Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Blind Pig & The Acorn – Appalachian Dialect

I started the Blind Pig & the Acorn in March of 2008. It only took a few weeks for me to realize posts about the rich language of Appalachia were a hit with most blog readers.

When I first started looking at the analytics for the blog, I figured at least a few of the most popular posts would be about Appalachian language, but I was wrong. Traditional Appalachian foods rank the highest when it comes to outside traffic landing here on the blog.

When I dug in a little deeper I discovered my first instinct about dialect posts wasn’t entirely wrong. Coming in at number 18 is the entire category of Appalachian Dialect.

If you look in the right sidebar of this page you’ll see a list of categories. If you click on one of the category subjects you will find all the posts on that particular subject that have been published here on the Blind Pig-in reverse order.

The dialect category is the only category that shows up in the most popular Blind Pig & the Acorn post list. The first post in the Appalachian Dialect category was published in April of 2008-and it’s about me.

Tipper and Steve

Tipper and Steve

Names can be funny. Who hasn’t felt sorry for the guy in high school named Harry Pitts (hope that wasn’t your brother). I’m sure some of you have wondered about my name-Tipper. Someone once asked me if I was named for Tipper Gore, I wasn’t. My big brother is responsible for my name being Tipper.

Steve is 5 years older than I am and has always watched out for me-just like a big brother should. Like all babies beginning to walk I was constantly falling down. He was afraid I would get hurt so he started trying to warn Pap and Granny “She’s going to tip over, she’s going to tip over.” He finally started calling me Tipper. My new nickname quickly took over my given name.

Places have funny names too. In Appalachia, there is no shortage of strange names for cities, towns, roads, streets, and communities.

shinbone

Numerous names used in the US came from over the big pond with the first settlers. Raleigh, Charleston, and London come to mind.

Often names are repetitive from state to state-like Trenton, Springfield or Austin. But the really strange ones always make me wonder. Here is a list of 5 odd community names from my area of Appalachia.

  1. Wehutty
  2. Hot House
  3. Bug Scuttle
  4. Hard Scrabble
  5. Hanging Dog

For more interesting names you can check out Appalachian History’s list.

Please play along with the name game and leave a comment with a list of the peculiar names you’ve come across in your neck of the woods.

Tipper

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34 Comments

  • Reply
    Debbie Wallen Foxbower
    August 26, 2018 at 11:37 am

    Tutor Key, Ky and down the road was River, Ky with Turkey Knob hill.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    April 11, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    Gee, no one mentioned Two Egg, FL

  • Reply
    David W. Watts
    November 28, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    well you may already have this, and I didn’t author it but here’s a good one.
    when the government builds a dam its tradition to name the dams and lakes after the place the lake covers. In wv one such lake inundated the little community of Gad wv. the dam was called summersville dam, after the next nearest community. True story.
    In lincoln county wv theer is a place and community called big ugly. True story.
    News reports often read like “New York woman killed in train wreck etc.” also a true statement. What might have been If. “Big ugly woman drowns in gad dam boating accident”????
    Quote from real live West by god Virginian: “this side of the mason dixon line, if yall don’t talk like me, then your the one that talks funny”.

  • Reply
    Weisha
    August 16, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    Sweat Heifer, NC

  • Reply
    Michael
    August 15, 2014 at 9:37 am

    Possum Kingdom on down here in the foothills

  • Reply
    Kaye Runn
    August 13, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Pucky Huddle Missouri

  • Reply
    Mary
    August 13, 2014 at 10:13 am

    The ones that come to me first, for here in Arkansas, are Blue Eye (right on the border, also in MO), Y City, Nail, Toad Suck, and Snowball. Seems folks liked to give ‘different’ names to a lot of places. Enjoyed yours, Tipper, and the names from the other comments.

  • Reply
    Jerry in Arkansas
    August 13, 2014 at 7:49 am

    In our area we have Goose Ankle and Terrapin Neck. Another old community was called Lick Skillet.

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    August 12, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    Tipper: how about Sedro Woolley. its not in Appalachia. but virtually everyone there is from n.c. or their folks are. i though for years my dad was making up most of those names. loads of good feeling for my fellow piggys. k.o.h

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    August 12, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    Anybody ever heard of Naked Place Mtn in Madison County, NC? It has to be a grassy bald, but the name has always tickled me!

