Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Funny Sayings from Appalachia

tipper talking about funny sayings

One of my recent videos goes right along with Jim’s guest post from yesterday.

Hope you enjoyed the sayings 🙂

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  • Reply
    Marianna Foltzrivers
    October 27, 2020 at 2:34 am

    Love that. Dad was from Cloverdale, In. He said most of these. And he called Peonies “pinees”. Crack of the barn. Pennsylvania Dutch originally. Foltzs.

  • Reply
    October 18, 2020 at 2:49 am

    Some very familiar, some slightly changed (each family or community has probably put their own twist on sayings) & some completely new to me here in SW Ohio. Funniest to me was ‘go back & lick your calf over’ Reminded me of ‘so rushed I just gave it a lick & a promise’. Thought that meant barely doing a job but telling yourself you’d get back & finish it later.

  • Reply
    October 17, 2020 at 12:43 pm

    My Mama, her folks and my Dad said most of these. But she would always say, “Grinnin like a SUMMER possum.” These are plumb pithy.

  • Reply
    Yecedrah Beth Higman
    October 16, 2020 at 5:54 pm

    I have heard all of except “lit a rag” we used “lit a shuck” I guess it was a corn shuck! For air in a jug we said ” I wouldn’t spit on him if he was on fire, meaning the same thing. Very funny sayings old timers used to use in their talk!

  • Reply
    October 16, 2020 at 2:12 pm

    I grew up with a lot of these sayings. Mama grew up with chickens, and she used to say “cross as an old settin(g) hen!).

  • Reply
    Sharon Schuster
    October 16, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    I always heard, “gotta see a man about a horse.” My father used to say, “grinning like a mule eatin’ a briar through a picket fence.” When I got stuck with washing dishes as a kid, Aunt Ruby, wielding a dish towel, would inspect them and tell me to “go back and lick your calf over.” if I missed a spot. If something isn’t quite “up to snuff,” my grandfather declared, “it’s not fit for a summer hound.”

    • Reply
      Mary Lou McKillip
      October 16, 2020 at 4:26 pm

      Tipper grandmother nick name was Dutch course her ancestors Holland or Scotland . Her grandmother had a word for things looking dirty she would pitchy that pitchy.

  • Reply
    October 16, 2020 at 12:50 pm

    Sure did enjoy the savings , knew some ……. when mentioning ” Get your goat, and ” Be up the creek”, we add ” Up the creek without a paddle” … also ever hear ”Diddly squat”….. also my mama would exclaim this whenever we’d go somewhere and get back home.. ” Home again ,home again jiggity jog ” guess that implied we got out and got home in good time, or lickity split.

  • Reply
    Gene Smith
    October 16, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    I’ve heard “He’s stemming his fodder,” meaning leaving coarse, less desirable, food on one’s plate, much as a mule leaves the unpalatable centers of dried corn leaves (fodder). Also, my granddad used an expression, “As independent as a hog on ice.” I love picturesque speech!

  • Reply
    October 16, 2020 at 11:33 am

    Loved all the sayings. I like the Word pictures they create…helps one understand & communicate better. I like it when you use another saying to explain a funny saying too. We loved listening to a preacher who would say, ” his sin was blacker than the inside of a mule. “

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 16, 2020 at 11:12 am

    I think the “between me and you and the gatepost” was a nice way of saying, ‘Don’t let this go no further’ without making it sound like the hearer couldn’t be trusted to be quiet.

    Going to see the man about a dog is a very gentle way to say, ‘None of your business’. Also heard it once as ‘go do something you can’t do for me.’ That was from an old man in Indiana.

    Air in a jug is a way to say ‘if you were totally in their power they would show no mercy’.

