Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 78

Archaic language of appalachia

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

  1. Sara Jones
  2. Save back
  3. Saw briar
  4. Set store by
  5. Shagnasty

Funny words used in appalachia


  1. Sara Jones: a fruit jar with a small pointed top. “Reach me that sara jones there on the shelf. I’m going to use it to put this in.”
  2. Save back: to keep; to reserve for later use. “I try to save back enough dried apples to make a stack cake for Christmas every year.”
  3. Saw briar: a brier “What happened to your face and arms?” “I ran into the biggest saw briar you ever seen trying to get away from that blasted bull!”
  4. Set store by: to admire. “Pap always set store by him so I know he’s trustworthy.”
  5. Shagnasty: a disorderly unkempt disagreeable person. “If you don’t start cleaning yourself up every once in a while people are going to start calling you a shagnasty!”

My thoughts about this month’s words:

  • I never heard the term sara jones – but I did go to school with a girl named Sara Jones.
  • Save back is so explanatory I can’t believe it’s usage is relegated to Appalachia – it must be used everywhere.
  • A saw briar or brier whichever spelling you prefer, really is as sharp as a saw and they love to grow in my flowers where I don’t see them until it’s too late!
  • Set store by is very common in my area but the phrase is used mostly by folks Pap’s age.
  • Shagnasty is a word I have never heard but gosh who wouldn’t like to use it!

Hope you’ll leave me a comment and let me know how you did on the test.



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  • Reply
    August 14, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    Hi! I love your vocabulary section. I live in Charleston, SC but I hail from Lexington, Ky with family in the London area.
    Whenever I start to miss appalachia I read some vocabulary words and think back to when I have last heard these words.
    Well, my husband, who is from Atlanta would always start laughing at me when I would scold our old yellow lab who could be quite spiteful with “Stop it with your crapnasty attitude!”. Not sure if I changed it from the original or if this was how I learned it.
    Keep the vocabulary coming!

  • Reply
    June 11, 2015 at 8:32 am

    I couldn’t find one thing about a Sara Jones jar, but I did find this interesting article about the history of canning jars. Hope you enjoy 🙂

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    June 11, 2015 at 12:28 am

    I’ve heard 2 and 4 many times. As for Shagnasty, well…the first thing I thought about was the movie Dirty Dancing. (Does that make me a bad person? LOL)
    But yeah, I know a couple of mean online trolls that name fits very well, though I’ll never tell ’em so, have enough trouble getting ’em to leave me alone just ignoring their meanness. sigh
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 10, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    What most of your responders are describing is what I call a green briar. A greenbriar has light green leaves and a stem the same color. Even the thorns are light green. A sawbriar doesn’t grow upright. It is more of a vine. It has smaller thorns than the greenbriar but many many more. And they are parallel along the stem. They don’t stick you, they cut you like a saw. One tooth after the other. They grow down on the ground and you don’t see them until you are already tangled in them and then there is no getting out without bloodshed.
    The briars I am talking about have small very dark green, almost purple, leaves. The back side of the leaves are are purple. The stem is almost black. They have clusters of tiny fruit in the fall that are black.
    I went out earlier today trying to get a picture of my definition of a sawbriar but I couldn’t find any. Maybe I am winning the battle or maybe they are hiding just to make me look like a fool. I started to venture out onto the neighbors property in search of the elusive sawbriar but thought better of it. I have been killing his poison ivy, honeysuckle and muscadine vines that venture across the boundary line. I would hate for you to see on the news where I had been gunned down in a dispute over sawbriars.

  • Reply
    Peggy Lambert
    June 10, 2015 at 11:01 pm

    Never heard Shagnasty or Sara Jones. But I like the sound of Shagnasty and I know just the person to call Shagnasty. Suits her just fine. She is Shagnasty as Hell. Sure enough.
    Peggy L.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    June 10, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    Knew and use all but Sara Jones.

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    June 10, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    A PITIFUL 2 OF 5.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 10, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    “I am not lost I’m exploring.”
    “We still make things.”

