Appalachian Dialect

Hunt Up


hunt up verb phrase To search for and find (something or someone).
1940 Oakley Roamin’/Restin’ 114 We then pulled out these boards and carried them to the yard of the cabin where the ded man was and we hunted up hammer and hand saw. 1970 Thornburgh Great Smoky Mts 162 That writer-man hunted up the triflinest, the most no-countest family he could find to write up 1983 McDermit Boy Named Jack 19 He took out to hunt him up.

—Dictionary of Southern Appalachian English

A comment left on one of my Appalachian language videos the other day got me to thinking.

The person was sharing unusual words and phrases they heard their family use over the years. One they shared was “I’m hunting up a pen to use.”

My first thought was that I use hunt up in the same manner and so does most of my family. Then I got to wondering if the usage really was that unusual to other folks. Is this a usage you’re familiar with?

2021 Brasstown I’ve got to go out on the front porch and hunt me up some jars for my next canning.


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  • Reply
    Kevin Knight
    August 15, 2021 at 10:16 pm

    Hi Tipper, I have heard mountain people say “I gotta hunt up somethin’ for dinner” or “I gotta find somethin’ to kill that snake with ‘ or ‘ I need to hunt up a basket to put them taters in .”

  • Reply
    August 13, 2021 at 1:15 pm

    Oh I Love all these comments ….I’m sure I’ve used ” hunt up ” at various times over the years …as in, hunt up a recipe I’m interested in.

  • Reply
    August 13, 2021 at 8:59 am

    Got a good laugh reading these comments. I use “hunt up” too and probably not aware of when I use it. Jackie’s comment about turning over in hymnal paints a very comical picture. My husband says “I’m going to wash off my face.” And I reply, “Don’t wash it off; keep your face on.” LOL

  • Reply
    August 12, 2021 at 6:11 pm

    At church we’re told to stand UP to sing and to TURN OVER in the hymnal. I’ve never been able to get in one much less turn over in it.

  • Reply
    Dennis M Morgan
    August 12, 2021 at 5:54 pm

    I have used the term hunt up. Where I grew it usually had a negative tone to it. Such as “he hunted up a bunch of junk and tried to make it work”.

  • Reply
    Jane D. ODell
    August 12, 2021 at 5:16 pm

    Yes, we use hunt up for something we are looking for…when I was teaching 8th graders, I often had to hunt up an example to show my class to help them understand the lesson better. I guess the most frequently we use it is in reference to food. I’ve got to go in the kitchen and hunt me up something for supper! I loved this one!

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    August 12, 2021 at 11:37 am

    We hunt up stuff too. Also made me think of “come up” I remember a friend of Mama’s whose portable radio was misplaced saying that radio had better come up.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    August 12, 2021 at 10:57 am

    Yes, and many other additions of the word up to words that are perfectly clear all by themselves. I cook up a pot of beans, fix up a room, total up a list of numbers, do up my hair, tidy up the living room, shape up a piece of clay, butter up my bread, etc.

  • Reply
    sula hay
    August 12, 2021 at 10:35 am

    Love all the phrases and comments. All used in my family in the coal mining region of southwest Virginia. I’m proud of the language and it certainly is an improvement to words that are using now.
    Thanks for your posts.

  • Reply
    August 12, 2021 at 10:06 am

    I sure do and use the phrase all the time around here. I have to hunt up this and that , that I have list. Lol

  • Reply
    August 12, 2021 at 10:05 am

    Me and my family use hunt up, wash up, scare up and fire up and other phrases like this without thinking about it. When I use to bird hunt or rabbit hunt I would tell my dogs when starting out to “hunt em up”.

  • Reply
    August 12, 2021 at 9:33 am

    I have always hunted up everthing. This makes me wonder if all my other ups are unique to my area such as showing up, ‘fessing up, giving up, growing up, coming up, and even thinking up.

  • Reply
    Darrell Keith Cook
    August 12, 2021 at 9:27 am

    I have not heard these words too much lately, but in past times I remember people saying “scare up” and “fetch up” .

  • Reply
    Larry Paul Eddings
    August 12, 2021 at 9:20 am

    Yes’um, most mornings I’ve got to hunt me up some coffee.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 12, 2021 at 9:20 am

    I’ve been known to hunt up stuff but have also heard scare up and scratch up. “I’ve got to get in the kitchen and scratch up something to eat.”

