Appalachian Dialect

Methodist Measure

white church in field

Have you ever heard of a Methodist measure? I had never heard the phrase until Michael Montgomery sent me the following email.

“Let me suggest another blog idea to you. Recently I came across the phrase “Methodist measure.” I found three quotations indicating that it meant “a generous portion, usually more than enough,” but one indicating that it meant “an ungenerous portion, barely enough.” (The quotations usually referred to food.) While I’m persuaded that “overly generous” is the appropriate definition, I started thinking about other terms for “more than enough, a little extra added.” “Boot” has frequently been used to refer to a little extra money added to the exchange to equalize a trade (as for horses,  knives, etc.) People will think of “lagniappe” from Louisiana, and “baker’s dozen” will come to mind as well. Are there other terms?  That’s for you to tell me.”

—Michael Montgomery


I have heard boot used in the manner Michael described as well as a baker’s dozen. I’ve never heard of lagniappe, but that’s probably because I’m not from Louisiana 🙂

If you’ve got any other terms to add to Michael’s measurement list please leave a comment and share them.


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  • Reply
    Roger Brothers
    December 2, 2020 at 9:16 pm

    When momma put on a big feed for special occasions or we went to dinner on the ground she always said we had enough to feed Coxey’s army.

    She must have gotten the phrase from her father (born 1858) because Coxey’s army marched on Washington DC in 1892, 27 years before momma was born. Funny how phrases like this echo down the generations. I use it myself. Who know how far some of these go back?

  • Reply
    December 6, 2019 at 12:31 am

    As a child in Mercer County W Va in the 1940’s I recall “gracious plenty” being used, generally around food.

  • Reply
    Trent Wren
    December 5, 2019 at 6:39 am

    I think “bumper” fits the bill, as in a bumper crop, or a bumper year for movies. Thank you for occasionally having us put our thinking caps on.

  • Reply
    Glynda ParkerChambers
    December 4, 2019 at 8:29 pm

    Tipper this is not about today’s post but about your recipe for Arsh Potato Cake, is there a way to find it and print it. Also where do I find your other recipes and can I print them. I can’t make the recipe without a copy to look at. Thanks, Glynda

  • Reply
    December 4, 2019 at 8:27 pm

    Has anyone ever heard the expression for when serving a plate or putting cream in coffee “that will be a do” meaning enough. My grandmother and mother used the expression often.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    December 4, 2019 at 7:46 pm

    I have not heard any of the phrases but we go to a Methodist Church while we live in Texas perhaps some of the older member have heard the phrase

  • Reply
    Leslie Haynie
    December 4, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    Nowadays I hear “a little something something” for extra.

  • Reply
    harry adams
    December 4, 2019 at 4:30 pm

    This interested me in where “to boot” originated. I have heard it all my life. One source says it is from Old English word “bat ” which means good and is root for better. Dates back to 1000 AD!

    Certainly not just Appalachian.

  • Reply
    December 4, 2019 at 11:36 am

    Thank you so much for sharing about the giveaway and blog post, Tipper! Have a blessed day, my friend!

  • Reply
    December 4, 2019 at 11:10 am

    Hadn’t heard these phrases.

  • Reply
    Melissa P. (Misplaced Southerner)
    December 4, 2019 at 10:56 am

    Must be my age, but I’ve heard of all of them. One I used to hear a lot (and I have absolutely no idea about how to spell it or where it comes from) is “scoche” – pronounced sk-oh-sh – as in “just a scoche.” My mummo used to give quantities in “bits,” “goodly amount,” and “scoche” in her recipes. After watching very carefully, I figured out what each meant. A “scoche” is just a hair less than a “bit. “

  • Reply
    Jim k
    December 4, 2019 at 9:20 am

    Bakers dozen and boot are common terms, but l have never heard the others. When I was growing up a lot of horse trades occurred at our barn, one of the horse traders that stopped by quite often would always use the phase “sweeten the pot” when he was making his final offer on a trade.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    December 4, 2019 at 9:17 am

    I’ve never heard it either but I instantly thought of the phrase, “Baptist pallet”, which meant a bed made up on the floor for guests. I’ve read.

  • Reply
    December 4, 2019 at 9:09 am

    Not familiar with Methodist Measure, but I like it. I do recall hearing the word Able or Ably to mean more than enough, as in: “That’s an able amount of butter in that recipe!” or “Whoa, that’s more than ably enough for me! Don’t go shortin’ yourself now.” Thanks for bringing back this memory.

    • Reply
      Trent Wren
      December 5, 2019 at 6:50 am

      Come to think of it, “able”, as in adequate, or enough, might be the intended meaning in the old gospel hymn. “Are ye ABLE said the master, to be crucified with me?”. The other verses seem to ask “Are ye capable, or willing to…”, but verse one seems different from the others.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 4, 2019 at 9:00 am

    Nothing comes to mind as a single term or phrase. We used the biblical description of pressed down and running over as the guide for good measure.

    A bit off the subject (but related), I was thinking the other day about the old idea of ‘fair price’. I’m sorry to say I think that idea is largely dead in the business world. Now I think it is the ‘all you can get’ price; that is, without any leaven of fairness as an ethical consideration. Or, to put it another way, the idea is that it is fair to get all one can.

    For any of you all BP&A readers who have or had your own business or work in sales, please don’t take this personal. I figure you all are the very ones to understand best what I mean and that it doesn’t apply to you all.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      December 4, 2019 at 9:43 pm

      I was in the deli at Food Lion last night getting me some hot pepper cheese. I had to wait for an elderly gentleman who wanted ½ lb. of sliced chicken breast. The kid behind the counter sliced it, laid it up on the scale and weighed it. It was over ½ lb. so he took off two slices. I thought to myself “he’s going to eat that himself”. But what does he do? He pushes the button to print the price label then put the two slices back on the stack, wrapped it, priced it and handed to to the old man.
      I don’t encounter acts of kindness like that very often. It is just a little thing but something I will not soon forget!

  • Reply
    Rick Shepherd
    December 4, 2019 at 8:52 am

    I attended a United Methodist Church for twenty years from 1967-1987….I agree with Michael Montgomery in that Methodist Measure meaning a generous portion, more than enough….That’s exactly how I remember the good people I went to church with, especially when it came to church suppers…..Good memories there!

  • Reply
    aw griff
    December 4, 2019 at 8:39 am

    Well, I finally thought of one I’ve heard and used. Throw in a couple for good measure.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    December 4, 2019 at 8:18 am

    Right now I can’t think of anything else for boot, Boot is very common. I don’t want to hurt anyone feelings but have heard the expression for weak coffee described as Methodist coffee. Dark strong coffee that would float a horseshoe described as Baptist coffee.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 4, 2019 at 7:46 am

    How about Lord’s plenty and God’s Measure, I’ve heard both of these but not Methodist Measure. There is something rolling around the back of my brain and I can’t quite get hold of it about Methodists being tight with money. It will probably come to me around bedtime!

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    December 4, 2019 at 7:45 am

    I’m not familiar with Methodist measure, but I do have a little anecdote…

    Before Fontana flooded the town of Judson, the Judson Methodist and Judson Baptist Churches stood side-by-side. The Methodists had one outhouse – between the steeple and the river and no windows facing the river. The Baptists had two – with a pair of windows facing them, apparently so folks could watch the comings and goings.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    December 4, 2019 at 6:18 am

    I have never heard of Methodist measure either (may be because I’m a Baptist) nor lagniape (Not from La. either) but have heard of a baker’s dozen usually meaning receiving 13 items for the price of 12 and am very familiar with “boot” as a former used car lot operator..

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