    Once again you remind me there are many ways to make one’s point; brutally, humorously, gently, wisely, memorably and combinations. The one we chose tells a lot about us. Many people never seem to understand that what we say and how we say it reveals us to others.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    October 16, 2020 at 11:10 am

    Good ones, Tipper! I thought of a few more: “goin’ jessie” (means runs well or goes fast or accomplishes a lot).
    “I told him how the cow ate the cabbage.” (means I told it straight). “piece of the way down the road” (when you don’t know exactly how far something is). “It’s about dark-thirty.” (when someone asks the time and you don’t have a watch).
    “We had a come to Jesus meeting!” (means I told him exactly how things are going to be). “hungry as a skunk” (I never understood where that one came from.). “That just boils my pot of beans!” (means that made me angry). “worked like a Turk” (means really worked hard). “hungry as a starving Armenian” (really hungry). “pure as the driven snow” .

  • Reply
    October 16, 2020 at 10:29 am

    I remember quite a few of those sayings. Madder than a wet hen and Happy as a pig in mud were sayings I heard most often. But I also heard All gussied up, Between you and me and the fence post, grinning like a possum, a fur piece, I gave him what for and Don’t let them get your goat. I still use the Eyes bigger than your stomach saying. The other sayings you mentioned I don’t remember hearing but if I had lived next to my Grandparents I probably would have heard some of those in their conversations.

  • Reply
    Margie Goldstein
    October 16, 2020 at 9:52 am

    I cannot get over how funny and peculiar our sayings really are! Tipper, you’re a born story teller. Somehow I pull up a chair, begin to watch you, and the next thing I know I’m in another place that’s far away from my cares as you transport me to my past and days I’ve only dreamed of. Imagine walking in the blackest darkness with a lit rag as opposed to a blinding flashlight- scary stuff right there. One thing I can add is “ SHES prettier than a rooster with socks on!” I told that to a few high class broads ( they thunked they was) and they nearly passed out. Lol. Good old Appalachia where your high falooters just cant get their gourds blowed up… lol

  • Reply
    October 16, 2020 at 9:35 am

    I love every one of those saying and have heard most of them. They must be widely used to be known throughout several states in Appalachia. We describe a small area by saying it ain’t big enough to whup a cat in.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    October 16, 2020 at 9:10 am

    Tipper, you sure got me to thinking about sayings of Appalachia and realizing how many I use that came from my Dad.
    He talks like he has a mouthful of mush, He’s a mealy mouth, he’s up the miff tree, meaning they were miffed about something. When you get up of the morning grouchy you would be told you got up on the wrong side of the bed. When Dad would question me about something I had done wrong and I didn’t give straight answers he would say, “” son you are beating the devil around the bush.”” One of my Mom’s favorites was never put anything in your ear smaller than your elbow or when she was asked where she was headin to and it was none of your business she would say “” going to Bud’s.”” I never did learn where Bud’s was.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    October 16, 2020 at 9:04 am

    Enjoyed this, Tipper. I don’t know how in the world you could do all that talking without constantly swiping at those blankety-blank gnats that have been so bad this year.

    • Reply
      Sherry Dobbs
      October 16, 2020 at 12:20 pm

      Love these old sayings and have heard quite a few of them,. When I tell my Hubby I’ve got a tickle in my throat…he always says That’s better than a bird up your a___! A might colorful but his folks used to say that a lot!

  • Reply
    October 16, 2020 at 8:52 am

    Tipper. I have heard a lot of the sayings . While these are not funny, my daddy had two sayings when he saw someone getting uppity or acting like they thought they were better than others. He would say a bird never flew so high they didn’t have to land sometime and another one, give a person enough rope and they will hang themselves.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    October 16, 2020 at 7:30 am

    My Granddad Nick Byers used to exclaim, “I ganny”. That was his expression for “By Golly”.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 16, 2020 at 6:41 am

    Those are wonderful, Tipper, we have such colorful sayings. I’ve heard most of the ones you listed but not all. I imagine people just made them up as they went along to fit whatever situation they had. I would characterize most of these sayings a very clever. Remember most of these sayings were before television…so folks had to entertain themselves!

    • Reply
      October 16, 2020 at 8:32 am

      All these idioms are quite common to us that have grown up here, but on more than one occasion I have been talking to another native of applicha while someone was present that didn’t grow up here. When using these phrases I more than likely have to explain it to the outsiders.

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