Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 75

Rich language of appalachia

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

  1. Prize
  2. Popskull
  3. Pooch out
  4. Point blank
  5. Pick up

Old language in appalachia

  1. Prize: to use a metal bar/piece of wood or other utensil to move an object. “He used a crowbar to prize open the trunk after he lost the keys.”
  2. Popskull: poor grade of homemade liquor. “Why I wouldn’t go down there to drink with them all they’ve got is some kinda popskull they made in the barn.”
  3. Pooch out: to bulge or protrude. “There’s a big ole knot pooching out on the back of his head where he was in that fight last week. I told him if he don’t quit running with the devil it’s going to be the death of him.”
  4. Point blank: exact; precise. “I swear she point blank hit the bull’s eye every time she shot.”
  5. Pick up: to gain weight. “I ran into Harold the other day. He’s beginning to pick up a little. He got so skinny after she died that I was plum worried about him.”

I hear and use all of this month’s words on a regular basis…except popskull. How did you do?



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  • Reply
    Jane ODell
    March 14, 2022 at 3:46 pm

    Pop skull is the only one I didn’t know. I believe you have used it once before on a quiz with the girls, but I couldn’t remember what it meant. (I think Katie guessed it had something to do with liquor.) I love these vocabulary quizzes. Thanks, Tipper.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2019 at 7:38 am

    I know and use all but popskull, but I am a teetotaler so have no need for that word. Like others though I have heard of rotgut as a kid.

    I rarely hear any of my southern Ohio childhood language. My hubs is a retired United Methodist “circuit rider,” we ended up in northern Ohio. I always tell people I speak northern Ohio as a second language. That means it is sometimes necessary to explain a word or phrase I use. I would love to move down home but our sons and their wives and the grands are here.

    • Reply
      Patricia Price
      April 12, 2021 at 9:04 am

      Eldonna, I had to laugh when I read that you speak northern Ohio as a second language. I am a TN Appalachian from about an hour away from Tipper’s Brasstown, but I have lived in northeast OH over half my life. My kids chuckle when I get off the phone with a fellow Southerner and ask me which of my Appalachian friends I was talking to. They can tell by my end of the phone conversation, because I talk “down home” instead of the flat, clipped way people up here talk. Glad it’s not just me!

  • Reply
    Janet E.
    April 1, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    Tipper, love your blog!!!! I claim northeast Arkansas as my home since 1953 and have heard and use all these words except for Popskull. Nowadays, with the influx of people from other states, you don’t hear them very much. Also spent a few years in north Texas and these words were also used.

  • Reply
    Granny Norma
    March 26, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    Hey Tipper!
    I’m a day late and more than a dollar short but throwing in my two cents anyway. Popskull was completely new to me. Maybe that’s because I have no use for moonshine, white lightning, Hooch, or rotgut except as a disinfectant. My little sister who was skinny as a rail as a kid would always say “My belly’s all pooched out,” after a big meal. I couldn’t see it — funny kid.

  • Reply
    March 26, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    b. Ruth: Soon, soon, yes, the rooster met his demise and the squirrel is happier, and YES I hope its overcast too!! Thank you for the great comments!!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Carol Stuart
    March 26, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Missed out on getting to read this yesterday! Started my day today with these terms and know all but “popskull”. I just love your “vocabulary tests”!

  • Reply
    Yecedrah Higman
    March 25, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    I grew up using all these words except popskull. I had forgotten that I used these words until I saw them in print.

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    March 25, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    Love the look of that little old mountain fixer upper. Always have loved simple houses like that. I’d say it was a little fixer upper. Dad would say, “You mean it’s a tearer downer.” LOL
    Never heard #2 and #5, and #1, of course, is a simple old fashioned misspelling of “pries” as in “to pry something off” although I have heard it used as “prize” generally when someone was referring to “prizing” off the lid of a dadburned pickle jar, etc. LOL
    Pooch out and Point blank I’ve heard quite often.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    March 25, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    All but popskull- Mitchell says he’s heard other people use it, though. We always said rotgut, too.

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    March 25, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    Scored 2 out of 5. Popskull is an odd one. I concur with Jim Casada on the spelling of prise, rather than prize.

