Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 71

Words used in appalachia

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

  1. Mush
  2. Mountain oyster
  3. Mizzle
  4. Mind
  5. Mill over


Appalachian language

  1. Mush: boiled cornmeal. “When Pap was a boy they had mush for breakfast. Sometimes they had it for supper too.”
  2. Mountain oyster: the testicle of a bear, bull, or hog. “I don’t care how good you tell me they are I ain’t eating no mountain oyster and that’s the end of it!”
  3. Mizzle: fine misty rain. “Why it’s only a mizzle of rain and you’re not made out of sugar so you won’t melt!”
  4. Mind: to watch or attend. “Can you mind the boys for a while? I’ve got to run into town and meet Buddy at the bank.”
  5. Mill over: to study or ponder. “I don’t know about you-but I like to mill things over before I make a decision.”

So how did you do? I know about mush because of Pap but I don’t hear anyone talking about it much today. Same thing with mizzle I hear it but only rarely. The others are still alive and well in my part of Southern Appalachia.




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  • Reply
    Janice Stout
    October 18, 2014 at 7:10 am

    Mush is still eaten here in WV but I have never tried it. Mizzle is a drizzle. Mill over is mull over. Our family has raised and sold beef all of my life but we have never sold the parts to make mountain oysters. I don’t like regular oysters, so I think I will pass on the mountain variety too. We mind the children, mind your parents, and mind your manners. 🙂

  • Reply
    October 17, 2014 at 5:52 am

    I familiar with all but mizzle, and I’m with you on the Mountain Oysters.. I not going there… To many other good things to eat than that…

    • Reply
      Carolyn Renfro
      October 19, 2018 at 1:03 pm

      We here in Texas mull things over as well.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    October 16, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Never heard mizzle before, but I love its sound! The others have been in my vocabulary all my life — still are.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    October 16, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    I mull it over and it’s either mist or drizzle rain. I’ve had mush as a lad and I didn’t like it! Dad said when he was little you learn to like it or do without. As far as mountain oysters I’m with you. I don’t care what animal it comes from I’m not about to eat it! There are plenty other parts that are edible without eating those.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 16, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    Well, looks like my comments have been lost in the corners of the Internet web…
    Use all but Mizzle…and mostly Mull for Mill….
    “Misty” is my favorite song by Ray Stevens from 1975…
    Yesterday evening we had a misty drizzle…
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…My first comment was shorter and one of those “gooder n’ snuff and “finer than frog hair” better ones, but it got lost anyhow!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    October 16, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Tipper–After reading all the comments on the latest vocabulary test I’ve decided that you’ve got a bunch of readers who either are scardey cats or else have led lives of culinary deprivations. Mountain oysters, sliced thin, coated with flour and fried just right make fine eating. They are a favored hors d’oeuvre in the more rural regions of Montana and Wyoming, although there they are called Rocky Mountain oysters.
    Jim Casada
    P. S. I had Tipper-style biscuits for supper just now and I had to exert considerable will power to keep from foundering myself.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    October 16, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    Before the obituaries came on today, our local radio station
    announced that Norm Wilson, the
    high-tenor singer with the Primitives died yesterday while
    Bear Hunting. I wondered if you
    were distant kin.
    I knew and used all the words today except “mill over”. Don’t
    recon that one is in my dialect.

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    October 16, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    I have heard mull and mill it over and everything else but mizzle.

  • Reply
    October 16, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Daddy called cantaloupe “mush melon”. I guess it was from “musk melon”. We never had mush to eat & not grits either–West Tn–& don’t remember anyone else having it. The others all familiar except mizzle–we said drizzle.

  • Reply
    eva nell wike, PhD
    October 16, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Tipper: You got me on a couple of those words. But that is nothing new. Just wanted to mull over all the posts and see how many folks knew MULL and used it.
    Cheers, Eva Nell Mull

  • Reply
    Gina S
    October 16, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    I milled over the test only to realize I more mull over things. Mama talked about eating mush, but I’ve only had livermush which the grands and I had for breakfast this morning. Mizzle left me clueless (only word unfamiliar to me), the thought of mountain oysters left me nauseous,and the usage of mind made perfect sense.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    October 16, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    I knew all but mizzle.

  • Reply
    October 16, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Ive not heard mizzle but the rest I know and they are still being used here on the ms coast. Although mull is used instead of mill most of the time. Mush was one of those dishes we had when Daddy was out of work. That’s when we had pudlim gravy too. Just bacon grease, flour and water over bisquit.

  • Reply
    Maggie Galliher
    October 16, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Garry—how nice to see an Aussie posting here! I didn’t think that definition of “mind” was peculiar to Appalachia or Southern US in general, so I checked the American Heritage Dictionary and found it listed under as “To take care or charge of; look after.” Now you’ve confirmed that this usage is even more widespread.

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    October 16, 2014 at 10:27 am

    Remember mind the childen and mill over here near Atlanta.