  • Reply
    Kat Swanson
    August 12, 2021 at 9:08 am

    In the Virginia coalfields we hunted up lots of things….matching socks , something to eat….I even hunted up little brothers. The phrase was heard and used daily. Like Miss Cindy’s experience, I probably used it when I was not among my own kind….like when I met my college room mate , from New Jersey, over 50 years ago. She once looked at me and said….”you are not like normal people ” .
    We are still best friends….and she still does not understand me sometimes!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    August 12, 2021 at 8:54 am

    My dad said many times. “Y’all don’t rush off. Stay with us and we’ll hunt up a bean to eat.”

  • Reply
    August 12, 2021 at 8:49 am

    I’ve heard and used the phrase all my life. Hush up is commonly used in my family as well. Dry it up right now was an order from our parents when we had been whining or crying too long.

  • Reply
    August 12, 2021 at 8:45 am

    Yes, I use “hunt up” a lot or “hunt me up” such as “I’m gonna hunt me up a stick to clean this gunk off my shoes”. This reminds me of a phrase I only heard my grandmother use. Instead of saying “write it down”, she would say “set it down”. For example “I need to make a grocery list. I’m going to hunt up a piece of paper to set it down.”

  • Reply
    August 12, 2021 at 8:37 am

    I often say “hunt for”, as in I’m hunting for that stray sock.

  • Reply
    Margie G
    August 12, 2021 at 8:31 am

    I’ve always heard hunting up in reference to supper. I’ve also used it for special attire like gotta hunt up an outfit to wear. It’s a darn good phrase applicable to anything you may be on the look for even a date- “gotta hunt up some feller to take me to the dance.”

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 12, 2021 at 8:21 am

    “Hunt up” is very familiar to me but once again I am not sure how often I say it. Like Ms. Cindy thoufh, I think it is so familiar I would not even hear myself say it as being in any way different.

    I would say “look up” though if I was looking in the bible, a phone book or in the dictionary or encyclopedia; that is, written things. “Hunt up” would be for physical objects and most especially the kind of thing I thought I had “somewhere” but wasn’t sure. And yes, that would include most everything in my wife’s kitchen!

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney
    August 12, 2021 at 8:04 am

    I can remember hearing my Mother saying; I’ve got to “hunt up” something to cook .
    Two phrases I used to hear, but seldom hear them anymore are “wash up” and “wash down”.
    A Mother to a child using wash up; “Go wash up before you go to bed. You are” rusty”.
    A person using wash down; “I had to wash down the walls because they were so dirty”.

  • Reply
    carol harrison
    August 12, 2021 at 7:54 am

    Growing up in Western Pa. I heard this saying all of the time. I say “I’m on the hunt of …….what ever I looking for all of the time myself.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 12, 2021 at 7:12 am

    I’ve been known to hunt me up a thing or two. This is one of those expressions that are so deeply and almost unknowingly imbedded in my language that I don’t even realize it is there! I’ve heard and used this all my life but never have had a thought about it. Guess this is another expression that my long time upstate New York friend was hearing when he’d tell me my country is showing!

  • Reply
    Ray Presley
    August 12, 2021 at 7:09 am

    I’ve heard similar phrases, such as “scare up” more often, as in…
    “Momma’s in the kitchen, trying to scare up a bite to eat.”

    • Reply
      Susie Shannonhouse
      August 12, 2021 at 11:46 am

      Born in south Alabama, raised in Northwest Florida from age of six. We used “hunt up” but I use “scare up”, more often.

  • Reply
    joe chumlea
    August 12, 2021 at 6:30 am

    I have heard this all my life and, used it in my day to day speech.

    • Reply
      emily from Austin
      August 12, 2021 at 5:38 pm

      Me, too, Joe, but now I mostly use hunt up when I need to find a person, rather than a thing. “I need to hunt up Bonnie and get her to tell me that story again.’

  • Reply
    Patricia Price
    August 12, 2021 at 6:30 am

    Yep, we use “hunting up.” In your last sentence, you use “got to wondering.” We also use that or “commenced to wondering.”

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