Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 26

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

  1. Mourners bench
  2. Mouth
  3. Meanness
  4. Mash
  5. Mar up


  1. Mourners bench-bench or seat placed at the altar of a church and used for calling out to God in need; symbolic for altar. “Let’s all gather round the mourners bench and have a word of prayer for the coming revival.”
  2. Mouth-where a river/creek or hollow/cove opens into a larger area; a hunting dogs bark; to argue or fuss. “Ole Smokey had the best mouth you ever heard. Why when he struck you could hear him three hollers away.”
  3. Meanness-mischief, mischievous actions. “Last week somebody took a ball bat to all the mailboxes in Ranger. I reckon they did it for pure meanness.”
  4. Mash-to push down; fermented grain used in making moonshine. “I can’t get the phone to work. I keep mashing the buttons but nothing happens.”
  5. Mar up-to get stuck. “Your going to have to go pull Mark out, he got his jeep marred up in the mud up on the mountain somewheres.”

I’m familiar with all this months words-and use them on a regular basis. A few thoughts that come to mind about them:

  • I recall more than a few discussions about the mourners bench from my growing up years. Those who believed it was the only place to reach God vs. those who believe it wouldn’t matter if you were on the roof top and called out to God-he would answer.
  • My Papaw Wade always had coon dogs. I can think of his dogs-their names-their personalities-and hear his voice talking about them and their ‘mouths’.
  • I would say someone was full of meanness if they did something evil-but I’d also use the word to describe something as innocent as Chitter aggravating her sister.
  • Mash-is the most interesting word for me this month. I’m very interested to see if you use the word like I do. I use mash if I’m talking about pressing a button on the computer; if I’m talking about holding something down to glue or attach it; if I’m talking about pushing the kraut in a crock under the water with a plate. In other words I use it way more than I do the word push. I think the only way I use push-is when something or someone is pushed over. Like-“He pushed me and I pushed him back” or “by using the bulldozer, he pushed the whole pile of brush into the hole at once.”

Hope you’ll leave me a comment and tell me how you did on the test-and any thoughts you have about the words.



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  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    January 20, 2022 at 11:55 am

    I heard mar-up as I grew up in southern Ahi. Some people who live in Ahi call it Ohio. I didn’t think a thing about mar-up, I just thought people were saying they were mired up/stuck. After all our cars had 4 “tars.”

  • Reply
    Sherry Whitaker
    June 7, 2011 at 9:59 am

    I am famiIiar with all those words. We need to have a mourner’s bench in our churches today and take care of all that meanness. I had an aunt who used to tell her kids that she was gonna mash their mouths whenever they got mouthy.

    • Reply
      Shirley Ingle
      August 14, 2019 at 11:36 am

      One year ago tomorrow my younger brother passed away. He had early onset Alzheimer’s. Your ” mash” set me to laughing remembering Mike. His last 4 years I was the one who helped him. He would call me if he got his TV off channel and couldn’t get it fixed. I would say you got to mash this ,then mash this, then mash another. He would go silent for a minute and then say “mash? What’s mash?” I would then remember to say push instead. It was pretty funny and it helps to remember the funny things.

  • Reply
    December 12, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    I’ve heard 2,3 and 4. But not the other two.
    And where I come from we push. But a lot of people where I am now, mash.

  • Reply
    December 12, 2010 at 6:48 am

    M.-Around here mash the gas means-hurry up and go/speed the car up; and devil him means tease or aggravate-is that what it means to you?
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at

  • Reply
    December 10, 2010 at 11:08 am

    I’m familiar with all of them except mar up. I have heard of mar up when talking about scratching the top of a table top, though.

  • Reply
    M. Hawk
    December 9, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    These are (were) common terms where I’m from. Can anyone guess what “mash the gas”, or “devil him” means?

  • Reply
    Nancy M.
    December 9, 2010 at 12:43 am

    I use them all but the first and last! I use mash the same way you do sometimes!