  • Reply
    June 10, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    Here Sara Jones is a very pretty girl in our congregation.
    We will save back some particular delicacy to be used for an important event in the future.
    My southern Iowa family would set store by a tale told or a person who would always ‘come through’ for you. And I think I am your Pap’s age.
    Shagnasty sounds kinda familiar. I am going to a family reunion in a couple of weeks with those southern Iowa folks and will see what they have to say. Maybe they will remember the grands using it.
    Saw briar’s sound like a big patch of wild raspberries that can scratch the dickens out of your arms if you aren’t prepared.

  • Reply
    June 10, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    Hi Tipper,I can sure hear my Big Mom say #2 and its sentence.Miss Cindy’s little old house sure looks inviten.God Bless.

  • Reply
    June 10, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard of or seen a sara jones jar. All the rest are familiar. One of my bro-in-laws (now deceased) always had some ‘put back’ money for special needs he ran across. Those could be something he saw and decided he wanted, a neighbor who fell on hard times, a fund raiser at church, etc. We had a kid in elementary school whose last name began with Mc that we called Filty McNasty.

  • Reply
    June 10, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    4 out of 5! Also had never heard Shagnasty. Granny Mandy taught me set store. A piece of stack cake and a glass of milk would sure taste good right now!

  • Reply
    June 10, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    New words for my vocabulary; I like the term ‘Sara Jones.’ I’ll have to ask my friend from this area if she is familiar with the term. Sounds like a secret place to hid something.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 10, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    I knew all them except one. I knew Carl Jones who had 10 or 11 kids but weren’t nary one named Sara. To me sawbrarrrs are diffurnt from other brarrs. They have rows of stickers in straight lines like saw teeth and they grow great long on the ground. They hide in the grass. You get one of them wrapped around you and you are gonna be hurtin for certain. You can set store by that. I am an expert on brarrs. I fight with them ever day here. From dewberries to wild roses. I even have a crabapple with thorns about 1½” long.
    My daddy used to call me a Nincompoop and another name I had forgotten until you recalled it today. I am a Shagnasty too. I agree with Charline in that we all should save back all those colorful words and phrases from the past. Like people, they are never really dead until nobody remembers them.
    PS: My daddy really did love me, I think!

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    June 10, 2015 at 11:51 am

    Never heard shagnasty but love it! Grandpa used to say fosticated for something nasty. Never heard the Sara Jones one either but very familiar with the others.

  • Reply
    June 10, 2015 at 11:28 am

    I only knew #2 and #3, but the
    girl who cuts my hair is named
    Sarah Jones. She’s a pretty thing
    from Ocala, Florida, married to a
    friend of mine.
    This time I done awful cause I
    never heard the others, but it is

  • Reply
    June 10, 2015 at 10:45 am

    I’m 3 (sort of) out of 5.
    Wondering if your “saw brier” is the same smilax we call “cat brier” or “sticker vine” – – whatever it’s called, it’s vicious!!
    Very curious about the story behind “Sara Jones”: “a small pointed top”? The only narrow top jars I can think of are usually usually used for vinegars, serving homemade salad dressings, and other concoctions which involve diffusing something in a liquid so there’s only the essence of it in the liquid used – – does that make sense? – – well, and then there’s wine . . . .
    Shagnasty certainly is a new, and very descriptive, term for me – makes me think of my husband’s favorite “cartoon” – Scooby Do!
    “Set Back” and “Set store in” are very familar and still commonly used.

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    June 10, 2015 at 10:29 am

    Tipper, I was unfamiliar with the first and last words, but the others I used to hear often. The word saw-briar is so descriptive. I think that is the beauty of the Appalachian dialect, you can see things, even feel things, as the words are used.

  • Reply
    Larry proffitt
    June 10, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Never used sara jones nor shagnasty other 3 common across the mountain here in east tennessee.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    June 10, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Tipper–I almost always recognize and/or use all the words in your tests. Like you, however, Sara Jones is new to me. The others are common as pig tracks. My brother, Don, has had a love affair with saw briers, at least if you judge by the number of scratches he accumulates while bushwhacking, for years.
    I’ve used shagnasty occasionally and think it is a highly expressive term. However, I’ve never used it as a noun but in a context such as: “You can put it any way you want, but that old fellow is just flat-out shagnasty ugly.”
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    June 10, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Miss Cindy, you can sure turn a phrase – LOL!!!

  • Reply
    June 10, 2015 at 9:35 am

    I failed today’s test! I’ve only heard and used save back. Mom described the blades on steak knives as saw blades, but I don’t think I ever heard her say saw briar.

