Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 147

Words commonly used in appalachia

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.

1. Punk: partially decayed wood. “I’ve tried and tried to build a fire this morning but that punk wood won’t burn worth nothing.”

2. Pump knot: a lump or knot on the head caused by a blow. “One time I was laying on my brother’s bed playing with a hool a hoop and I knocked a plaster ship off the wall and it broke over my forehead. I had a cut and a pump knot to go with it!

3. Pullingest: able to pull the greatest weight. “In Appalachia we love to add est to words to add more emphasis to them. A few other examples: fightingest, cryingest, worryingest.

4. Preacher meat: chicken. “Preacher meat was beyond common for Sunday dinners when I was growing up.”

5. Pounding: a welcoming party where attendees bring a pound (or less or more) of a food item to the guest of honor. “A while back someone told me their church held a pounding for a couple who were getting married.”

Pounding isn’t as common as it once was in my area because the tradition has fallen out of fashion. Preacher meat is mostly used in a teasing manner. The others are still very common.

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


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  • Reply
    January 1, 2022 at 1:16 am

    How about “orta”?

    We orta go fishin’.

    We orta go swimmin’.

  • Reply
    Brenda Burke
    May 13, 2021 at 7:00 pm

    We still pound the preacher around here. I’ve had a few pump knots in my time.

  • Reply
    Chadd Newman
    May 6, 2021 at 5:11 pm

    Daddy was a Baptist preacher. We received quite a few “poundings” at the little, country churches he pastored. And as for “preacher meat,” he used to refer to his belly as a chicken graveyard, so I guess that kind of counts.

  • Reply
    Bill Fleming
    May 4, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    Pounding was the only one I was not familiar with. I think I had heard of it once or twice but was never sure what it really was.

  • Reply
    Alexis Mohr
    May 2, 2021 at 10:32 pm

    The only one I had heard before was adding “est” to the end of words. All the others were new to me. They’re great descriptors, for sure!

  • Reply
    May 1, 2021 at 8:51 am

    The only one I know is punk wood, but here it’s punky, as in “That wood is so punky it won’t be worth burning.”

  • Reply
    Rebecca Freeman
    April 30, 2021 at 10:43 pm

    When my daughter was born, my husband’s brother came to visit. He said, “That’s the beautifulest baby I’ve ever seen.” Still makes me smile when I think of that!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 30, 2021 at 8:59 pm

    Look up “doty” wood in your dictionary. That is more commonly used than punk although I have heard and use both. They mean the same thing.

    As to a pump knot if applied to you by another it is often called a knuckle bump. When I was a kid, oh so many years ago, we would make a fist with the second joint of our fiddle finger protruding and sock somebody in the arm or leg. That would cause a knot to rise up in the muscle you hit. We called that a “charlie horse” which is actually a knot caused by a cramp but they look and feel similar.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 30, 2021 at 3:41 pm

    I was the recipient of a pounding about 40 something years ago. I had been at Baker Furniture for about three weeks. We had just moved into a little garage apartment on Alarka and I was riding to work with my brother in law Eulis McGaha. I had to go down some steps to get to the road. One morning it had snowed and iced. I fell and broke my right ankle. My insurance wasn’t in effect yet and we were broke. The neighbors gave us a pounding. We got a lot of food and even enough cash to buy some fuel oil and pay the light bill. I never went back to Baker. I got a much higher paying job in a grocery distribution warehouse in Hickory NC and stayed there for 37 years. It was brutal work at the beginning but I stuck it out and it got better.

    The idea behind a pounding is that all the people who participated would give a pound of something to help someone in need.

    I bought a raffle ticket one time to help a sick child. It was for a love seat. I won! I told them I didn’t have a place for a love seat, that I didn’t want it. I told them to raffle it off again. They told me they couldn’t do that. I never got a good reason why not. I told the lady who sold me the ticket to give Ever since that time when I am hit up to buy a raffle ticket I ask to just donate the cost of the ticket. When I help a needy person I don’t want anything in return. If I am expecting or even hoping for something in return it’s not a gift. A gift from me is really a gift from God who works through me! God don’t need a love seat. He needs our hearts and souls!

  • Reply
    Larry Proffitt
    April 30, 2021 at 3:33 pm

    I know all of today’s words words and still use all of them except “pounding” which I have not heard in a good while.