  • Reply
    Wade N Rainwater
    October 16, 2014 at 9:47 am

  • Reply
    October 16, 2014 at 9:35 am

    ’bout the only stranger here is ‘mizzle’; has Lewis Carroll been to these mountains? The same Lewis Carroll who wrote “Through The Looking Glass” and combined words to create new ones (frabjous, chortle, galumph)? Mizzle looks like a combination of ‘mist’ and ‘drizzle, dunnit? It’s something Carroll would do.
    I have seen mountain oysters in the meat department in a couple of super markets in Georgia; I did nothing to reduce their supply, of course.
    Mush = soupy grits, made with too much water or not cooked down long enough. Grits is better.
    Mind, as in “Mind your manners”; heard that a whole bunch when I was a kid up north.
    I would have to concur with the gentleman from Australia, we ‘Mulled it over” on the southern banks of Lake Ontario, but ‘Milled it over” makes a lot of sense, especially in these hills where there was a grist-mill on nearly every creek of any substance.
    Vocabulary is fun (chortle)!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 16, 2014 at 9:31 am

    I had mush as a child. With milk and sugar. Nowdays I let it get cold and set up then slice and fry it in bacon grease. Livermush is just mush with liver and some spices.
    I know of mountain oysters-you can have them.
    Mist & Drizzle = Missle?
    Mind is also what you better do before mommy gets her hickory.
    Mill over I didn’t know. I do mull over things in my mind sometimes.
    Is that the top of an old pot bellied stove? Or the skirt around the bottom?

  • Reply
    October 16, 2014 at 9:15 am

    I’m familiar with them all except mizzle. We say mull ove instead of mill over. Mom talked about eating mush and probably fed it to us, but I don’t remember. I think they still sell it in a roll at the grocery store. I bought a roll a few years ago and didn’t know how to prepare it. Someone suggested cutting and frying it. I wasn’t impressed! When we use mush to describe anything else we say muishy. I use the bananas in bread when they get muishy.

  • Reply
    Carol Stuart
    October 16, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Many people in WV made fried cornmeal mush for breakfast. My husband who grew up in SW Virginia ate Hoe Cakes which were made out of flour and cooked in an iron skillet. Everybody I know “mulls over” instead of “mills over” something. Have always heard “mind” as in the children. Mountain oysters were from a hog. Have never heard the others.

  • Reply
    Richard Beauchamp
    October 16, 2014 at 8:57 am

    I have also heard all this but use the word Mull instead of Mill.
    Looks loike you had a pretty good rain. Has been mizzleing here for 2 days and is still at it this morning.

  • Reply
    October 16, 2014 at 8:50 am

    Mizzle is a new one for me as well as mill over. We use the words mull over so it is just a matter of a vowel change. I have commited them to my temporary memory and I will listen for them. That flooded crrek does not look like automobile fun. Glad that you didn’t try to drive through it. That definitely could have been trouble.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    October 16, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Mizzle is the only one I have never heard, I like it though and may add to my vocabulary. Mill/Mull over, use a lot. Mountain oysters are mostly from cows around here. Mush of course, mind all the time also use as in you mind (do as I say) me

  • Reply
    October 16, 2014 at 8:41 am

    I have never heard mizzle even though it is in the dictionary. My Dad always mulled over things, and he came up with the wisest decisions. He could always solve problems in a way one would not ordinarily use–never panicked. This has caused me to remind the children in the family to always, “think outside the box.”
    I cooked mush once just to see what my parents ate growing up. Once was enough! There were never mountain oysters cooked, and this will be a food avoided around here along with rattlesnake meat.
    I always love your vocabulary test, Tipper, and always something to be learned.

  • Reply
    Cheryl Soehl
    October 16, 2014 at 8:39 am

    The only person in our house who ate mush was my Dad, who made it for himself. My Mama did like to put broken up cornbread in a tall glass and pour buttermilk over it to eat with a spoon. Mull over was a phrase we used. Never heard of mill over!

  • Reply
    James Smithson
    October 16, 2014 at 8:18 am

    I enjoy your posts. Look forward to them.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    October 16, 2014 at 7:57 am

    All of those words were a part of my childhood in the mountains of Pennsylvania.

  • Reply
    October 16, 2014 at 7:43 am

    I always appreciate this post. Living hear in south central Ohio, I’m sometime “called out” for using Appalachian dialect. I’m not sure why people have a problem with it. I’m proud of my Appalachian ancestry and find it interesting when you consider the historical significance. Haven’t used the word “mizzle”, but like in Australian, I also use “mull” along with “mill”.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 16, 2014 at 7:39 am

    Tip, I’ve not heard mill over but I have heard mull over it with the same meaning. I don’t ever recall hearing the word Mizzle but I have heard drizzle used for with the same meaning.
    Of course I’ve heard of mountain oysters but must admit that is one delicacy of which I have never partaken.
    Mush and mind I’ve heard a lot. I tried mush a time or two but just couldn’t make a go of it. Corn was plentiful in this area from the beginning of settlers coming here. They sure found many different ways to prepare it. I tend to think cornbread is the best way. You’ve done posts on cornbread and hominy maybe you could do on all the many ways our ancestors used corn.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    October 16, 2014 at 7:31 am

    Tipper–I’m familiar with all five words or phrases albeit in slightly different spellings.
    Rather than mizzle it would be pizzle; and I know (and use) mull over rather than mill over.
    When it comes to mush the usages I’ve heard all my life go well beyond cooked corn meal to include something which has been thoroughly mashed up or messed up, i. e., “he pounded that old bully’s face to mush” or “he sure turned that project to mush.”
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Garry Ballard
    October 16, 2014 at 5:07 am

    Here in Australia we don’t eat corn meal that I know of, rolled oats also known as porridge is a pretty standard breakfast but we don’t call it mush.
    Mountain oysters we call bush oysters or outback oysters but usually the testicle of a sheep.
    Haven’t heard of mizzle but we call that sort of rain scotch mist.
    Mind is exactly the same here.
    For mill we say mull, like ‘I’d like to mull it over for a while’.
    It’s interesting hearing how different words and sayings enter into local languages though. Considering all the English speaking countries there are it is amazing how different our words are let alone our accents!

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