Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 32

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

  1. Pallet
  2. Patch
  3. Peaked
  4. Pump knot
  5. Pocketbook


  1. Pallet: a bed made in the floor. “When I stayed with Mamaw in the winter she’d make me a pallet in front of the fire so I’d stay warm.”
  2. Patch: a small piece of land area; a cultivated garden area. “I was down in that little patch of woods near the mouth of the holler when I saw him running towards the house.”
  3. Peaked: pale; sickly. “He said he was feeling better but he still looked awful peaked to me.”
  4. Pump knot: a raised bruised area/lump on the head. “She didn’t mean too but she hit him square in the head with that stick she was swinging around. He’s got a great big ole pump knot right where she hit him. I reckon he’s alright, Granny always said a pump knot was a good sign-it was when the knot when in that you had to worry.”
  5. Pocketbook: a billfold; a purse. “Pap thought he lost his pocketbook but it had just fell out in the car seat.”

I know and use all of this month’s words. Actually when I think of each of the words on this test I think “you mean everybody doesn’t use them?”

Hope you’ll leave me a comment and tell me how you did-I’m especially interested to see if you or any of the men in your life call their billfold a pocketbook.



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  • Reply
    July 26, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    My family has always used pumpknot. In fact I thought all of these were in common usage. I guess patch would be a little old fashioned, but still not terribly regional. The claim that pocketbook is purely Appalachian is extra surprising to me.

  • Reply
    Dr. Brett Noel
    September 18, 2015 at 9:48 am

    I am from Southern Ohio and now live in Indonesia and just ask a friend in Seattle if she would mind me dropping by and that I would be fine to sleep on a pallet. Granted we have changed the a to an long /i/ sound in my family who have roots in eastern Kentucky.

  • Reply
    C. S. Lesko
    June 21, 2013 at 6:31 am

    I ran across this website when I was looking up the words “pump knot” which my husband had never heard! Like others who have posted, I grew up with that expression, assuming everyone else used it! 🙂 I was excited to see “pallet” because that was another familiar expression, as well as the other words. Does anyone else pronouce the word “naked” as “neck-ed”? When I went to school as a child in Ohio and pronounced it that way, I was laughed at- I’ll never forget the incident! Many thanks for this web site. I’m really enjoying it. (P.S. My Mom was raised in southern KY and was born in 1919.)

    • Reply
      Cindy Lu
      January 9, 2022 at 1:01 am

      I’m always so excited to see family slang on the internet. LOL!

  • Reply
    August 16, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    I thought my husband was losing his mind when he told me he got a pump knot. Well bust my britches he’s right!

  • Reply
    June 12, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Pump Knot is the only one not known and used at our house. In fact, while I was reading the words, I thought they they must have different meanings in Appalachia, since they are all so common to me, but nope, they’re just the same! Maybe passed down through the generations from our Appalachia ancestors.

  • Reply
    June 11, 2011 at 4:43 am

    Have never heard “pumpknot”, but I have experienced one…when the pump handle slipped out of my wet hand and hit me on the fore-head.

  • Reply
    June 10, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Bradley-no Ive never heard that one!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    June 9, 2011 at 9:18 am

    I know and use all of these words regularly.
    My Captain calls his billfold a wallet. I have heard older gentlemen call their billfold a purse.

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    June 9, 2011 at 7:47 am

    Still use all of them except I am attempting to try to start calling my “pocketbook” a purse….in order to keep from sounding like a dinosaur. But, most people in my age group – ahem – still refer to a woman’s purse as a pocketbook. But I want to be “cool.”….LOL (But never heard a man’s wallet referred to as a pocketbook.) I think this may have been the easiest test to ace!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 9, 2011 at 7:46 am

    Tipper, I know and use, or have used, them all. I can hear my grandmother say someone was looking peaked.
    I’ve even heard Larry the Cable Guy us pump knot….believe it was something like I’ll knock a pump knot on your head big enough for a calf to suck….or something like that.
    Guess we should thank Larry for bring some of our language into mainstream if you can call his audience mainstream…lol!
    Bradley, I also remember noggin and hell knockers in place of hell peckers!
    I do love these vocabulary tests!

