Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Put = Lots of Things in Appalachia

Use of the word put in appalachia

In Appalachia we use the word put it in the following ways:

  • as a verb meaning to propose or to start: “I put in for the job down at the store I’ll have to wait and see if I get it.” or “He put in the boat down below the high bridge and we started fishing down the river from there.”
  • as a substitute for the word ‘remind’: “She put me in mind of Aunt Susie cause she sure was a talker!”
  • as a substitute for the word ‘delegate’: “Last night at the meeting they put it on me to find someone to fix the roof.”
  • as a way of shifting blame: “Now they put that off on me but I swear I didn’t do it! I wasn’t within 10 miles of here that night and I got the people to prove it too!”
  • in reference to what we’ve planted in the garden: “I heard on the radio a few people has done put out their lettuce and onions.”

I checked my Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English to see if I missed any uses of ‘put’ and I found 2 more:

  • put to-to start or cause to: “He was put to milking the cows as soon as he was big enough.” (I’ve heard this one-but just didn’t think of it)
  • put up the bar-mind the gap; meaning to replace the rails of a fence that had been let down for passage through a pasture. (I’ve never heard this one-and it seems to me it fits in with my first list-but since it sounded interesting I thought I’d mention it too)

I’m sure I didn’t find all the uses of put so if you think of one leave a comment and tell me. And as always I’d love to know if the uses I did mentioned are common in your area.

*It’s 6:50 a.m. in Brasstown and Gary Ballard has already shared another common use of the word put that I didn’t think of! Using the word put with stay. Stay put means don’t move:  “Now stay put and I’ll be right back with something to clean you up!”



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  • Reply
    Suzann Ledford
    November 10, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    Correction and addition to last post:
    “How many quarts of beans did you put up?”
    Hubby had one–to order or make someone do work: “I put him to stringing those beans.”

  • Reply
    Suzann Ledford
    November 10, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    Mom uses “put out” to mean mad at someone: “I can’t believe she said that! I’m so put out with her.”
    And we use “put up” when talking about canning and freezing: “How many quarts of been did you put up?” 🙂

  • Reply
    September 14, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Jane-thank you for the comment! I haven’t heard of the falls before but I googled and found them. Wow they are beautiful! Have a great evening.

  • Reply
    September 9, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    I’m a day late reading this (story of my life) but I just had to share how well-timed it was.
    We have one of those Amazon Echo machines – you talk to it and it does stuff for ya’. I can tell it to “add milk to the shopping list” and milk then appears on a list on my phone. Pretty neat.
    However, she don’t speak mountain!
    Well, not ten minutes before I read this “Put, put, put” blog, I had said to that infernal machine, “Put to the list…” and my flat-lander husband laughed hysterically. He said, “Put?”
    So thank you Tipper for once again validating my speech.
    I love reading these vocabulary articles and I’m amazed how often there are words that I just assumed were part of normal language – well, I guess they are part of my people’s normal language!

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    September 8, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    I watched my grandson when he was little, down on all fours, making this sound.
    Put, put, put….stall a second and start again put, put, put, turn his body and then say much faster…put, put, put, put…I realized when he finally came in view he was pushing one of his hot wheel trucks on his little track on the floor. He was making the noise of his grandfathers truck…ha
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…Love the picture of your put. put, put girl!

  • Reply
    September 8, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    How about putting up 30 quarts of tomatoes? I often hear putting up used the same way as putting by, when it comes to canning.
    And oh, Miss Cindy, I dream of straight fences and smooth-swinging gates! I don’t have a storebought gate on my place, and a quick count in my head just came up with an even dozen gates. I’d love to try a stile, but I raise goats and I don’t think there’s a spot I can get through or over that a goat can’t. They are a lot bendier than cows. Actually they are a lot bendier than me! 😉

  • Reply
    Janis Sullivan (Jan)
    September 8, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    I have to say this blog was so good that i read it early in the morning; saved it; then read it in late afternoon just to see all the comments. I use put an awful lot and never have thought of it being appalachian, but I am being from TN. and living here in VA. My husband is from Philly, PA, and he thought he had caught all my Smoky Mtn. words by now, but he hadn’t caught on to put being “from the hills”. I enjoyed this a lot. I enjoy your blog every day, but this was a special hoot. Jan

