Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 152


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. Throw off: to belittle, ridicule, make fun of. “He came home mad as fire. Said they were throwing off on his brother at school today.”

2. To do: a large social affair. “She’s plum wore out. They had some big to do down there and she had to work till after midnight.”

3. Toothache medicine: homemade whiskey. “He’s been known to claim having a toothache just so he could get to drink the medicine.”

4. Travelingest: traveling the most. “I’ve never been one to travel much, but one of my friends is the travelingest girl I’ve ever known.”

5. Turn: to be inclined or disposed bay nature, have a certain personality or manner. “That man has the most hateful turn of anyone I’ve ever met!”

So how did you do on the test? All of this month’s words are common in my area of southern Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    October 1, 2021 at 4:37 pm

    To do is the only one I’m familiar with.

  • Reply
    October 1, 2021 at 7:35 am

    Boomer was new to me, tree rat is the local colloquialism.
    Foxfire books are some of my favorite reads.
    We had an unsanctioned award where I worked, it was a big brass acorn.
    You know what I mean.
    All are in “aggreance”, your blog is great.

    • Reply
      October 1, 2021 at 9:09 am

      OpenTheDoor-so glad you enjoy the blog 🙂

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    October 1, 2021 at 6:27 am

    In the ’50’ folks would say,”He pulled a Hank Snow”. Hank, from Canada, was a big Opry star at the time and his big hit recording was “I’m Movin’ On”…..

  • Reply
    Ron Bass
    September 30, 2021 at 3:20 pm

    Here in eastern NC, they’re all used except turn. Love your vocabulary test!

  • Reply
    Karen Barnett
    September 30, 2021 at 2:07 pm

    I love listening to these videos because NONE of these are common out here in the Pacific Northwest. I have heard “to do,” but probably in books. I’ve really enjoyed learning words and phrases in your blog. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Kat Swanson
    September 30, 2021 at 1:35 pm

    All but toothache medicine used in coalfields of Va…..but I will make this request again to those that leave comments…please TELL US WHERE your …here….is! I am so curious how far and how deep our Appalachian ways go!
    Thanks yall.

  • Reply
    September 30, 2021 at 1:14 pm

    I have heard them all. Back in the day everybody was described by their turn. I suppose I had to let schooling soak in to determine it was their personality. I have also commonly heard that a person had a good nature. or commonly referred to as “easy goin’.” Hidden within one was the expression “mad as fire.” I have heard mad’ern a wet hen and mad as the dickens, because nobody was ever angry when I was growing up. They were just plain mad! I have trouble sometimes understanding cousins from up north, because it is as if we speak another language.

    I recall getting a puzzled look when I advised one that he “looked like his Mother.” Maybe I should have said he favored his Mother. But, that may have meant to them that his Mom was his favorite parent. Our reunions are hilarious because so many states are now represented. We still get a kick out of one cousin who went hunting in WV, and came running back to the camp asking if cows bite.

  • Reply
    September 30, 2021 at 11:51 am

    My grandma labeled any whisky-based medicinal as a ‘Tincture’.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 30, 2021 at 11:22 am

    100,000 subscribers! Amazing!

    • Reply
      September 30, 2021 at 1:25 pm

      Ed-I know 🙂 it really is!!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 30, 2021 at 10:44 am

    I ain’t never hear not nary one of them. Just kidding! They are all quite common in my world. Not only travelingest but like salt and pepper we put est on about everything. Walkingest, talkingest, cookingest, eatingest, beatingest, et al.

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    September 30, 2021 at 10:15 am

    Tipper, all of those words or expressions are beyond common to me. It’s just regular talk!

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    September 30, 2021 at 9:42 am

    To do and travelingest, yes; the others, no.

  • Reply
    September 30, 2021 at 9:14 am

    I’ve heard and used “to do” myself and heard others say turn and throw off. I’ve heard and used other words with the same meanings, like instead of turn we said way, “He had a mean way about him”. Instead of travelingest, we said travelenest. It’s so close, I’m a thinkin we just thought that’s what others were sayin. I never heard toothache medicine. In our house growing up it was referred to as “cough syrup “. I didn’t see that on Jim’s list of other names so I thought I’d let y’all know one more to add to the list. I guess the terms are a little different, but not by much.
    I truly enjoy your blog and videos, Tipper. Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply
    September 30, 2021 at 9:01 am

    I have never heard throw off used like your example. I have heard laid off used in a similar way. Someone might say they laid that mess off on me and got me in trouble. All the rest are pretty common around my house, especially turn.

  • Reply
    Frances Jackson
    September 30, 2021 at 8:50 am

    I’ve heard all these in southwest Missouri, except “throw off.”

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    September 30, 2021 at 8:35 am

    4 of 5, have not heard or used ‘toothache medicine’. I imagine that one is a case of folks making up whatever best reason or excuse came to mind so there likely are many variations on the idea.

    The “to do” one reminds me of the line from “Just a Rose Will Do” that says “I’ll need no organization just to make a to-do”.

    Growing up, I was used to hearing folks characterized by their “turn”. On first or second acquaintance a person might be described as having a “good turn” or even “the best turn”. I think of turn as being a person’s essential nature. There are all sorts of adjectives for that of course but to me it kinda comes down to how they make you feel to be around them and how you think of them when they are not with you. I guess it might well be said of me that I have a thoughtful turn. At least I have been accused of thinking too much. Most generally it was a way of throwing off on me.

    I was the travelinest man one time when I had a road job with TVA. I found out I was not cut out for it. My turn is I enjoy being there but I sure do dread to go.

  • Reply
    Mary Anne Johnson
    September 30, 2021 at 8:30 am

    I have heard them all. Also have heard “he’s got a side to him” meaning a personality trait that isn:t always seen or felt by others.

  • Reply
    September 30, 2021 at 7:50 am

    Tipper–Usually your offerings are either part of my own speaking vocabulary or quite familiar to me, but I’ve not heard toothache medicine used to describe whiskey. I am familiar with a passel of other synonyms for it though:
    Tanglefoot (my favorite)
    Golden moonbeam
    Peartin’ juice
    Liquid corn
    Squeezin’s (or corn squeezin’s)
    Stump water
    Mountain dew
    Stumble juice
    I’m guessing your readers could readily lengthen this list.

    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    September 30, 2021 at 7:31 am

    All are common here in east TN, travelingest isn’t used as much with the influence outsiders moving here to retire.

    • Reply
      Ron Stephens
      September 30, 2021 at 8:40 am

      Mr JimK I have a question if Tipper doesn’t mind me asking and if you don’t mind telling. Can a KY country boy moving to east TN by way of GA fit in? I would be, I reckon, a different degree of “halfback”. I’ve liked that area since the 1970’s when I worked there doing forest inventory with TVA.

  • Reply
    September 30, 2021 at 7:22 am

    The only one I hear a little different is throw off. He was guilty as a hound but he throwed off the blame to somebody else.

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes Moreno
    September 30, 2021 at 7:04 am

    I have heard all of them but toothache medicine. I use all of them except the traveling one. We used to add est to just about any word when I was growing up.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 30, 2021 at 6:13 am

    They are all common to me also with travelingest being less heard than the remainder. Tip, that’s also a stunning picture of the mountins at the top. It made me stop and just look at it for a while before going on. I sure’nuf love these mountains!

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