Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 16

old plate shard

Time for this month’s Appalachian Vocabulary Test. Take it and see how you do:

  1. Hippens
  2. Hunker
  3. Hisn
  4. Hear tell
  5. Hesh up


  1. Hippens-diapers. “When you bring little Suzy over day after tomorrow, don’t forget her hippens.”
  2. Hunker-squat down, bend over. “Just hunker down right here behind this tree and maybe they won’t see you.”
  3. Hisn-his. “That hat is hisn’s-he left it here last night.”
  4. Hear tell-to be informed or learn of. “Did you hear tell that old lady Bidstrup died yesterday evening?”
  5. Hesh up-be quiet. “Hesh up those younguns so I can get some sleep!”

I’m familiar with all of this month’s words except hippens-I’ve read books with the word in it-but never heard anyone use it. Hunker and hesh up are the ones used most often in my house-we all say hunker-and The Deer Hunter is always teasing the girls about heshing up.

What about you-know all the words?



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  • Reply
    Gaye Blaine
    December 4, 2019 at 5:44 pm

    My maternal grandmother and mother used hippins for diapers. Scotch Irish ancestry. Knowed all them words. Good memories

  • Reply
    December 12, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    I have on occasion asked people from the mountains about hippins. No one but me seemed to know what they were. I can remember my grandmother talking about the baby’s hippin.. I typed it in and imagine my surprise when it appeared here.
    I had long though Scotch/English/Irish background as that seems to be the heritage of the mountains of East TN, Western NC.
    I can remember being told that the mountain folk there speak and use terms of pure Elizabethian English but that is is being phased out by tv…. Glad you started this blog to keep the heritage alive…

  • Reply
    February 22, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    I’m afraid I didn’t know ‘hippens’ either. But I spent my time in Appalachia across the mountains in Gatlinburg.

  • Reply
    Helen G.
    February 15, 2010 at 3:45 am

    I’ve never heard nor read the word hippens. I know and have used or had the rest used at me or around me growing up.
    Have a good week.

  • Reply
    trisha too
    February 14, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    got all but Hippens.
    I think you’re making that up, Tipper!!

  • Reply
    February 14, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Well I guess they heshed up about that word hippens a long time ago. Because not many have ever hear tell of that one.
    Including me!

  • Reply
    Nancy M.
    February 13, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    I have heard or used all of them but hippens, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    February 13, 2010 at 7:44 am

    I am commenting late until I could talk to my 93 year old Mother about the word ‘hippens’…
    being from a long line of NC resident Scotch/Irish…I wanted to ask her, as I had never heard the word ‘hippens’! She sat there and thought about the word for a long time. Undoubly tracing the word in her mind back to her sisters, Mother, Grandmother, NC neighbors etc… and finally said “No, I can’t remember anyone in my memory using the word ‘hippens’ for diapers…
    We both had heard and used the rest of the words….

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    February 12, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    Tipper: Knew all but the first one, some day I hope we get to hunker down and see each other face to face.

  • Reply
    Nancy Simpson
    February 12, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Tipper. This is a very good vocabulary test. I keep remembering one day when my grandmother Iris Simpson said, “I’m going to tell you something.” I said, “What it is?” She told me diapers were called hippins. I know now it went in one ear and out the other because I missed it on your test.
    I also enjoyed your last post about the letter. I can’t get it off my mind. Blind Pig and the Acorn rules as number one of the best Appalachian Blogs.
    It’s snowing again. Tell me. Have you ever know it to snow this much December, January, February sub freezing day and night?

  • Reply
    February 12, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    I knew all of them! Well hippens I was iffy on but remember my Grandma using that term, but my mother and father did ever use the term so it dropped out of family vocabulary. The rest I definitely knew and use a few occasionally myself. Have a great weekend!

  • Reply
    Jay Henderson
    February 11, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    You stumped me on hippens, too — on the other hand, I know the imperative form of hesh up — hersheymouf!

  • Reply
    February 12, 2010 at 12:10 am

    Hey Tipper,
    I know and use all except hippins,and I don’t use hisn. I really like these tests. I enjoyed the “letter” you posted about. I wish I could find my great granny’s old letters. I think my sister might have them. Stay warm,

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    February 11, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    I’m with the rest of the folks-hadnt’ heard of hippens. But the others I have. We’ve hunkered down quite a bit lately what with all this snow and I hear tell there’s another 2″ forecast for Sun and Mon. I don’t use his’n much but my inlaws use it alot. I use hesh up quite abit.
    Have ya’ll had any of this snow yet? Seems the next round is going a bit more south of us,maybe ya’ll get some of it.

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    February 11, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    Just did a little internet exploration — hippins is Scots/northern England dialect for diapers. So what with the Scots -Irish connection here, that would explain it.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    February 11, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Did you find any clue as to the root or derivation of “hippens”? Could it be “hippins”? Could it have been “hippings”? I know all the other expressions but “hippens” is new to me. Could it come from Old English? or Old Scot-Irish dialects? My search turned up “hippins” as baby bed clothes in England.
    I always enjoy your word studies.

