Appalachia Overheard


1st person: Do you want some of this or not?

2nd person: I only want a sup.

3rd person: People don’t say sup enough.


sip noun variant form sup.
1998 Montgomery File Can I have a sup of your drink? (55-year-old woman, Jefferson Co TN).

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

In the conversation above, I was the 2nd person. Sup is what a say if I want a small amount of something to drink.


Overheard: snippets of conversation I overhear in Southern Appalachia


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  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 26, 2016 at 1:16 am

    Coffee from a saucer is a slurp. It has to include the sucking sound. There is no way possible to drink coffee from a saucer without the slurping sound. If the coffee is too hot, you have to incorporate enough air into the mixture to cool it sufficiently otherwise you end up with a scalded tongue and can’t taste nothing for a few days. Either way you end up slurping it. Try it if you don’t believe me! It’s kinda like drinking hot coffee from a straw. It could be lethal!

  • Reply
    March 25, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    As Charline said, “Another one of my mother’s sayings.”

  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    March 25, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    That’s a new one for me.
    Have heard it said as a derivative of “What’s up?” but not regarding a drink.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 25, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    Being left handed does have a few advantages. If you give a sup from your cup to 90% of people, they will grab it with their right hand therefore automatically drinking from the other side.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    March 25, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    OK, A 2nd post today but Wanda Devers reminded me rhat one of my Grandma’s sayings was, “sup sweet sorrow” always used to mean whoever was being referred to would get their just desserts for the mean thing they had done. The underlying belief that justice would be served one way or another, sooner or later, seems to have greatly faded since her day. I fear it is because of doubt that God exists or, if he does, doubt as to whether he rules in the affairs of men. Anyway, I remember her and her way of talking with fondness. She also said ‘hope’ instead off ‘help’.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 25, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    One more:
    You can have a sup but drink off the other side of the cup. And don’t leave no lip marks!
    In my jargon a sup is a sip taken from a common vessel. At The Last Supper there were no place settings. They all ate from common vessels. They didn’t take a slice of bread with shiny tongs, they picked up the loaf and broke off a chunk WITH THEIR BARE HANDS (thereby breaking bread together). They supped from the same chalice.
    Last one:
    First you take yourself a sup.
    If it’s good, you pour a cup.
    But when you’re through, don’t whine.
    You’re gettin no more of mine!
    Cause I like it too.
    Probly bettern you.
    So there!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 25, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    We used to sing:
    Jesus hath a table spread
    Where the saints of God are fed
    He invites his chosen people
    “Come and dine!”
    With the manna he doth feed
    and supply our every need.
    Tis sweet to sup with Jesus all the time!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    March 25, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    B. Ruth already said almost exactly what I had aimed to about drinking coffee from a saucer. That’s what my parents did too. Me and my older brothers never used a saucer to sup, we waited for it to cool down…Ken

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    March 25, 2016 at 11:21 am

    “sup sorrow with a long spoon” came to mind immediately–something Mama used to say to mean someone would really suffer for their actions.

  • Reply
    March 25, 2016 at 10:59 am

    Yet another one of my Mama’s words!

  • Reply
    Dee Parks
    March 25, 2016 at 9:47 am

    Yes, I have heard “sup” right along with “smidge” and I think “tad.” I only want a smidge of that cake or I just put a tad of that in my recipe.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    March 25, 2016 at 9:34 am

    I grew up hearing and saying sup. Somewhere along the way I stopped saying it. I guess when I went to work around a lot of people from different places I stopped saying it. It would seem odd to use the word now but not odd to hear it. That’s a word that I haven’t realized I don’t say any longer until today. Hmm… I wonder how many more words I’ve abandoned? I’m going to sit here and sup my coffee while I ponder this.

  • Reply
    John Faircloth
    March 25, 2016 at 9:33 am

    This post calls to mind a song I heard Johnny Cash sing in which there is a line that moves me
    deeply: “sup sorrow with the poor.”
    You bring an old guy a smile everyday!

  • Reply
    March 25, 2016 at 9:06 am

    This is just another reason to read The Blind Pig & The Acorn blog every day. I’m trying to remember how long it’s been since I heard anyone say sup, but I heard it many times growing up.

  • Reply
    March 25, 2016 at 9:02 am

    New word for me as I thought that it meant something to do with eating supper. Another good word added to my App. vocabulary.

  • Reply
    March 25, 2016 at 8:59 am

    I heard it in my growing up family as a past tense: We supped with “?” last night – seems it always referred to a light supper. My husband’s family used it interchangeably with sip. However, after only a few years together, I quit letting my husband have a “sup” or “sip” of my drinks; when he got through there was only a true sip left!!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    March 25, 2016 at 8:31 am

    Can’t recall when I heard ‘sup’ last but surely did growing up. I think of it as a synonym for ‘sip’ but it can also mean to eat or drink any amount. I grew up saying ‘supper’ instead of ‘dinner’ but somewhere along the way changed. Back then, ‘dinner’ was what we nowcall ‘lunch’.
    Sup is probably one of the words that gave rise to the theory that folks in Appalachia spoke Elizabethan english because sup is used in the 1611 King James bible. I have no idea where that idea stands at present. I think it was over-emphasized at one time than at least partially refuted.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 25, 2016 at 8:04 am

    I know what a sup is, Tip, I’ve heard that forever.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    March 25, 2016 at 6:53 am

    Way back in the day, my Daddy would sup his coffee from a saucer. He liked his coffee hot off the stove. I do believe it was still boiling (perking) in that old aluminum pot as he poured the first cup of a morning! He wanted it hot, strong and no cream or sugar…no sissy coffee for him he would say!
    And one more thing Tipper,
    We did “sup” with our grandchildren last evening after a busy day in the mountains…we were sure hungry!
    Only once in a great while do I say sup…but I do on occasion…
    Thanks Tipper for this post!

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