Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Appalachian Vocabulary Test 95


Language usage in western nc gumption

It’s time for this month’s Appalachian Vocabulary Test.

I’m sharing a few videos to let you hear some of the words. To start the videos, click on them and then to stop them click on them again.

Take it and see how you do!

A video posted by Tipper (@blindpigandacorn) on


1. Gumption: initiative, resourcefulness, courage. “She’s got more gumption in her little finger than most folks have in their whole body. She ain’t afraid to jump right in the middle of something and pick up both reins.”

A video posted by Tipper (@blindpigandacorn) on


2. Greedy-gut: stingy; a miser. “Now don’t be a greedy-gut leave some for the other children.”

3. Goozle: throat; Adam’s apple. “They were going at it pretty good, both of them about even until ole Sam hit him in the goozle. That brought the other one to his knees and brought the fight to a stand still in a hurry.”

A video posted by Tipper (@blindpigandacorn) on


4. Gee-haw: to get along. “We always did gee-haw. No matter what the bosses threw at us we’d buckle down and see that it was done.” or “Those two never did gee-haw. I knew that wasn’t going to work from the git go.”

A video posted by Tipper (@blindpigandacorn) on


5. Go Devil: a heavy maul for splitting wood; usually has a hammer on one side of the head and a dull wedge on the other. “I can’t find my go devil no where. I reckon I must of left it up on the mountain the last time we were cutting wood.” (If you’re wondering what’s up with The Deer Hunter’s shirt…its the result of a long hard day of work with part of that work being in the mud-you should have seen his pants!)

Gumption, gee-haw, and go devil are beyond common in my area of Appalachia. You certainly hear folks use the word greedy, but not greedy-gut, although I heard greedy-gut often when I was a child. Goozle is just one of those words that are fun to say-I hear it every once in a while.

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


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  • Reply
    December 18, 2016 at 8:38 am

    I haven’t been keeping up with all my emails because the election year stole my attention and whole way of life, but now I’m getting better. I’m seeing this vocabulary quiz here for the first time, and I don’t see an actual quiz. I just see the videos saying the words with the definitions below. This is a wonderful thing. My family was all poor, both sides, and my mother and father both went through the Depression and WWII. My Granny had friends up near Franklin, and now that it’s too late, I wonder if her people came from up there. These words sure are familiar to me. My life is different now, and if anybody around me knows these words they certainly don’t say them. I think it’s a sad thing when folks lose their cultural identity, and I’ve often thought that I should keep a notebook with all the bits of the old way of talking whenever I remember one. I never did, though, so I want to be sure and see all the other words and phrases you remind us of. I’m going to get a notebook for them. My mama says “I laid that to her” meaning she assumed that person was guilty of something. Do you say that?
    Merry Christmas, all you Pressleys!

  • Reply
    December 15, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    I got an A+ on this one today. Life is too busy lately, and I am getting on later and later. I am going to have to get the gumption to cut some of this unnecessary activity out of my life.
    My sis for some time has repeated an old term used many years ago by her elderly mother in law. When I am particularly resilient and taking on some unfamiliar task, my sis will compliment me. She tells me I have a lot of “go Yee.” I always pay more attention now, and wonder how far back some of these terms go, and if they are just local. Many are descended from families who have lived solely in this area ever since it was settled, and were without outside influence. So maybe a local thing, maybe not. Another word I have only heard once. Dad sent me one time to get a Come-A-long, and there were a few questions, before the man decided I needed a winch. I decided that was an old word since most folks don’t seem to know what it is.
    Whatever, the Appalachian expressions sure are interesting, but sadly something I must enjoy alone around here. It seems more popular to sound like a generic television personality.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    December 15, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    Yep! All of them, although I seldom hear most of them anymore.

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    December 15, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    Gee! Haw! Them’s mule calls. Gee!—go right. Haw!—go left.

  • Reply
    Lee Mears
    December 15, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    I too have used all these words. Gumption was used in my family as ‘common sense’ and I’ve seen my grandfather plow the garden or tobacco field using a borrowed team of mules and only words heard all day were ‘gee’ and haw’. ‘Gee’ was for them to turn right and ‘Haw’ to turn left. You will often find Haw in crossword puzzles.
    About the moss article, which I love as I’ve peeled moss all my life: You can propagate moss to a bare shady spot by putting some nice wet moss in blender with buttermilk and some non-chlorinated, water and spreading it over your bare area. I’ve never gotten this to work as I never did water it often enough or it didn’t rain enough, but it does try to grow. Also, the wild ferns that have the little black spots on back, seeds, can be added as to sow ferns in the moss.
    You probably know about this than I do..
    “Only farmers and summer guest walk on the moss. What they don’t know – and it cannot be repeated too often – is that moss is terribly frail. Step on it once and it rises the next time it rains. The second time, it doesn’t rise back up. And the third time you step on the moss, it dies.”
    The Summer Book, Tove Jansson ????
    (maybe this is just Finland moss?)

