampus cat that would get children but I have heard catty wampus used to describe something placed crooked or out of place.
    Also never heard of whistle pig referring to a ground hog.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    February 22, 2019 at 8:02 am

    I have never heard Wampus Cat, Cattywampus my mother and others of her generation used all the time to indicate something was not straight or in the right place. Whoop and holler always, whistle pig a few times, whip up all the time even now I say it. Washy, almost, around here it means something is washed out or watered down. Good words this month

  • Reply
    February 22, 2019 at 7:51 am

    1. Cattywampus is what I grew up with.
    2. Whip up was also a common term.
    3. Also, whoop and a holler I heard occasionally.

  • Reply
    February 22, 2019 at 7:49 am

    No wampus cat or whistle pig in southern Iowa but have heard all the others!

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    February 22, 2019 at 7:39 am

    I remember catty wampus and we whipped up something to eat everyday. We also said it was just a hoot and a holler away.
    I think we said wishy instead of washy. Great memories.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    February 22, 2019 at 7:31 am

    In Ivy Log we had a Catty-Wampas. I know it it’s true ’cause my Momma told me when I was just a little bitty boy!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    February 22, 2019 at 7:26 am

    Tipper–I’m pretty much in your court this time around. While I’ve heard (and use) catty-wampus as a synonym for si-gogglin’ on a frequent basis, wampus cats, whether mythical or not, are unfamiliar to me. Wish-washy and washed out are commonplace but washy not so much so.The remaining terms are quite familiar, and the whistle pig is deserved–ground hogs can and do whistle.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    February 22, 2019 at 7:20 am

    My daddy would say there’s a wampus cat out there in the woods. When I asked him what is that he would just laugh. At the time, I thought it must be a scary thing out there in the woods and you wouldn’t catch me out there after dark. My grandmother had five boys and I think she used Wampus Cat, Bloody Bones, and Scratcher Devil to try and keep those boys in line. Sure worked for me. I have heard Whoop and a Holler and Whip Up used when I was growing up but not any more.

  • Reply
    February 22, 2019 at 6:45 am

    I grew up hearing catty-wampus instead of wampus cat.

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