Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 154

Mountain View

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. Wampus cat: a large catlike creature that is the subject of folk tales. “You better be careful out there in the dark. I heerd there was a wampus cat roaming around eating cattle.”

2. Warsh: wash. “If you’ll warsh I’ll dry and we’ll have this mess cleaned up lickety split.”

3. Washy: diluted, weak. “The Deer Hunter can’t abide washy coffee. He takes his coffee black and so strong you might just stand a case knife up in it.”

4. Weak trembles: tremor; general weakness of the body; anxiety; nausea; dizziness. “Granny used to give us a sup of coke and a bite of biscuit or soda crackers if we got the weak trembles.”

5. Weed dust: pollen. “When I was a girl weed dust never bothered me one bit but about four years ago it started bothering me something terrible especially at certain times of the year.”

Hope you’ll leave a comment and let me know how you did on the test. Not many folks talk about wampus cats today in my area nor do they call pollen weed dust.

Last night’s video: The 20th Century is Already Over in Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 31, 2021 at 6:48 am

    I’ve always heard the first one as cattywampus and it’s one I’ve heard and used all my life. I don’t remember hearing weed dust. The remainder are common to hear.

  • Reply
    Debbie Seaton
    December 31, 2021 at 6:41 am

    All but “washy” are familiar to me. I still use weed dust today. I love these tests and keeping the old words alive! Thank you!!

  • Reply
    December 31, 2021 at 1:52 am

    I remember wampus cat! My parents were both born and raised in Appalachia and I spent summers on farm with my grandparents in Eastern Kentucky. Thanks for bringing back a memory.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    December 30, 2021 at 10:10 pm

    I remember “cattywampus” . I remember my good friend from the 1st grade at Antioch School, the late Frances Parton, when confused would say, “I don’t know if I’m a-warshin’ or a-hangin’ out”

  • Reply
    December 30, 2021 at 2:00 pm

    “Washy” was the only one new to me.

    My Pa demanded strong coffee. I’ve seen him send it back in restaurants for being too weak (washy). He also wanted it so hot it would scald most people. When he ordered a meal and the waitress asked what he wanted to drink he always told her that he wanted coffee after his meal. Too often they would bring it before then and he would send it back after the meal demanding a cop of hot.

    • Reply
      December 30, 2021 at 2:04 pm

      I don’t do Instagram; so I missed the videos.
      Also, I notice that some folks have avatars, but I can’t find a way to add them. ???

      • Reply
        December 30, 2021 at 5:40 pm

        Robert-you should still be able to watch the videos even if you don’t have an Instagram account. You can go here to learn more about avatars: 🙂

        • Reply
          December 30, 2021 at 9:10 pm

          I haven’t got through Instagram, yet; but I did try to set up a Gravatar, as WordPress calls avatars. This is a test to see if it will appear.

          • Robert
            December 30, 2021 at 9:17 pm

            Well! Boy Howdy! That avatar is not me but is my Pa who was born in 1894 in Swain County in the Needmore community of Nantahala township. I would guess that the photograph is nigh on to a hundred years old.

          • Tipper
            December 30, 2021 at 9:27 pm

            Robert-it looks great! What a great photo.

  • Reply
    Tina Huffman
    December 30, 2021 at 1:05 pm

    Around here it isn’t wash cloth, it’s a worsh rag. We also worsh dishes and clothes. Catty wampus or cock-eyed describes a crooked object. We drink weak tea but try not to be wishy washy in our decisions making. Words are great fun!!

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    December 30, 2021 at 12:30 pm

    The only one I ever heard is warsh. Re wampus, I grew up with the term “ring-tailed galleywampus” which meant somebody challenging to deal with (including 2-year-old children!).

  • Reply
    December 30, 2021 at 11:32 am

    I’ve heard of cattywampus and used it to mean crooked or not lined up. I’ve never pronounced wash as warsh, but I have heard it. I’m a retired teacher, and I love these vocabulary tests, even if I don’t get a good grade!

  • Reply
    Sharon Cole
    December 30, 2021 at 11:27 am

    Enjoyed this test. Learn something new every time. Girls are so funny and cute! Take care and God bless!

  • Reply
    Patricia Wilson
    December 30, 2021 at 11:17 am

    Never heard of weed dust, but tree dust is just as bad in the pollen department. The male “cedars” here in central Texas are about to launch their annual campaign of making humans miserable with their visible clouds of red-orange weed dust. Like a couple of others have commented, never heard of a wampus cat but heard and use catty-wampus to mean crooked, out of kilter. My Granny also used the term “anti-godlin’” to mean crooked. It seems to be related to “si-gogglin” – maybe a variation local to her part of Kentucky. Despite the “god” embedded in the expression, it had nothing to do with opposition to the Almighty.

  • Reply
    Ron Bass
    December 30, 2021 at 10:45 am

    When I was young we were told if we went out at night the “sack man” or a ” wampus cst” would get us.

