Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Arrowy?

saying arrowy for arrow
Way back in the day I took an Appalachian Studies class in college. I thoroughly enjoyed it! The teacher was outstanding and that’s where I was first introduce to the Foxfire Books. I was familiar with most of the things we talked about in class and I took massive amounts of notes. I guess you could say that was my first writings on Appalachia. Who knew years later I’d be writing about it every day.

I still have all those notes and every once in a while I look over them.

The teacher had a weekly vocabulary test, most of the time I didn’t even need to study because I was already familiar with all the words. One word that grabbed my attention was arrowy. I had only heard it once in my life and to this day have still only heard it used that one time.

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Arrowy: arrow. “They’ve got a arrowy painted on the road showing you were to turn off now. I reckon they think people can’t do nothing by their ownselves.”

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Back in the day, before I ever laid eyes on The Deer Hunter, I went on a date with a boy from way down in the lower portion of Cherokee County. We went bowling. He was trying to explain the art of bowling to me and told me to watch for the arrowy. I said “Watch for what?” he said “The arrowy.”

After a few times of that back and forth I finally figured out he was telling me to watch for the arrow. Once he saw I understood he sorta of blushed and said “All my family say arrowy for arrow.” I told him not to worry my family talked funny too.

I shared the word in my own vocabulary test here on the Blind Pig several years back and not many of you had ever heard the usage either. Sandy, a Blind Pig reader, found this about the word:

Ar´row`y a. 1. Consisting of arrows. How quick they wheeled, and flying, behind them shot Sharp sleet of arrowy showers.- Milton.  2. Formed or moving like, or in any respect resembling, an arrow; swift; darting; piercing. By the blue rushing of the arrowy Rhone.

After I read Sandy’s great comment I found this on the Merriam Webster site:

Definition of ARROWY

1
: resembling or suggesting an arrow <arrowy pines>; especially: swiftly moving <the sky was radiant with arrowy bolts  — Mark Twain>
2
: consisting of arrows <arrowy showers>
*1616-first known use of arrowy
*marrowy rhymes with arrowy
The boy that took me bowling used the word to describe an arrow I should be watching and he did indeed pronounce arrowy to rhyme with marrowy.
For whatever reason the word arrowy was passed down through the generations in the boy’s family. Makes me wonder if he still says it? And if maybe his kids say it too-if he has kids?

Tipper

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25 Comments

  • Reply
    Bobbie
    January 10, 2017 at 11:54 am

    Arrowy makes sense to me…though I have not heard it before now. Follow the arrow way or the way an arrow would be going. I like it !

  • Reply
    Lee Mears
    January 3, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    Just for the record, I’ve never heard of ‘arrowy’ and I’ve heard some weird things from Irish ancestors in Haywood Co. mountains.

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    January 3, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    Very interesting!!! I suppose it would be right along the line of curvy or tasty, many things with a “y” on the end meaning more so.
    God bless.
    RB
    <><

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 3, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Tipper,
    and Cindy…when you get real bored get online and torment “spellcheck”, just to see how many misspells or inaccurate sentence structure it recognizes! ha
    For instance one of my favorites is typing pain and pane, both right except in the context of the sentence. However, sometimes I have a “pane” in my right toe, that I swear is different from the “pain” I have in my left pinky!
    Then there is many others like cane and Cain, weigh and way, weighted and waited all could be correct, because spellcheck doesn’t always recognize the use in a sentence. If you want to really booger with spellcheck type in a sentence wright, right and write. Ha
    Best idea, always proofread, but I never do! Most people will know what you mean especially on quick posts and comments no matter how it’s spelt! ha
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    jus'ne
    January 3, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    The 1st time I’ve heard this term, but makes sense. Now, I’m wondering if anyone can help with this … Geez MaNeti.. Geez seems to be separate from the following which is pronounced Ma NET i (as in neti pot/sinus wash). Heard it/said it all my life in Lexington County, SC and never thought about it until my Charlotte, NC boss asked what it meant. It’s something you say when exclaiming. Well, GeezManeti! My 85 yr old Daddy says it when he’s “excited” and his Mama said it. All that being said, I never recall Mama saying such and she was raised in Saluda County, SC. Perhaps it is something someone that walked way before started saying .. still wondering.

  • Reply
    Ken
    January 3, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Tipper,
    I never heard of that word …arrowy, and I’ve been shot with a bow and arrow when I was a kid. I had just got a new Cap-buster and my brother wanted to play Indian. After extensive hunting I spotted his feather sticking up from his headband. But when I hollered for him to come out from behind those rocks, he raised up and sent an arrow in my direction. It hit me right between the eyes, the arrow was made from a milkweed bush. I had emptied my new pistol and he was supposed to fall. We played pretty rough. …Ken

  • Reply
    TimMc
    January 3, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    I’m not familiar with “arrowy”. A similar sounding word “airy” I am…

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 3, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Arrowy or Arrow, it doesn’t matter how it’s spoken and long as you get the point?

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 3, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Tipper,
    I jest don’t have “airy” a clue where I heard “arrowy” the first time. But have heard the term used.
    I have heard “airy” used more than “arrowy”. Not to be confused with “nary”! Which is probably what some of my ancestors were going for and it come out “airy” instead of “nary”!
    I have seen some marrowy big cow bones, ewwww! that the dog loves to holler out and gulp like it was a licorice stick! Shoooeee!
    Loved todays post!
    PS…I have no “airy” idea if it’s supposed to snow here are not. I think the prognosticator is in a indecisive state as well! His “arr'”s, if you look at the map, are all “arrowy” with many directions moving all over the Southern Appalachians.
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    January 3, 2017 at 11:49 am

    I don’t remember ever hearing arrowy. Interesting word. Maybe it is proper to use arrowy to describe something that is pointed like an arrow, but is not actually an arrow you shoot from a bow! If that is the case, your bowling date’s use of the word arrowy is probably correct.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 3, 2017 at 10:41 am

    Is it OK if I give a little lesson in the use of spell check here?
    When you write in a format that offers spell check you have three options:
    1. Accept the spelling that the spell checker offers.
    2. If it is a word the spell checker’s dictionary doesn’t know, right click on the word with the red underline and choose “Add to dictionary.” It won’t bother you again.
    3. Turn the dictionary off altogether.
    I don’t know how all this works for those people who write with their thumbs but none of their words are spelled right anyway.

