Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 61

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 61 foot log

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

  1. Hand
  2. Hard feeling
  3. Heavy
  4. Hem up
  5. Hunker

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 61 foot log 2


  1. Hand: a worker or hired hand; good at a specific skill or task. “They’re going to send Irene’s girl over here to help. She’s a good hand with children so that’ll be one less thing for them to worry about.”
  2. Hard feeling: animosity between people. “I want to make this right with you if you’ll let me. I don’t want no hard feelings coming between us.”
  3. Heavy: Adequate. “Is that a heavy enough hammer or do you need me to fetch a bigger one?” or “I don’t think that thread is heavy enough for work pants let me get you a thicker spool.”
  4. Hem up: To surround or corner. “She hemmed me up down at the post office and wouldn’t let me leave till I promised her we’d come for supper.”
  5. Hunker: to squat; to work in a determined manner. “One time Paul and me went up the creek with Pap when he was working on our gravity water system. On the way back Pap got ahead of us and hunkered down behind an old log. When we walked by the log Pap jumped out and scared us to death!” or “Toughen up hunker down keep your feet on the ground. Don’t give up and don’t back down.”

I hear and use all of this month’s words on a regular basis-how about you?


You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    marsha king
    December 6, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    My family has used them all.

  • Reply
    james gentry
    December 9, 2013 at 9:25 am

    OMG Tipper. Granny said “hemmed up” all the time and used it just like that. She also used that phrase when the hog got out and we all had to get him “hemmed up” to get him back in the pen. Which brings up another thing Granny said. She said so and so is so bow legged he couldn’t hem a hog in a corner. Loved this post!
    James Gentry

  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 2:07 am

    “Hemmed up” is usually “hemmed in” over here. Otherwise all those words and phrases are in use in the UK as well.

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    December 5, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    I use them all but I say ‘hemmed in.’

  • Reply
    Larry Proffitt
    December 5, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Tipper, We use all 5 words the same here in the mtns of far east Tennessee . I have heard “hand” used 3 ways as in hired hand , a good hand at something , and a hand-out . Larry Proffitt

  • Reply
    Alica @ Happily Married to the Cows
    December 5, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    I actually have heard of all these, imagine that! 🙂

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 5, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Here we are back….all 160 bulbs planted and 6 big bags of Oak, Hickory and twigs mowed up for mulch in the composter and poured on the raised beds…I’m tired so I know my betterhalf is!
    Ed that chicken is probably holding some “hard feelings” against that polluted feller that belly slid upinunder that hutch and grabbed its legs..ouch!
    Still very warm here, with a slight warm wind blowing…So much to do, so little warm day left…
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…Transplanted, (buried deeper than usual, to avoid a “heave” if a deep ground freeze should come around in the next week or so)about three or four daylilies, and a couple of Red Pompas potted grasses…Need to get one Hydrangia that’s been rootin’ in a pot, buried in the ground for the winter!
    Think we’ll bring in “carry-out” or is that “carry-in” for supper!
    Another one of those confusing “vocab” terms…

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 5, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    By the way, is inunder in your Appalachian dictionary? Or upinunder?

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 5, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    When we had chickens and they got past the prime age for laying, we would have to sell them off. A big truck would pull up with a load of cages. We would hem up all them birds in one end of the chicken house. We used a net to keep them hemmed up. It was a light weight net but heavy enough to confine all them chickens. The hands that came to catch them would climb over the net and grab them by their legs, six at a time, and stuff them in the cages. Every once in a while a chicken would escape and hunker down inunder one of the nesting hutches. One of the hands would have to get her out. One time this one hand was pretty polluted and didn’t care about nothing. He got a run-in-go and did a belly slide up under that hutch and came out the other side with a chicken in his hand and a big stupid smile on his face. No harm, one fowl.
    I couldn’t find a use for hard feelings in this little tale so I will save it for later on.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Used all these. I was tickled at Pap “hunkering” down to scare yall. My younger brother is a master at this. Visiting Mama out in the country (dark, dark, dark) he hunkered down beside the van & crawled around & about scared his girlfriend to death.

  • Reply
    Susie Swanson
    December 5, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Same here Tipper. I’ve used them all my life.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    I know and use ’em all, too!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    December 5, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Yes, I use all of them!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 5, 2013 at 10:41 am

    Here is a “vocab” confusion test!
    I am plantin’ my “bloomers” today!
    No, you rascals!…I am talking about my Fall bulbs for bloom next Spring!
    The signs are OK and it is warm, supposed to be about 72 degrees (weird weather) with a warm wind…so today’s the day!
    When the rains come this weekend, it should just about make them settle in until Spring.
    Some new Daffys, Crocus, Snow-Drops”, Purple Allium, Muscari and a few “Two-Lips” to kiss them all in!…
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    December 5, 2013 at 10:40 am

    I use all these words about like
    you do, but #4 hem up reminds me
    of staying all night with a friend
    when I was a kid. For breakfast the
    next morning, the mother’s milk
    gravy was so thin I had to “hem it
    up” with several biscuits…Ken

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 5, 2013 at 10:21 am

    I love that man made “foot bridge”! I wished I could go to the other side, carrying my needs for holdin’ up in the cabin durin’ storms…
    Trouble is I would have to “side wheelie” acrost it, tilted, and holdin’ on to the rail for dear life! Unless, some engineer made it “rollator accessible”…
    Oh, enjoy it while your young!
    Thanks again, Tipper

  • Reply
    Ken Ryan
    December 5, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Yep, we use them all