  • Reply
    June 9, 2011 at 7:43 am

    I know all these but pumpknot, we always called those goose eggs.
    My beloved grandmother called her purse a pocketbook, haven’t thought of that in years!
    We don’t use pallet much in the Ohio foothills, but just across the river (a short,pleasant drive) in West Virginia it seems very common.
    I found the comment about the devonette interesting, my grandma always refered to the couch as a davenport.
    I love these tests! I’m always learning something new or reliving happy memories through them, thanks Tipper!

  • Reply
    John Trout
    June 8, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    In our part oa Appalachia, southwest Pennsylvania, patch is also used to refer to towns build by the coal companies during the first half of the 20th century
    EX- “They live in Beatty Patch right next to the company store.”

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    June 8, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    As with your other readers, all of these words are common to me, just as your usage applies. Except by transplanted hill people I don’t think I’ve heard pump knot used up here on the northern prairies but it’s common in our family.

  • Reply
    Greta Koehl
    June 8, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Grew up with all of them except #4. “Peaked” in particular was used a lot when we were ill: “You’re lookin’ mighty peaked.”

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    June 8, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    I passed with flying colors-have used all these words ever since I can rememeber. I thought everybody did!

  • Reply
    June 8, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    I always saw “peaked” as “piqued” in my head-like French. Knew all but pallet, which I only know from stacking pallets in a shop’s back room or warehouse.

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    June 8, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    I’m with Jeff, pump knot got me too. I grew up with and use the others often.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    Give me an A+ on this easy test. I grew up in Eastern Kentucky where we have our own language. I truly thought pump knot was one of our word. WOW! Other people actually use it, too. Pocketbook was used to describe a man’s wallet and a woman’s purse. Sometimes a pallet was placed inside a dresser drawer when small children or babies came to visit.
    I love these vocabulary test!

  • Reply
    June 8, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Excuse me, but I just remembered that my Aunt Carolyn (E. Tn), not only offered to fix us a Baptist pallet, but if there was a bunch, she’d “hang us on a nail” !
    Those were good times.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    June 8, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    My dictionary says…Patch is middle English..and references it as a piece of well as my Moms use..Make do and patch those britches and wear them a while longer..Also, we made patch quilts she would use up those wore out clothes..
    And I didn’t or wouldn’t want to mess with my Madison County Appalachian Grandma (died in 1950’s) if she caught you in her patch of dirt (with a hoe) she worked to grow her new-fangled berries in..I can hear her say..”You youngn’s better stay outa’ my berry patch or a pump knot will rise on your head as big as a hen egg”..
    I think pump knot refers to the fact that sometimes the lick would swell slow like called a hemotoma I’ve had a couple!..Blood fills the area and rises outwards. If it didn’t rise and you knew it should, it caused worry that it was swelling inside the head or a kid was overplaying the hard fall or lick! At any rate our folks would never let one of us go to sleep for a few hours after a hard lick on the head…pump knot or (knot) pun intended!
    Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    Larry Proffitt
    June 8, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Tipper , All these words are in common use in this area. The other day my friend Paul Smith said you know I saw our old hunting buddy John Doe the other day at the McDonald’s and he really looked peaked , pale as a white cloth , what’s wrong with him ? . Sunday after church I was talking with an acquaintance at a restaurant and I thought of you when he said he was driving by somebody’s house and saw a “devonette” out on the road. I hadn’t heard that verbage in a long time. I asked Norma if she knew the meaning . Yes , a couch.
    I don’t know the spelling nor the origin and hadn’t heard the word used in years and know that my adult children would not have a clue. We are a peculiar people .As my granny would said
    “quair” . Thanks for your work we enjoy it very much, Larry Proffitt

  • Reply
    Grandma Sallie
    June 8, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    I knew all of the words…Did not realize they were Southern Appalachian words..Still use them all with the exception of I would probably say purse. It is fun to take the Vocabulary tests..Blessings

  • Reply
    Wanda in NoAla
    June 8, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    I made 80% on this one. Never heard or used pump knot. Use the rest of them all the time. My doctor told me I looked a little peaked one time.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    I knew all the meanings of these words. Pallet was most familiar; we used to take a quilt out in the shade for a pallet to rest on.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    I always thought of “pocketbook” as a term for a woman’s purse. However, I still use these terms, and “peaked” would surely fit me today!
    It is too hot in Missouri. I’m having trouble remembering that 30 inch snowfall back in the winter!