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    September 8, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    I will put in my two-cents’.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 8, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    put before – his actions were put before the church
    put in writing – to make legal. I’ll go along with what you said but hit’ll have be put it in writing.
    put to music – to add music to poetry. It’s a crying shame none of his pomes got put to music
    We had a cow once that could put down the bars down by herownself. She had horns and learned that up she picked up and moved her head to the side then back down, she was free. We devised all manner of contraptions to prevent her doing it but somehow she would defeat them. We finally had to make a gate out of four strands of bobwaar attached to a pole that went into a loop on the bottom and had another loop that slipped down over it at the top. That kept Bossie from getting out through the gate but then she turned to finding weak places in the fence. You know they say cows are dumb but some of them are smarter that most people.
    Uncle Mose Wikle had one of those pedestrian gates Miss Cindy mentioned. It was right beside the bars so you didn’t have to climb across them to get into the pasture. It was three locust posts set up in a triangle with the fence attached to two of them. The cows were to long to make the turn but people could walk through handily. Kinda like a tractor trailer in a hairpin turn. It just ain’t gonna happen.

  • Reply
    jane childers
    September 8, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    I live at the foot of Lookout Mountain. I have heard that this is the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Have you ever heard of Noccalula Falls?

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    September 8, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    Miss Cindy, I think you mean a “stile”. I think there are different kinds and each one probably has a name. The ‘zigzag’ one you describe is used for where the AT passes through fences.
    Two more “put” examples, “put back” meaning to save something new unused ( same as Rooney’s Uncle Jimmy) often with the plan to give it to someone else who one knows would appreciate it. “Put away” meaning to return things where they came from after using.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 8, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    Put aside – for later discussion. Let’s put aside the cost for now and consider availability of materials.
    Put toward – to save for something in the future. He saved all his lizard money to put toward a car.
    Put under – anesthetized. I wanted to be there before he was put under.
    My favorite! – Put up or shut up!

  • Reply
    September 8, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    One time I asked my friend and Dozer Operator how he was able to move the dirt to the right spots. He told me is was just a matter of “put and take.” I really miss C.F. Myres…Ken

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    September 8, 2016 at 11:29 am

    The word “put” is famously connected to Winston Churchill and his rejection of the English rule of not ending sentences in a preposition. Apparently an editor had changed one of his sentences to avoid an ending preposition.
    Churchill’s response was something along the lines of “This is the sort of rule up with which I will not put.”
    Have you considered how often relative direction is connected with the use of “put”?
    Put up
    Put down
    Put in
    Put out
    Put away
    Put back
    Put forth

  • Reply
    September 8, 2016 at 11:00 am

    Don’t put her down. At least she put forth an effort.
    She has a hard time just putting up with you.
    The dog was so sick we had to have him put down.
    I put one over on him.
    Thanks Tipper, this put me in a fun mood.

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    September 8, 2016 at 10:52 am

    It may be in the comments but I didn’t see it…what about “put out the fire?”

  • Reply
    Grady Stanley
    September 8, 2016 at 10:45 am

    Reading your blog tickles me to death and takes me back to growing up and spending time in Daddy’s hometown of Smithfield, NC. An awful lot of the language, accents, customs, etc. must run across the whole state because it takes me right back to Smithfield. So much of what you write about makes me feel like I’m right at home with family, and I love it!

  • Reply
    Deb Kroll
    September 8, 2016 at 10:38 am

    I use “put” in all of these ways all of the time. Funny, I never thought of any of these as Appalachian, but they sure are (as am I)!

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    September 8, 2016 at 10:32 am

    Don’t put off doing today what needs to be done. Put that cookie back — you haven’t had your supper yet! I’m plumb put out that you won’t tell me. He put in a good word for his son at the plant. Put a smile on your face. If he ever put in a full day’s work, I’d faint. I wouldn’t put that green blouse with that red skirt. Just put on that you like her pie whether you do or not. She’s just a put on — she really doesn’t like me. We put our flag out on Memorial Day. We’re having a party to put up the Christmas tree. Put extra vanilla in your cake mix to make it taste homemade. That song put me to thinkin’ about the good old days. Plus all the uses you list, Tipper! This bit of fun sure puts me in a good mood!

  • Reply
    anita griffith
    September 8, 2016 at 9:44 am

    Gee,didn’t realize i used put in so many ways.
    My wife uses the word gap without put.She often says,when we are in heavy traffic,they let the gap down.

