Appalachia Appalachian Dialect Holidays in Appalachia

Words for Love in Appalachia

Courting in Appalachia


In Appalachia…

courting = dating

sparking = dating

sweet on = means you like someone

he-ing and she-ing = hugging and kissing

slip off = elope

serenade or shivaree = a loud noisy celebration
occurring after a wedding

courts like a stick of wood = a person who is awkward
when courting

jump the broom = get married

took up = 2 people who start courting or move in together

going steady = serious dating

struck on = means you like someone

going with = dating

get hitched = get married


When I was young someone was always asking me if I was courting yet.

Granny and Pap slipped off from Granny Gazzie and got married without her knowing it.

Along with courting and slip off  I still hear: took up, jump the broom, he-ing and she-ing, going with, struck on, and sweet on in my part of Appalachia. The others have faded away.

For more about courting in Appalachia-visit Dave Tabler’s Appalachian History site.

I’m sure I left some courting sayings out-if you think of one leave it in a comment!


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  • Reply
    Nancy Schmidt
    February 22, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Correction: I wrote a comment recently titled “Last Shivaree in Kansas” about my own experience in 1960s. When a friend read it , he said that indeed it wasn’t the last shivaree since he had heard of friends who had had a shivaree in more recent years in Kansas. So perhaps the custom persists here and there, and I hope that is the case, since it is an old, old tradition stretching back into England and colonial America.

  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    February 18, 2017 at 10:37 pm

    The shivaree reminded me of another custom for newly weds as they se up housekeeping.
    A pounding would often be included in the shivaree. Pounds of food, including canned goods would be brought to the couple and given to them. Sometimes people took the labels off the cans so the bride would not know what was in the can til it was opened.
    Our church gives poundings to new ministers when they move into the parsonage, they did it last summer when our new pastor and his wife arrived. One was given to us when my husband came here in 1989. It is much more organized and scheduled than an old-style pounding People arrived throughout the day. Some of the things they brought included bread, butter, and peanut butter; milk and cereal; sandwiches; chips; veggie tray; homemade cookies; a watermelon; flour and sugar; etc. We had plenty to share with our movers at lunch.

  • Reply
    February 18, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Oh my gosh, Vann Helms comment made me laugh!
    “Carrying a torch” for someone. (and Van Morrison wrote a song about this one.)
    I’m interested in that “jumping the broom” – does anyone have a story of where it came from? It reminded me of something that happened in an old (really old) Welsh or Irish tale, but it didn’t mean getting married in that case. If I remember correctly, it was something about a woman having to jump over a stick to prove something or other, and – presto! – a baby fell out!
    A lot of hard-to-understand stuff happens in those tales, but if I was going to be pregnant, I’d certainly want to find one of those sticks.

  • Reply
    February 18, 2017 at 6:34 am

    This is day old, but I wanted to post anyway. I have experienced occasionally the same problem with keys mentioned by B Ruth. It is as if there is a delay that prevents the letter showing exactly when typed.
    Nancy’s expression was heard often, and every married lady would use the expression, “started housekeeping.” It was never my favorite expression, because it made the idea of love and marriage sound so lackluster. This was used very frequently, but seems to have faded along with those rock solid marriages.
    My favorite “word for love” came from a young man who lived many miles north of my mountain home. He announced he was “smitten.” There was never any “going together” largely because he just lived too far away. I am very appreciative of the work you must put into these daily posts, Tipper.

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    February 17, 2017 at 10:35 pm

    Yep, I’ve heard many of those. Instead of saying “struck on” though, we said “stuck on” like their mind was always stuck on that particular person.
    Another thing a bit different is “hee-ing and she-ing” generally meant a couple were having a private time for, uhmmm…more intimate things. Yikes!!! That was hard for me to get out. Embarrassing. LOL
    Prayers for everyone – have a great weekend, and a safe one too.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    February 17, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    For some reason the letters are not typing and I am having a hard time writing on your site. It has done this before, not lettt ing me type without having to hit the letters several times.
    Ed…do you know how to fix this?