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes Moreno
    April 30, 2021 at 1:25 pm

    I grew up calling pumpknots pop knots! Never heard pounding in my neck of the woods.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    April 30, 2021 at 12:34 pm

    “I’ll put a pump knot on yore noggin”

  • Reply
    Ron Bass
    April 30, 2021 at 12:26 pm

    Use them all except pump knot, we’ve always called it a goose egg.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 30, 2021 at 11:05 am

    I had lots of pump knots growing up! Don’t think I heard of Pounding but I know all the rest of them.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    April 30, 2021 at 10:40 am

    Only pump knot and pounding. I still hear of poundings–often for someone who has fallen into need.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    April 30, 2021 at 9:46 am

    Neither my wife nor I knew pounding. Maybe it was a custom somewhere in Ky. but not in my part of E.KY. I knew all the rest. My Dad was a Baptist preacher and he didn’t care much for chicken but loved pork. I’m just guessing but it could have been all the preacher jokes about chicken.

    • Reply
      Colleen Holmes
      April 30, 2021 at 7:52 pm

      I used pumpknot in a YA novel I’m writing and my writing group argued with me that it wasn’t a word. I knew better. Thanks for sharing.

      • Reply
        Alexis Mohr
        May 2, 2021 at 10:39 pm

        Best of luck with your novel, Colleen. I’m writing a memoir about having cancer while I was working in the prison system. Do you have someone to represent you yet?

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    April 30, 2021 at 9:44 am

    I have heard of pounding. I also use punk similarly, but the rest are new to me.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 30, 2021 at 9:33 am

    All of them except preacher meat. We had lots of chicken when I was growing up and lot’s of preachers came for dinner. So, naturally they ate chicken. But I don’t recall chicken being called preacher meat. In fact I don’t think of chicken as meat. Meat comes from animals. Chickens is birds! Maybe that sounds odd but that ain’t the only odd thing about me.

  • Reply
    April 30, 2021 at 9:16 am

    Pump knot is the only word I am familiar with. We sure do like to add the est to words but pullingest is not one I have heard. An elderly neighbor fell and broke her wrist just recently. I called to check on her and told her about Mom breaking hers when she fell down the basement steps and how that little broken bone was the hurtingest thing. Her silence made me realize what I said. Preachers jokes about Sunday chicken dinners have been around forever. Chicken was never called preacher meat where I came from. The preacher always knew fried chicken or chicken and dumplings would be on the table when he was invited to dinner.

  • Reply
    Gerald Brinson
    April 30, 2021 at 9:07 am

    The first three were always so commonly used when I was growing up, I didn’t know they were exclusive to Appalachia. Especially pump knot. I guess I thought it was a legitimate medical term! LOL!

  • Reply
    April 30, 2021 at 8:16 am

    only one not common for me was preacher meat…i’ve heard it but not commonly used…i don’t use instagram so those wasn’t useful but at least I could read the article 🙂

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    April 30, 2021 at 8:14 am

    Tipper–I’m quite familiar with all of them although agree that pounding is passing out of usage. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever heard it, just seen it in writing numerous times.
    I love a synonym for preacher meat; namely, gospel bird. Growing up it was the key to Sunday dinner in our house almost without fail, and Mom could flat-out fry some fine chicken.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 30, 2021 at 8:11 am

    I’ll say 3 of 5. For “preacher meat” I have heard “gospel.bird” a few times. Never heard of a “pounding”, not a tradition in southeast KY I guess.

    The “est” ending reminds me of Jesse Stuart’s book “The Beatenest Boy”. One example I can think of is to say of someone”he had the quarest turn of anybody I ever heard tell of”.

  • Reply
    April 30, 2021 at 7:50 am

    I’ve heard all these except for ‘preacher meat,’ but ‘pump knot’ made me grin. I’ve always said that one, but mostly to myself when I lived up north. And it made me think of another one my mother said — ‘sore as a rising.’

  • Reply
    April 30, 2021 at 7:00 am

    You stumped me this time. Pump knot was the only one l have ever heard.

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney Jr
    April 30, 2021 at 6:32 am

    3. Pullingest: able to pull the greatest weight. I heard this guy say to another, “That is the pullingest team of mules I ever seed”.

  • Reply
    Sheryl A Paul
    April 30, 2021 at 6:14 am

    Wow you stumped me. This week with the exception of pullingest. Adding the est is very common in my family.
    I love “preacher meat” I am gonna steal that one

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