Appalachian Dialect Sayings from Appalachia

Sayings from Suzann

lady petting a stuffed boar

Here’s the most recent sayings my friend Suzann and her mother sent me:

  • She thought she was something on a stick (uppity, better than anyone else)
  • I look like boo, I get ya (looks awful)
  • I look like a haint a’comin (looks awful)
  • Who shot Lizzie? (example: “I need a haircut. I look like who shot Lizzie!)
  • Recklify (Mom said Mamaw would say, “I’m going to beat the recklified crap out of you.”

I’ve heard the first one about the stick, but had totally forgotten about it till Suzann mentioned it.

Suzann said she wanted to know who Lizzie was and why somebody shot her! Now I want to know too 🙂

The last one reminds me of the story Pap told about one of the elderly men living in Brasstown when he was a boy.

Pap said the old man used big words to try to impress people however, the words weren’t always real ones. He wore a tie every day of the week no matter what kind of shirt, pants, or overalls he had on. He was also partial to fancy socks and wore his pants just short enough to show them off.

A local boy was drafted, but when he went over to Knoxville to officially sign up he was turned down. Everyone at the store was wondering why the boy was denied entrance into the military. The old man knew the answer “It wasn’t his physidition it was his edmentation that got him turned down.”

One fall day Pap heard him say “There ain’t no defalcation about it, it’s going to turn cold.”


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  • Reply
    Yecedrah Higman
    October 16, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    My husband was reading this today and wondered if anyone has ever heard of a “fraily pole” or “I am going to get a fraily pole and frail the daylights out of you”. His parents used these terms with him when he was a child.

  • Reply
    October 16, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    Suzann sure has a colorful way of expressing herself- I love all her visuals!
    And I am certainly more edjumicated, now that I’ve learnt a new word: defalcate.
    Anybody ever heard of ‘shagnasty’? “He looked plumb shagnasty with that ‘ol long greasy mop ‘o harr.” – my Meemaw

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      October 16, 2019 at 4:03 pm

      My Daddy called me a shagnasty sometimes when I was a kid. He also called me a nincompoop. Both were in jest but I did fit the bill sometimes and still do.

  • Reply
    October 16, 2019 at 10:31 am

    Never heard any of Suzann’s but I’ve sure heard Pinnacle Creek’s: hifalutin, ugly as sin, a big fat liar and for crying out loud brought a giggle to me. Sometimes I will say a word that I don’t normally use which startles me and wonder if I made it up or if it came from way back in my childhood.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 16, 2019 at 9:26 am

    Looks like hell wouldn’t have her.
    Looks like $#!+ on a white chicken.
    Ugly as a mud fence.
    Fixed her hair on the back of a pickup truck.
    Well, if you are gonna act like that I’ll just pull up my bloomers and leave.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    October 16, 2019 at 9:25 am

    I have heard the first one and pretty sure it is still common and have used haint the same way. After my son was grown up and grew his hair long I’ told him the dog catcher was going to get him. I still get tickled when I think about what my Uncle ask me when I came home from the army with a moustache. He asked me “” if I had swallowed a mule’s tail””?

  • Reply
    October 16, 2019 at 9:07 am

    None of Suzann’s saying are familiar to me. We say someone looks like they have been drug through the mud or beat with an ugly stick when we describe looking bad. She thinks she’s on high horses would be my way to describe uppity. My ex-husband’s family said, “I will hairbrain you,” when they threatened a whooping.
    I have drawn an image in my mind of the old man Pap told about. I have known a few in my time.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    October 16, 2019 at 9:06 am

    I’ve heard “something on a stick.” It was my favorite for a long time. I much prefer it to “all that and a bag of chips” the kids say.

    I’m totally taking “a haint a commin” I sorta feel like that now!

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    October 16, 2019 at 8:49 am

    Speaking of the fellow from Brasstown who coined new words to try to appear intelligent we see this now on TV by folks being interviewed when they “Skin their ignorance”. This is one thing which sends shivers down my spine.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 16, 2019 at 8:43 am

    Oh my goodness, between you and Suzann and everybody you all have got my head in recall. We do have a huge number and kind of sayings. If my memory serves (and it may not!) my Dad used to say “ugly as a mud fence”. As to looking rough, we said “look like something the cats drug in that the dogs wouldn’t have”. And I just remembered he would say “pore as Job’s turkey”. I would not have thought I even remembered so many and would not have without BP&A to help.

    You all sure do intrigue me. I think I could probably sit on the porch with any one or all of you and listen to you ‘talk a blue streak’. We could be a fun story-telling (real stories I mean) bunch. Suzann could get us started.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    October 16, 2019 at 7:58 am

    My favorit saying about looking bad is “I look like the hind end of a wind storm” I still laugh when I hear it

    • Reply
      aw griff
      October 16, 2019 at 9:30 am

      I had never heard that one. I too laughed. That is so very very descriptive.

  • Reply
    October 16, 2019 at 7:56 am

    Oddly enough I have heard only the first of those which in more genteel circles was described as “hifalutin.” If somebody looked really bad, I used to hear the ole timers say “They look like they had been “smacked with an ugly stick.” “Ugly as sin” is another old common saying. A spanking was sometimes described as, “If you don’t straighten up, I’m gonna beat the far (fire) out of you.”
    We have a FB site mostly for family and friends of family where my dear cousin cracked us up with his, “for cryin’ out loud.” I really had not heard that since my Dad used to say it, but apparently was still a common term for this Appalachian cousin. Another expression that always brought a smile was that nobody was merely called a liar, but even if skinny as a rail they were described as “a big fat liar.” Until my coffee kicks in I am a bubble off plumb!

    • Reply
      Sanford McKinney Jr
      October 16, 2019 at 9:49 am

      RE Ugly-We had a friend that used the expression, “Beauty fades but ugly holds its own!”
      Another tidbit: Defalcation1
      [dēˌfalˈkāSHən, dəˌfalˈkāSHən, dēˌfôlˈkāSHən, dəˌfôlˈkāSHən]
      1.noun form of defalcate
      Powered byOxfordDictionaries© Oxford University Press
      [dəˈfalkāt, dəˈfôlkāt]
      verb third person present:defalcates, past tense:defalcated, past participle:defalcated, present participle:defalcating
      1.embezzle (funds with which one has been entrusted). “the officials were charged with defalcating government money”
      synonyms:purloin, thieve, take, take for oneself, help oneself to, loot, pilfer, abscond with, run off with, appropriate, abstract, carry off, shoplift, embezzle, misappropriate, have one’s fingers/hand in the till, walk off/away with, run away/off with, rob, swipe, nab, rip off, lift, liberate, filch, snaffle, snitch, souvenir, nick, pinch, half-inch, whip, knock off, nobble, bone, scrump, blag, heist, glom, snavel, clifty, tief, crib, hook, peculate, walk, go walkies

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 16, 2019 at 7:37 am

    The first one I’ve heard also haint but the remainder mostly not. Could that be Lizzie Borden who took an ax to her mother?
    There is something just out of reach to my conscious brain about recklify. Maybe rectified as in “he looked like rectified crap.”
    I just love the way we make up words to express what’s on our mind!

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      October 16, 2019 at 9:35 am

      In her defense Lizzie Borden killed her stepmother. And her father. I think she had PTSD because they made her milk Elsie. Do you get it? Elsie Borden.

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