Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 44

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 44

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

  1. Ways
  2. Wear out
  3. Well as common
  4. Whetrock
  5. Wood hick

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 44 2


  1. Ways: A distance. “Just a little ways down the road a big tree fell across the power lines and broke them clean in two.”
  2. Wear out: to exasperate; to spank a child thoroughly. “I’m telling you-listening to all that rigamarow will plain wear me out. My nerves can’t take it.”
  3. Well as common: regarding ones health. “I’m glad to hear you are well as common. I was worried the storm might have hurt you.”
  4. Whetrock: a whetstone or grinding rock to sharpen knives. “Never misplace Daddy’s whetrock or you’ll be in bad trouble. He has to have it to sharpen his knife.”
  5. Wood hick: lumberjack. “The wood hicks who work on that high mountain side are braver than me!”

*Using ways for distance is common for me-it’d be hard for me to describe a distance long or short without using it.

*Wear out-is also used very frequently in my area-and in my house.

*Using the phrase ‘well as common’ to describe a person’s health is something I’ve never heard. I ran across the phrase in the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English and thought it was interesting. It reminded me of Pap-if someone asks him how he is-he always says “very well.”

*I know whetrock and whetstone mean the same thing-but whetrock is what comes out of my mouth.

*Wood hick for a logger is something I’ve never heard or even read.

I didn’t do so well on this month’s test myself-I missed 2 out of 5. How did you do?



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  • Reply
    Kim Campbell
    July 30, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    OK, I heard 1 & 2, and with 4-I always knew it as a whetstone too.

  • Reply
    July 28, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Same score here and on the same two.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Bf-thank you for the comment! I hope you find the whetrock. Seems like Ive read the one about the wood sow : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    B F
    July 11, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    tipper .some of these are very familar to me as i,ve been”wore out ” so many times back then and many moons ago , you also reminded me of the whetrock or whet stone as some called them ,it got me wondering where is my late husbands whet rock , now i,m on a bender to find it well…..well
    small worlds, thanks for the sayings we were use to , ive heard of some wild women being wilder than a wood sow , did you ever get that ask ?

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    July 11, 2012 at 8:09 am

    Wood Hick is the only one new to me. Like most I’ve used wear out often.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2012 at 7:22 am

    David-I don’t have a clue-but maybe someone else will chime in with an answer : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    July 11, 2012 at 2:54 am

    Roof and beams in the photos are exquisite, the light effects so beautiful.
    I scored a two out of five, not too good. Just had an Appalachian father, though–never lived there.
    And can I say the “I’ll Fly Away” by the Pressley Girls is gorgeous?!

  • Reply
    July 11, 2012 at 1:02 am

    No, I didn’t do so well on this one. I will agree with being familiar with the terms my sister Sherry listed. But, mother will sometimes say “very well” (as her older kin did) when asked how she is- with the accent on ‘very’, not ‘well’. I also recognize Ruth B’s ‘frog hair’ and ‘snuff’ terms. ‘Wood hick’ sounds like it was coined to denigrate loggers.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    July 10, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    Usually I can see into a word usage and its etymology but I can’t connect to “wood hick”. Any idea on its derivation?

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 10, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Sorry Ken, ball-hooting is when you are too far up a steep slope for your animal to hook to a log. You round off the edges of your cut on the leading end so it don’t dig in, then work it with your peevy ’til it starts sliding down the mountain. The term I was referring to was when you are up on the mountain cutting pulpwood into 5 foot lengths and you need to get it down to the truck. You put it up on your shoulder, get both hands on the end and flip it over and down the mountain so that it lands on the other end. Then if you are good enough it will flip again and land on the other end. And over and over ’til it stops at the landing. There is an old term for the method of conveying pulpwood this way and I thought Pap might know it.
    What surprised me today was, I think, Miss Cindy knows what I’m talking about and Bill Burnett doesn’t. Of course Miss Cindy is a lot brighter than Bill as well as most of the rest of us Blind Pig readers.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    July 10, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    I knew them all but wood hick. Never heard that term at all.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    My favorite vocabulary…this month I have not heard(or used)the expressions “well as common” or “wood hick.” It is a joy to listen to our colorful and rhythmic language. Thank you!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Recon Ed would be talking about
    ball-hooting wood down the mountain?
    I never heard of the use of the
    word ‘wood hick’, and I’ve played
    in the woodpile a lot of my life.
    Common is a word my little friend
    taught me from listening to his
    stories of tunnel days. He also
    taught me how to grow White Runners so they were easily picked…Ken

  • Reply
    Sherry Whitaker
    July 10, 2012 at 11:57 am

    I have heard “wear out” all my life and have always used it to this day in regard to wearing out (spanking) a young ‘un or just getting wore out now that I am a grandma. My Dad was a lumberjack in his younger years, but I never heard the term wood hick. I’ve always used a ways to describe distance or I say over yonder or in yonder. My kids get a kick out of that one. Whenever I ask my mother how she is she will say: fair to middlin’.

