Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 136


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. Hand: reference to an individual’s skill, suitability, or desire for a certain activity. “He’s a good hand at most anything. Why he’s the most useful person I know to have around when there’s work to be done.”

2. Happen-so: a chance occurrence. “In one of those happen-so events the girls ran into Paul down the road right when they needed to ask for his help with something.”


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3. Heap: a great deal of something. “When my nephew was here a few weeks back he did a lot of fishing and brought me a heap of fish. Since he went back home I’ve been missing those fresh fish.”


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4. Heered: Heard. “I’ve heered tell they’ve been a bunch of bear sightings in Brasstown over the last week or so.”


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5. Heifer: a hateful woman. “That old heifer down at the store is the meanest woman I’ve ever saw.”

Hope you’ll leave me a comment and tell me how you did on the test. All the words are common in this area.


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  • Reply
    Fred Littrell
    June 13, 2020 at 11:24 am

    Heered was “hyerd” ( I hyerd tell that …”)

  • Reply
    The Tin Cup Clan
    June 5, 2020 at 10:58 am

    Thank You for the story: I write my stories in my native mountain tongue, It give M/S “read aloud” feature a fit.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    May 30, 2020 at 12:12 pm

    When I was a child the people hired to pick cotton were called “hands”. Heap was mostly “in a heap of trouble”. That “heifer” was a troublesome woman. Don’t remember “heered” or “happen so”.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    May 29, 2020 at 5:42 pm

    Monte Kit just “happened-so” came by and mowed for me today. He’s got a 6′ Kobota and I’ve known him for about 67 years. He’s one guy I trust.

    I have a Picnic Table that the Florida Golfer brought up to the house, years ago, and he said “I got so many of these thangs, I thought You and Lauralea could use one.” The wood needs replaced now. Him and Joy bought Brookside Campground after they moved from Florida to Western N.C. They sold the place to somebody several years ago.

    Monte Kit jumped at the chance to fix the Picnic Table, only it’ll be several days before he can get the chance to go to Lowes. That’s alright, with Covid- 19, I ain’t got nuthin’ but time. Monte Kit used to be a good Carpenter, before he got a Mower. He tries to mow every 10 days, weather permitting, it rains alot here in Cherokee County. …Ken

  • Reply
    Allan Guy
    May 29, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    I have heard all of these expressions since I was young. Teachers used to correct saying heard – not heered – but most of the kids never heered her and just stuck to what they were usta. The Iris are beautiful. Love your posts

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 29, 2020 at 11:35 am

    Not familiar with happen-so. Happenstance might be to origin of happen-so or vice versa as it means the same thing.

    Hand is also a term used to describe a bundle of tobacco leaves tied together at the stem end with a single leaf.

    I don’t think the analogy “heap of fish” is scientifically sound. Heap implies that there fish one on top of the other. Did you ever try to stack fish or “heap” them? If they are fresh they will slide everywhere. If you can heap ’em I wouldn’t eat ’em! If you did eat them you might be in a heap of trouble. Oh and, your car might be called a heap. My car ain’t no heap but only because it’s a truck.

    Describing some old, ugly or fat women as a heifer is an insult to cattle.

  • Reply
    May 29, 2020 at 11:14 am

    I am very familiar with all except happen-so. I heard heifer used, but never for a wife and usually disrespectful term for some hated school teacher or mean neighbor. Quite common growing up (glad this one lost favor) was men referring to their wives as “the ole lady.”

    Being a bit on the vain side as a young adult I tried to shed some of the words that seemed to show me as a hick. Heered was one such word, and I thought I had left it far behind in my mountains. Imagine my amazement when out of nowhere while engaging in conversations with friends that old word jumped right out of my mouth. We all had the best giggle over that after I told them I heered something or other. I don’t know that I have used it since, but have since learned a great pride in every aspect of my heritage. I never did say “that haint right” nor “hit is mine” even though did hear many ole timers use ain’t and it in that way. I might add those who spoke that way were some of the greatest people on earth!

  • Reply
    May 29, 2020 at 10:33 am

    Familiar and use most all these words in there context except heifer describing my Wife, I may be dumb but not stupid.

  • Reply
    May 29, 2020 at 9:56 am

    I have heard them all except Happen – so, it was always so happened.

  • Reply
    May 29, 2020 at 9:39 am

    Old Samson said, to those Philistines , ” if you hadn’t plowed with my heifer, you would not know the answer to my riddle! ” So that is still used in the mountains & The flatlands of Florida today.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    May 29, 2020 at 9:03 am

    I have heered these all though not as often as earlier in my life as the older generations pass on. I may have had Matt’s heifer as my sixth grade teacher, there were a couple of students (me included) who were blamed with every problem whether we were guilty or not. She always stated we must all obey the rules! Later I was an officer when a car ran a stop sign and almost T-Boned me, when I got the vehicle stopped I was surprised the teacher earlier referred to was the driver. I reminded her to her her insistence of following the Rules (including Motor Vehicle Law). she was reminded as she paid off her citation.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 29, 2020 at 8:40 am

    Hnmm kinda hard to settle today. I know of all of them. Heard and reckon I’ve used ‘hand’ and ‘heap’ just as you say. I don’t recall ever using heifer of a person, hope not anyway. But the other two I know in variation. For example, ‘heer’ is (as you use it) said as ‘heer tell’. And instead of ‘happen-so’ I have always heard and said ‘so happen’.

  • Reply
    May 29, 2020 at 8:14 am

    Never heard “happen-so.” Re “heered”, I have heard it but never used it. However, I have thought that it makes
    sense to pronounce the word “heard” like that to distinguish it from “herd.”

  • Reply
    May 29, 2020 at 7:41 am

    All of these words are still in use throughout the country. “Heap” bounced back hard in the late 60’s after the line in odge Charger commercial “You in a heap ‘o’ trouble boy!” A good truck driver is a “Hand” Also Farm Hand or Cow hand.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    May 29, 2020 at 7:37 am

    Beautiful picture of Iris (flags), and one of my favorite colors.
    I knew and hear all of these but don’t use heifer or heered. I had a 6th grade teacher that broke me of heered and winder for window.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    May 29, 2020 at 7:34 am

    Tipper–All of these are familiar to me and I’ll share a quick thought connected with two of them. I got in fairly serious trouble in the fifth grade by describing a worrisome classmate as “an ugly old heifer” (she was!). As for heered, listen to Dwight Yoakam pronounce it in his wonderful song about the Hillbilly Highway, “Readin’, Ritin’, and Route 23. He gets it absolutely spot on.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Sheryl paul
    May 29, 2020 at 7:22 am

    This is my favorite blog, all of the words I am very familiar with and heered and heifer are the only 2 I do not use regulsrly

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 29, 2020 at 7:03 am

    Happen-so is not an expression I’ve heard but all the remainder are very common in my neck of the woods. I love our colorful language and how expressive it is!

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    May 29, 2020 at 6:48 am

    My Grandpa Nick Byers used to say “I ginny” as an exclamation such as I might say “by golly”. And he always said “much obliged” for “thank you”. When I was performing in Northern Scotland in the ’70’s I found that the folks there used “much obliged” for ‘thank you”.

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