  • Reply
    Chritine Armor
    January 3, 2017 at 10:41 am

    I remember hearing “borrowry”or ” barry” for borrow. That was in central Illinois–a long time ago!!

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    January 3, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Arrowy is new to me.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 3, 2017 at 10:19 am

    I have never heard arrowy used as anything but an adjective describing something long and slender. However, where I learnt to talk, we pronounced arrow (r). That’s all, just r. What other kids call a bow and arrow was to us a bow-n-r (pronounced bow-nar). I still can’t pronounce it the way most people do.
    There are other words I have trouble with too. Narrow wants to come out as “nar” and harrow as “har”. It used to bother me a lot but not no more. I speak the way I speak and if you don’t understand I will explain it to you. If you still don’t, I will explain it again and again til you do, but don’t laugh lest you find yourself waking up Wednesday a week.

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    January 3, 2017 at 9:31 am

    With each of your vocabulary tests I am made more aware of some of the unique phrases or words I have heard in my life. As they come back to me at odd moments, I always wonder if just the family or if the word may just be local. Very often I see a word on your vocabulary test that takes me all the way back to my early childhood.
    We once lived in a remote coal mining county where they always referred to a refrigerator as a Kelvinator, and such a pleasant surprise to recently meet a former resident of that county who still calls it a Kelvinator. Just the vocabulary of the different areas of Appalachia would be a great study. Also once had a very loud friend my mother described as coarse. I still smile when I think of that because Mom was not given to saying anything negative about anyone. That is probably not local, but I have only heard it used that one time.
    I had not heard the word arrowy. His children will probably learn the word because those old words sometimes just slide so easily off our tongue that it can even surprise us. My sister and I still get the giggles when one of us embarrasses ourselves by saying I heered something.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    January 3, 2017 at 9:24 am

    This s the first time I’ve heard arrowy but like Miss Cindy I’m familiar with willowy as used to describe slim and limber like a willow, using this analogy I guess we might call something which is straight and stiff as being arrowy. Yeh thank thet might work?

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 3, 2017 at 8:46 am

    Odd, used as both a noun (follow the arrowy) and an adjective (arrowy shower). Sounds much like one of those cases where a noun was turned into an adjective by the addition of “y”.
    Never heard that word spoken or, until today, seen it written.

  • Reply
    larry grifith
    January 3, 2017 at 8:42 am

    I’ve heard narrowy for narrow,but not arrowy,I have heard arrow used as bow and r and bow and err.

  • Reply
    larry grifith
    January 3, 2017 at 8:42 am

    I’ve heard narrowy for narrow,but not arrowy,I have heard arrow used as bow and r and bow and err.

  • Reply
    larry grifith
    January 3, 2017 at 8:42 am

    I’ve heard narrowy for narrow,but not arrowy,I have heard arrow used as bow and r and bow and err.

  • Reply
    larry grifith
    January 3, 2017 at 8:42 am

    I’ve heard narrowy for narrow,but not arrowy,I have heard arrow used as bow and r and bow and err.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    January 3, 2017 at 8:40 am

    This comes almost exclusively from my linguistics/semiotics background…so, it seems to me that early English (where arrowy started–1616) was far more precise than standard, modern English. As you point out, Tipper, Arrowy “suggests” an arrow but is not a physical arrow. So the young man from Cherokee County was correct, it was an arrowy that you were looking for not an archery implement. I think we do that in Appalachia in the way we see, experience, and speak about the world. There is a physical world of objects and a linguistical world of concepts. So, we breath air but a day can be airish. I think that is why so many good writers come from our region…we respect words.
    One last thing your story recalled for me. I have a dear friend from Eastern Kentucky and we met in graduate in school. I was trying so hard not to talk as I do. To be honest, I was scared to death to be working on my masters degree. Anyway, we were driving around Terre Haute, Indiana looking for a Halloween party and I couldn’t see out the window. So, I forgot myself and said “I know it’s cold, but I need to roll down the winder.” I caught myself and quickly apologized. She smiled, releaved, and said “It’s ok, I say winder, too.”

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    January 3, 2017 at 8:29 am

    Miss Cindy: THAT SPELL CHECK IS HUFFY AND JUST GETS TO DEEP INTO THE SPELLING BUSINESS! We can tak any way we kar to and foks will understand!
    Eva Nell
    p.s. Hope yur new yer is jus fin!
    Tel that Tipper to send me the address where I should mail the girls’ the 4 copies of “Fiddler” an I’ll get em in the mail!!!

  • Reply
    quinn
    January 3, 2017 at 8:03 am

    Now you’ve got me wondering if anyone says “marrowy”!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 3, 2017 at 8:03 am

    If he has children, I have no doubt that they say arrowy. That’s what children do, they mimic what they see and hear. You know…monkey see, monkey do!
    I can’t say that I have ever heard the word arrowy. I reminds me of the words willow and willowy.
    I get red underline from spellcheck on arrowy but not on willowy. Why do you suppose one word is okay and the other is not.

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