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    July 10, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Tipper, I was familiar with all of the words. The “well as common” I often see when I am transcribing very old letters. The term “wood hick” I have never heard used but I see it often in history books about the logging era around here. Language is so interesting.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Well Tipper, you did better than I did! I only knew ways and wear out, I’ve never even heard the others. Thanks once again for getting us in touch with our roots and expanding our vocabulary!

  • Reply
    Sallie Covolo
    July 10, 2012 at 11:12 am

    I love your Appalachian Vocabulary Tests Tipper. It is amazing how you come up with information for your blog daily. It wears me out just thinking about it. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 10, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Tipper–Based on my own experiences and the thoughts of others, I would humbly suggest that well as common and wood hick are not a standard part of Appalachian vocabulary in today’s world or for the last three generations. I never once heard either of them and there are several others whose posts have told me, over time, that they have intimate familiarity with mountain talk who also did not know them.
    Like Miss Cindy I have heard lots of other usages of common, usually in reference to being ordinary or plentiful (“common as pig tracks” or “that’s common practice in these parts”). I’ve also heard to word used in a negative sense, often in reference to loose morals.
    Grandpa Joe and presumably through him, my Uncle Hall, had two standard expressions to express how they felt–“passing fair” and “so as to be about.” I have also frequently heard (and use) “on the right side of dirt.”
    This is the first time I’ve ever “failed” your test (I consider a grade of 60 percent failing). I think there was one other time when I didn’t know one word or phrase,but most of the time I’m familiar with them all. Not this time.
    Jim Casada
    P. S. As for Don’s erroneous suggestion that he never occasioned so much as a hint of trouble when he was a boy, I happen to know that his posterior had, on multiple occasions, intimate familiarity with some of the mature limbs taken from a yellowbell which still grows beside the house in Bryson City.

  • Reply
    Richard Beauchamp
    July 10, 2012 at 10:27 am

    I have never heard wood hick used the others are familiar to me. “well as common ” is a very common phrase with older people around here both as a question and as an answer when someone asks how you are. I checked my plum grannys last night and i now have 5 fruits about the size of a tennis ball.

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    July 10, 2012 at 10:22 am

    I’m with you – I knew the first two, but the last three, well, I guessed. I knew whetstone, but wasn’t too sure that whetrock might be the same or similar.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Never heard wood hick. We used the past tense “wore out” to mean really tired. “I worked so hard today I am plumb wore out.”

  • Reply
    Kimberly Burnette
    July 10, 2012 at 10:01 am

    I have heard of all of them except for woodhick. I still use most of them too! 🙂

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    July 10, 2012 at 9:48 am

    I never heard “wood hick” either…I will have to ask my neighbor down the road a ways, if he was ever called a “wood hick”? Because he is now a “wood hick” in my mind, instead of the logger that cut our pines! LOL…I have heard the expression, “He loves the woods bettern a wood tick”
    “Well as common”, was not used in my family that I can remember..I usually sass back when asked, “I’m finer than frog hair, and gooder than snuff”!
    “I’ll wear your butt out” was heard around clarify what the wearing out would mean…Instead of wearing them out say mowing the yard or working in the garden…LOL
    When I complained to the doctor about my sick Dad still working in old age he said, “Well, it’s better to wear out, than to rust out!”…Guess, he was right!
    If’n you lost the whetrock around home, you got wore out for shore!
    Well, folks I gotta go, I got a ways to walk to the kitchen sink to do the dishes…LOL
    Thanks Tipper, More fun than swinging on a wet grape vine!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 9:33 am

    I have heard and used all of these but as well as common and wood hicks. A common saying around here when someone asks you how you are doing is fair to middling. I enjoy hearing and learning vocabulary from different parts of the country.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    July 10, 2012 at 9:12 am

    I’m in the same shape as most of you’uns – never used or heard wood hick or well as common.
    Since several have referred to being the recipients of a parental wearing out (I never was – I was always a good boy;-), here’s a little ditty which may or may not be commonly known:
    When I was just a little boy – just so high
    Mama took a switch and made me cry.
    Now I’m a big boy, Mama can’t do it.
    But Daddy takes a limb and goes right to it.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 8:59 am

    I know and use 1 and 2 but I have never heard of the others…that’s weird! I have usually at least heard of all of the words!

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    July 10, 2012 at 8:58 am

    My take on today’s vocab test was 4 out of 5. The only one I had not heard was woods hick. I guess for those who work in the forest, it’s somewhat like our Appalachian “scrub farmer” or “hardscrabble farmer.” I’ve heard “as good as common” all my life. And “wore out” not only means giving the misbehaving youngun a whipping he/she will remember, but it’s used to tell about one’s tiredness, “I’m plumb wore out!” Or depleted soil: “That old land is wore out!” I noticed you spelled rigamarow; I’ve always seen it rigamarole–but maybe we hear it “rigamarow”. Language is interesting! Leave out letters and people can still figure out what you mean. As in “Thse aftrnon showrs com up sudn and blo ovr fursly.”