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 5, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Yep, heard and used them all…except…
    Did she hem you up down at the post office or did she hem you down, up at the post office, or did she hem you in, in the corner of the post office?
    You know that old wonderful song,
    “Don’t Fence Me In” ? It would never have worked with…”Don’t Corral Me In” or “Don’t Hem Me In” or well, you get the jest! LOL
    My Grandparents all ways had “hands” working on the farm!
    Not only their own hands but “hired hands”!
    “He ain’t “Heavy” He’s My Brother” always comes to my mind!
    Down at the big pond, you shore will need a “heavy” line to drag in that big ole catfish. That is if he is dumb enough to give that “dough ball” of yours a bite!
    He won’t have no “hard feelings” toward you for catching him, but he might “spike” your hand with those “hard sharp whiskers” on the side of his mouth! He knows you will let go then!
    Guess it will be a trip to the store for bread and milk before the weekend storm…In other words we will be getting ready to “hunker down” (stay in one place) until the rain or ice passes!
    Always love these “vocab” tests…
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS and BTW…In case you didn’t notice my comment yesterday night! LOL I got my CD of the boys singing Christmas Carols…
    It is a good’en! One problem that I really hate to mention, but I wished they had signed it with their very own pen for me! Oh, and you could’ve throwed in your pen too!..LOL

  • Reply
    Jan C.
    December 5, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Here in Texas, I knew all but “hemmed up”.
    When a young adult is doing well helping out with work, we say “He’ll make a hand one of these days”. I enjoy your blog!

  • Reply
    Marc Kruger
    December 5, 2013 at 9:44 am

    I grew up in a rural area of New Jersey and all these expressions were used except we said ‘hemmed in’. Here in Wisconsin where I now live I have heard ‘hired hand’ but not the other words. A lot of the older local people here use the word ‘hey’ after every spoken sentence and the word wunst instead of once.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2013 at 9:38 am

    I am familiar with all those words especially to hunker down and get ‘er done. I especially love the pictures of the foot log path through those beautiful woods! Oh, thank you, Tipper.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Aww! This test was too easy. It’s hard to believe folks from all over the country don’t use the words the same way we do.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2013 at 9:20 am

    I use all of them. I also use ‘hand’ to describe the height of a horse or mule. The width of a man’s hand is about 4 inches so a 15 hand horse is 5 feet tall.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    December 5, 2013 at 8:51 am


  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    December 5, 2013 at 8:40 am

    We were the hands that dug the potatoes so we could hunker in for the winter.
    No hard feelings toward city folk but I always feel hemmed in when I go to a large city.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2013 at 8:39 am

    All are familiar and commonly used here in central Texas (as well as my home grounds in south Texas and my parents’ home grounds in Kansas) but with a slight twist:
    “Hand” is “hired hand” – I’ve only heard it referring to a male who worked outdoors, usually assisting a farmer or rancher although sometimes a gardener or general handyman. Just plain “hand” means lending assistance as in “Give me a hand unloading this lumber, will ya?”
    “Hemmed in” is used rather than “hemmed up” referring to putting someone in a tight spot (difficult situation) or “trapping” another in a way so as to prevent them from going about their business. On the other hand, I never just “hemmed” a dress or a pair of pants, I always “hemmed up” the skirt or trousers. I hadn’t thought about that until I was at an officers’ wives gathering and someone told me us southerners were so funny because we always used more words than were needed – – as if this then 20 year old didn’t feel out of place enough there at the time!! – -plus – – I was a Texan and “not” a southerner – – we sound a lot different even if we do use the same phrases – or so I thought.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    December 5, 2013 at 8:33 am

    Tipper–All of those are pretty much standard fare for me, although in the case of “hand” I thought of another definition before reading yours. It was in the context of lending a hand or giving a hand up. Sadly, to many folks in today hold a hand out and want a handout rather than a hand up. Hemming such people in when there’s heavy work to be done is enough to cause a fellow who ain’t scared of breaking a sweat to hunker down in pure frustration.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Gina S
    December 5, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Yep, I’ve heard and used each of these terms all my life. There is just something very descriptive about hunker down and hem up causing me to feel that folks from any region should understand their meaning.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Those pictures really got my attention. One of the girls had an interesting walking adventure. Yes, I heard those words used sometime since we have the home here in the foothills, but I must admit, they aren’t ones I would use often. We did have to hunker down when hurricanes came in FL. Hem up was new for me.

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    December 5, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Me too Tipper!

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    December 5, 2013 at 8:04 am

    I’ve heard all five. “Hunker down you hairy dogs.” (UGA)

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    December 5, 2013 at 7:57 am

    I too hear and use all of today’s entries on a regular basis.

  • Reply
    renea w
    December 5, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Very familiar with “hunker.” It seems like I hunker down a lot these days. Thankful my parents taught me the importance of hunkerin’ down and never giving up. Best to you today. Thanks for all you do. Renea Winchester

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 5, 2013 at 7:40 am

    Tipper, I get 100% on this one I know and use all of these. These are, in fact, so common to me that I’m surprised to see them on the Appalachian list.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2013 at 7:23 am

    100 per cent! I have heard all the vocabulary words. Also, i have used some of the words. Happy day…we may need to hunker down later because of freezing rain.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2013 at 7:16 am

    Rather than “hem up”, I have always heard “hem in”.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 5, 2013 at 7:15 am

    Yep use them all. Hunker down has an additional meaning here in Florida. Riding out a storm in a safe space

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    December 5, 2013 at 7:13 am

    All those are familiar and used often. I find that I use my Appalachian ” voice” when I want to make a point.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2013 at 6:47 am

    We use all of these. I come from a hard working family. My brother, especially, will put on his heavy work boots and hunker down to do some hard work. Whenever he sees a need, he’ll put in an extra hand to get the job done. No hard hearted feelings coming from that man. Just don’t get him hemmed up when there’s heavy work to do. He’ll get the job done and make light of it. (Time to get to work.)

  • Leave a Reply