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 15, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    I know and use them all.
    Gumption is something we could use at times. I need a double dose.
    Gumption can have a negative connotation i.e. “She had the gumption to look me right in the face and call me a greedy-gut just because I eat the last blueberry muffin.”
    Have or do you ever hear the term belly-gut. When Mommy asked me where the last biscuit went. I said, “It’s right here in my belly-gut.”
    When I have a coughing attack I sometimes say I have a crumb stuck in my goozle pipe. Cornbread is the worst thing to cause it on me but it is worth the risk.
    A gee-haw whammy diddle is a homemade toy that has notches cut in it and has a propeller at the end of a stick. When rubbed with another stick on one side the propeller turns to the right (gee) or the left (haw) when rubbed on the other side. Many of our ancestral farmers and woodsmen didn’t know their left from their right but they definitely knew their Gee from their Haw.
    That thing Matt is holding looks like what I call a splitting axe. My go-devil is tapered all the way to the head and the head is square (when is was new, it’s mushroomed out now) and made to match a nine pound hammer. It is way too heavy to use to on anything but the toughest wood. Basically it is just a splitting wedge with a handle.

  • Reply
    December 15, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    …All but ‘greedy-guts’! I swung the same go-devil for 42 years; didn’t have to replace the handle but 7 times, and put a new head on it twice.
    My favorite, though, is goozle: “That boy, I say, that boy keeps coming in here paradin’ his ignorance and talkin’ over us. sometimes I jus’ want to reach and scragg his goozle…”

  • Reply
    December 15, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    I’m not sure if I ever heard “Greedy-gut” before, but all the rest are familiar. That Go-devil The Deer Hunter has is the newer style with swedges almost half-way down to aid in the bustin’. (If you can get it in that far)
    When I was first starting out and lived in Atlanta, when I would come in from work, my daughter would meet me at the door and say “don’t be Greedy”. She watched Sesame Street alot when she was little. …Ken

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    December 15, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    We used to call a temper tantrum having a “go-devil” fit. I guess it came from the ax–maybe wanting to whack someone with one.
    My baby brother got in the pasture on his bicycle with out Uncle L.J.’s mule, Roady. Roady took out after him and Alan was peddling frantically yelling, “gee, Roady, haw, Roady” hoping it would make Roady turn right or left one. I don’t know how he escaped. This is the same brother who got in the pig pen with the sow and she chased him around and around in circles while we all about died laughing. He was long & skinny and his legs were pumping frantically. Looking back it was dangerous and I don’t know how he survived childhood.
    Gettin hit in the goozle is terrible. I remember opening the car door and whacking Mama in hers with the window. We were down in the bottom about to pick up chunks. I was very small. I guess the memory has stayed with me because I felt so awful for hurting her.
    Mama used to tell us a poem with something about “greedy-gut” in it. Can anyone remember this? Sounds like it may have been about misbehavior.
    We had to have gumption back in those days! Thanks Tipper for so many memories this morning! I think of you and your family often.

  • Reply
    Peggy Lambert
    December 15, 2016 at 10:30 am

    Heard and have used them all.
    “Thanks Tipper”
    Peggy L.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 15, 2016 at 10:22 am

    4 of 5. If I ever heard “goozle” I don’t recall it. Don’t ‘Gee-haw’ is especially used for the situation of someone giving directions but not being heeded.
    Incidentally, a name for those old 1930’s or so snap brim leather or tweed caps is a “go to the devil” cap, shortened to “go devil”. Seems the wedge-shaped profile was to keep it from being snatched off when flying down the road in an open car.

  • Reply
    December 15, 2016 at 10:12 am

    Yes, Sherry and I heard these terms growing up and brings back such memories! That is, with the exception of go-devil, and didn’t hear gee-haw much. I agree that goozle is the most fun. I used to wonder just what body part within the neck or throat it was? I didn’t ask, thinking I should just ‘know’ and that it could be burned with a hot drink.
    I also enjoy hearing the phrases on video, but today they all want to play at the same time and I can’t stop them!

