Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 40

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 38

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

  1. Shirt-tail boy
  2. Shed of
  3. Sideling
  4. Sight
  5. Skiff


Appalachian Vocabulary Test 38 2


  1. Shirt-tail boy: a small boy. “Paul was just a shirt-tail boy when we moved into the house Pap built.” or “He’s been playing the fiddle since he was just a shirt-tail boy. I reckon thats why hes so good.”
  2. Shed of: to get rid of something. “I told you Irene I just want to get shed of the whole mess. And I’ll never get mixed up in a deal like this again!”
  3. Sideling: land that has a slope to it. “She was walking down that sideling part of the yard when she fell and broke her wrist.”
  4. Sight: a large amount. “My blueberry bushes have a sight of blooms on them already. I hope this warm weather stays cause I sure don’t want them to get bit by a late frost.
  5. Skiff: a small amount; a thin layer. “We never did get a big snow this winter. We got a skiff of snow once or twice but not enough to fill a washtub like I wanted.

I’m familiar with all this months words and I use all of them myself-except #1-but I still hear ‘shirt-tail boy’ on a regular basis.

Hope you’ll leave me a comment and let me know how you did on the test.




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  • Reply
    March 24, 2012 at 6:46 am

    I’ve heard “shed of”, “sight” and “skiff”. And do use them occasionally.

  • Reply
    Nancy M.
    March 23, 2012 at 11:16 am

    This time I only know 2 and 4. I don’t think I’ve even heard of the other ones.

  • Reply
    Missy Steiger
    March 18, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    I’d heard shed of and sight but not the others. Always educational!

  • Reply
    Richard Beauchamp
    March 17, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I am familiar with all the words in this test. I never use shirttail boy but have heard it many times the rest I do use.

  • Reply
    March 17, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    A guy I used to work with said shed of and used sight that way. He grew up in the country and I bet he knows a lot of these. I do remember my mom use the word hippins(from an older post) when she would tell us about “the olden days”

  • Reply
    March 17, 2012 at 3:27 am

    I stumbled onto the site by the subject of canning kraut,, the music held me and the honest simplicity brought me back.. Nice
    I’m curious to the chop of the kraut I’ve never thought to cut some that size n shape, good garnishment size. Wish I had seen this before,,Cuz I just packed 2-25 gallon crocks almost 300lbs of cabbage oh well I wrote it down and next year I will. Have you ever brined or cured meats? Guess what we are eating for ST Pattys day?? home brined corned beef and cabbage hearts lol left over from unowut.
    No matter where you live:
    It’s nice to see the same heritage handed down from generations gone bye and know it exsists in all parts of the USA 🙂

  • Reply
    March 15, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Gee whiz, I only know # 4 (and I use it). I have never heard the others

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    March 14, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    I like Grannie’s toboggan a sight! And if we could get shed of this warm weather & get a skiff of snow, I might actually get to wear it!

  • Reply
    Bobby C
    March 14, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    Shirt-tail boy is a new one to me Tipper. Skiff I’ve heard, but rarely. And around here, I have to be careful who I say sidelin’ around or I have to explain myself.

  • Reply
    Wayne Newton
    March 14, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    My Papa, David Newton, born in 1914, didn’t get his first pair of britches until he was six years old.
    All young’un were shirttail chill’uns, until they went to school.
    We still have several old fotos of Papa in his dress/shirt.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    I have heard them all except for sideling. I have “shed” a few pounds. I use the term “skiff of snow” often, but usually say young boy or gaffer, rather than use shirt-tail boy. I guess I’ve never heard of sight used in that way, but I have said something is out-of-sight,like as amazing to see.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Knew all of them this time, Tipper. These are fun!

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    March 14, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    I’ve heard and used Before I could catch the little rascal he run out the screen door with nothing but his shirt-tail on….
    When she got hit in the head by that ball she went sideling down the road til she got her bearin’s back…
    The rest I’ve used the way you described for years….
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    March 14, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    I love your choices of vocabulary words, Tipper..Every time I read through them, I hope that we won’t ever lose the cultural vernacular of our generations past..We will just have to let them slip into our Own conversations more often, expecially around our children and grandchildren so that they can pass them on to the future..Since our growing up years was in MS, I’m remembering that my grandmother used to exclaim, “Boy, he’s a Sight today!” which mean that the person was most likely pretty disheveled or dressed in some odd manner..A shirt-tailed kid was one older than a toddler, but not in grammar school..A skiff, usually seen on our MS Coast or ponds was/is a small boat that you paddle..Sideling meant that a person was ambeling or moseying along, in no hurry..Will be looking forward to your next word trip into the good ole days, Tipper..We are thankful for your myriad of interests and thoughts, and for ‘carrying us along’.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2012 at 11:40 am

    All that we got for snow this winter was a skiff also. We never did get enough for a washtub full either. I wonder if you use a washtub of snow the same way we do. SNOW ICECREAM.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Yes, I know them all. “Shirt-tail boy” comes after he has outgrown being the “knee baby.”

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    March 14, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Heard them all and use all but shirt-tail boy. I use when he was still a pup in regard to when one was small.
    My brother turned his dump truck over on sideling ground one time, it was a sight of gravel he spilled! I don’t use shed of as much as I did when I was a pup myself and being around the the old timers who used it often. Great post!

