It’s time for my monthly Appalachian Vocabulary Test. I thought it would be fun to use spooky words for October’s test. But when I started trying to come up with spooky sounding words-other than the most obvious boogers, haints, etc.-I drew a total blank.
I pulled out my Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English for some help-and these are the words I came up with-take the test and see how you do.
- Devil’s brew
- Evil foot
- Hair ball
- Booger: ghost, demon, or a bad person. “Now that you’ve stayed till dark you better take my flashlight so you can see how to get home. You don’t want to run into any boogers.”
- Devil’s brew: moonshine, homemade liquor. “He’d been down the road with that gang of outlaws drinking the Devil’s brew. Thats why he came home ready to fight. He might as well be the Devil after he takes a few drinks of that stuff.”
- Evil foot: infection in a horses foot. “I’m afraid Ole Sam has the evil foot. I don’t know what in the world we’ll do if I can’t use him to plow. We’ll be ruint.”
- Hair ball: a ball made of hair used by witches. “Granny Beavers was 94 years old when she told me about the scariest thing she ever saw. She said when she was a little young girl her great grandmother took her over the mountain to check on a old lady who lived by herself. Everybody said the old lady was a witch. When Granny and her grandmother got to the house, the old woman came out and hollered some sort of jiberage and threw balls of hair at them. Granny Beavers said her grandmother died before day light the next morning of a awful terrible pain in her head.”
- Haunt (haint, hant): a ghost or spirit. “Theres a haunt down there at the river. It comes out every full moon. I know it does cause I seen it with my own two eyes.”
My thoughts on the words:
*I grew up hearing folks talk about boogers-especially telling children if they didn’t mind a booger would get them. I still hear booger on a regular basis and still use the word myself.
*I’ve heard folks call moonshine/alcohol the Devil’s Brew-also the Devil’s Water.
*I’ve never heard nor read #3.
*I’ve never heard hair ball used in this manner-I thought a hair ball was something cats spit up or you found rolling around under your bed.
*I’ve heard older folks use the words haunt and haint-both used in the same way-to describe a ghost.
I hope you’ll leave me a comment and tell me how you did on the test. If you drop back by tomorrow you can read Charles Fletcher’s take on the Haunts, Ghosts, and Boogers that roamed the woods of western NC when he was a boy.