Appalachia Appalachian Dialect Granny Pap

Of an Evening


Pap and Granny sitting in their shady backyard of an evening

evening adverb The afternoon, the time between the middle of the day, which was usu marked by dinner, and dusk.
1913 Kephart Our Sthn High 296 Evening, in the mountains, begins at noon instead of at sunset. 1931 Goodrich Mt Homespun 57 Early in the “evening” (a part of the day that begins at 12 P.M.), Martha prepared to start, for the days were shortening and she must be home by sundown. 1939 Hall Coll. Cades Cove TN the middle of the evenin’ is about three o’clock. 1943 Hannum Mt People 131 [F]or southern mountain people “evening” begins at twelve o’clock noon. For them the morning and the evening are the day, as it is recounted in Genesis of a world still in the making. 1956 Chapman Folk Retain If you ask him, “Would you like to ride into town this evening?” he will expect you to go sometime between noon and sundown for to him those are the evening hours; after that, it is “night.” The word “afternoon” is practically unknown in the mountain speech. 1972-73 Pederson et al. LAGS (Cocke Co TN, Sevier Co TN). 1973 GSMNP-78:21 At twelve we would arrange our benches and have a spelling bee all Friday evening. 1984 Gibson Remembering 1 We were small so about three o’clock in the evening Mama would send us a snack to the field by one of the children that wasn’t big enough to work much as yet.

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


There are still a few folks who refer to the time between noon and and dusk as evening. To a lot of folks evening means from about 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m or so. We consider 6:00 p.m. and on to be night much like the example from 1956 used in the dictionary.


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  • Reply
    July 5, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    Back when I was working full time or more, and commuting a couple of hours each day, I guess evening was when I finally got home and could take a deep breath and just stay here – no more driving or running around. Now I think of evening as when the day is leaning very much toward the night. And when it may be a little cooler for things like weeding and unloading feed. It’s also when any daily chores that need doing better get done, unless I want to be doing them in the dark. Which I sometimes end up doing.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    July 5, 2018 at 2:02 pm

    When I was young, after supper we’d gather on the porch and listen to the Whippoorwills calling for their mate. Mama said “they never say the same thing”. That was before we had Television to mess things up. If someone spotted a Rabbit sneaking around the adjacent mountain, we’d gather a feist dog up and point with an arm out. The dog would look down your arm (they were so smart) and pretty soon he’d alert the others. They went off the porch and pretty soon they had supper too. Nothin’ like the good-ole days. …Ken

  • Reply
    Lee Mears
    July 5, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    I agree with whats been opined here. Evening starts about 6:00 PM but in the winter when it gets dark, its night, to me.
    Always loved the words twilight and gloaming, which have been used in songs and poems. Who doesn’t love Twilight Time? Well, we old folks do anyway.?
    My Navy son and my sailing friend in VA both mention Nautical Twilight so I know its different than ‘ours’ but I had to look it up again.
    “Nautical twilight occurs when the geometrical center of the Sun is between 6 degrees and 12 degrees below the horizon. This twilight period is less bright than civil twilight and artificial light is generally required for outdoor activities.” Like war and torpedoing ???
    Thanks Tipper. Love your photo.! Have some of same pics and memories.
    BTW, when we used to sit out on porch at night in summer in Haywood Co, Mother, Granny and the aunts had to wear sweaters. Now I melt outside any time ‘of a evening’ … or night??

  • Reply
    DAna WAll
    July 5, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    There was a sergeant in my outfit back in the day who told our battalion to change into class A uniforms for the “evening formation. ” We thought we were going to be on some kind of duty after the “supper” hour. Turned out he meant the one P.M. formation after “dinner,” now called lunch, and then called “noon chow.” That was in 1956.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    July 5, 2018 at 11:42 am

    When I am to meet someone around one to three after mid-day twelve…I say see you this afternoon. Later than three is always of an evening until dark…tonight is always just after dark no matter what time the old clock sez…lol
    I was just remembering yesterday that after moving out here in the country…we opened the windows on both sides of the living room…the breeze on the hill cooled by two large Maples in the back yard and one small one in the front. We didn’t need the living area air-conditioned at all, only remember a few days that the humidity made us turn on the fans for a stronger breeze and drying out the air. This was the seventies/early eighties. Now we seem to smother without the air conditioner. Don’t know if we have got “wimpy” or the climate change has made that much difference on our hill. Most folks need more warmth when they get old…seems we need more cooling of an evening and now mornings as well.
    Thanks for this post…
    PS…I always loved this picture of Pap and Granny. Back in the old days we loved sitting on our porch of an evening…Just taking a rest and drinking good ole sweet tea after a morning’ of picking beans or weeding…LOL

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    July 5, 2018 at 11:06 am

    Thissevenin–all one word!

