Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 23

appalachian vocabulary test
Time for this month’s Appalachian Vocabulary Test-take it and see how you do:

  1. Laid up
  2. Law
  3. Let on
  4. Lit into
  5. Limber-jack


  1. Laid up: sick, hurt, bedridden. “Down to Clay’s I heard Tony was laid up with his back again. Theys planning a pounding for him and his family over at the church.”
  2. Law: expression of exasperation; officer of the law. “She got caught in that road block the law set up on the county bridge. I told her and told her-her conniving ways would catch up with her someday and she’d be sorry. And now it’s finally happened.”
  3. Let on: pretend. “When her Daddy come home from work me and her sister let on we didn’t know where she was. We told him she never come from school. Then as soon as he got to worrying she jumped out from behind the door. He liked to have beat us all for making him worry.”
  4. Lit into: to attack verbally or physically. “Before I could stop her she lit into him. Screaming and a hollering and all the while she beat him in the chest with her car keys. It took 4 of us to get her to stop.”
  5. Limber-jack: person with flexible legs and arms. “After a few pulls of liquor he always jumps around like a limber-jack. Makes me mad as a hornet to see him act like such a fool.”

I use-and hear all but number 5 on a regular basis. The one person I’ve heard use ‘limber-jack’ is Pap.

Leave me a comment and tell me how you did on the test.



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  • Reply
    Ray Presley
    May 14, 2021 at 4:33 pm

    I suppose I’m with the majority of Blind Pig followers on this one in not having heard “limber jack.” I have heard “law” used in a different context. Upon seeing someone for the first time in a while, we might say, “They law, look at you, all growed up and a woman already!”

  • Reply
    September 17, 2019 at 10:06 pm

    I use all but number 5 frequently. Really enjoy these posts.

  • Reply
    Ken Bush
    September 17, 2019 at 9:45 pm

    I got all of them save number five. I think I may have heard it before but surely don’t use it. I still find it hard to believe that many Appalachian words and phrases are unique to us because I hear and use them so much. I guess that I take for granted many of the things that make us special.

  • Reply
    Annie Jones
    September 22, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Just found your blog today and love it…really love the music.
    I knew the first four of these and guessed the fifth.
    Gonna look around your blog some more…any more pics of the pretty Monte Carlo here?

  • Reply
    Judith Alef
    September 15, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    I got them all. The ‘let on’ in my family was used as “don’t let on” meaning keep your mouth shut. Lit into was common like ‘whupped up on’. Here in Portland OR they’d bat 0. When I first came here I was having a conversation with another grad student when she put her hand up and said, “I don’t understand half of what you’re saying.” Sad, for them.

  • Reply
    September 14, 2010 at 7:02 am

    I’ve heard and used them all except for Limber Jack.
    Don’t think I’ve heard it before.

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    September 13, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Law, I tell ya. He let on like he’d been laid up down there for a week, ‘s reason he hadnt’ come to do the work I’d paid’im already to do. I went down there and lit in to him, I laid the law down to him and he jumped up, acting like a limberjack, jumping around, swinging his arms like they wern’t a thang wrong with him. I’ll never ask’im to do another thang.

  • Reply
    Julie at Elisharose
    September 13, 2010 at 11:32 am

    I have heard and/or use them all except limber jack. One thing though: we use “let on” to mean “know”. Like, don’t let on that you found out about the surprise party.

  • Reply
    September 13, 2010 at 10:30 am

    i knew them all!! this must be my lucky day! thanks, tipper! 🙂

  • Reply
    Nancy M.
    September 12, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    I’ve used all of them except the last one!

  • Reply
    September 12, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Aced this one!

  • Reply
    Larry Proffitt
    September 12, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Tipper , This is our common vernacular here in Carter Co.Tn except limber-jack. As Jim Casada noted ” to law someone” is to ” take them to court” . I certainly enjoy your site.
    Larry Proffitt

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    September 12, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Hi Topper,
    I use them all except limber-jack. That one I’ve never heard. We also used sick a bed for laid up off and on, laid up usually referred to an injury and sack a bed an illness.
    Law I was told was what people said to avoid taking the Lord’s name in vain.
    I want to say I really enjoyed meeting you in Young Harris and really enjoyed your show and your daughter’s dancing. I am sorry I missed the festival in Murphy.

  • Reply
    September 12, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Tipper, are you involved in these altercations? Your description of lit-into is hilarious!

  • Reply
    September 12, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Ethel-‘let on’ is used like that here too. It is neat how the phrases/words are used in different manners-but they all seem to make sense to me : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at

  • Reply
    September 12, 2010 at 8:38 am

    I’m familiar with all but #5… funny to see how you use them in your examples… colloquialisms all over!

  • Reply
    Charline Venturini
    September 11, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Only 3 out of 5 for me, this time.
    limber-jack is a new one, and I thought ‘let-on’ was to carry on.
    A drawled out “LAAAW!” in E. TN can mean anything from, My Lord! ; Are you kiddin’?; or, You don’t mean it!
    As in, “Law, I cain’t beLIEVE it!”

