Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 31

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

  1. Of an evening
  2. Of a mind to
  3. Ornery
  4. Offish
  5. Onliest


  1. Of an evening: of is used to indicated a time of day or activity. “Of an evening we like to sit out on the back porch where its cooler. Sometimes Old man Stamey will come by and tell us stories.”
  2. Of a mind to: to decide to do something. “I’m of a mind to go down there and give him what for. There ain’t a bit of need in somebody acting like that.”
  3. Ornery: hard to deal with or get along with. “She is the orneriest woman God ever put on this Earth. Why it could be raining gold and she’d still find something to fuss about.”
  4. Offish: quiet, unfriendly, hard to get to know. “Well when I first met him I thought he was mighty offish but after you get to know him a little better he opens right up.”
  5. Onliest: only. “When I came by the ball field he was the onliest little boy out there. I reckon they changed the day and he didn’t know.”

I’m familiar with all this month’s words-but I don’t hear offish very often. So how did you do on the test?



You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Nancy M.
    May 5, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard the first one at all. I’ve heard offish, but not very much.

  • Reply
    May 5, 2011 at 9:07 am

    I don’t think I’ve heard the first and last one. And offish I’ve heard with stand preceding it. “He’s a little “stand offish” till he gets to know you a little better”.

  • Reply
    May 5, 2011 at 4:26 am

    Funny! Love that you included ‘of a night’, as that one has always made me giggle! One of my favorites is when my grandmother-in-law would say someone was ‘funny turned’. This meant she thought they weren’t friendly 🙂

  • Reply
    May 5, 2011 at 12:30 am

    I got them all! Though, I don’t use them, I must have picked them up from my past and elders. I particularly like “of an evening”

  • Reply
    May 4, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Yes, I am familiar with all these words. Don’t you think the Appalachian vocabulary is unique and beautiful!

  • Reply
    Bill Dotson
    May 4, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Tipper what about ‘of a night’I was at an eyeglass store at Eastgate Mall outside Cincinnati and was talking to the clerk and said this, she said you are the fourth person I have heard say that, I ashed her what she was talking about of course (I thought everyone said this, guess not tho.) just wanted to say this as I had not seen it in your list, may have just overlooked it.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    May 3, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    We use all of them, but onliest-though I’ve heard it used alot in Cosby, Del Rio, & north Alabama. Of an evening came into my vocabulary just a few years ago-I love to use it, it’s just downright poetic.

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    May 3, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    I’m familiar with them all but can’t remember when I last heard offish.

  • Reply
    Shane Moad
    May 3, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    yep I know them all Tipper and use most of them myself in everyday talk but I have never heard or used “onliest” before. I just said to my wife Val that y’all were writing about her and she said no their not….I said yes they are, look its says it here.. “She is the orneriest woman God ever put on this earth” see, they just didn’t know your name”! Just after pointing this out to her I received a slap in the back of the head from that very same ornery woman! I am feelin a might offish after all this. ; )

  • Reply
    Greta Koehl
    May 3, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    I’ve heard all of them except for “offish.” And I always thought “ornery” was just a regular old word! “Of an evening” has lots of parallels in other languages in the genitive form of the noun for the time of day (yeah, I know that’s too much geeky detail, but I can’t help being a language geek).

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    May 3, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Tipper–The words are all familiar to me, although I don’t know that I’ve ever used “offish” by itself; rather, always as standoffish.
    Don’t let Don mislead you or anyone else. He is so ornery as to be downright obstreperous (one of those $10 words my 9th grade English teacher, Thad DeHart, dearly loved), and I’m almost of a mind to share a couple of examples.
    For my part, on the other hand, I’m the onliest member of the family with a perpetual smile, the demeanor of a saint, and a temper so mild it would do a milquetoast proud. That’s why I’m going to spare Don the ignominy of revelations on his orn-ree nature (he does have the pronunciation right).
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Angie Campbell
    May 3, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    I have used all of these, but usually combine “Offish” as in She sure is stand-offish….meaning she doesn’t socialize… Love the blog, especially the vocabulary tests!
    Angie in Knoxville

  • Reply
    John Dilbeck
    May 3, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Hey Tipper,
    This is the first one I remember failing. Only got 50% on this one.
    I completely missed #1 Of an evening and #5 Onliest. I don’t remember ever hearing either of them.
    #2. I’d be more likely to say “got a mind to.”
    #3. I say this a lot, especially when talking about some people I won’t name here. (They might see it. grin)
    Don nailed the pronunciation of it. It’s definitely two syllables.
    More than one person, for some reason, has called me ornry, especially when I was a young buck.
    #4. I’ve never heard Offish, but I’ve heard Standoffish often, so I’m claiming half-credit for this one. I don’t think I’ve ever said it. I’ve been standoffish, but never said it.
    Enjoyed it, as always!

  • Reply
    Nancy Simpson
    May 3, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Love it. I got them all right. Love offish. I thought of standoffish right away and also thought of “not from around here- from off.

