Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 130

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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. Carry: to accompany, guide, escort, or drive someone. “I couldn’t go to the funeral cause I had to carry Granny over to Franklin to the doctor.”


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2. Catawampus or Cattywampus: set at a diagonal. “He had the chair sitting cattywampus and you couldn’t even open the door all the way.”


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3. Cat-head: a biscuit. “He came in here wanting cat head biscuits, bacon, gravy, and eggs. Like I ain’t got nothing else to do but wait on him.”

4. Chancy: doubtful. “Its chancy that I can make it, you better plan to go on if I ain’t there by 2:00.”


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5. Chimbley: chimney “My grandpa built that chimbley nigh onto seventy years ago and its still a’standin.”

All of this month’s words are common in my area. I’d say chimbley is the least common, although it is one of those words I sometimes hear folks say-folks who don’t really sound Appalachian in any other way. I always wonder who influenced them to switch the n for the b.

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


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  • Reply
    December 1, 2019 at 10:45 pm

    All of these words are familiar to me, but the least so is chimbley. I often heard chiminey, with three-syllables.

  • Reply
    December 1, 2019 at 8:08 pm

    Cattywampus is the one that is most familiar to me. I don’t hear many people use it here, but it was very common in our family as I was growing up!

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    December 1, 2019 at 10:50 am

    I’ve heered and used em all, I guess that means I’m country to the core.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 30, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    I am familiar with every one of those words but don’t use any of them regularly. I say chimley instead of chimbley. I used to argue with a neighbor kid over which was the correct spelling chimley or chimbley. Turns out it is neither. Or is it both!

    I was surprised to see my name as the winner of “Bits of Mountain Speech”. I wasn’t in it to win it but I’ll take it! Thank You very much. And Thank You so much for being the kind and generous person you and your family have been to me over these past several years.

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney Jr
    November 30, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    I have heard them, all.
    One of the words I have heard around here in Sullivan County is ideal instead of idea. Now that is a good ideal instead of idea. Initially, I thought I was just mishearing the word but have since confirmed with a friend that they are actually saying ideal.

  • Reply
    November 30, 2019 at 11:23 am

    I’ve heard them all but chancy. My Mama said chimbley.

  • Reply
    November 30, 2019 at 10:37 am

    I have heard all then but 2 Tipper. I hope we keep talking the way we talk and never loose it. You know what.? ( we will ) love it all Tipper. You sure know how to make a person day.

    • Reply
      November 30, 2019 at 11:34 am

      Gigi, I’m with you on that!!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    November 30, 2019 at 9:13 am

    Carry and cattywampus are most familiar. I didn’t hear about cat head biscuits growing up. I was probably a teenager when I first heard it but have heard it fairly often since. I don’t think, but can’t be sure, we said chimbley with a “BL” in it. I think I have heard chancy used but not often. If it were once common, nowadays it has been edged out by ‘risky’.

    Tipper, you are the givingest soul and bless so many. This hard old world doesn’t appreciate enough its quiet givers whose heart is in service but not in being known for it. My Mom and my Grandma was like that.

    • Reply
      November 30, 2019 at 11:37 am

      Ron Stephens, thank you for reminding us of the positive character traits that are ever more difficult to witness in others , and perhaps ourselves , as well !

  • Reply
    November 30, 2019 at 9:01 am

    All the words are familiar to me. My ex-husband would say cattywompus when he described someone inflicting physical pain on another person, such as in a fist fight. It doesn’t surprise me that he would invent a word to make violence sound pretty.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    November 30, 2019 at 8:31 am

    All but chimbley are common to me.
    To carry someone or something was so common that I thought everyone said that.
    When I “moved off” from home I realized that wasn’t the case along with many more words and phrases. Unfortunately over time I stopped using a lot of the words I grew up with. Since retiring and moving from Metro Atlanta to Western NC I am hearing more and more of my native dialect and it makes me happier than a pig in slop to be around it again. There’s lots of transplants here but the locals are rich in their Appalachian heritage and I feel very much at home here.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    November 30, 2019 at 8:12 am

    Three of the words are still common but carry and chimbley aren’t. Mom still says chimley leaving out the b.
    Does anybody hear, fatter than mud or maybe it’s fatter than Mudd? I thought it was only common here but I heard Steve Erwin, the crocodile man from Australia use it in one of his shows.

  • Reply
    November 30, 2019 at 8:06 am

    You have really covered a lot of Appalachia this morning. I have heard cattywampus, but mostly we always used catty cornered when placing furniture in a corner. If we cannot line the piece of furniture up, we agree it is side goggling. We always drive people where they need to go, but surprisingly just a little south they are carrying them. I used to get a laugh from that because a mental picture formed of somebody physically carrying somebody.
    Deerhunter right as always. Cathead biscuits and gravy from side meat cannot be beat. We called the side meat fat back, and it kinda left Mom’s kitchen when Dad’s cholesterol was high. She was really an ole timey cook, and at one time would slice the fat back, roll in flour then fry to a crispy brown. It has been many a moon, but the best I remember it tasted like a crackling with a crispy coating.
    I have never heard chancy. Chimly used to be used a great deal. It seemed if the English language throwed a letter in a word we thought unnecessary or cumbersome we Appalachians just simply left it out or replaced it with something that flowed better 🙂

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 30, 2019 at 7:33 am

    Most of these are common to me. Chimbley is the one I’ve heard the least. Cattywampus is the one I’ve used the most and still use to describe something off square.
    There is a first cousin to cattywampus, it’s cattycornered. It means something sitting across the corner, instead of in the corner.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    November 30, 2019 at 7:32 am

    Tipper–All are familiar, although like you, chimbley the least so.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    November 30, 2019 at 7:27 am

    All these are heard often in our area except chimbley, not that I haven’t heard it before but not in a long time.

  • Reply
    sheryl paul
    November 30, 2019 at 6:59 am

    Wow all are a part of my everyday language. I don’t hear thrse words so much sny more though which saddens me.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    November 30, 2019 at 6:43 am

    Both my grandfathers, Nick Byers and Charlie Mauney, never said “thank you”. It was “much obliged”. I was performing in Scotland mid ’70’s and guess what……everyone used “much obliged”. And a lot of other words and phrases that my grandparents used. Our road manager was from London and couldn’t understand the “bloody Scots”. I had to take care of business!……Was a great tour of Great Britain. We were asked to come back the next year and we went….loved the audiences there. We were “much obliged” to them.

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