  • Reply
    September 11, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    Except for limberjack, these are all common as dirt here in the foothills. When we use “let on” though, it means play stupid or don’t say anything; “I’m not supposed to know this, so don’t let on, but…” or “If he knows you can do it he’ll stop doing it for you, so don’t let on!” Wouldn’t it be interesting to know how the meaning got switched around? Thanks for another very enjoyable test!

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    September 11, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    Know and use them all — As a matter of fact, I used limberjack — in the sense of the jointed wooden dancing doll — in the new book!

  • Reply
    September 11, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    I know/use/hear all of these except “limber-jack”. I love hearing people use the word “law” in exasperation.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    September 11, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    hey Tipper,
    Have’nt heard limber-jack since I was a kid…I think I remember my grandmother calling the little wooden toy that you squeeze and the little man’s arms and legs jump around….a limberjack…the others are common here…
    Oh law, they lit into ‘Jes’ after he let on he knowed that limberjack, now he’ll be laid up for a month…Such fun! lol

  • Reply
    September 11, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    I have heard all of them. I have used all but limberjack.
    Other “L’s” that I like are “Lands a gorshen” and “laws a mercy.” Same meaning as “goodness sake” or “fer pity’s sake.”

  • Reply
    Helen G.
    September 11, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    #2 Law I always heard lawsy… as in lawsy that child is gonna be the death of me…
    Limber jack is not one I’m familiar with but it makes total sense. The rest I’ve heard and have used… a lot. I get teased about them sometimes…

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    September 11, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    I knew all but number 5. As a motorhead, though, I am interested in what looks like a 1970 Chevy Monte Carlo. My Dad had one in a light metallic green. They were pretty cars.

  • Reply
    Wilton Lewis
    September 11, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    I like appalachian vocabulary a RIGHT SMART (flatland Georgia vocabulary for very much).

  • Reply
    September 11, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    I’ve heard all these but only the
    other day did I pay any attention
    to the last one. My little friend
    (94) had supper with me last week.
    I ask him how he was feeling and he said “if I can remember to take
    my prendesone, I’m just as feisty
    as a limber-jack.”
    Everyone enjoys these word games,
    me too…Ken

  • Reply
    September 11, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    limber jack i did not know. i have ben LIT INTO by my dad when i was younger, let me tell you. not that i deserved it. I am laid up with my back today. that means it hurts to move. keep the words coming

  • Reply
    David N Lee
    September 11, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Tipper: Hello and Howdy from up the hollar! Got a hundred on this test. All are common in our family except for limberjack. Always enjoy your comments and column. Hope this finds you and your’s well. A big howdy and thanks to Pap and Paul.
    God’s love and care till we all get Home!
    Uncle Dave from Richmond.

  • Reply
    Phyllis Salmons
    September 11, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Like you, I had heard all of them but number five. Thanks for the memories!

  • Reply
    September 11, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Tipper I do use most of these words on a daily basis except number 5 I have heard it but its been awhile, escpecially when we were youngins’ and my grandmother use to tell us that we were limber jacks jumping around the way we did, Law I have heard that more times than 1. Tipper Have a Great Weekend,

  • Reply
    September 11, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    I know and hear (and use) all but number 5 whenever I am home in Carter County.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    September 11, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Tipper–All of this test are familiar to me and form part of my speaking vocabulary. I would add that law is sometimes used in two other contexts. First, as a verb–I’m going to law you–i. e., sue or sic the law on someone. Second, as an expression of mild amazement such as “law me, and you believe what Tipper went and done this time.”
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    September 11, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Good Morning, Tipper I had never heard of limber-jack, but it makes perfect sense! I hear the other 4 often around here.

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    September 11, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Where is that beautiful 1972 Monte Carlo?

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 11, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Know them all except limber-jack.
    I’ve heard of jack-in-the-box, jack be nimble,jack-o-lantern, and jumping-jack, now limber-jack……makes me wonder who jack is. lol!

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    September 11, 2010 at 9:13 am

    I’ve heard them all but limber-jack, but all the others are common in this area.

  • Reply
    September 11, 2010 at 9:08 am

    Tipper, I know and use all of these except the last one. I haven’t heard that one.
    People here use Law as an expression: “Law, I’ve never seen such big potatoes”.
    I always love these tests! Wanda in NoAla

  • Reply
    September 11, 2010 at 9:02 am

    The first 4 I got but hadn’t heard #5 before. I really enjoy these vocabulary tests!

  • Reply
    Vera Guthrie
    September 11, 2010 at 8:53 am

    I passed again!!! I knowed em all!! I had not heard lit into in a long time.

  • Reply
    kat magendie
    September 11, 2010 at 8:26 am

    *laughing* – I did well, of course – teehee — except Limber Jack -I hadn’t heard of that one!

  • Reply
    Just Jackie
    September 11, 2010 at 8:02 am

    I knew all but limber-jack. Love these tests. Always confirms just what a hillbilly I am. (and proud of it LOL)

  • Reply
    barbara gantt
    September 11, 2010 at 7:35 am

    WE use all of them but limber jack. That is a new one to me. Barbara

  • Reply
    September 11, 2010 at 7:16 am

    Well, this time I knew all but one. Limber-Jack was new to me.

  • Reply
    September 11, 2010 at 6:38 am

    Not familiar with the 5th saying but grew up hearing the others.

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