Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 19

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

  1. Ideal
  2. Ink pin
  3. In under
  4. Ingern
  5. Iffen


  1. Ideal: idea. “I have an ideal I think just might work to fix the mess you’ve got yourself into.”
  2. Ink pin: this is more about pronunciation than definition. Whether you’re talking about a straight pin or a pen you write with-both are often pronounced pin-hence somewhere along the way it became necessary to define which ‘pin’ you were speaking of: ink pin or straight pin (pap always says ink pin). “Tip bring me a ink pin from the drawer in the kitchen.”
  3. In under: beneath, underneath or below. “Pick up that apple, it rolled in under the table.”
  4. Ingern: onion. “I’m not crying I cut up a ingern to go with supper.”
  5. Iffen: if and. “Iffen you don’t care I need to ride to town next time you go.”

I’m familiar with all this month’s words except ingern-never heard anyone say that one.

This month there are 2 The Deer Hunter and I both make fun of each other for using.

1. I always say ideal for idea. I never realized I was saying it-till The Deer Hunter pointed out to me I didn’t have a good ideal I had a good idea-all these years later he still likes to point that out to me every time I say the word.

2. The Deer Hunter says ‘in under’ when he’s talking about an item that is below something-and I always tease him about it-he says if he was me he wouldn’t say anything about him saying ‘in under’ since my family talks about sliding up which is totally impossible to do.

So how did you do on the test?



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  • Reply
    James Arnett
    January 15, 2021 at 3:43 pm

    I had one aunt, she was born about 1900, that used “angern” or “ingern” for onion. A well respected local historian here in Eastern KY, Jess Wilson, stated in his writings that it was Scottish highlander dialect.

  • Reply
    June 9, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    I’ve heard of all these with one slight difference. I’ve heard an onion referred to as angern instead of ingern. So pronounced just like anger (i.e. with a hard ‘g’ sound) with an ‘n’ on the end.

  • Reply
    May 21, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    I use all them except the ingern never heard that one or maybe we have just didn’t pay attention to it like so many other things we seem to take for granted always thinking they are always gonna be right here with us but they ain’t
    Thanks Tipper for A GREAT blog I love it

  • Reply
    May 20, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    You know I use iffen! Or iffin dependin’ on how I’m feelin’. Iffen comes out more when I’m tired and feelin’ laid back, iffin comes out when Ima little screechier and frustrated.

  • Reply
    May 18, 2010 at 10:43 am

    I’ve never heard ingern either. But the rest are definitely words spoken around here.

  • Reply
    May 18, 2010 at 8:43 am

    David-I’m beginning to think no one has ever heard of using ingern for onion.I got the word from one of my old Appalachian Studies tests I had in college. Maybe the teacher was mistaken or either its a really really old use that no one remembers today.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
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  • Reply
    May 18, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Stacey- agin is a great one! I use it in place of against all the time : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
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  • Reply
    Greta Koehl
    May 17, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    I’ve heard three of the four (not in under or ingern, though). Everyone in my Dad’s family said “ideal” for “idea.” And I’ve heard “ink pin/pen” for most of my life, too.

  • Reply
    May 17, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    I don’t know if you and I are long lost sisters or Deer hunter and the blacksmith are long lost brothers. I always say ideal for idea too and the blacksmith always has corrected me!
    Too funny!

  • Reply
    teresa atkinson
    May 17, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    I only am familiar with ink pin. We use it all the time at our house. But to differentiate from ink pin and straight pin – we say sticky pin for the straight pin. I think that’s a family thing at my house though. Thanks for the wonderful CD you sent me.

  • Reply
    May 17, 2010 at 9:39 am

    I love those! I also have one that I heard years ago, told my husband & we have been using it ever since but more for the entertainment factor than anything. The word is “agin” in place of against. As in, “Pull that fence a little tighter agin the post so it doesn’t sag”. I also have never heard of the onion.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    May 17, 2010 at 9:22 am

    I wonder about “ingern”. I looked all over the www and found nothing using it to describe or say “onion”. Is it possibly a family idiom, made up and used within a family? Most families have words that are made up,and used within their circle, with a twinkle in the eye or tongue-in-cheek, maybe a play on the way a child, just learning to speak, had once said a particular word?
    Just curious.
    I’ve heard all the other words and expressions.
    I always enjoy your Appalichian Vocabulary Tests.

  • Reply
    Nancy M.
    May 16, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    I didn’t know one and four. The others I have used or heard.