  • Reply
    July 5, 2018 at 10:18 am

    Ask my brother when he takes his medicine and you will probably hear something like “I take one of the morning and one of the evening.” Ask me and I will say “one in the morning and one at bedtime.” We will both be referring to 9AM and 9PM.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    July 5, 2018 at 10:08 am

    Horace Kephart might have been here awhile, but he didn’t know.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    July 5, 2018 at 9:57 am

    I grew up in New Mexico, where noon to 5 was afternoon. When we moved to East Texas, I was confused to hear folks talk about “evening” when they meant the middle of the afternoon. Of course I adapted, so now I can use both terms. What do folks in Appalachia call the long dresses worn to very dressy parties at night — the ones called “evening gowns” ? I grew up calling them “formals,” but in Texas they became “evening gowns” even though they were never worn in the afternoon!

  • Reply
    July 5, 2018 at 9:53 am

    As I wrote my first comment, no other comments were showing; I was delighted to see so many other informative comments appear when I posted. They also reminded me that perhaps the phrase up for discussion is “of an evening” which conjured up images of Dad cleaning up tools after supper, family gathering on the porch or on the lawn , watching fireflies or maybe eating watermelon (definitely summertime), younger children sometimes already in their nightclothes curled up on someone’s lap – – and in the middle of all those peaceful images, the peppy tune “In the cool, cool, cool of the evening” intrudes and tells me maybe it was also thought of as a time to celebrate the end of the work day.

  • Reply
    S. Taylor
    July 5, 2018 at 9:50 am

    Couldn’t help but comment on the Southern Appalachian term, “evening” and “of an evening”. Again, being from a part of Western New York bordering that state’s Appalachian counties, for my family and friends, evening always meant the time after supper, (the third meal of the day), and just before twilight, after which, the world becomes dark. I first heard the word evening to mean anytime in the afternoon up until dark, only after starting Berea College. The same goes for “of an evening” and its cousin “of a moanin”. I soon learned “of an evening” meant in the evening (after 12 noon until dark), or in the morning (from dawn until noon).

    Another term shaped by a time reference that is related to the above discussion is the word dinner. In the North, “dinner” is reserved for formal or semi-formal Sunday meals after church or for special occasions like Christmas or when special guests come to the house. Otherwise, the more informal “supper” is used for the day’s evening (usually from 5-7PM) meal. For days without fanfare, “lunch” is eaten near midday.

  • Reply
    July 5, 2018 at 9:46 am

    I guess I am a few folk. My internal clock has three divisions. Morning, evening and night. It has subdivisions too though like breakfast, dinner, supper and bedtime. Then it is further divided into before and after each meal and before and after bedtime. Night is ginnly called dark and has fewer divisions. Just gittin dark, right after dark, about midnight, past midnight, way past midnight, way up in the night and right before morning pretty much covers it.
    My clock has no numbers, Arabic nor Roman. My clock has only times.

  • Reply
    July 5, 2018 at 9:35 am

    I have only known evening as that time after supper and before bedime which were religiously set at 6 p.m and 7:30 or 8 for children. Only the folks (parents) stayed up at “night”. As I thought about this, I remember living in Rhode Island in the spring and visiting in Jew Jersey in the summer and wonder if latitude (sun being up long the further north you go) or side of the mountain you are on (seems like if you lived on the east side it would get “dusky” earlier than for other folks at the same latitude so the afternoon would be thought of as “evening”, that dusky, twilight time of day.
    Just mulling things over – – it will be interesting to hear what your other readers have to say.