  • Reply
    TimMc
    August 12, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    5 points,, Bald Knob,, Slip-up,, Mud Tavern,, Punkin Center,, Blowing Springs,, Cold Springs,, Lindsey Hall,, Chicken Foot,, Pin Hook,,Pine Torch,, Oakville,( where Jesse Owens the famous Black Olympic Athlete was born) I went to School with some of his family….Just to name a few..

  • Reply
    Jackie
    August 12, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    There’s a place in Georgia named Point Peter. The original name was Peter’s Pint. When the community petitioned for a Post Office they had to change the name. The original referred to where you could buy a pint of moonshine from Peter.
    There was also a Booger Holler. The residents were often heard to say, “It’s snot funny.”

  • Reply
    spechull ed
    August 12, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    thers a place neer heer cald DEAD END iv seed ther sines butt i haint never ben caws all ther rodes quit for tha git thair

  • Reply
    Hope U Seay
    August 12, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Did you know it’s only 8½ miles from Jupiter to Mars (Mars Hill in Madison County that is.) Madison also has Luck, Trust and Joe. Also Possum Trot and Lickskillet.
    Ever been on Ankle Road. Its in the South Mountains area of upper Cleveland County. Ankle Road turns off Dirty Ankle Road but runs back into it.

  • Reply
    Judith
    August 12, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Fry, Mell, Exie, Pierce, Black Gnat, in Green Co. Ky.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth Mamma
    August 12, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    I have made lists of Appalachian roads, town names etc. as we traveled to and fro from our home here in East Tennessee. I just love the names.
    I find that there are a lot of names representing birds, animals and other critters in the mountains.
    “Killpecker Ridge”…Would that be named for a deadly woodpecker area? Nope, a “Killpecker” is a new man on a logging crew.
    “Hant Hollow”, “Fighting’ Creek”, of course lots of “Devil” names.
    “Blockhouse Mountain” and “More Liquor Branch” congers up the memories of moonshining days.
    “Big Butt”, a broken off look of the end of a mountain.
    Tree names, plant names, Cherokee (morphed) Indian names and logging names always are some of my favorites. I have pictures of my Grandfather on the mountains, where trees were being cut and also him standing by the railroad tracks being laid and the tent camps.
    “Sawteeth”, a section of the Smokies that looks like the blade of a saw.
    “Jumpup Ridge”…My Dad was teased by his brothers that he could “jumpup” a mountain if his Daddy was huntin’ him to go to work in the ‘backer patch!
    It’s and old endearing term meaning to run up a hill and jump over ivy and branches to get away from the pursuer, such as a bear, a revenuer or a Daddy needing more help.
    Love this post Tipper,
    PS…Someday I’ll get around to sending you those logging pictures in the mountains of NC.

  • Reply
    Joy Newer
    August 12, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    Might want to take a look at Hop,Skip and jump to Toad Hop/wth history. Interesting blog.
    Can’t go a day without reading your posts, have adopted all of you.
    Love,
    Joy Newer

  • Reply
    Noah Lott
    August 12, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    If Delores is in Caldwell, NC she missed Rhodhiss (shared with Burke County) and Blowing Rock (shared with Watauga County and the rest of the world.) Then there’s Globe and Mortimer (ghost towns left behind by the Ritter Lumber Company back in early 1900’s) How about Cajah’s Mountain? Nobody seems to know who Cajah was, but he has a mountain named for him. and Baton (pronounced baiten.) Don’t forget Connelly Springs Road that doesn’t go to Connelly Springs in either direction. Last but not least the world famous destination for sun and sand seekers PLAYMORE BEACH!
    Oh, I forgot! There is a place over in Lenoir called Google.

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    August 12, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Growing up in Southern Indiana there were a few different names. Gnawbone, French Lick, and Bean Blossom were all within 30 miles or so of my home town. While I lived in Texas I also knew of the earlier posted ones. I would like to add another, Dime Box, Texas.

  • Reply
    Margaret
    August 12, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    Michigan has Paradise and Hell. When asked to name the town the founder said you can call it Hell for all I care.

  • Reply
    Noah Little
    August 12, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    A lick log is where our Appalachian ancestors put out salt for their livestock. In those days of no fences it was a way of keeping your animals from wandering too far from home. They always came back when they felt the urge for a salty snack. The salt would permeate the wood and help to preserve it but the animals would eventually lick it into oblivion.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 12, 2014 at 11:50 am

    We have a lot of things around Black Mountain called by Grey Beard. Around Canton is Coffey Branch. Near me is a Ruth Street, kind of an odd name for a street. Also near me are streets called Laurel, Azalea, and Rhododendron, the mountain flowers.