  • Reply
    Jessie : Improved
    March 14, 2012 at 10:26 am

    The only one I wasn’t familiar with was sideling. I grew up with my grandfather saying all the other ones.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2012 at 9:20 am

    I think I got most(?) I like “to shed” or get rid of something. As animals do they “shed their winter coat for a summer coat”, or to shed some light on the matter is to cast of the darkness so you can see the matter clearly.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2012 at 9:16 am

    I am familiar with those words except skiff: I usually think of a small boat when I think of skiff.
    This one about shirt-tail brings back a memory of something my Granny once said. There was this bible salesman that overstayed his welcome once and Granny lost her patience and said, “Get off my front porch and leave and don’t let your shirt-tail touch your butt til’ you are out of sight of this house!” I think that was her way of describing the speed she wanted him to take while getting out of her sight.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2012 at 9:00 am

    I didn’t get any right this time!! I’d better do my homework!

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    March 14, 2012 at 8:57 am

    You got me today – I missed them all. Thanks for the education!

  • Reply
    March 14, 2012 at 8:55 am

    I have heard “sight” and “skiff” used, but not alot…the others were new to me. Thanks for the lesson…love them!

  • Reply
    March 14, 2012 at 8:54 am

    These are not as familiar as most vocabulary words. I have not heard shirt-tail boy or sideling. “Sight for sore eyes” is used, and we sometimes get a skiff of snow. The sida-tha-hill describes any area not flat.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    March 14, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Don’t recall shirt-tail boy, but I know the others well. I also remember “shed of” as more like “shet of” or “shut of”.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    March 14, 2012 at 8:50 am

    I got’em all, I guess Jo wasn’t familar with sidling since there aren’t many sidling places in Coastal Carolina. I too use skiff to describe a small work boat, I think this is partly the blame of the Carolina Skiffs which are built around Wilmington if I’m not mistaken, they’re fairly popular in the mountains also. My High-Tider cousin in Bertie Co. has a large one he uses on the Albemarle Sound which has some rough waves which proves the Sea-worthiness of the design as they ride high in the water. Jo needs to do a guest column on High-Tider Vocabulary as it’s as unique as our Appalachain Colloquialisms. My flatland cousins and I have a lot of fun out of our different languages which are both are English in origin.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    March 14, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Tipper—If somehow I could shed a sight of pounds and a sight of years I would once again be a shirt-tail lad who could go sideling around the ridges no matter whether there was a skiff of snow or a slew of dog hobble.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 14, 2012 at 8:15 am

    Maybe skirt-tails is what I was accused of chasing. I know I’ve heard that word somewhere.
    You know you’re right (as usual) A lot of old photos show little boys in long tailed shirts.

  • Reply
    Mary Shipman
    March 14, 2012 at 8:11 am

    Our Ozark mountain speech holds with all of those. Our pronunciation differs a bit. “shed of” more often comes out ‘shut of’ and “skiff” is ‘skift’.
    Layers of fog are drifting through the woods and across the old garden this morning,silver air as the sun comes up over the ridge. Hope you have a grand day everyone at Blind Pig and the Acorn

  • Reply
    Bob Aufdemberge
    March 14, 2012 at 8:00 am

    All familiar except sideling. “Sidehill” serves pretty much the same purpose in our area. “Shirttail” is often also applied to distant relatives.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    March 14, 2012 at 7:47 am

    All the words in today’s Appalachian Vocabulary test were familiar to me, except we might say “dress-tail boy” instead of “shirt-tail,” indicating, of course, that boys wore dresses as little tykes until at least they were weaned fromd diapers! We would leave out the e in usung sideling and say, “Well, that cornpatch was really sid’lin’, planted on that hill like it was. It’s a wonder the rain didn’t warsh them seeds right outa that ground!”

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    March 14, 2012 at 7:46 am

    I’ve only heard sight, shed of and skiff. I use skiff. Like ‘just a skiff of snow is all we’ve had this year.

  • Reply
    Tammy Flectcher
    March 14, 2012 at 7:44 am

    We always use little skiff for a dusting of snow.

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    March 14, 2012 at 7:30 am

    Familiar with all those. Don’t hear skiff much. Have heard sideling used as verb to describe a sort of crab like walk, from the slope I guess. Even in my father’s youth, boys wore long shirts, almost dress like, until they were three or four and fully housebroken. Easier to make, easier to wash than pants or jeans.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2012 at 7:27 am

    I have heard them all, except sideling, though skiff is the only one I’ve used myself. It always amazes me how hill-talk has persisted this close to the Connecticut Western Reserve. Thanks for another great test!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    March 14, 2012 at 7:14 am

    I’m with Sue a skiff is a small boat, never heard of sideling. The skiff, I think uses only a small amount of water, so perhaps the origins of the word are the same, since we live by the coast the word shifted it’s meaning to a small boat. We also use shut as well as shed.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2012 at 6:33 am

    Ed-I read the shirt-tail saying came from the days when small boys-like toddler age-would wear long shirts as their daily attire.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 14, 2012 at 5:46 am

    I have also heard shut and shet used the same as shed. I thought it was Skirt-Tail from when littlins would hide in their momma’s skirt tail.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    March 14, 2012 at 5:37 am

    I love the vocabulary posts! Am following in Ireland this week. Riding out in the country feels a bit like being in your mountains/woods.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2012 at 5:06 am

    For the first time, my coastal NC vocabulary is different —sideling?(never heard anything even close)…It’s a hill, even if it’s just a little hump.
    A sight,no again,…that’s a mess, even when it’s good(a mess of turnip greens).
    And a Skiff is a small work-boat that skims the top of flat water. Used to be used alot by fishermen working alone, but not so much anymore. They were always made locally, and there aren’t many boatbuilders around now.(skiff of snow sort of relates)
    Guess a Shirt-tail Boy is a shirt-tail boy wherever he goes.

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