Appalachian Dialect

Ever = Every

Apple on tree

every adjective, adverb variant form ever, esp in compounds everbody, everone, etc.
1929 (in 1952 Mathes Tall Tales 108) He says wearin’ a lump of asafidity round yer neck an’ takin’ a little balsam ile ever-day will keep off might ‘nigh any sickness. 1939 Hall Coll. Bradley Fork NC They said, “You’ve done more than ever man that’s lived here. We’ve got a good civilized country and a good church.” (Aden Carver) ibid. Hazel Creek NC Well, when we was a-deer-drivin’, ever’ once in a while we’d find where a panter would kill a deer and cover it up. (Jake Welch) 1974-75 McCracken Logging 6:88 He could look at the side of that mountain over there [and] pick out ever piece of curly wood there was on it. 1982 Powers and Hannah Cataloochee 260 They may ever’ one of ’em be down [=sick] up there. 1997 GSMNPOHP 3:13 Ever summer we go up and have a short service and singing there.

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

Sometimes I don’t recognize words or phrases that I say that can be classified as Appalachian language.

In a recent video comment someone said they liked it when I said “ever apple on the tree.” After reading the comment I immediately realized I should have said every apple on the tree, but knew full well and good that I typically use ever instead of every.

I wondered if my usage was unusual enough to find its way into the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English, a quick look assured me it had.

The examples from 1939, 1974-75, 1982, and 1997 are exactly how I speak. I’m glad the viewer pointed out my use of ever because it led me down a delightful rabbit hole and brought another aspect of Appalachian language to my attention.


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  • Reply
    Gary Griffith
    September 10, 2021 at 9:58 am

    The word I hear as the opposite of “ever” and “every” is “nairy” as in “Nairy a one of them was any good”.

  • Reply
    Dennis M Morgan
    September 9, 2021 at 6:30 pm

    I have used ever all my life as in “ever now and then I catch a fish”.

  • Reply
    September 9, 2021 at 4:58 pm

    Ever is such a familiar usage that I hardly notice it, though I’m sure I’ve never said it and I rarely hear it now, being in Florida.

  • Reply
    Jane ODell
    September 9, 2021 at 1:50 pm

    I agree with you. Usage of ever like this is so common, I miss hearing it as a speech pattern! Hope you have a great weekend!

  • Reply
    Greg Church
    September 9, 2021 at 1:03 pm

    Ever time someone says I half to be from the hills I can’t figger how they come to know.

    • Reply
      Thomas Baker
      September 16, 2021 at 5:13 pm


  • Reply
    Cindy Childers
    September 9, 2021 at 10:42 am

    I use “ever” all the time.

  • Reply
    September 9, 2021 at 10:13 am

    Ever time I read your blog I find an Appalachian habit I did not realize was unique. Reminds me of an old saying one of my favorite people used to say, “Ever tub sets on its own bottom.” I have no idea what it means, but I think its a keeper.

    • Reply
      September 9, 2021 at 1:55 pm

      P{NNACLEC, the way I have heard it used means ever person is responsible for their own actions.

  • Reply
    Everett Everly
    September 9, 2021 at 9:39 am

    I ust to use every when I’d would write but never when I’d talk. When I talk it’s ever ever time. You see, to me, ever and never are antonyms. Ever means all and never means none. If every is proper then shouldn’t never be nevery?
    You remember back years ago when I ust to write my comments exactly the way I talk? And I’d make up funny soundin names to go with ’em ’til you got annoyed with ’em an I quit?

    • Reply
      Ray Presley
      September 9, 2021 at 2:26 pm

      Everett, In E. TN we almost never used “neither,” opting instead for “nevery.” As in, which one of these eggs is good. Ans: “nevery one:

      • Reply
        Ed Ammons
        September 10, 2021 at 9:27 am

        With me neither becomes nary? “Out of all them youngins not nary one made nothin outta hisself”

  • Reply
    Margie G
    September 9, 2021 at 9:33 am

    Ever day is a day we are blessed to be alive! Find the joy in ever minute and ever thing!!!

  • Reply
    Ray Presley
    September 9, 2021 at 9:16 am

    Yeah, I know that “ever” is supposed to be used as an adverb, and its cousin,”every” as an adjective…..But sometimes our language can be overly bookish, and it just sounds better to misuse the words. As an example, you’d never say, “Did you every want to run away from home?” but you very well might say, “Those storms have become an ever day occurrence.” Just sounds better.

  • Reply
    September 9, 2021 at 9:03 am

    I’m sure I say ever instead of every most of the time. Now I will have to start paying attention to see which one of the words I use when it should be every.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    September 9, 2021 at 8:52 am

    The use of “ever” you mention sounds so very familiar. But once again I am as you also mention unaware one way or the other when I heard it last, whether I say it that way or not. I can think of common expressions that do such as “ever which way” or “everday” clothes. I think this would be another case of I would talk like those I was with without being aware if that was a change. If I were with ‘outlanders’ I’d talk ‘outlandish’ I suppose (smile, just kidding) but around homefolks I would – I think – return to my raisin’ and talk as I did growing up.

    An intriguing subject for sure. Every now and then in your videos you say something that I note as being an “Appalachianism” that I’m sure you don’t notice at all. (Naturally, since Appalachian is your first language!) When I do though, I also think, ‘ Ah yes, I remember that.’ I love it. Makes me feel like I’ve known you all my life and in a way I have. I have traveled and worked all over Appalachia from Virginia to Alabama and I tell folks I have felt at home in all that country. One of the nicest compliments I have ever had is that my church folks here forget that I did not grow up here.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    September 9, 2021 at 8:26 am

    I think that I’m likely to use ever instead of every when it’s the first word in a sentence, such as “Ever single log had gone doty.”

    By the way, I wonder if you and other readers use the word doty, not only to describe decaying timber but the decay associated with age? I’m too lazy to look, but I’ll bet you it’s in the Dictionary of SM English

    • Reply
      September 9, 2021 at 10:08 am

      Don-I’m only familiar with the word being used in reference to wood, but you are correct-both usages are noted in the dictionary 🙂

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      September 9, 2021 at 12:59 pm

      I use dote and dotie to describe both trees and people. I am as likely to use “punk” or “punkie”.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 9, 2021 at 7:28 am

    I’m very fond of “ever which way” as an expression I’ve used all my life and never think about it. I am sure that I have no idea just how many time a day I use ever, it’s just part of my speaking language.

  • Reply
    September 9, 2021 at 7:13 am

    Tipper, since joining the Blind Pig And The Acorn a few years back you have made me more aware of my speech. Every and ever are two of the words I became conscience of. I would never have guessed it to be in the Smoky Mountain English. Glad it was. I use ever for every quite a bit.

  • Reply
    Patricia Price
    September 9, 2021 at 7:06 am

    Some of my family does use “ever”, as in “ever which way but loose.” I need to add this comment, though, about “asafidity.” My mother was made to wear an asafoetida bag around her neck in the winter. When she told the story as an adult, she said she reckoned it kept her safe because it smelled so bad that no one would get close enough to her to share their germs…

  • Reply
    Larry Paul Eddings
    September 9, 2021 at 6:22 am

    I sometimes use ever when every is actually the correct word. Not ever time, mind you, but often enough.

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