    • Reply
      July 5, 2018 at 12:38 pm

      “Jew Jersey” Is that a typo or a Freudian slip?
      If you live in a deep holler that runs north to south the sun rises much later and sets much earlier than is one that runs east to west. There were spots on our homeplace on Wiggins Creek that got no direct sunlight at all in the winter. Flatlanders don’t seem to understand this. It is similar to the concrete canyons encountered in big cities. It is a matter of where the horizon is.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 5, 2018 at 9:11 am

    Tipper–In my lexicon “evening” is a somewhat indeterminate period but it falls after supper and before dark. This time of year I heard it used a great deal; not so much at other times of the year when the days were shorter. For example, Momma would say something like “We’ve got to get those beans strung and broken this evening” or “that basket of crowder peas needs to be shelled this evening.” Daddy, for his part, would offer something like “I need to get that corn hoed out this evening” or “We need to put one final round of spray on the apple trees this evening.”

    My favorite usages, however, came in connection with evening as a time for relaxing with friends or family. Of an evening we’d often visit my Aunt Emma and Uncle Frank Burnette, and I absolutely loved sitting on Grandpa’s porch in the evening listening to him relive his glory days.

    Evening meant winding down, reflecting on the day’s happenings, socializing, family time, and chores that either waited until that time of day or were best done when it had begun to cool down. The thermal breezes common in the evening, or watching storm clouds build over the Alarka Mountains, offered joy to the senses.

    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    July 5, 2018 at 8:50 am

    I still don’t put a time on the part of day I call evening. It could be as early as three pm or as late as nine or ten. My family has been known to identify late evening as night. Sometimes I catch myself confusing people when I say something like, I will stop by after I get off work tonight. That usually meant I would stop by at 6 or 6:30.
    Pap and Granny remind me of my mom and dad when they would sit on the porch of an evening after most of the chores were done.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    July 5, 2018 at 8:47 am

    I think it has to do with where you are. When we still lived in the holler, it would actually get dark starting around 4 pm. Evening would start around noon, I suppose.

    I was young, but I do miss the days when time was based on light, dark, and work, rather than clocks and tv shows. It was a different way of living.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    July 5, 2018 at 8:20 am

    You did it again, caught me between two worlds. I’m pretty sure I use ‘evening’ both ways. I use afternoon infrequently, probably even rarely, I think but I could be mis-judging myself.

    Your phrase “of an evening” rings a bell also. But I am unable to identify specific circumstances it is used. I think I grew up hearing it to simply mean something occurred between noon and twilight, such as “Of an evening he’d go down to the store and sit and whittle.”

    Your picture of your Mom and Dad reminds me of the time before residential air conditioning when people had a sitting place outside. At one time my Mom and Dad had evening primrose in front of their house and would go out near dusk to watch them bloom. They are fun to watch.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 5, 2018 at 7:31 am

    My grandmother considered dark to be bedtime, no matter what time the clock said. They had power in their house but still considered it a luxury. They went to bed when it got dark instead of turning on lights.
    I think that of an evening probably originally meant the time before going to bed regardless of what the clock said. Then people lived much closer to nature.
    Nature dictated much of their habits and now a days, we people are omnipotent and dictate everything regardless of nature.

  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    July 5, 2018 at 7:15 am

    Exactly! I love this post. When I use this term most people have never heard of it or they don’t understand it. I think it is beautiful language.
    Thank you for posting this. BTW, I grew up in southern Ohio, pronounced ”Ahia” around there. There are about 6-8 southern Ohio counties that are designated as both Appalachian and southern. Most of the early settlers arrived in the 1740s and after, they were from traditional southern states.

    • Reply
      aw griffgrowin
      July 5, 2018 at 12:12 pm

      I live in and I hear Ohio pronounced as Ahia or Ohi too.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    July 5, 2018 at 7:03 am

    I have never hear this, yet tinking on it I think of evening as somewher aroud 5 and 9. Now I am wondering why I feel tut is.

  • Reply
    July 5, 2018 at 5:40 am

    Around here you use to see more folks setting in a shade or on the front porch late in the evening, don’t see it much no more, society has dictated that most folks needs to be on a ballfield somewhere, most families have grown to know one another from the front seat or back seat of a car, or setting on some bleacher in 90+deg heat, even a dog knows how to find shade when it’s hot and we wonder what has happen to the family.

    • Reply
      July 5, 2018 at 9:56 am

      Tother day my son was over here and we were working on his Jeep. The neighbors beagle likes to sleep in front of my door when it’s hot. Dusty decided to reach down to pet him and the dog bit him on the hand. Normally the dog is like a baby and Dusty had petted him many times before. “Reckon why he did that Dad?” “Remember the old adage ‘let sleeping dogs lie?'” “Well now you know what it means!”

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