  • Reply
    September 8, 2016 at 9:31 am

    By the way, “slips” have to be very sturdy. If a cow sees an opening and wants whats on the other side, it will keep trying to force its way through. Not too worried about a calf – they usually won’t wander too far from Mama but if they risk not being able to be protected from predators.

  • Reply
    September 8, 2016 at 9:28 am

    Is Miss Cindy thinking about a “slip”, a “slip pass”, or a “slip gate”?
    Hadn’t thought about it but I use all the examples of “put” described thus far.

  • Reply
    eva nell mull wike, PhD
    September 8, 2016 at 9:27 am

    Well Tipper: Your post today has caused folks to PUT a lot of thought into their recollections in life. Now I am about to put a lot of thought into making tomorrow SPECIAL! Reason being, tomorrow is my birthday and we have already celebrated last weekend with our three log-legged grandsons! Don’t know what I’ll do! Maybe I’ll just get dressed up, go ‘out’ and put on the DOG!
    Dog gone it!
    This wuz fun and I didn’ put much time in it!!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    September 8, 2016 at 9:15 am

    What about ‘put off’ for procrastinate and ‘put on’ for either pretend or to get dressed, depending on context. Then there is ‘put up with’ for tolerate and ‘put up’ for demonstrate as in ‘Put up or shut up.’
    I have often heard “putting up” to mean canning, harvesting (as in ‘I’ ve been putting up hay all week.’) Then there is ‘put out’ for aggravated. What about ‘put down’ for lay down or let go of? How about ‘put over’ for fooling somebody? Or (rarely) ‘put through’ for bringing to a successful conclusion.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    September 8, 2016 at 8:46 am

    I am just plain put out with him because he never does anything I ask him to do!
    As in, I’m tired of him not listening to me.
    I’ve never thought about how much we use that simple little word.
    Good one Tipper!

  • Reply
    Ava Abbott
    September 8, 2016 at 8:45 am

    To be “put out” with somebody is to be aggravated by them.

  • Reply
    September 8, 2016 at 8:42 am

    We put up 8 jars of jam this morning (as to preserve).

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    September 8, 2016 at 8:34 am

    We use “put up” to mean save: I gave Uncle Jimmy a new little pearl handled Case pocket knife for his 90th birthday. He said, “Now that’s a nice ‘un, I’ll have to put it up.” …at 90 years old?

  • Reply
    Ethelene Jones
    September 8, 2016 at 8:30 am

    I’ve put up with a lot in my life because I don’t like to be contradictory, but if it’s a matter of choosing right or wrong, you can be sure I’ll try to put my foot down for the right!

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    September 8, 2016 at 8:21 am

    I love it when this blog sheds light on a aspect of the language I take for granted.
    In my family and neck of the woods, it is common to be “put upon.” We use it in the (unwanted) delegation sense.
    “Nobody does nothing on that committee. So, I’m doing it. I’m feeling put upon and sorry for myself this morning. ”

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 8, 2016 at 8:09 am

    That’s a cute put, put, put girl you’ve got there!
    I’ve heard all of these even the last one. My grandpaw had milk cows. When I was little I’d go with him to milk. He had one of the old timey gates on the pasture that consisted of three rails that you put down for the cows to pass then put them up to keep the cows from wandering back out. They slid in and out.
    I’m always fascinated with the ways folks used to get things done using whatever they had. There was no going to Tractor Supply or Lowes for a gate.
    Have you ever seen one of those gate sort of things the old timers used? You walked into it one way and turned to come out the other side. It allowed a person to get to the other side of the fence without opening a gate or climbing over but it was too small of the cows to go through. There is a name for it but it escapes me at the moment. I bet someone out there will remember the name.

  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    September 8, 2016 at 5:50 am

    I am familiar with all of these except for the last one. I use every one of them except for that.
    We most often use the ones about put in for work or when we put in a garden. I hear them with some regularity in this part of my state, where I now live. This area has lots of German heritage.
    I also have a cousin, each time I see her she put me in mind of my mother when she was young. I confess I most often say she puts me in mind . . .

  • Reply
    Garry Ballard
    September 8, 2016 at 5:28 am

    we say ‘stay put’ meaning to stay where you are.

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