Appalachian Dialect


holler in the woods

long-headed adjective Determined, stubborn.
1938 Hall Coll. Emerts Cove TN = stubborn, with one’s head set on something; can’t get it changed. (Glen Shults) 1939 Hall Coll. Big Creek NC [In “catching” babies] I was long-headed, wasn’t afraid of nothin’. I never lost a baby in the whole boundary of ’em. (Zilphie Sutton, formerly a “granny woman”) ibid. White Oak NC You’re so long-head [I] can’t tell you anything. (Brown Messer) 1994 Montgomery Coll. (Shields).

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

A week or so ago someone left a comment asking me if I was familiar with the usage of long-headed. I answered back “No I’ve heard of wrong-headed, but never long-headed.”

Wouldn’t you know it when I was looking in my “Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English” for long johns, I found long-headed.

Although I’ve never heard the long-headed usage I like it…and I’ve certainly known some long-headed people…in fact I live with three of them 🙂


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  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    February 22, 2021 at 11:47 am

    Stubborn headed and Bone headed was used in our families…Plus some other phrases were used like…”He/she is so quick to stub up, she/he bows up ”fore a mule does…lol and others can’t think of them now…I was one little “”stobborn cus” as a person called one time. Only if I got my mind to it and was deliberate in what I was thinking or believing. Of course some stubbornness is not always a bad thing…
    Loved this post…

  • Reply
    Thomas B
    February 18, 2021 at 3:27 am

    You could do an Appalachian version of Elvis’ Hard Headed Woman. Long Headed Woman would work

  • Reply
    Gene Smith
    February 17, 2021 at 8:55 pm

    I knew a man who had several monikers, and “Longhead” was one of them. It wasn’t physically descriptive. His head was round. In our small-town newspaper, in an item announcing the birth of a grandchild, he was listed as “Gray Shep Longhead Martin.” It made me laugh. To his neighbors he is just Shep Martin. Maybe he’s stubborn. I can’t say. I’d rather think he has a good sense of humor and gave those names to himself for publication as an inside, family joke.

  • Reply
    February 17, 2021 at 12:38 pm

    Sorry….my smily face didn’t show with the comment.

    • Reply
      February 17, 2021 at 1:43 pm

      Liz- 🙂 I know my family would love your teasing comment!

  • Reply
    Liz Hart
    February 17, 2021 at 12:35 pm

    So you live with long-headed ones…..three.
    Oh, but never! Thee.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      February 17, 2021 at 8:09 pm

      When you count those who live with you, you always count yourself as the first. You have always lived with you and always will. As my friend Rick Miller often said, “wherever you go, there you are.”

  • Reply
    February 17, 2021 at 9:49 am

    LOL, I do believe I have heard long headed/hard headed and stiff necked to mean stubborn.

  • Reply
    February 17, 2021 at 9:18 am

    I have never heard long-headed, but have heard strong-headed that meant the same thing.

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    February 17, 2021 at 9:09 am

    I’ve heard and said hard headed.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 17, 2021 at 8:49 am

    I hear bone headed to mean stubborn.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      February 17, 2021 at 8:55 am

      and headlong! and headstrong! They all mean roughly the same.

  • Reply
    Catherine Spence
    February 17, 2021 at 8:49 am

    O, the irony! I had never heard this term, either, until yesterday: I was reading a section of W.E.B. DuBois’s book The Souls of Black Folk, and he described Abraham Lincoln as “long-headed.” I thought it was a reference to Lincoln’s tall, thin stature; now I wonder!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    February 17, 2021 at 8:27 am

    My Dad’s expression for a ‘long headed’ man was, “He’d argue with a sign post.” I have been known to tease people, ” I’m not stubborn and you’ll never get me to believe it. ” Can’t recall ever hearing ‘long headed’. I thought you were going to say it meant “serious minded”. In my time I have run across the idea that what we easily tolerate in ourselves we tolerate less well in family and friends and absolutely cannot abide in all others. I find that idea very interesting.

    And that last sentence, my, my! I had to laugh. I grew up knowing some several stubborn family members and have been known to be, shall we say, not inclined to change my mind myself. Of course I think my long headedness is a virtue; not stubborn but just determined and persevering.

  • Reply
    February 17, 2021 at 7:59 am

    I grew up in NY, we always said thick-headed.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 17, 2021 at 7:29 am

    I’ve never heard of it either. I’ve heard long of tooth to describe someone who has lived a long time. That’s the closest I can come.

  • Reply
    February 17, 2021 at 6:57 am

    Growing up I heard my mother’s people use “long headed” as a description of stubbornness.
    But more often it was “Loggerhead” as stubborn and stupid behavior.
    Don’t hear anymore except when I use it.

  • Reply
    Sheryl A Paul
    February 17, 2021 at 6:12 am

    Interesting, I wonder if it was misheard or just shortened from wrong. Usualy a word meaning used in Appalacha is very obvious. In my mind long and stubborn are a long ways apart. Does that dictionary uou have help with something like this?

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