  • Reply
    June 8, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    I know and use all of these except “pump knot.” But I will admit that I didn’t know and use “pallet” until I met my husband (20 yrs ago) but have adopted the term quite easily.
    Teresa in KY

  • Reply
    June 8, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Hadn’t heard pump knot, but have heard and use all the others.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    i have heard of pump knot and most of the others as i am a ky native so i,ll go along with any of them ,i do enjoy reading these posts ,keep upthe good work and pass along any old time ones
    they are good

  • Reply
    June 8, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Pump knot got me this time. Never heard it. Everything else was standard vocab for me.
    We were talking at work today about suddenly catching a chill. When I came up, if you caught a chill the older folks would say that a possum just run over your grave. No one here had ever heard that saying.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    I knew and used them all! There used to be this lady (one of my friends’ Momma) and she had a word for the head and it was called “noggin'” but, the one that knocked me out was the one for elbows. She called them hell-peckers. Ever heard that?

  • Reply
    June 8, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    These are all familiar, except ‘pump knot’. I also have never heard of a man’s billfold or wallet referred to as a pocketbook.
    In my family, a pallet for extra company was sometimes called a ‘Baptist pallet’: i.e., “We’ll make you a Baptist pallet.”
    Great word list!

  • Reply
    John Dilbeck
    June 8, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Hey, Tipper!
    Looks like I aced this one. I know and use all of these, almost.
    I call my billfold a wallet, but Pop and my grandfather usually called them pocketbooks. It doesn’t seem strange when I hear someone say it.
    I’ve heard people say pump knot, but folks in my family usually said punk knot. It’s what I say, or goose egg.
    I thought all the others were standard English, too.
    I’ve slept many times on a pallet on the floor, but I’m old enough now that I don’t have to. Let the young’uns do that! (grin)
    As always, I enjoyed it.

  • Reply
    Celia Miles
    June 8, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    I’ve heard all the words used and used all except “pocketbook” for men. It was a surprise when I heard someone say she was working in Candler making pallets…meaning (as I learned)those wooden things used in stacking. I have slept on a pallet and still don’t visualize them as wooden.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    June 8, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I missed “peaked” because when I saw it, I pronounced it in my head as one syllable. As soon as I saw your definition, though, I instantly said, “PEAK id”. Used the term all the time in speech, but probably never used it written, so didn’t recognize it.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2011 at 11:23 am

    pump knot, i have not heard before, the others are common and i still use them.

  • Reply
    Debora Kerr
    June 8, 2011 at 11:18 am

    The only one I didn’t know was pump knot. We just called those knots. 🙂

  • Reply
    Lonnie L. Dockery
    June 8, 2011 at 10:58 am

    I’ve heard and used all of those Tipper. Mother put the kids on a pallet in the shade while she worked in the garden. I called my billfold a pocketbook until I got away from here and people laughed at me. I still used
    peak-id…usually just to make a point. It’s so specific; not quite sick, but down a little from normal!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    June 8, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Tipper–They are all familiar to me and part of my speaking vocabulary. However, a couple of them have multiple usages for me.
    In the case of patch I most often use it as a “patch of corn” or a “patch of weeds,” but also in another context such as “I went through a rough patch this past weekend when I had truck trouble.”
    Similarly, I have two distinct approaches to peaked (and depending on the usage the pronunciation varies). If peaked is used to describe someone who looks poorly (the ideal mountain talk synonym for peaked) emphasis is on the second syllable. On the other hand, if the usage is something like “his ability peaked when he was in his mid-20s,” the emphasis is on the first syllable.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    June 8, 2011 at 10:49 am

    I love the vocabulary entries — bring back so many memories. But I truly miss the “instant” music when I log in now 🙂 Ah, well, as you say, times are a changin’ If this is all I have to worry about I’m doing right smart

  • Reply
    Barbara Johnson
    June 8, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Know and use them all except pump knot. I have heard my dad refer to his wallet as a pocket book. He is 85 and from KY. It is interesting to me that, although he has been here in Michigan since he was 17, he still uses so many of these phrases ~and we do too!!