  • Reply
    May 3, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    My stars…I notice that every time I post, I’m near last…I need to start coming here before I begin my work day, which would surely give me a boost for the day!!
    I was in grammar school in the 1950’s in South Mississippi, where I didn’t hear any of these terms until I met my honey who grew up out where ‘daylight had to be piped in’.
    His family used Ornery a ‘pert smart’, along with “He’s Stubborn as a Mule”.
    They used “I’ve a Good Mind To” instead of “Of A”.
    I’ve heard “OF A evening, morning,and Mind To” all over the Blue Ridge Mntns of NC for the 30+years we’ve been blessed to vacation there.
    Now that I recollect, I have used “Stand Offish” forever, but not “Offish”.
    May we, in our respective local areas, not Ever lose our endearing or sometimes quirky vernacular. It’s what comes right from the heart, not from any book learning, for sure.
    I treasure all the very Sutthern speech of South MS..It does make you Smile Large!!

  • Reply
    Larry Proffitt
    May 3, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Tipper, We use these phrases commonly here in east tennessee. Also some years ago an old friend who grew up and lived his life in Enid , Oklahoma waxed poetic one evening on one of our fall turkey hunts , and told me ” I guess you thought I was mighty STAND OFFISH at first but a man’s got to be careful there’s a lot of dadburned fools out there . I told him that the Okies were like us mountain folks who keep strangers at a long arms length until we see what they will do and what they won’t do . Larry Proffitt

  • Reply
    May 3, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    I hear and use all but offish and onliest, and I have heard those used on occasion. We also use ‘of an age’ like, “She’s of an age to know better.” or, if two people are close in years they are ‘of an age’. I love our language, thanks for helping us share and celebrate it!

  • Reply
    May 3, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Teresa-thank you for the comment! Glad you liked the picture too-its a Morris DancersKit (costume) he was just about to put it on when Isnapped a picture of it : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    May 3, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    I’m familiar with them all but the last one … that one is new to me.

  • Reply
    May 3, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Proud to say that I know and use all five words!
    I heard someone use “funny turned” that downthelanegirl mentions for the first time just the past couple of days.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 3, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Oh my, this sounds like a conversation around our dinner table, I use them all mostly “of a” We like to have coffe on the porch of a morning, or I like to take a nap of an afternoon. I really hate to see our speach patterns pass away.

  • Reply
    May 3, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Of a mind to and ornery —- we use these two – the others not.
    What is the picture of? I like it.

  • Reply
    May 3, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    I have heard all of these and knew what they meant before i read the post. i don’t use them, but i do say
    I’ve a good mind to… a lot

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    May 3, 2011 at 11:58 am

    I’m familiar with all of them except offish– for that we say don’t have much to say. Have a blessed day.

  • Reply
    May 3, 2011 at 10:20 am

    We don’t use offish or onliest, but do the others. Instead of offish it’s usually sonething like this, “She’s kinda funny turned, don’t you think?” I don’t think I know a soul who says onliest.

  • Reply
    Barb Johnson
    May 3, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Never heard offish..but sounds like another word most people don’t hear that I grew up with, “Snooty” or she was being a snoot…. I love theses vocabulary least I now know that we aren’t the only people who speak this way!!

  • Reply
    May 3, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Have only used ornery although I have heard them over the years.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    May 3, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Finally, a vocabulary test that I scored 100 on!

  • Reply
    Bob Aufdemberge
    May 3, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Out here on the edge of the great plains (Kansas) all of those terms are familiar, but becoming less-used as everybody learns “to talk like the man on the six-o’clock news”, and “onliest”, in this part of the country anyway, is mostly an African-Americanism.
    Bob A.

  • Reply
    May 3, 2011 at 9:29 am

    The only one I wasn’t sure of was ‘onliest’..don’t think I’ve hear that before!

  • Reply
    May 3, 2011 at 8:54 am

    “Of an evening” and “onliest” were quite new to me, but I got the rest. I love the word Ornery!

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    May 3, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Great ones, Tipper. Just for grins, I checked an on-line dictionary
    for the last three words, figuring I’d only find ornery. I was wrong.
    The origin of “offish” is an American term dating to 1825-1835. It’s probably shorthanded for standoffish.
    “Onliest” is of Middle English origin – prior to 900 A.D.
    All of the terms are very familiar to us here in WNC. Ornery and its brother, “stubborn” are primary colors used to paint a picture of the Casadas. That is, other than me 😉
    As you know (and practice yourself), we reserve the right to say words however we want to. Ornery only has two syllables, regardless of what the dictionary says. It’s pronounced orn-ree. It’s much more efficient to say it thataway.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 3, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Tipper, I get 100 on this test. I know every one of these.
    I most use ornery, and have been accused of being offish because I’m quiet. Also been accused of being ornery. lol
    I’ve been the onliest…many times in my life.
    I’m of a mind to come visit this weekend and of the evening go to the races with the
    Deer Hunter and the girls.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    May 3, 2011 at 7:26 am

    I’ve heard them all…but hear “of a evening” less than “of a mind to.” I hear “I’m a mind to more often.” Offish and onliest I have not heard used around these parts…
    I use ornery occasionally as well as being ornery at times myownself..ha
    Thanks Tipper

  • Leave a Reply