  • Reply
    May 16, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Hi Tipper. I have been so busy with my new job, that I barely have time to catch up any more. I have missed visiting here! I am familiar with all excetp injern. Blessings,Kathleen

  • Reply
    May 16, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Jennifer-yes that is the string we use for stringing the beans : )
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  • Reply
    May 16, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Iffen you give me a minute I’ll reach up under this here table and get my ink pen so I can write down my ideal before I lose it. I’ve always used these words. My grandma had a different way of saying onion, but I don’t recollect how to spell it. My grandmother had a different way of saying a lot of things.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 16, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Know and heard all except ingern. I just live our colorful language. Seems to me the words evolve to fit the need. Up in under means way back under, not just under the edge. And of course there needs to be a distinction between a ink pin and a straight or safety pin. Ideal is, of course, an ideal idea. Iffen is past tense of if. But I don’t have any ideal what what an ingern is or where it came from!

  • Reply
    May 16, 2010 at 11:17 am

    I’ve never heard ingren, ideal or in under, but I use ink pin on a daily basis and iffen has been known to come out of my mouth a time or two.

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    May 16, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Ideal and ingern are new to me — I hear and sometimes use all the others.

  • Reply
    May 16, 2010 at 6:19 am

    the ingern I never heard, but I have heard onjun for onion. all the rest i have heard and said at one time. when I married my yankee from PA, everyone spent a lot of time teasing me about my Kentucky/Georgia drawl, so a lot of the words are gone now and come back when i read your blog. my husband pointed out to me early in our marriage that I sing the end of every sentence up one note. I still do that.

  • Reply
    May 16, 2010 at 4:56 am

    I must admit I didn’t know any of these words but I made a good guess at ink pin and in under. Iffen sounds German to me!

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    May 16, 2010 at 2:27 am

    Great words! What’s in the top picture? String for the garden?
    I loved learning about the lettuce below. Enjoy the weekend.

  • Reply
    May 16, 2010 at 12:10 am

    I knew all of them except “ingern.” My Grandma said “un-jun.”
    Ethel, my grandma (whose name was also Ethel) used to say “to beat hell,” too.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    Knew them all except ingern. My folks would say, “I just peeled a urnyun.” Guess that is kind of close.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 15, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Oh my, I can hear myself! All but injern. Here are a couple that slip out my mouth now and again.
    Elf for the letter f I don’t know any other family that said f this way.
    kindly for sort of.
    We’ve always said ink pin and in under, while I’ve never used ideal my neighbor when I was growing up was from GA. and she said it all the time.

  • Reply
    Sallie Covolo
    May 15, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    Hi Tipper, I have frequently heard “iffen” “in under” and “ink pin”
    My adult kids always laugh because I say 50 cent, instead of 50 cents.
    I really enjoy your vocabulary tests, I must say that I never heard an onion called and injern, though.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    Hi Tipper, I have definitely heard of all of them except ingern… Never heard an onion called that.
    My mother drove me crazy saying “Staimp” instead of stamp… It was the silly way she said her A’s…. She also said Aint for my Aunt Rosa. Same “A” sound…

  • Reply
    May 15, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    In Mississippi, we say “up in under yonder” instead of “in under”
    Good site !!!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Thanks for another happy trip down memory lane! My beloved grandma used to say “in under”. She also said to beat hell as in “it’s snowing to beat hell” or, “stir the batter to beat hell”. My adult children laugh at me for using that one; maybe it’s time for some remedial Appalachian Heritage Appreciation lessons! I have heard all the others used, except ingern -maybe it’s more regional?

  • Reply
    May 15, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Thanks for these, Tipper. It’s funny, the things that arise in our language out of necessity. Ink pin is neat. You make me think about what we say and how around here, too.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    all but “ingern” here, too! i think this is the best i’ve ever scored on one of your vocabulary tests. 🙂

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    May 15, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    I knew all of the terms except ingern. Never heard that one. I tease my wife for her habit of saying what sounds like “Hal old are you?” instead of “How old are you?” She gets a good laugh out of it when I point it out, but she can’t seem to get away from it. We don’t know where it might have come from.

  • Reply
    Just Jackie
    May 15, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Never heard “ingren” All the rest I’ve heard or used. Never thought there was anything different about in under. That’s just normal, right??? My mom was a city girl and we would make fun of her all the time. Poor soul. (she never learned to like grits either) LOL

  • Reply
    Jay Henderson
    May 15, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    4 of 5 — all but injern. In my bailiwick, I hear “ideal” for “idea” a lot, and “iffen” quite a bit.

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