  • Reply
    Joe Mode
    June 8, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Well, I know all of these and use some more than others.
    When we were little a pump knot was refered to as a “bootsel.” Don’t know if that is how it spelled, but they generally occurd on your head. Got one last night lifting weights, doing lats, and the cable broke and the bar hit me in the head real hard.
    I have always called a purse a pocketbook, though I have never carried one. My wife calls it a purse. A billfold is a billfold and a shopping cart is a buggy.

  • Reply
    Vera Guthrie
    June 8, 2011 at 10:28 am

    I knew ’em all!!!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 8, 2011 at 10:21 am

    I’ve heard my grandmother & grandfather use pocket book, my mother called her purse a pocketbook. I’ve never heard pump knot before. The rest I use daily

  • Reply
    kat magendie
    June 8, 2011 at 10:11 am

    I have “pallet” in the graces novels and the other day it hit me that some people may not know what that is! 😀

  • Reply
    Judy Smith
    June 8, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Tipper….I’ve lived all my life in Minnesota and use all of those words all the time except for the pump knot. When I got married we traveled alot as my husband was building water towers. Stayed in Corbin, Ky. for 3 mo……fell in love with the south..particularly that area. Met many nice folks and were introduced to bluegrass music. One of the sayings we liked was goin’ to “work a hurt” on something. We still say that and that was in the early 60’s. Really enjoy your site….my son found it last summer when looking for info about canning sauerkraut……..Judy S.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2011 at 10:00 am

    I know and use all these words all
    the time. But now I have always
    called a billfold “my pocketbook.”
    Back in the day when I discovered
    ‘girls’, me and some of my friends
    had started to our favorite swimming hole, and as usual pretty
    girls were our main conversation.
    One guy asked about a particular
    girl in school and did anyone know
    her. I said “wait a minute, she’s
    in my class and I got a picture of
    her in my pocketbook.” …Ken

  • Reply
    June 8, 2011 at 9:43 am

    I too was a bit “taken’aback” that these words are not common to all. I am miss-placed and live in the South and most understand what I say but not so when I traveled a wee bit north for work. Miss home a LOT!

  • Reply
    teresa atkinson
    June 8, 2011 at 9:40 am

    all of these at my house – to this day — except we say punk knot.
    who do i talk to at the lodge about the art show schedule???

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    June 8, 2011 at 9:24 am

    I’ve heard, but never use, pocketbook to refer to a billfold. But the rest of them are common.
    I always enjoy taking your words and checking them out at to see about the origins. Here’s the listing for a couple of them:
    pallet: 1325-75, Middle English
    peaked: 1400-50, late Middle English
    Their entry for patch doesn’t include the piece of land version, which is completely unacceptable. It suggests that there’s a mess of Yankees running the site;-) After all, Joel Chandler Harris was reporting on Uncle Remus’ use of the briar patch in the tales of Br’ers Fox and Rabbit back in the 1800’s.
    Pump knot isn’t there, either, but its use definitely extends beyond Appalachia.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2011 at 8:46 am

    Pump Knot was a new one to me, and I thought pocketbook was just another word for a women’s purse.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2011 at 8:44 am

    I’ve heard and used all of these except “pump knot” here in south Alabama!

  • Reply
    June 8, 2011 at 8:11 am

    I have never heard of #1 but I definitely use all of the rest of them. I especially can hear my grandma saying pocketbook. She never called it a purse…

  • Reply
    June 8, 2011 at 7:38 am

    Not heard of pump knot but have used all the others.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    June 8, 2011 at 6:22 am

    Pallets…made during the blizzard of ’93 by the fireplace..
    Patch of dirt…saved for late squash..but now too hot and dry to plant seeds…
    Peaked…what my garden looks like after a 90 degree day..even with a little help from a long watering hose…
    Pump knot…What I’m going to raise on the weathermans head if he don’t bring us some rain and cooler spring weather!..
    Pocketbook…My Grandkids laughed
    when I asked my husband one time did he have his pocketbook…
    “Mammaw men don’t have
    pocketbooks!” Times are achangin’…
    My Grandmother said the same thing about a pump knot that didn’t swell…
    Thanks Tipper,

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