Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Scat Scat Cat

saying-scat-cat-when-someone-sneezes

scat, scat cat interjection Bless you! (a response to another person’s sneeze).
1983 Broaddus Kentucky Word List 54 = said to a small child upon his sneezing. 1997 Montgomery File Some people just said, “Scat, cat!” whenever anyone sneezed. They also said “Scat there.” I’m not sure if I’m right in this perception or not but is seems that the “Scat, cat, get your tail out of my gravy!” was used more in familiar settings, as a mother to a child, etc. In my mind, men seemed to more often use the shorter version. I can still hear my grandfather saying, “Scat there!” when somebody sneezed . . . . I kind of associate the saying with the idea of a cat trying to get your food and rubbing his tail across your nose, making you sneeze. (55-year-old woman, Jefferson Co TN).

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

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I had never heard anyone say “scat cat” for a sneeze until I met Miss Cindy. She uses a version similar to the “get your tail out of my gravy” one mentioned in the dictionary entry. I’ve also heard her use “scat there” and just plain “scat” when someone sneezes.

Tipper

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25 Comments

  • Reply
    Carla Gamble
    January 26, 2019 at 6:38 am

    I grew up hearing scat cat or scat there. I said it recently to a friends baby without thinking. The looks I received were priceless! (And proof I was the only one in the group raised in the south)

  • Reply
    Joanne
    January 17, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    I’ve always heard “Scat cat, you can’t have my baby” when a baby or young child sneezed and “scat cat” or just plain “scat” when an older child or adult sneezed. Many say “bless you”. I’ve said all of them at one time or another, but have never said the one about the cat’s tail in my gravy”, although I’ve heard elders say it when I was growing up.

  • Reply
    Suzann
    January 17, 2019 at 2:01 pm

    I had always heard “Scat there!” and had never heard the addition of “Get your tail out of the gravy” until I heard my husband use it. He said that’s what his granny always said to them growing up.

  • Reply
    SusieQ
    January 17, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    I’ve not heard those expressions ,new ones to me 🙂 . These days most people around me will say ,”Bless You!”…. but the expression I grew up hearing in my family was the expression ” gesundheit ” .. never was sure what that really meant until curiosity moved me to look it up . It’s German for health, or health-hood. Wonder where my Grandparents heard it from ?

  • Reply
    Jackie
    January 17, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    Both my grandmothers said, “Scat there cat, you’ve got your tail in my gravy.” I can’t recall hearing anyone else say that or the other versions. I have seen cats scamper away when someone sneezed.

  • Reply
    Gigi
    January 17, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    I heard it all the time growing up. Not so much now. When someone sneezes today, it God Bless You!

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    January 17, 2019 at 12:25 pm

    Interesting! I have not heard that before nor read it, so good that you are making everyone aware of that old expression when sneezing. I have heard “bless you”, “God bless you”, and the favorite word for us growing up was “gesundheit.” As usual, Tipper, you make me think and keep my mind active. I realized we children murdered the word and said “gazoondike.” Googling tells me it is German in origin, and since I descended from the 2nd Germanic Colony, I suppose that it may have been handed down. I like to think so anyway! I just keep on handing down, as my grandchildren say it also.

  • Reply
    Jay A Clark
    January 17, 2019 at 11:49 am

    Dad just said, “Scat”!

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    January 17, 2019 at 11:06 am

    There were many residents in Appalachia of German descent where it was polite to say Gesundheit when someone sneezed wishing them “Good Health”. Could it be possible that those of other descent may have misunderstood or just shortened Gesundheit to “Scat Cat’ then added the cat’s tail in the gravy to make more sense of the expression? Personally I don’t recall ever hearing the Scat Cat expression even though Gesundheit is common in my family which has a degree of Germanic Ancestry.

  • Reply
    Sarah Loudin Thomas
    January 17, 2019 at 10:27 am

    My husband’s family (upstate SC) says “scat” when someone sneezes. Didn’t realize there was more to it. Fun!

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    January 17, 2019 at 10:25 am

    Just “scat” is what I heard as a child.

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    January 17, 2019 at 10:16 am

    Very common in my part of SC. My father, especially, used it often and I have as well.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 17, 2019 at 10:08 am

    Mommy always said “Scat there!” I didn’t hear the part about the cat having it’s tail in the gravy until I met my wife’s family.

  • Reply
    Shirl
    January 17, 2019 at 9:32 am

    Mom said scat cat and my mother-in-law said the longer version. I don’t think I ever said either version when my children sneezed.

  • Reply
    John Waldrop
    January 17, 2019 at 9:27 am

    I grew up hearing “Scat Cat” every time someone sneezed. That brought back memories!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    January 17, 2019 at 9:10 am

    I heard it all the time growing up and I still say it sometimes. My grandfather and dad always said scat there or scat cat. I usually say scat cat.
    I don’t think I ever heard my mother say it though.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 17, 2019 at 8:37 am

    That is a new one on me. The only thing I’ve ever heard is “Bless you.” I expect that arose from concern that a sneeze could be the first indication of something potentially serious, even life threatening. We no longer expect that but historically I’m confident that shadow lay much more heavily.

  • Reply
    Dee
    January 17, 2019 at 8:32 am

    Never heard that but when someone sneezes I hear God Bless. Maybe they think people are coming down with a cold or something.

  • Reply
    Sherry Whitaker
    January 17, 2019 at 8:28 am

    Whenever someone sneezed, I remember my daddy saying, “scat Tom, your tails on fire!”

  • Reply
    Alice
    January 17, 2019 at 8:16 am

    I remember my grandma saying scat cat, your tail’s on fire.

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney Jr
    January 17, 2019 at 7:45 am

    Never heard that phrase used here in Upper East Tennessee. Have always, as far as I can remember, heard “Bless You!”

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    January 17, 2019 at 7:37 am

    That is a new one to me. Cannot remember ever hearing it.

  • Reply
    Sheryl A Paul
    January 17, 2019 at 7:02 am

    Never heard that before, interesting

  • Reply
    tmc
    January 17, 2019 at 6:06 am

    As a child, I heard my Mamaw say scat cat, and my Dad use to say it, but I haven’t heard it in such a long time I actually forgot about it until mentioned here.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 17, 2019 at 6:05 am

    All my life I heard that, scat there cat, get your tail out of the gravy. It was my mother that used it. She was born in north west Georgia then later moved to Western North Carolina. I don’t think I ever heard that expression from anyone else.

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