Appalachian Dialect

Light and Hitch

squatting down to talk in Appalachia

Several months ago Shawna left the follow comment:

I’ve never heard the expression “light and hitch”.  What does it mean?

Light and hitch means to sit a while and visit. Here’s the definition from the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English.

light, light and come in, light and hitch, light and set verb, verb phrase To dismount, step down or off, and come into the house. The term became and invitation to stop and pay a visit, whether the person was riding or otherwise.
1895 Edson and Fairchild Tenn Mts 374 Won’t you light an’ hitch to the post-and-railin’? 1914 Arthur Western Nth Car 266 We invite you to “light” if you are riding or driving. 1929 (in 1952 Mathes Tall Tales 99)”Howdy, doc! How’s all?” Brinkley called them from his seat under the wagon bow. “Bout as common, Harrison, Light and blow yer hosses.” 1935 Sheppard Cabins in Laurel 156 He greets you with “Light and Hitch!” or “Come in and warm,” or Set down and cool off,” and urges you to stay for dinner. 1939 Farr Tenn Mt Regions 91 Hello, friend, light and set. 1976 Weals Two Minus An old-timey mountain greeting to a visitor is, “Light and yuns come in.” It dates from the time when many travelers rode horseback, and fully spoken the greeting would be “Alight and come in.” It is, however, also spoken to visitors who have arrived by walking. 1995 Montgomery Coll. light and set (Cardwell).


I’ve heard light and hitch most of my life, typically said in a teasing manner. I hope to light and hitch with a whole lot of folks this summer and talk with them about their life in Appalachia.

Tipper

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Cynthia
    July 9, 2021 at 6:45 pm

    I’ve never heard of this phrase, but I’ve learned something new today.

  • Reply
    Randy
    July 9, 2021 at 5:22 pm

    I have never heard this phrase. My daddy liked to say come on in, sit down, take a load off your feet.

  • Reply
    Cheryl
    July 9, 2021 at 4:25 pm

    Tipper. I’m in process of moving. Unable to read email regularly right now. Please keep sending.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    July 9, 2021 at 3:23 pm

    I might have heard that one but am not sure. The variant I am sure I heard was, “Come in and tie your horses up.” My Dad would say that. I remember as a child thinking, ” They don’t have horses. They have a car. ” I had to figure out it just meant plan on stayin’ awhile. Back in the day maybe it had the deeper meaning that no matter how long you stayed your horses would still have to be there if you tied them up. Otherwise they might give up in you and go home by themselves.

  • Reply
    Janice B Chapman
    July 9, 2021 at 12:03 pm

    I’ve never heard “light and hitch”, but as a child I was often told to “light somewhere” which meant “settle down and be still!”

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    July 9, 2021 at 11:06 am

    That sure is a new one for me. You never miss even the smallest scrap that represents our Appalachia. I just watched your “My Appalachian People”, and the pictures and the music touched my heart in places I did not know I had. I never realized it before, but we are truly drawn to our people virtually or in person. Granny as a young lady standing in front of a sloping ridge looks so much like the backdrop for so many of my large extended family. This is a winner if I ever saw one. It depicts exactly how life has unfolded through the years I have been fortunate enough to enjoy my people of Appalachia.

  • Reply
    Kat Swanson
    July 9, 2021 at 10:22 am

    Never heard the light phrase in the VA. coalfields. Most any visiting occurred only on Sunday and involved chicken and tater salad.

  • Reply
    Larry Paul Eddings
    July 9, 2021 at 10:06 am

    My South Carolina raised grandfather would say, “Come in the shanty” to guests that arrived.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    July 9, 2021 at 9:41 am

    New to me, but when someone came to visit and didn’t stay as long as we hoped they would, we said that they “just came for a chunk of fire.”

  • Reply
    Brad Byers
    July 9, 2021 at 9:17 am

    I’ve never heard that phrase before, but I just love it! I look forward to every single posting.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 9, 2021 at 9:12 am

    I’ve never heard “light and hitch” but something in the definitions caught my attention. “Blow yer horses.” Horses, when you run them or work them hard for a while will start to “blow” which means to breathe really hard. When you stop them they will continue to breathe like that for some time. When they turn their head toward you it is as if they are trying to blow on you and often will blow their saliva on you.
    I just thought I would throw that in there for anyone who don’t know about draft horses.
    I had a bench put at the foot of mine and Yvonne’s grave on which is engraved “Sit down and rest a little while”. Had I known what I do now it might have said “Light and Hitch”.

  • Reply
    dee
    July 9, 2021 at 9:09 am

    Never heard light and hitch but it was usually “Come in and sit a spell” that I heard my grandparents say.

  • Reply
    Shirl
    July 9, 2021 at 8:51 am

    I have never heard the phrase. It’s easy to understand how it could have started when you think of light meaning to land on something.

  • Reply
    AWGRIFF
    July 9, 2021 at 7:08 am

    My Papaw Lewis would say get down, get down, come in.

  • Reply
    Patricia Price
    July 9, 2021 at 6:26 am

    Haven’t heard “light and hitch.” But my grandmother used to say, “Fly high and light low”, which meant about the same thing as “Gittin’ too big for your britches” or “Pride goeth before a fall.”

  • Reply
    JimK
    July 9, 2021 at 6:08 am

    “light and hitch ” is a new one for me.
    “Come in and sit a spell” is as close as I’ve heard.

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