Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 64

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 64

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

  1. Ideal
  2. Ill
  3. Ill able
  4. Iron glass

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 64 2



  1. Ideal: idea. “I have a ideal! Let’s ask everybody over and we can eat and make some music. That ought to cheer us all up.”
  2. Ill: hateful, angry, combative. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me I’m so ill I can’t even stand my ownself!”
  3. Ill able: unable. “I tried to tell them he was ill able to handle that big a load. I bet they wished they’d listened to me now that this mess has happened.”
  4. Iron glass: mica. “She likes to go out to the lake and look for iron glass. I tried to tell her it wasn’t worth anything but she thinks it looks like gold.”

I’m familiar with all this month’s words except iron glass-I have never heard that one. I didn’t know I say ideal until The Deer Hunter pointed it out to me after we were married. But he’s right I add the L every last time I say idea.

How about you-how did you do on the test?


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  • Reply
    Kathy Patterson
    May 15, 2022 at 7:56 pm

    Hi Tipper,
    Iron glass is new to me. Here in the Blue Ridge mica is called “eyes-in-glass”. We do say ideal and use it like you do but we also use the word “idie” for idea. (I have an idie about how the tree top blew over last night).
    Take care,

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    March 18, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    I’m from the Woods too, but I ain’t
    never used the word “ideal”, I say
    idea. My daddy use to say “I ain’t got no idey. (eye-dee)
    And I’ve never heard of iron glass, but I’ve picked up lots of mica.
    The rest I know pretty much.
    This test is almost as good as this
    bananna puddin’ I’m making…Ken

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    March 18, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    Well, here we have solved the “iron glass” puzzle!
    Of course, some mountaineer got his wife one of those new “cast arn” (iron) stoves that had a piece of “iron glass” in the front of it. A notch up from the solid cast arn (iron) stoves…I’d say they knew the difference of “iron glass” as opposed to the wavy thin glass of the cabin windows to be much stouter and accepting of the hot far (fire) in that iron stove!
    Then of course you have all the ising glass (mica) manufacturers/processors around NC…Mom probably got her piece of mica from Asheville come to think of it!
    So since the areas where it is naturally, became “iron glass” as children/adults would see it laying around on their mountain treaks!….
    “What do ya think”?
    That’s my “idee” and I think I’m sticking to it!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    March 18, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Iron glass is new to me. All the others I have heard in various forms.

  • Reply
    March 18, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Nivver ‘as th’ words Iron-glass passed me lips….* Wait,that was yesterday’s language, today is th’ day after.
    I’ave always used the term Isinglass because that’s what my Dad told me it was, and he also said that the proper name was ‘mica’.
    Ideal? I was proof-reading the Mountain Woman’s articles for the weekly paper about two weeks ago and saw that word used as ‘idea’ about 4 times in two articles. I said “seems like you’ve been dreaming of the hills again, haven’t ya?” It’s common for her to say it but selfom do I see her type it. A couple of other differences in her native tongue, opposed to common usage is ‘stirrafoam’ (Styrofoam) and ‘dinnamite’ (Dynamite).
    Regarding ‘Ill” I use it myself in the context given; ‘ill suited, ill prepared’ but I don’t think I’ve ever used ‘ill able’
    Sometimes folks down here in West Georgia think I’m putting on airs….

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    March 18, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    I know ideal very well, ill and ill able are easy to figure out, Iron Glass is brand new to me though.

  • Reply
    March 18, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    I flunked this one completely, Tipper! I do use “well able” which may be the flip side of “ill able,” and I use “ill fit.” I’ve always thought “isinglass” was mica (like the surrey with the fringe on top, “with isinglass windows you can roll right down in case there’s a change in the weather”, which maybe sounds a bit like “iron glass”?

  • Reply
    March 18, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    I have heard ill and ideal used in the way you describe, but not the other two words/terms.

  • Reply
    Kimberly Burnette-Dean
    March 18, 2014 at 11:32 am

    I use the first three all of the time, but I have never heard of iron glass.
    Just the other day, I made a post on facebook and said something about being ill about something. I just assumed that everyone would know what I meant, but instead, everyone was commenting on my use of “ill!”

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    March 18, 2014 at 10:54 am

    iron glass is very descriptive — I like it. I had always hear “idear” and wondered where they found that extra R. Love the pictures — would love to walk along that stream.

  • Reply
    Roy Pipes
    March 18, 2014 at 10:15 am

    We used to call Iron Glass or Mica – Isinglass. There was an Isinglass mine in Franklin.

  • Reply
    C. Ron Perry, Sr.
    March 18, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Tipper, some stoves had isenglass windows in them. Here is something from the internet:
    Product Description
    From the Manufacturer
    Mica (also known as Isinglass) is a transparent mineral used as “viewing glass” in older antique wood and coal stoves. It has the appearance of clear plastic or cellophane yet withstands temperature of 1800° F. Because it is a naturally occurring mineral, several smaller pieces cost less than one larger one. This type of material can be cut with scissors, a razor blade, or a paper cutter to the size that you need.
    Product Description
    Mica (also known as Isinglass) is a transparent mineral used as “viewing glass” in older antique wood and coal stoves. It has the appearance of clear plastic or cellophane yet withstands temperature of 1800° F. Because it is a naturally occurring mineral, several smaller pieces cost less than one larger one. This type of material can be cut with scissors, a razor blade, or a paper cutter to the size that you need.

