Appalachia Overheard



“She caps the stack on that one.”


I’ve heard the phrase caps the stack at least a few times in my life. After hearing it recently I wondered if folks from other locales used the phrase. A quick google told me the phrase is old and that other people do indeed use it. You can jump over to this page to read what I found.


Overheard: snippets of conversation I overhear in Southern Appalachia

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  • Reply
    April 8, 2018 at 9:31 am

    When someone done something not ordinary—I’ve heard the expression, Now that caps it all. Don’t know if there is any relationship between the two expressions.

  • Reply
    April 7, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    It’s a new one on me. I’ve heard gonna “bust a cap in your _ _ _ ” meaning gonna shoot you in your back side if you don’t get.

  • Reply
    April 7, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    I’ve heard my parents use the phrase “caps the stack” a few times in my life.

    Did you know that “Shenandoah” with Jimmy Stewart was filmed in Oregon and California? He was nominated for the Oscars 5 times, but never received but one. It’s one of my Favorite Westerns of the Civil War in Virginia. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ann Appplegarth
    April 7, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    It’s new to me.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    April 7, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    I had the same idea when hearing “that caps the stack” that Papaw had, basically when you capped the stack on a chimney you had finished the job. The same would apply on a Hay Stack, there was an art to fastening wraps of hay around the top of the stack pole that would channel water down the outside of the stack instead of allowing it to seep down the pole where it would ruin the stack from the inside out.

  • Reply
    DAna WAll
    April 7, 2018 at 10:24 am

    The first English dictionaries and grammar books weren’t compiled until the middle of the Eighteenth Century. Before that, people just talked, and some even wrote, as they felt communicated successfully. The first lexicographers made up the “rules” based on their knowledge of Latin grammar and what they, themselves, preferred. What they preferred!

    So language came first and was around for a long time before men decided to codify it and make up rules. The rules told how the authors thought language SHOULD work, according to their preferences and biases. We are still trying to adhere to those writers’ ideas of how language should work, yet language seems to have a mind of its own and does work in mysterious ways at times.

    The French say “it is me” in French as the “correct” construction. Think Sir Lancelot singing in CAMELOT. “Se mois, se mois, se mois.” It is me, it is me, it is me. Objective case after the verb “be” is against our Eighteenth Century “rule” for English. Are the French “wrong?”

    I’ll wager most people in this country would answer the question, “Who painted this lovely picture?” With “It was me.” Or “That would be me,” rather than, “It was I.” Language preferences change. Mid Eighteenth Century language “rules,” not so much.

    If no English texts or dictionaries existed, and aliens arrived on our shores to study our language and write the first book of English grammar, “It is me” would probably be deemed “correct” or at least standard.


  • Reply
    April 7, 2018 at 10:22 am

    My father used the phrase often. I knew what it meant, but didn’t know the derivation.

  • Reply
    April 7, 2018 at 10:07 am

    Haven’t heard this phrase though it seems perfectly logical whether it originated in the fields or in plumbing or masonry. Do use the 2 phrases Lee mentioned (“that’ll do the trick” and “put the kibosh on it”) but the second phrase is used for cases of stronger finality Anyway, that got me to thinking about their etymology. Wiktionary cleared up “kibosh”. But, as you can probably imagine, “trick” has a widely varying background confirmed on – – Language is definitely fascinating!

  • Reply
    April 7, 2018 at 9:11 am

    I haven’t clicked the link yet, but to me, it sounds like a term from way back when people knew how to stack grain stalks or hay in the field in a way that would keep rain moving mostly over and down, instead of right into and through. That way, waste would be limited to the most outer layer, and it would be easier to handle for threshing or moving. I wonder how many people still know how to do such a task that was a common part of farming for hundreds of years.
    Now I’ll click and see what it really means! 😉

  • Reply
    Ed "Papaw" Ammons
    April 7, 2018 at 8:43 am

    I always thought the phrase “caps the stack” referred to a smokestack. A smokestack was made up of enough joints of pipe to reach from the stove out through the roof far enough to be above ridge. On top of the last joint you would place a cap to keep rain and snow from coming back down the stack and into the stove.
    Before that chimlys (chimneys) were stacks of rock or brick that were finished by building up the corners and laying a flat capstone on top.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 7, 2018 at 8:18 am

    Don’t recall ever hearing that one but it is easy to get the sense of it anyway. It has elements of finality, excellence and wit or skill. Whatever it originally derived from, it is interesting that the phrase survives long after the meaning of “cap” and “stack” has lost connection with anything physical.

  • Reply
    April 7, 2018 at 7:14 am

    Using ‘hygiene’ as verb is much ‘higher’ or better language that what Marines used to say!! It’s was SSS and I won’t say what they stand for on BPA.
    So Mothers out there, take it. I spent four years on Marine bases.

    ‘Cap the stack’ I’ve never heard before but can see it.
    “That’ll do the trick” or “Put the kiboch on” for finish is about all I’ve heard or used myself.
    I do love words and also to hear new phrases.
    Thanks again Tipper, a new phrase and something to ponder.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 7, 2018 at 7:12 am

    Though I immediately understand the meaning of this expression, I have no recall of ever hearing it before.

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