  • Reply
    March 25, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    “Popskull” was right common down in Georgia and it’s so descriptive of the product there wasn’t any words there that I hadn’t used or heard tho it’s a rare day that I hear popskull any more.
    Prize or prise, I’ve seen it both ways and our forebears weren’t much for spelling things proper ’cause they maybe didn’t know what ‘proper’ was.
    The opposite of ‘picked up’ is ‘fell off’…

  • Reply
    Bob Aufdemberge
    March 25, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    Around here it would be “pry” instead of prize also. If you read enough stuff by British authors you will find that “prize” or “prise” as they spell it is still in common use in the UK. It’s probably another of those terms that came over with the colonists and hung on in Appalachia.
    My mother had some Scottish ancestors and she used “pooch” a lot with the same meaning as in the test.
    I’ve run across the term “popskull” before but only in books.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    March 25, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    I’ve heard all but popskull. Rot gut was common for bad shine. Daddy said there was two kinds of liquor, the drinking kind and the selling kind.
    That boy is too skinny, he needs to pick up some cuz his belly button is playing tag with his back bone!
    I ate so much nanner puddin by belly is pooching out!

  • Reply
    March 25, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    I got on late today, but always enjoy your vocabulary test. So many of the words I never realized were part of our wonderful Appalachian heritage. All are familiar and commonly used except popskull.
    This always encourages me to use words I have not heard for many years. Popskull must mean the equivalent of what I have heard referred to as rotgut. I have not heard the word hifalutin since I was a child.

  • Reply
    March 25, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Popskull is a new one on me, I
    never heard it before and I grew
    up surrounded by liquor makers.
    All the others are familiar…Ken

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    March 25, 2015 at 11:01 am

    “Rotgut” is what I heard for bad whiskey. My father was a moonshiner & we once walked to one of his old still sites. It was downhill from an old graveyard–a beautiful place with a clear spring but i always wondered what might have eventually filtered down from the old graveyard into that spring. He had a good reputation for his whiskey, though. The whole area was full of moonshiners in the early 5o’s & nearly every man had spent his 6 months in the “pen” for making whiskey.
    Daddy also was a bootlegger & was caught running from the “law” –wrecked & spent the night in jail. We think Grandpa got him off as it kept being delayed & finally just disappeared. This was a terrifying event as no one had phones & no one knew what had happened. Our first electric refrigerator, stove, & wringer washer all came from the profits of illegal liquor.
    Well, didn’t mean to write a novel–all the other words are familiar to me. I love the old language.

  • Reply
    Ken Ryan
    March 25, 2015 at 10:45 am

    I’m familiar with all the words except Popskull.

  • Reply
    March 25, 2015 at 10:16 am

    I have never heard popskull. I guess we always had pretty good moonshine and home brew where I grew up. (Ha, Ha) I have often referred to a skinny person as needing to sit crossways in the tub in case the stopper slips out. They wouldn’t want to get sucked down the drain. Also, “She is just a little thicker than a saw blade.”

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    March 25, 2015 at 10:14 am

    I’ve heard & used them all, one reason I’m familiar with Popskull is that in my years with the Sheriff’s Dept. we busted up Stills, some were Copper or Stainless Steel and were run by older artists who made “Drinking Liquor” but some were 55 gal. barrels which made “Selling Liquor” which would give the consumer a hangover that made them feel as if their skull was about to Pop. I’m sure one of these unfortunate individuals coined Popskull. Much of the selling liquor had such a high arsenic and/or lead content it blinded or killed the consumer. This often leached out of bad solder joints.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 25, 2015 at 10:12 am

    I too missed popskull. and pick up until I read the definition. Shucks! I got a F.

  • Reply
    March 25, 2015 at 10:07 am

    For prize I would have used pry; never figured out the meaning of popskull; poochout, a new one; point blank – yep! that one I did okay with; pick up – I wouldn’t relate it to weight, but to other circumstances, like when driving on a road and then have to pick up another named road
    Good learning for me today!