  • Reply
    December 8, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    I’ve used all of them except ‘mar-up’. I’ve heard it , but never used it. Also, have always heard of a mourner’s bench but never seen one in a church. I’ve always heard it used more as an expression of a person’s relationship with God at that moment in their lives–like if they are having a lot of trouble or problems, they’re spending a lot of time on the ‘mourner’s bench’.

  • Reply
    December 8, 2010 at 10:41 am

    i don’t mash nearly as much as you do, for instance I hit the keys on the keyboard. But I mash more than most I bet. Mostly I mash things I have no faith will stay, ‘cuz if I mash it it will stay then. I mashed lost of barretts and hair things onto my girls’ heads. I’ll bet my girls would also say that an oft heard phrase of my would be, “just mash it in there like this.”
    No mourner’s bench in my world. Fascinatin’ concept though, lot like the Messianic Christian who told me I ought to celebrate the real feasts, the ones where God would actually meet me, instead of just these frivolous ones like Christmas and Easter. Hmmm didn’t know He only showed up on certain days.
    My dad always talked about findin’ a dog with a good mouth, but in his case it was one that didn’t bite down hard. However, I got told I had some mouth on me, as in the third definition of mouth.

  • Reply
    December 8, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Use all of them except “mar up”. Not familiar with it.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 8, 2010 at 8:24 am

    I’m not familiar with the mourner’s bench but I sure do know all the rest.
    Mar, Tar, Far, they all go together!
    Don’t you mouth at me, I’ll mash your head, you got more meanness than a sack of cats! LOL

  • Reply
    December 8, 2010 at 6:45 am

    Vicki-I think you’re right. I’ve heard mar and mire both used for the same meaning.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at

  • Reply
    December 8, 2010 at 6:40 am

    Ken-thank you for mentioning Pearl Harbor. Chitter reminded me the day before : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at

  • Reply
    December 8, 2010 at 12:34 am

    I’m familiar with all the words this time. Mar is always used as marking or scratching or ruining the finish on something, as in, “get that hot cup off my table before you mar it up.”
    Mouth I have used to mean sassing.I was always told by my parents to listen and not give them any mouth.
    Love the camo picture!!!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    I love these! It reminds me that things I say may not always translate properly to people not from this area. I have in-laws from New England that never know what I’m talking about! Love it! Thank you!

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    December 7, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Sorry for 2nd post, but I also liked the photographs. I was particularly interested in the 2nd one with the trees …noticed one appears to be horizontal but elevated./?? Nice touch on the girls…well blended…

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    December 7, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Got 3 of them and use those regularly. Mourner’s bench…I’ve heard it before but not used or heard anyone use it lately. Mar up was interesting. I’ve heard a particular mixture of dirt with rocks,clay, etc..called “marl”…wonder??? Thanks for sharing…

  • Reply
    December 7, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Another interesting test! My friend from Georgia uses mash just the way you do. When we were girls her mother would scold her for mashing pimples! I have never heard of a mourner’s bench. I wonder if mar came about as a result of the pronounciation of ‘mire’ with a hill accent? Around here meanness can mean stingy or selfish too.

  • Reply
    Bob Dalsemer
    December 7, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Being from Maryland, I’d never heard “mash” used to mean push down before I moved to NC.
    I’m not familiar at all with mar up, although I guess that’s Appalachian for mire or mired. Love these vocabulary tests!!

  • Reply
    Wanda in NoAla
    December 7, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    I always heard that when someone is fussing, they are ‘mouthing off’. It’s been said, ‘I’m gonna mash your mouth if you don’t hush!’ Loved them all.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    mar up i have not heard, the rest are very familar.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2010 at 11:59 am

    I knew and use all these words often, so can’t add anything this
    Nice picture of the camoflauged girls. I didn’t see the second one
    at first.
    Just would like to add that today
    is Pearl Harbor Day and remember
    their sacrifice…Ken

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    December 7, 2010 at 11:43 am

    I knew all except for “mar up”, but it was clear that this was “mire up” when I saw it used.
    Cold down here in South Florida today. Got close to freezing by about 5 AM…

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    December 7, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Good test this time around Tipper. I’m familiar with everything but mourner’s bench. That’s a new one to me.