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    February 17, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    “Well, she’s gone and “saddled up” to that new feller that works down at the Piggley Wiggley! She was a’battin’ her eyes, prissin’ around tryin’ to get him to look at her so she could give him one of them flirty, come on looks! “I swear, the fifties are gonin’ to hell in a hand-basket! Familiar sayin’s from my generation.
    “Well, I suspect if hadn’t already happened in secret, I think them two young’ns are a’fixin’ to cross the “threshold” any day now……meaning they were about to run-off and marry or maybe they were already married in secret.
    My parents went away and married…Their parents knew they were going off to get married…They saw the premier of the new movie…Gone With The Wind in Atlanta….went on to Saint Augusine Florida….I have a picture of them after they came back to Madison County, Dad holding a baby alligator (real) on his arm. Yes, back in the day they sold baby alligators to tourists for pets!
    Great post Tipper

  • Reply
    February 17, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    I remember those “courtin’ days” of youth but after some time and my girls were born.
    it’s the Grandgirls and Greatgrand girls that are important to me. Funny how time effects one, but now it’s the garden or my little dog that has my affection. Valentine’s Day use to be my Favorite Holiday. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 17, 2017 at 10:54 am

    ♫ What’s love got to do, got to do with it
    Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken ♪♪

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    February 17, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Sign in front of our locally owned auto supply store:
    Get Hitched Here – Bride Not Included.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    February 17, 2017 at 10:21 am

    Weddings of our parents’ generation (and before) were an entirely different matter than this completely out of control, money-wasting deal of today. Mama and Daddy slipped off to Greenville, SC to marry – and ran into another local couple doing the same thing.
    A few years back, Susan and I attended the wedding of the son of a black friend a few years ago. They literally jumped the broom, which was noted to be an African custom.

  • Reply
    Vann Helms
    February 17, 2017 at 10:16 am

    My mother’s country family always used the term “Scooter Pootin'” to refer to dating. I’ve always snickered when I heard them say that…. My Gramma, who wasn’t familiar with the term, once told my mother to “Stay off them things or you’ll get hurt.”

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    February 17, 2017 at 10:12 am

    I’ve also heard love-struck. I think I mostly hear nowdays, that they are seein one another.

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    February 17, 2017 at 10:12 am

    I’ve also heard love-struck. I think I mostly hear nowdays, that they are seein one another.

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    February 17, 2017 at 10:12 am

    I’ve also heard love-struck. I think I mostly hear nowdays, that they are seein one another.

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    February 17, 2017 at 10:12 am

    I’ve also heard love-struck. I think I mostly hear nowdays, that they are seein one another.

  • Reply
    Nancy Schmidt
    February 17, 2017 at 9:43 am

    The last shivaree in Kansas:
    I was raised in Kentucky, my husband in kansas. We married in 1966 and “set up
    Housekeeping” In Kansas. His mother’s folks had come from North Carolina after the Civil War, and her cousins decided that they wanted to have a shivaree after we got moved into our little house in the Flint Hills near town.
    Fred’s mother thought she’d better let us know what was afoot so that we wouldn’t be alarmed, or maybe get out the shotgun. After supper a few days later, cars streamed up our lane and folks got out yelling and banging pots and pans amd circling around our house, then banging on our porch door. We let in a laughing group of uncles , aunts and cousins who felt well satisfied that they had upheld an old tradition that they had mostly heard about from their own parents from “back home in Carolina”. So the ties of tradition survive in family stories .

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    February 17, 2017 at 9:00 am

    Well, there is ‘seeing’ someone, ‘walking out with’ or ‘keeping company with’ for courting. But the most common two I heard growing up was ‘sparking’ or ‘courting’.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    February 17, 2017 at 8:18 am

    Tipper–Some other words and phrases:
    “Cutting eyes at one another.”
    “All goggle-eyed” (for a given girl or boy).
    “Wrapped up in one another like honeysuckle vines.”
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 17, 2017 at 8:13 am

    Keeping company, is another one I’ve heard.

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