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    July 10, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Numbers 3 and 5 are new to me but I use the rest.
    There was a whetrock kept on top of a post on our porch growing up. Dad and Grandpa used it often to keep there knives sharp. Dad said a sharp knife was safer than a dull one. He was probably right if you are careful. I wasn’t and have a 2″ scar on top of my hand from his sharp knife at age 6. I also had a sore rear end for messing with his knife!
    Mother would wear us boys out for misbehaving and I know we wore her out too. That was a ways back in time but I remember it well.
    In regard to asking about someones well being it was common to hear toloble (tolerable) and fair to middling as responses.
    Thanks Tipper, I always enjoy your vocabulary test!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Knew them all except Wood Hick. Never heard that one.
    Tipper you know just what to shoot with that camera don’t you? Sometimes something so simple can turn out to be so interesting. That saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words” was evident here! I’m dating myself but, when I saw the tin roof (especially from the inside), I thought of The Lovin’ Spoonfull group and their song “Rain on the Roof”. That was an old one! I know photos can mean different things to diferent people but, that’s what your photo did for me. You got it done!
    Hey, by the way, did anybody see all those kids on Good Morning America this morning?

  • Reply
    Wanda in NoAla
    July 10, 2012 at 8:51 am

    I knew 4 out of 5. We never call the loggers ‘wood hicks’ but I have read books that used the term. Too early to remember the name of the books right now. 🙂

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    July 10, 2012 at 8:20 am

    3 and 5 are new to me, but wear out was used around this house a lot as my boys were growing up. Ha!

  • Reply
    Brian Blake
    July 10, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Knew the first two words, but the effort got me wore out and I still have a ways to go to jack some lumber up on the ridge.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 8:16 am

    i missed 3 out of 5 on this one. i only knew the first 2

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 8:05 am

    I knew all but the”well as common”.. wood hick is a term I heard when my uncle had men clearing a section of land, he called in the “Wood Hick’s” to take down the big trees. And my Aunt would holler at the boys that she was going to wear them out when they were up to mischief!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Have not heard of wood hick and well as commom. I seem to stay wore out and have used a whitrock to sharpen my kitchen knifes.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    July 10, 2012 at 7:48 am

    I wasn’t familar with “as common” or “woodhick” either. I have always heard and used “as well as can be expected” or “tolerable” when someone inquired as to how you’re doing. Like Ed I too was a “woodhick” and just didn’t know it. We always thought we were “loggers” or “jackpiners” depending on what we were using the cross-cut on. I don’t know what Ed called tossing jackpine but we called it “Flippin” and it is very similar to “Tossing the Caber”.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2012 at 7:39 am

    We use “wear out” a lot here…I’m plum worn out after the heat we’ve been having! And “ways”…cant be interchanged with “a fair piece”. Just go down the road a ways, or just go down the road a fair piece, and you’ll see the sign! The others I never heard of.

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    July 10, 2012 at 7:36 am

    I never heard anyone say “as well as common”. I have heard “as well as usual.” I read wood hick somewhere a long time ago, but never heard it in daily speech. The others are quite familiar. Like Ed, I was “wore out” as a kid and now the great nieces and nephews “wear me out”

  • Reply
    Gary Powell
    July 10, 2012 at 7:36 am

    Heard and use all of them except common and wood hick. I always wondered why the hill down the road from Granny’s place was called whetstone hill. It just sounded like something to avoid..

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 10, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Oh Ed, many of our expressions are colorful and I’m guessing that true to the answer of your question.
    I don’t recollect ever hearing wood hick.
    I am very familiar with a wearing out…from both sides.
    Yep a ways down the road meaning an indeterminate distance usually preceded by good or long to give some hint of the actual distance.
    Whetrock I’ve known and used all my life.
    Now to the common word. My mother in law, that would be the Deer Hunter’s grandmother used the word common frequently. In her use it meant average or usual. It was a common size or I’m doing common good. When you go to the store get me some of that Niagara Starch….what size do you want?…..oh, a common size.
    The last being an actual conversation where I learned the use of the word common.

  • Reply
    Mary Shipman
    July 10, 2012 at 7:25 am

    I knew all but ‘wood hick’. Wear ouut in our paart of the Ozaeks also means getting a whipping. “If you don’t stop them shenanigans, Pa is on to wear you out!”
    Yes, I have heard it used that way too, often before a trip out to get a dose of hickory tea…

  • Reply
    Leo at Cottage at the Crossroads
    July 10, 2012 at 7:20 am

    My father used to say “I should have wore you out more when you were a kid”
    He was right.

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    July 10, 2012 at 7:20 am

    I also missed 2 out of 5. The same as Ed – well as common and wood hick. Wood hick seems to fit but I can’t work out the well as common.

  • Reply
    Bill Dotson
    July 10, 2012 at 7:16 am

    I use all of these except the wood hick, first time I have heard this. Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 10, 2012 at 6:13 am

    I have never heard as well as common or wood hick. I used to be a wood hick and didn’t even know it.
    I am very familiar with wear out. When I was little my mamma used to wear me out. Now that I’m old(er) it’s my kids and grandkids that do it to me. I guess I was destined to be wore out.
    Ask Pap something for me please: Does he know what it is called when you put a 5 foot piece of jack pine on your shoulder and flip it off so that it “walks” all the way down the mountain side. I’ll take the answer off the air.

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