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    August 12, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Just when I thought your blog couldn’t be any more interesting I find a post about something I have pondered many times. In WV I must list Cucumber, Odd, Gassaway, War, and Pruntytown, just to name a few. By far the most interesting name I find in my area of WV is the name of a creek in Summers County called Stinking Lick.
    Now Lick conjures up all kinds of definitions, and a person from there said Lick often used for creek. I can’t find that however. But, I must say, Tipper, you have me thinking again. With all the work around here, I don’t have time for a lot of thinkin’.

  • Reply
    eva nell wike, PhD
    August 12, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Well Tipper, I’ll just jump in here and tell you one name that allers made me wonder who come up with it is the name LICK LOG. Or it could be Licklog.
    As a child, as we traveled by horse drawn wagon toward Cherokee County, it seemed we would never get past Lick Log. But I may be wrong as on those slow moving trips I mainly slept under a warm quilt as we ‘easied’ down the road!
    Hope the rains have let up a bit for you. We have a sunny day on our hands so I must do some weeding -with ROUND-UP!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Ken Ryan
    August 12, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Right off the top of my head I’m familiar with these Texas town names: Gun Sight, Gun Barrel City, Point Blank, Cut and Shoot, Fairplay, and Muleshoe.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    August 12, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Whynot, North Carolina was first settled in the 18th century by German and English people, along with the nearby communities of Steeds, Sophia, Erect, Hemp, and Lonely. The origin of the name came from residents debating a title for their community. A man asked “Why not name the town Whynot and let’s go home?” The community was originally spelled with two separate words, “Why Not”. Area residents first began making pottery in the 18th century. The Why Not Academy and Business Institute, a combination public and private school, was located in the community from 1893 to 1916. It has frequently been noted on lists of unusual place names.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    August 12, 2014 at 10:31 am

    I have often wondered where some of the names came from too. Some that I know are; Turnip Town, Owl Town, Lick Log, Hell’s (Holler) Hollow, Fighting Town, Talking Rock, Truck Wheel and Shake Rag.

  • Reply
    N Sky
    August 12, 2014 at 10:05 am

    Here in Suffolk, Va there is a road I’ve wondered about, Desert Rd. Now where this gets strange is that it runs though The Great Dismal Swamp and it’s pronounced, ‘Dee-zart Rd’…? Amongst the peasut farmers and the corn growers, how do you expect they got to DeeeZart Rd? There’s dancing bears, deer, and frogs that call in the rain over there. I’d love to know the back story to that name….

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    August 12, 2014 at 9:50 am

    The name Cashiers (Jackson County, NC) is not so strange, but the pronunciation is. If you are not from this area, you would probably pronounce it like the title of the people who check you out at the grocery store, immediately identifying yourself as an outsider. If you pronounce it CASHERS, like the casher of a check, you would be pronouncing it correctly.

  • Reply
    Gina S
    August 12, 2014 at 9:11 am

    I remember Cat Square, a wide place in the road down in Lincoln County. Over in Swannanoa one small area is known as Black Bottom. South of Gainesville FL sits the small town of Micanopy. The story behind its name tells of long ago days when a local trader took in furs from nearby Native Americans. Supposedly the natives knew only a smattering of English. When wishing to trade, they would simply say “Me can no pay.” Currently the name is pronounced mick-a-no-pee.

  • Reply
    dolores
    August 12, 2014 at 8:47 am

    Can’t come up with some strange names, but as I drive through Caldwell County I will see a name that must be given in honor of someone special. Interesting post.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    August 12, 2014 at 8:07 am

    my favorites have to be Chunky Gal and Slap Ass Gap.
    Being from the Pennsylvania mountains we had the usual Turkey Ridge, Raccoon Holler and all of the Amish names. Intercourse and Blue Ball come to mind first.

  • Reply
    Carol Stuart
    August 12, 2014 at 7:47 am

    A few of my favorite place names in West Virginia are: Onego, Cucumber and Needmore.

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    August 12, 2014 at 7:42 am

    We have a fair number of oddities around here. I had a friend who lived in Booger Holler. There is a cross roads community called Soap Stick. Those are my favorites.

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