  • Reply
    March 18, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Ah! A good way to start the week! I loved the photos, but the words, especially ideal really hurt my ears. As a teacher one does try to accept local language, but that one hurt. I never heard of Iron glass and the other two I tried to put an apostrophe between the i and the ll. That didn’t work, so I guess I really bombed the test today.

  • Reply
    March 18, 2014 at 8:56 am

    I’ve only heard ideal and ill used that way. As a matter of fact, I think I might still slip up and say ideal every once in awhile. Mom and Dad used to say idee.

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    March 18, 2014 at 8:49 am

    I have never heard iron glass. I remember stoves that had mica sheets for a sort of window. When really hot, it glows beautifully. I don’t say ideal for idea, but I have heard it. The others are pretty common around here still.

  • Reply
    March 18, 2014 at 8:47 am

    “There’s an ill wind blowin’ the stars around. . . .” In that song is the only place I have heard “ill” used in that way; we usually use it as a synonym for “sick” – more in the early stages when a person is a bit grumpy or a child a bit fussy but you (and they) don’t yet know that they are comin’ down with something.
    I’ve heard my Dad’s side of the family using “ideal” for idea; but the other two words/phrases are brand new to me.
    Where do y’all find mica? We find it in limestone where there are “rusty iron-like” nodules that under the right conditions would have turned to Fool’s gold/pyrite.

  • Reply
    March 18, 2014 at 8:31 am

    I also knew them all except iron glass. And, yes, I have been called ‘ill’, and not for being sick.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    March 18, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Tipper–Iron glass is a new one to me, and I’d like to think my mountain vocabulary is purt solid. That being said, I have no doubt whatsoever it is a corruption or misunderstanding of isinglass, which is a synonym for mica.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    March 18, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Using “ideal” for “idea” really bothers me! It is still done by some in my community, and I have to “hold back” on my school-teacher skills and seek not to correct and embarrass the ones using ideal when they really mean idea! Like your Deer Hunter, I want to correct them and say: “Don’t you mean idea–what you think would be a good thing to do? I want to say “ideal” means something near-perfect, and even though your idea might be ideal, please use the two correctly! But I usually refrain. Instead of “iron glass” in our community, we used “ising glass” to describe the mica-type deposits we would find. There was actually a mica mine on my grandparents’ property in Union County, Ga.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 18, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Ideal and Ill I hear quite frequently. Ill Able I have only read in books. Iron Glass I have never heard. I happen to be the proud owner of a played out mica mine. We always called it isinglass. We used to find mica in blocks made up of thousands of ultra thin sheets. Only recently did I learn that the blocks were called books.
    My son in law’s great great grandfather John Evans Brown was the founder of Asheville Mica Company Company which is still in existence today.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 18, 2014 at 7:58 am

    I love the pictures, Tip, it’s like a walk in the woods!
    I had never heard ideal used that way till I met you and every time I hear you say it I find it very heartwarming. It’s like coming home so it must, in some way, be a part of my history or heritage.
    Ill, I’ve heard all my life, usually followed by tempered. I’ve even been called that a few times.
    Ill able, ill prepared, ill fated, I’ve heard all of these.
    Never heard of iron glass. I can’t even get a good ideal what it might be.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    March 18, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Like you, Tipper, I knew all of these except for iron glass. I know what mica is, but I have never gone looking for it and I am not sure I would know it if I saw it in nature.

  • Reply
    March 18, 2014 at 7:36 am

    I am usually familiar with most of your words and still use a lot of them. I don’t recall ever hearing any of these except ill as related to an ‘out of sorts’ person which we sometimes say, “He/she got up from the wrong side of the bed.”

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    March 18, 2014 at 6:39 am

    By the way, faeiries use pieces of “iron glass” or mica for their mirrors…especially the “primpy ones” that constantly groom their tiny faeiry wings!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    March 18, 2014 at 6:28 am

    I see yesterdays leprechaun left you some purty green to photograph! Don’t you just love that feathery ferny moss? If you look real close you can see a tiny faeiry from me homeland! LOL
    I’ve heard them all except “iron glass”…I don’t think the word “iron glass” is even familiar sounding to me. I thunk and thunk about it…trying to remember conversations we had while fishing with older relatives at the lakes around here and NC…I remember “water dog”, flat rocks, skipping rocks, haddycalls, old snappin turtles and thunder, etc. and old stories about all of those words…Not iron glass!
    I do remember Mom picking up some somewhere, she kept a small piece with her rock collection. Never heard her call it “iron glass”!
    Ideal day, is what I have in mind for Thursday, when Spring comes busting in the door!
    My idea, is to scope out the yard and see where to move some daylilys that need dividing!
    My “idear” is the “my sweet dear” that has to dig them up!
    I’d say that he has an “idee”, to go fishin’ instead!
    It won’t make me “ill or ill able”, since I’d like to tag along myownself….It’s Spring Break here don’t you know!
    Thanks Tipper,
    Hope everyone at your house is feeling much better and can enjoy the first day of Spring!

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