Appalachia Overheard



How much is a right smart? About half enough.



Overheard: snippets of conversation I overhear in Southern Appalachia


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  • Reply
    August 20, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    I heard right smart used often in Charlottesville, but “youse’lls” was a new one to me as in what a waitress said, “Would youse’lls like more coffee?” which I took to be a combo of Youse and Ya’ll. I took right smart to mean something that was extra smart such as someone commenting on what someone was wearing or even being quite alert such as in “He set up right smart.”

  • Reply
    August 20, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    I don’t hear “right smart” but to do something “right sharpish” means to “look lively and do it right now!” In this hot and humid weather, I’m not doing much right sharpish 😉

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    August 20, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    George Pettie defined it exactly as I have always used it. I’ve never heard of the other uses.

  • Reply
    August 20, 2016 at 6:27 am

    I always thought it to be quite a bit..

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    August 19, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    Around here “right smart” means pretty intelligent; “right good” means they’re a very good person; “right sharp” means they’re a great sharp dresser. Can’t think of any others, but most anything preceded by the word “right” means better than most, sometimes much better than most.
    Prayers everyone has a wonderful weekend, and a safe one too.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    August 19, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    right smart=quite a lot. “There’s right smart timber up in the holler.”
    right smart=forceful, vigorous. “She gave him a right smart smack up side the head.”
    also right smarten. “We had us a right smarten good time down to the crick.”

  • Reply
    August 19, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    “half enough” is a pretty direct statement: a body wants/needs the same amount again to have all of what they were first trying to acquire. Like when a grandchild holds out a glass for lemonade, I fill it half full, grandchild petulantly “says, “Awww, grandma – that’s only half enough. I can hold a whole glass now!”

  • Reply
    August 19, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    Seems I’ve heard “right smart” used at least two ways: as an affirmation that something said or done was a little out of the ordinary but very effective or a was an astute observation; or, as a rather sarcastic or condescending comment on someone’s action or statement which they thought was very intelligent or wise but which the hearer thought was ordinary, common knowledge or understanding. I’ve also heard it as a way of complimenting a child on newly demonstrated understandings or skills.

  • Reply
    August 19, 2016 at 11:54 am

    I remember mama and daddy using that expression an awful lot, but I don’t think I ever say that. My grandgirls snigger a lot listening to me talk, they like to make fun of some of the words I use, but they like it…Ken

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    August 19, 2016 at 11:01 am

    I always heard “right smart” meaning “quite a bit”.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 19, 2016 at 10:19 am

    I’ve always thought of a right smart as a good start. More than was expected. At a pace to finish ahead of schedule.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    August 19, 2016 at 9:50 am

    I have heard right smart used all my life but I’ve never heard anyone try to explain how smart that is. I’ve also heard right used in other descriptions such as,
    right handsome, right purdy (pretty), right upstanding, and right proud.
    To me adding the word right before smart means the person in question is a notch above just plain old smart. Another good one Tipper!

  • Reply
    August 19, 2016 at 8:30 am

    It’s more than a goodly amount, but not near as much as a beaucoup or slew.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 19, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Good question. I don’t think I ever thought about it before. It is probably such a subjective expression that it can’t be quantified with any confidence. Yet somehow it communicates well enough to be going on with. Might even be fair to say ‘well enough’ is everyone’s standard operating proceedure?

  • Reply
    eva nell mull wike, PhD
    August 19, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Nah! A right smart bit is a whole lot! At least that was how we measure things in the Cove! Eva Nell

  • Reply
    anita griffith
    August 19, 2016 at 8:19 am

    I’ve also heard right smart to describe someone of good intelligence.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    August 19, 2016 at 8:13 am

    We’ve had a “right smart” of hot weather this summer!
    If the cold this winter equals the hot humid summer, we might have a bit more than a “right smart” of cold and snow!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    August 19, 2016 at 8:07 am

    And, there I thought a right smart meant I had a plenty. Or could it possibly mean you have “pretty much?”

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 19, 2016 at 8:06 am

    I’d think a right smart is a little more that half enough.

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