  • Reply
    Kerry in GA
    March 25, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Never ever heard popskull. At work one time we were talking about somebody being so skinny and poor looking & this older gentleman said “He needs to pick up some weight. He’s got so skinny if he turned sideways & stuck his tongue out, he’d look like a zipper.” 🙂

  • Reply
    March 25, 2015 at 8:53 am

    I have never heard liquor called popskull. Daddy used to sneak and buy a bottle of popskull and didn’t even know it. They called it homebrew regardless of the ingredients. I’m sure it was all poor grade.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    March 25, 2015 at 8:50 am

    I join those who have said they did not know “Popskull” before today. In Choestoe, we must not have known “Popskull” for any home brew or any made out in laurel thickets and run as “moonshine,” a rather lucrative business for raising extra money if the bootleggers didn’t get caught by the “revenooers”. And here are some uses of the other familiar words in sentences:
    He prized the lid of the rusty box open with a screwdriver.
    When we saw Susie’s belly begin to pooch out, we knew she was in a family way again.
    You should have seen the angry sparks fly when Susie point blank confronted Betsy about the rumor she was spreading about her.
    “Pick up” can mean to gain weight, but it can also mean to “catch onto” or “to understand,” as:
    Tommy, being a smart boy in school, picked up on the chemical formulas as if he himself had thought them up.
    And an answer using “plum” gave another Appalachian vocabulary word meaning completely or very much: She was plum happy over the way her life was going lately.
    And I think we will all have to agree that if our ancestors didn’t have a word, they invented one for the occasion, or else twisted a word they already had to fit the particular colorful occasion they wanted to describe! Ingenious and creative, don’t you think?

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    March 25, 2015 at 7:50 am

    Never heard popskull, but knew the rest.

  • Reply
    Charles Fletcher
    March 25, 2015 at 7:45 am

    I have used and heard all of the words. And still use them sometimes.
    Many of the old houses you posted
    are still there in the mountains of
    Haywood County, NC.

  • Reply
    March 25, 2015 at 7:39 am

    Jim-Great comment! LOL-nope I won’t pooch my lip out because I have Michael Montgomery and a few others listed in the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English to back up my prize spelling : ) And you’re right about Chatter and Chitter they are never still-even when they’re asleep they’re moving…and talking : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    March 25, 2015 at 7:38 am

    Popskull is new to me, but I love it! I bet it did that, too! Somehow the prospect is a bit nicer than that of rotgut likker!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 25, 2015 at 7:38 am

    Don’t remember ever hearing Popskull but it is very descriptive. I’m very sure that homemade liquor could make your head/skull feel like it’s gonna pop right open.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    March 25, 2015 at 7:32 am

    Hey Tipper,
    Glad you are available this morning. I had problems accessing your website last night. Problem fixed it seems….Great!
    I have heard and probably used most of these words in this context used by the Appalachian vocabulary test…except popskull!
    I thought I had heard all the words (slang or otherwise) for moonshine or homemade wine through my many years around story tellers. Guess, I missed one!
    Hidey ho, gotta go!
    PS…I like the idea of a garden planting time and guide that you use. The dates of yours are slightly different from mine…but have had success with both.
    We border between a zone 7 and 8…mostly we stick with the zone 7 signs. I have used the Almanac gardening schedule dates for planting, grubbing out weeds, livestock care, fishing, etc. for several years….As usual it still depends on the weather…LOL
    Questions?…When is it time for another Civil War Letter?
    When do we “study” another nursery rhyme?
    Also, are you keeping tract of your kitchen renovations and ideas for us?
    and most of all…Did that crazy pesky squirrel become “stew” or did your rooster send him to the highest tree?
    Thanks Tipper, One more warm day before showers and turning colder…Let all pray for overcast skies when the temperature drops…maybe that will deter a hard frosty freeze…

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    March 25, 2015 at 7:20 am

    Tipper–I hope it don’t make your lip pooch out or drive you to popskull when I point out that in my vocabulary it’s prise, not prize. Beyond that, I’ve solved the mystery of why Chitter and Chatter don’t pick up any weight. Those girls burn so much energy they stay slim enough to hid behind a three-quarter inch water pipe.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Glynn Harris
    March 25, 2015 at 6:56 am

    Agreed Tipper…..All these words are familiar to me and I grew up using them in Louisiana, except Popskull. That’s a new one on me.

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