Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Do You Turn the Light Off or Cut it Off?


Do you turn the light off or cut it off? I cut it off and I cut it on too.

I was in head start when we moved into the house Pap built. I think my room was pink in the beginning, then it was yellow, then purple, and finally it was a tan color. Even though the wall color changed during the years I slept in the room the light switch cover didn’t until I reached adulthood.

Just before I met The Deer Hunter, I painted the room the tan color. It was then I noticed the elves and numbers light switch cover and decided it needed to go. I politely unscrewed the elves and their friends, went down the hallway and switched the elves for Pap and Granny’s beige light switch cover.

Years later, after I was a married mother of twin banshees, I was down at Granny’s looking for something in the back bedroom when I noticed the elves were still on her light switch cover.

I was up the hill in a flash. In no time flat I had the old cover switched with the beige one from my baby girls’ bedroom and it stayed there through the various colors of their room until one day they decided they no longer wanted to share a room and Chatter moved into the guest room.

After a fresh coat of paint was put on both rooms Chitter came to me with the elves light switch cover. She’d already taken it down and wanted to know what to do with it. I knew I couldn’t get rid of it, but I also knew I’d never see it if I put it in a box of keepsakes. I went to mine and The Deer Hunter’s room and put it on the closet light switch and its been there ever since.

So pretty much my entire life those little elves have been helping me cut the light on and cut the light off.


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  • Reply
    November 7, 2018 at 11:46 pm

    Awww, that is a sweet story. Good idea to switch with the closet light switch cover. (That word “switch'” is an interesting word with so many different meanings.)

  • Reply
    libby rouse
    November 7, 2018 at 10:34 pm

    I have always said cut off and cut on, and I am a real old Granny! Yes I would have not been able to part with the cover, great place you found for it.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 7, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    Well now when I was a youngin “head start” was how much distance you gave the girls in a foot race reserving enough to make sure you could win anyway. Now, as far as lighting it was the same action to turn the light on and off. You pull the string. If you was smart you tied a long string to the bedpost sos you didn’t have to get up to turn the light off or on. Fore we had lectricty we had to turn on the light with a match and blow cross the top of the chimbly to turn it off.

  • Reply
    November 7, 2018 at 6:43 pm

    I agree with Miss Cindy. Hope I am around to see where those elves end up in the next generation.

  • Reply
    November 7, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    Here in WI we have always said, “Turn of the light.” The term “cut” was used in describing the loss of electrical current that was transmitted from the pole, transmitter or power plant to each home. As, “The power has been cut.” There is a black out for some reason.

  • Reply
    Jeanette Queen
    November 7, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    A precious story, I love the stories of our childhoods, reminds me of simpler times…..

  • Reply
    C. Ronald Perry, Sr.
    November 7, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    Great story.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    November 7, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    Well, since you asked, I realized I turn lights off and on. I don’t know as I’ve ever said cut on or off or even put on and off. But if I heard them said I doubt if I would give it a second thought. I’ve also heard ‘flip the light on’ which – when you think about it – is a better description of a toggle switch than “turn”. Makes me wonder how ‘turn’ got connected with electric lights. Maybe the rotating switches on table lamps? Or was it transferred from the wick adjustment of kerosene lamps?

  • Reply
    November 7, 2018 at 11:43 am

    “Cut the lights” is used by our theater kids but most of the time we say “turn on/off the lights” or “switch on/off the lights”.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 7, 2018 at 11:37 am

    Guess I pretty much say…”Be sure and turn out the lights!” and “Turn on the light!” Sometimes saying, if we’re leaving…”Flip that switch!”, “Cut off the TV!” then when we are back…”Turn on the TV!” “Did you cut off the stove?”
    “Turn on the eye!” when getting ready to cook!
    One my husband hates to hear half-way or more down the drive-way, is me sayin’….”Oh snap, “I THINK” I forgot to unplug my curling iron!”….He says, “Try to remember before I turn around!” “Nope, I didn’t”, I say!
    We go back, he has to get out, walk to the door, unlock door, flip on the light switch, go back to the bathroom, etc….Yep, iron was unplugged after all and already cold!” The only thing I am able to say when he gets back with a solemn look on his face and he starts the car ….”Well, at least we know and won’t worry!” Getting old is the pits…LOL
    Thanks for this post Tipper,
    PS…My little “Pumpkin Skull” came in third…thanks for everything…The neon skull won!

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    November 7, 2018 at 10:28 am

    Tipper, I always say turn off the light because that’s what I heard growing up.

  • Reply
    November 7, 2018 at 10:04 am

    That is a cute light switch cover. I never ever heard cut off or cut on the lights growing up, we used turn off or turn on. But, when we moved to south central PA and people across the street had just moved in from south of Pittsburgh, they used those words and so did my dear German neighbor that lived beside us. Of course, the neighbors across the street also said “you’ns,”and I had never heard that expression either.

  • Reply
    Ima Turner
    November 7, 2018 at 9:19 am

    Some people switch a light on and off. Others flip it off and on. Some hit the lights. Some put them out. Some people mix and mingle in their terminology. Some people have motion sensors and don’t do anything. And what about “Clap On, Clap Off? What about touch lamps? There is a multiplicity of way to shed light on the matter and also to remove it.
    God said “Let there be light and there was light.” Reckon he has voice activated lighting?

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    November 7, 2018 at 8:46 am

    Great story about the light switch cover.
    I cut them out, cut them off, turn-em out and turn-em off.

  • Reply
    November 7, 2018 at 8:45 am

    I say both. The light switch cover is precious, and I can understand why you don’t want to part with it.

  • Reply
    November 7, 2018 at 8:45 am

    I turn the lights out. That’s how I always heard it said when I was growing up and still say it that way.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    November 7, 2018 at 8:08 am

    Around our house it was outen the light which is from the German side of my family and another word that drove my Mother crazy. She was so proper she corrected everything that was not perfect English. Between the German-Dutch and Scots-Irish she had her hands full. She was sure a young girls intelligence was judged by her use of the English language. She kept telling me not to talk like I just go off the boat. I guess it did rub off some but I still say outen the lights.

  • Reply
    Sheryl A Paul
    November 7, 2018 at 8:07 am

    A eautiful memento from your childhood. Wonder which of ghe girls will rescue it from yhe closet

  • Reply
    November 7, 2018 at 7:43 am

    Well Tipper, in our laundry room which use to be my oldest daughters bed room the light cover there is still there. Its flowers around it. Still to this day the bed room that was is purple, green and some other odd color. Like i said, its our laundry room now. I’ve bought the paint, just aint got around to painting it yet. But the light switch is still there and probably always will be. Thanks Tipper. Love your post this morning. God Bless!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 7, 2018 at 6:52 am

    That’s a beautiful story, Tip. Kids need some constants in their life, I understand that because I didn’t have much that was constant. Who knows where the elves will go next , maybe to the next generation on a little boy or girl’s bedroom. I’m sure glad you saved it for them!

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