  • Reply
    June 10, 2015 at 9:30 am

    I grew up in Illinois and am familiar with most of the “A” vocabulary that Blind Pig promotes–but you really got me on sara jones and shagnasty!! I’d like to see a sara jones.

  • Reply
    Carol Rosenbalm
    June 10, 2015 at 8:55 am

    In my family we put exaggeration on two common terms of Appalachian dialect.
    They are
    Putchee: I’m going to putchee your coat on the chair.
    Gitchee: my family will gitchee a new notebook when go to town.
    It’s from the terms get your and put your but in East Tennessee this is how our new friends from everywhere else says it sounds like.

  • Reply
    June 10, 2015 at 8:54 am

    Do tell- where did you find ‘shagnasty’? I thought it was my Meemaw’s personal invention! This was mostly used as an adjective: “Don’t be so shagnasty” or “That is one shagnasty garb you’ve got on!”
    I’ve never heard of a Sara Jones jar- the rest were familiar. This is a great quiz today. I’m inspired to list Meemaw’s more colorful phrases before they’re forgotten.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    June 10, 2015 at 8:52 am

    I have heard and used all but sara jones. Shagnasty was a word used by my Grandmother and I don’t think I have heard it since she passed in the 1960’s..
    Thanks for the memories.

  • Reply
    June 10, 2015 at 8:49 am

    Never heard Sarah Jones either. My father used the term shagnasty.It seems there were a good many of them that lived in our neighborhood. Haven’t heard it used in probably 30 years or more.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    June 10, 2015 at 8:45 am

    Three and a half out of five. The half is because I’m unsure if I’ve ever heard ‘shagnasty’ in particular but am sure I heard the concept. Never heard of a Sara Jones. We used ‘sawbriar’ for the various kinds of greenbriar because if only ‘briars’ is said it means blackberry briars. I have not heard ‘save back’ in a very long time. As best I recall it was applied particularly to garden seed saved from year to year or anything else that, if not saved, would ordinarily be used up. ‘Set store by’ was used especially with regard to someone whose opinion on any subject carried a lot of weight or whose conduct exemplified one or more virtues such that they were ‘looked up to’.
    It saddens me that I am forgetting those kind of expressions from my childhood and that I am not alone. Guess TV since the 1950’s has been homogenizing us; mores the pity. All her life my Grandma used ‘hope’ for ‘help’ but I doubt if anyone could be found now who does.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    June 10, 2015 at 8:16 am

    Save back is essential English in these parts!
    Set store can also mean to value, as in: She sure does set store by her new living room set.
    Never heard Sara Jones or saw briar, but shagnasty sort of rings a bell. I might have heard it, but not sure.

  • Reply
    Glynn Harris
    June 10, 2015 at 8:12 am

    Tipper….Interesting! Here’s my experience with these words down here in Louisiana…
    Sara Jones – never heard it.
    Save Back – Yep, we use it.
    Saw briar – Absolutely, got ’em growing at the edge of my yard…hate ’em!
    Set Store – Never heard that one either.
    Shagnasty – Have heard it used.

  • Reply
    Gina S
    June 10, 2015 at 8:04 am

    I’ve heard all but Sara Jones. Bound to be a story behind the naming of a jar for a woman.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 10, 2015 at 7:37 am

    Tip, I’ve never heard of Sarah Jones or her Shagnasty husband. Saw Briars I’ve made acquaintance with several times in my life and it is definitely pronounced with an “a” like in are.
    Be sure you call me when you get that stack cake made. It’s sure worth saving back some dried apples. I sure set a lot of store by a woman who can make a stack cake.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 10, 2015 at 7:32 am

    My answers are the same as yours Tipper. I use save back quite often and set store but not as often.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 10, 2015 at 7:32 am

    My answers are the same as yours Tipper. I use save back quite often and set store but not as often.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 10, 2015 at 7:32 am

    My answers are the same as yours Tipper. I use save back quite often and set store but not as often.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 10, 2015 at 7:32 am

    My answers are the same as yours Tipper. I use save back quite often and set store but not as often.

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    June 10, 2015 at 7:14 am

    Like you, I was familiar with all but Sara Jones and Shagnasty. Wonder where Sara Jones comes from? Love that last one!

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