  • Reply
    December 30, 2021 at 10:38 am

    I’ve heard some of them but what stands out was Wampus cat. I heard many scary stories about that cat when I was a little girl that made me not ever want to see one. My Grandparents farm was maybe 15 miles or a little more from an area called “Bull Mountain Bottom” where rattlesnakes, copperheads, and tales of painters , wampus cats and old slew foot lived.
    I don’t remember pollen being called weed dust. It didn’t seem to bother me until I was in my late 20’s and I’ve had an allergy problem ever since in the spring and fall of the year.

  • Reply
    Kat Swanson
    December 30, 2021 at 10:34 am

    Most of today’s words are familiar in the VA. coalfields, except washy for weak. Like Ed said, it was worsh and ranch for dishes and clothes . Now my daddy used to say that he’d had a lot of coffee that was….strong enough to float an iron wedge….I loved that saying and still use it. No use of weed dust….but wampus cat….YES indeed. I guess I will save my story of how I saw one for Tippers Halloween post, cause it’s a tale too scary for this the 6th day of Christmas . Yes, I am a storyteller but my WAMPUS CAT story, it’s the God’s truth !

  • Reply
    December 30, 2021 at 10:32 am

    Fulton Mississippi (Itawamba County) is home to Itawamba Community College; often referred to as “Wampus Tech”

  • Reply
    December 30, 2021 at 10:14 am

    I am with the DeerHunter, I don’t like “watered down coffee. We call it “weak.” I have the unusual phenomena of waking up starved, so I never get the weak trembles anymore. I am thinking we always just shortened it to “trembly.” That was far away and long ago when I would forget to eat. I never pass up food anymore 🙂
    I love seeing your family on YouTube and on here. Everybody is searching for something real, and your family sure fills the bill. May all of you including Granny have a blessed New Year.

  • Reply
    December 30, 2021 at 9:44 am

    I so enjoyed the video, especially the song. Happy New Year!

  • Reply
    December 30, 2021 at 9:42 am

    it wuz wumpus cat round my parts, not wampus…but yep familiar with every single one of em

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 30, 2021 at 9:29 am

    All but “weed dust” but with a question mark for “washy”. If I haven’t heard it before I ought to have. Very familiar with the “wampus cat” though I’ve never seen one. I don’t think I’ve ever “washed” anything in my life. I’ve heard of that being done by outlandish folks. We always “warshed” things. I know of an Appalachian business with the name of “The Wash House” but somebody added a little sideways “r” above and between the “a” and the “s”. AW and me are near ’bout always the same with your test words. Whether that means Eastern KY is just a little bit different than the rest of Appalachia or not I wouldn’t hazard a guess.

  • Reply
    December 30, 2021 at 9:20 am

    I’ve never heard of a “wampus cat” but I’ve heard “cattywampus” all my life. Cattywampus is something that is off kilter or crooked. In a sentence – “Whoever put up that fence should have used a level because it’s all cattywampus.” I enjoy these vocabulary tests. So much fun!!

    • Reply
      Wanda Devers
      December 30, 2021 at 12:47 pm

      Me too, Michelle! Never heard “wampus cat” but “cattywampus”.

  • Reply
    December 30, 2021 at 9:10 am

    Warsh is the only word I grew up hearing and then it was often pronounced worsh. I have never heard pollen called weed dust but I sure do suffer from it no matter what its called. Dad was like Deerhunter when it came to his coffee. He never called it washy and it never resembled anything weak, but it did look like you could cut it with a knife.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 30, 2021 at 8:58 am

    Wash was not a word in my vocabulary until I was way up in school but neither was warsh. We said worsh. Instead of wash and rinse it was worsh and ranch.
    I’ve heard watery used to describe weak coffee but not washy.
    I’ve heard weak as dish water used to describe both weak coffee and weak trembles.
    The coffee in the cafeteria where I worked was so strong I often had to add hot water to drink it. I told the cafeteria ladies if there was any left over to save it for me because I needed it to patch holes in my driveway.

  • Reply
    December 30, 2021 at 8:21 am

    I’m not sure about weed dust but think I’ve heard it. Dad used to say wampus cat and I still do. Warsh, worsh, and weak trembles I’ve heard many times. Washy I’ve not heard it used like that but do hear and use wishy washy to describe a weak person, a person that can’t take a firm stand on anything and flip flops back and forth.

  • Reply
    December 30, 2021 at 8:02 am

    All but “weed dust” are familiar.
    Been a long time since I’ve heard anyone use “washy” either.

  • Reply
    Martha D Justice
    December 30, 2021 at 6:30 am

    I’ve had them “weak trembles”, they hant no fun LOL Healthy New Year

  • Reply
    donna sue
    December 30, 2021 at 6:11 am

    I left a comment on Instagram for each video in this test last night! I loved each of these words and plan to start incorporating them into my vocabulary! The only word I was familiar with is “warsh”. My aunt in Indiana says it. She grew up in the Philadelphia PA area, lived a little while in Washington state, and has been in Indiana for over 25 years now – she is a testament that we adopt our way of speaking and pronouncing words from those we surround ourselves with! I always love your vocabulary lessons. Thank you for another good one ! My favorite new words are weed dust and Wampus cat.

    Donna. : )

    • Reply
      December 30, 2021 at 9:34 am

      I had an old friend who would say something was “catty wampus”…meaning something was not straight or out of shape or not right.

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