Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Pap Pa Pappy


Pap and his girls (Chatter, April my niece, Chitter)

pap noun A father (in third-person reference and as a form of address). In Joseph Hall’s work in the 1930’s this term was more common than its alternatives. Cf pa, pappy.

1924 Spring Lydia Whaley 1 Pap let the county build a school house free on his land which was nigh enuf for ’em to go home to dinner. And he was “powerful to send us to school.” 1936 LAMSAS (Swain Co NC). 1937 Hall Coll. Catons Grove TN Pap was born here in the mountains, but Mother was born in Georgia. (Elizabeth Baxter) 1956 Hall Coll. Big Bend NC Her an’ pap an’ Aunt Nance . . . went over to Slick Rock Branch, and they catched a big wild male hog once. (Letha Hicks) 1967 Hall Coll. Townsend TN Labe and Pap was the ones that killed the bear. (Maynard Ledbetter) 1989 Landry Smoky Mt Interviews 181 I called my father pap and [my mother] mammy. 1996 GSMNPOHP 1:4 When I was growing up Pap would always say stay away from the upper end [of Cades Cove].

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


My brothers and I called Pap Daddy when we were growing up, but after the grandkids started coming along he quickly became Pap most of the time.

When my oldest nephew, the first grandchild, was about to be born my brother and sister-n-law asked Pap and Granny what they wanted to be called and they chose the grandparent names they wanted. I wasn’t surprised when Daddy chose Pap because I’d often heard him call his own father Pap.

The picture at the top of this post is one of my favorites. I love the silliness on the girls’ faces and the way Pap is holding them all in tight. Pap had a way of looking really serious, almost to the point of fierceness. I believe his mother had the same look about her and I’ve often seen the look on my own face when I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror or a window reflection. That look is another reason I love this photo. Somewhere there’s another one taken the same day with the only difference being my two nephews are standing where the girls are.


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  • Reply
    June 14, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    I intend no disrespect to anyone but it is interesting to note that ‘pap’ with a small ‘p’ is an archaic word for teat or nipple. It also means a soft, insubstantial food or an inconsequential idea or presentation. With a capital “P” it means so much more and none of it is insubstantial. Me? I’m Pa. And I have to keep reminding some folks that there ain’t no “w’ on the end of it and it starts with a capital “P” “cause I ain’t no appendage at the end of a leg (even though I am on my last legs). We separated paternal and maternal grandparents with designations of ‘Grandpa’ and ‘Grandma’ on my father’s side and ‘Pa’ and ‘Granny’ on mother’s side when I was young. I’m curious; do any of you have specific diminutives for grandparents on maternal or paternal sides of your family.

  • Reply
    Jane W Bolden
    June 13, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    My grandmother called her father Papa. She was born in 1899 in Lawrenceville,Georgia. He passed away years before I was born. She would tell me stories about him. I really like that name .

  • Reply
    June 13, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    ♫ ♪ Me, my wife and her old Pap, walked on down to Cumberland Gap ♪♫

    • Reply
      June 13, 2018 at 8:32 pm

      Alt 013 and alt 014 we making music!!

  • Reply
    Neva [Wyatt} Slocum
    June 13, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    My father’s family migrated to the Pacific N W in the early 1900’s from the mountains of North Carolina. My Dad’s birth place is listed as Sylva N C but he grew up around Maggie Valley. He and his siblings called his folks Pap and Mammy. My up bringing was a combination of “Tarheel” and “Okie”. My mother was raised in Oklahoma and Oregon.
    Mama always raises a huge garden and preserved everything. If the tomato crop was good she even made catsup, hot sauce, picadilly, and of course canned lots of them. She grew “Tarheel” greenbeans and saved seed for the year. We would sit on the porch and “string and snap” . Wonderful memories.
    This is my first time writing about my family , I hope to share many things in the future. being in the N.W. , I get your “Blind Pig” later in the day. Neva

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    June 13, 2018 at 11:43 am

    We called daddy’s dad “‘Boots” because that’s what he wanted to be called. Mama’s dad died years before I got here so I relied on my older brothers when I wanted to know something. His name was Hugh Passmore, a railroad man, was Foreman of the railroad from Asheville to Murphy. I think that’s where Mama got her gentleness. …Ken

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    June 13, 2018 at 11:17 am

    Both my parents called their fathers “Papa” which I really like.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    June 13, 2018 at 10:32 am

    I called my Dad “Daddy” or “Pop” when I was a kid and I still call him “Dad” (He is 95).

    The best one is my uncle, who is a retired U. S. District Judge. His granddaughters came along fairly late in his life and when the first was born, his daughter asked how he wanted his grandchildren to address him. He has a great sense of humor, so he replied, “Your Honor”. His granddaughters call him “Honor”.

  • Reply
    June 13, 2018 at 10:02 am

    My son calls me dad, my daughter calls be daddy and my grandsons call me papaw. My daddy only ever got to see one grandchild and she was 10 months old when he died so he was never given a grandparent name.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    June 13, 2018 at 9:18 am

    We are Mammaw and Papaw to our grandchildren. My parents were called by my children Papaw plus (last name) and Mammaw plus (last name) on both sides and their cousins called them Grandfather plus (last name) and Grandmother . plus (last name)…I called my Grandfather Big Daddy and Grandmother Mama T____ her (last name).. On my Dads side my Grandparents were called same as my Dad called them when he was growing up… only to us it was Granddaddy Pa and Grandmother Mammy…Dad called his Father Pa and Mother Mammy. When he was younger he told me he called her, Mommy…
    Funny how names morph through the years…When I was younger, I always thought that calling your Father “Pa” and Mother “Ma” sounded so like the mountain cartoon movie characters “Ma and Pa Kettle”…which of course were so popular during the early fifties….so I always thought my Dads enduring names for them was very old-fashioned! For some reason it doesn’t seem that way today…maybe because I am now and old Grandmother…!!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    June 13, 2018 at 9:15 am

    Those grandkids can sure change names. My wife, Sharon, got to be Nana, her choice. But (as I’ve posted before) I became Gray Gray for some reason only our grandson knows.

    As for Pap’s expression, perhaps he was thinking life is a serious business. Anyway, that’s me. I have been told I think too much. (But there are two sides to that of courxe.) I just say I am fun impaired but I don’t say that to just anybody. I’ll share it with you all.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    June 13, 2018 at 8:11 am

    Pap was a handsome man. I don’t ever remember seeing him without a smile on his face.
    Of course, I never saw him anywhere but at your performances and he was always so pleasant to everyone. I believe he was just happy to share his family talents with the world.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    June 13, 2018 at 6:14 am

    Same thing happened in my family. My Dad was always Dad. But, once the grandkids started arriving, he became Pap.

    I’m bias, of course, but he is great no matter what you call him!

  • Reply
    June 13, 2018 at 5:44 am

    It’s funny how pictures a lot of times can depict a persons personality, no doubt you can see that in the girls faces. But also it can capture what maybe going on in ones life at the moment also.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 13, 2018 at 4:48 am

    Love that picture, it is soooo Pap! The kids in my family called my father, Pop and we called his father Pa.

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