  • Reply
    December 15, 2016 at 9:39 am

    The words are all common to me and my family except goozle. It’s been a long time since I heard gee-haw.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    December 15, 2016 at 9:36 am

    All of those are common, but my take on greedy gut isn’t that of a miser – it’s that of someone who can really put away the food.
    The go-devil I have has a more pronounced taper than the one Matt has – unless the video is misleading. The flat end on the one I have is the size of a sledge hammer head.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    December 15, 2016 at 9:25 am

    Know all but greedy gut. We just say don’t be a hog or hawg and save some for others.
    Goozle is a great word and that is exactly what I call my Adam’s apple.
    Looks like the Deer Hunter has been down in the ditches. Maybe fixing a water leak. I have looked like that many times as well.
    Good words today Tipper!

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    December 15, 2016 at 9:23 am

    I’m five for five today, I still use all of these words on a regular basis.

  • Reply
    December 15, 2016 at 9:17 am

    I did great on all all but the “go devil.” I love hearing you guys say these words on the videos!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 15, 2016 at 8:56 am

    I have to be real keerful readin’ and drinkin’ my mornin’ coffee. For I have a habit of grabbin’ a bite of somethin’ (vanilla wafer or cracker) to go with it. I’ve been know to be readin’, drinkin’ and snakin’ and get tickled and every bit goes the wrong way and gets wallered up in my “goosle” til I think I’ll choke to death!
    “Goosle” was one of my Daddy’s favorite words. Daddy saucered his coffee for years. Invariably he would “burn in his goosle” as he said, if wasn’t cooled enough! Also, gee and haw I heard some too. Sometimes sayin’, “Well one of them boys wanted to “gee” the other “haw” so we couldn’t get anything done today!”
    Hear and use all the others, been a while since hearing greedy-gut. Mostly when someone takes the last piece of cornbread or biscuit! ha
    Great post,
    Thanks Tipper,
    Here’s what I heerd about Sam Hill!
    Many, many years ago a man by the name of Sam Hill owned a mercantile. In other words, Sam Hill Mercantile.
    He found that if he kept the store full of this and that, more than other merchants, folks would frequent his mercantile first off and he would sell more, and make more money as well as the money he made on the common stuff. So like a hoarder, he began fillin’ that place to the roof top with strange and exotic thing-a-ma-jigs from hither and yon!
    One mornin’ a huge wagon filled to the point of almost overflowing pulled up in front of the loading door. It was covered up with those linen colored canvases and tied down one end to the other. This time a crowd of those early Saturday morning meetin’ men started gathering all around. One man was strollin’ in late just as the mercantile worker was startin’ unwrappin’ that big wagon. The crowd was so very curious and the talkin’ about that huge wagon was gettin’ louder and louder. Well sir, this man was a’ tryin’ to see and hear but could not. So in his very loudest shout yelled “What in the Sam Hill is going on”?
    And that my friends is how the whole thing started!
    Thanks Tipper
    and Gayle Larson for askin’ ….fer that is the tale I’ve known most of my days!
    Posted by: b. Ruth | December 10, 2016 at 08:34 PM

  • Reply
    December 15, 2016 at 8:23 am

    This is an interesting mix for me! Goozle is the only one I’ve never heard. Your Go Devil is my maul, or splitting maul – and mine has split many a chunk of hardwood. Gumption (a very common word here) is something I probably used to have more of than I do now, especially in that exact example mentioned by your narrator. To me, Gee and Haw are used when driving a horse or team – I’ve not heard it used the way you do, but it makes perfect sense. Now “greedy-guts” (always plural here) is something I say often, usually when talking to the goats, “Don’t be such a greedyguts! There’s plenty for everyone so quit knocking that littler goat away from the hay.”
    Hope everyone is having a good day today 🙂

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 15, 2016 at 8:21 am

    Goozle and Geehaw are new to me. Goozle does give a perfect visual for the meaning though.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    December 15, 2016 at 8:04 am

    Tipper–All of these are extremely familiar to me. I use greedy-gut fairly frequently when self-disparagingly describing my trencherman abilities as a boy, and it has long been a sort of game in our family to “get the goozle” of kids. Brother Don had an uncanny knack of getting my daughter to lift her head (and thereby expose her goozle) when she was a kid.
    As for gumption, I fear it’s a quality that’s in decided decline these days. Some folks wouldn’t hit a lick with a go-devil to save their souls. Philosophically I don’t gee-haw with that outlook.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Mary Shipman
    December 15, 2016 at 8:02 am

    The vocabulary test today was like a trip back into my childhood. I can almost hear certain family members and some of those long lost elders speak the words in my head and heart.
    Our homogenized society these days means many of these gems are no longer around. “Gumption” is probably the one I actually hear used most.
    Thanks for the little trip back in time.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 15, 2016 at 7:33 am

    I’ve heard all of these. I don’t her greedy gut much anymore but when I was young it was a common insult.

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