  • Reply
    My Carolina Kitchen
    December 7, 2010 at 11:21 am

    I only got Mouth and Meanness. Two out of five isn’t too bad for an ole south Arkansas gal.

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    December 7, 2010 at 10:44 am

    I’m familiar with all of these but didn’t hear of ‘mashing’ buttons till I moved to NC.
    Don’t you reckon ‘mar’ is just another pronunciation of ‘mire’? Like ‘tar’ for ‘tire’?

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    December 7, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Oh, I’ve “mouthed off” ever once in a while…My nickname is “meaness” least that’s what my brothers call me….I especially can pitch a fit if something goes sideways, wiggles, slithers and such…then I pick up a hoe and “mash and stomp” til it ain’t nothing but a greasy, gommed and “marred up” spot in the ground….After all that emotional commotion, I confess I need to go to the “mourners bench” so’s to get through the rest of the week…LOL

  • Reply
    barbara gantt
    December 7, 2010 at 10:34 am

    I use all of these words. I do think that mash it down and push is sideways too. Also grew up with mash as in moonshine. I had a Great Uncle that spent time in Alanta for getting caught making moonshine. Granny said that when he got out the whole town met him at the train station and had a party. I didnt know mouth as related to the dogs. I use it for the mouth of the river. Barbara

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 7, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Me too, I use mash,and meanness often, but I have heard the others used more than once.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    December 7, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Tipper–All are well known to me, and I regularly use all of them except mourner’s bench. I would add a few variations. Mouth can sometimes be used as a verb–“That Casada fellow is eaten up with meanness and just mouths off too much.”
    A synonym I’ve often heard used for “mouth” when applied to hunting dogs on the trail is tongue–“to listen to old Chip and Dale give tongue was to be present at a canine Hallelujah Chorus (Chip and Dale were two of our rabbit dogs from my boyhood).
    I invariably have heard the word “mar” (actually the work mire given a mountain pronunciation) used win conjunction with axle–“He marred that old truck all the way up to the rear axle.”
    Fun, as these always are.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    John Dilbeck
    December 7, 2010 at 9:09 am

    Tipper, I’m familiar with all of these words.
    I haven’t heard “mourner’s bench” in a long time. I don’t think I’ve ever said “marred up,” but I know what it means when I hear it. I’d probably say “stuck.”
    I’m more likely to use “meanness” and “mash” on a regular basis.
    I usually use “meanness” when I’m talking about a child who’s acting up. I use it in an affectionate way. If someone were doing something really bad, I don’t think I’d use it to describe their actions.
    I remember when I was first creating computer programs professionally. I used to say, “Mash any key to continue,” and I was surprised when people didn’t know what that meant. I thought it was perfectly obvious. I had to substitute “press.”
    Most people talk about mashed potatoes, but somewhere along the line we started calling them smashed potatoes and that’s what I’m most likely to call them these days.
    It’s a cold morning. I think the fire froze. I have to carry it out where the sun will shine on it and thaw it out. Hope y’all are staying warm.

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    December 7, 2010 at 9:02 am

    I’ve heard all of these.
    I use mouth, mash and meanness quite often.
    I say someone really has a mouth on him/her if they use language they shouldnt’ or if they are loud. I use mash like you do. To me mash is downward, push is sideways. I mash the buttons, mash the taters, mash a bug. Meanness-‘they are just full of meanness’, up to no good, mischevious.
    I enjoy these vocab tests.
    Patty H.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2010 at 8:57 am

    I got mouth, meanness and mash! Don’t use them often, though. Good list!

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