  • Reply
    julie curtis
    February 11, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Tipper, I’m like you. I’ve read the word “hippens” and knew what it meant but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say it. I am very familiar with the rest of them.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth Thomas
    February 11, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    I’ve heard all but hippens. I guess I know most from reading, since these words are not used in LA. I always enjoy reading your vocabulary tests.

  • Reply
    February 11, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Well, I’m with the majority. Heard of them all except for hippens.

  • Reply
    Greta Koehl
    February 11, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Same here – I’ve heard of all of them except for hippens. The other four don’t even carry much of a regional flavor for me, I’ve heard them so often from relatives (and then there’s the famous Burma Shave sign with his’n and her’n).

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    February 11, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Hippens is a new one to me, but the others I am familiar with.

  • Reply
    February 11, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Never seen or heard of hippens…I know the others though

  • Reply
    barbara gantt
    February 11, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    I know them all except for hippens. Barbara

  • Reply
    February 11, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    I am very familiar with all the words. My husbands grandmother told me hippens was what the hill folk called diapers many years ago when they would come to the flats to pick cotton, and then when I was pregnant with my last child, we called her diapers ‘hippens’. The rest of the words were commonly used among many of my older family members.

  • Reply
    February 11, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    I knew them all except “hippens”..never heard that.
    We use hunker regularly; sometimes hear tell.
    I love our language!
    Stay warm.

  • Reply
    February 11, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Like you, I knew them all but hippens.. Never heard that one before. All of the rest are VERY familiar!!!!

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    February 11, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    I’m with you — hippens is zero for me — but knew all the rest.

  • Reply
    February 11, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    The only one I have heard before is “hear-tell”. I also love reading your last post and the letter. I love old letters like this! Just wonderful. blessings,Kathleen

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    February 11, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    We know all of them except hippens. For diapers we would say di-dees and for a pacifier we would say fooler.

  • Reply
    February 11, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    I knew all of them except the hippens. Hunker and hear tell were common in our home and we have all heard the news reporters say hunker down and wait out the hurricane or blizzard.

  • Reply
    Sallie Covolo
    February 11, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Dear Tipper, I really Love the Appalachian vocabulary tests.It happens that I knew all these words.(this time) I doo not think I ever heard diapers referred to as Hippens, but I knew what they were for I think that I read it in a book somewhere, or else saw it on “Christy”, the television program about Catherine Marshall’s mother who served the people in the mountain regions.
    My granny used to say, “Let yore vittles hesh yore mouth.”
    We knew she meant do not talk with food in your mouth.

  • Reply
    February 11, 2010 at 11:12 am

    I love these – I had heard of all of these except “Hippens”. I use Hunker sometimes, but none of the other… although I know plenty of folks who do – especially parts of my family that live out in the ‘county’… 🙂

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    February 11, 2010 at 10:33 am

    I do know all of them but I know hippens only because(when I was writing the Little Sylvie story in SIGNS IN THE BLOOD)I asked a local lady what her grandmother might have called diapers. And since then, I’ve checked with a few other folks and gotten the same answer.

  • Reply
    February 11, 2010 at 10:32 am

    I had never heard hippens, either; and neither has the spell check! I have heard all the rest.

  • Reply
    February 11, 2010 at 10:04 am

    The only one I am not familiar with is hippens. I have never heard that used nor have I read it!

  • Reply
    Julie at Elisharose
    February 11, 2010 at 10:00 am

    I, too, am familiar with all of them except hippens. I use hunker and hear tell with some regularity.

  • Reply
    Donna W
    February 11, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Hippens is the only one I’m unfamiliar with, too. Missouri has enough Appalachian connections that I remember all my aunts and uncles using the other words. Most of mine and my husband’s relatives seem to have come to this state from Kentucky 150 years ago.

  • Reply
    February 11, 2010 at 9:09 am

    I knew all of them except hippens, too. I’d never heard of that one before. I may ask my grandma if she knows it.

  • Reply
    February 11, 2010 at 8:54 am

    I had only heard of one of them….hunker down. But they way I have heard it used was like to “hunker down for the winter.” I don’t know if it even makes any sense that way!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 11, 2010 at 8:48 am

    I’ve heard them all though hippens I’ve heard much than the others. Like you hesh up and hunker have always been a part of my vocabulary.
    I love these tests they always bring old memories to me to re-experience!

  • Reply
    February 11, 2010 at 8:46 am


  • Reply
    February 11, 2010 at 8:21 am

    3 out of 5 this time – hunker and hear-tell. Ok, I know the second one you’re counting as ONE but it’s still 3 words, right? Kinda? Sorta?! 🙂

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