Appalachian Dialect

Shank of the Day


shank of the afternoon, shank of the day, shank of the evening noun phrase late in the day.
1940 Haun Hawks’ Done 119 Along in the shank of the evening them little white sores broke out on her throat. 1952 Wilson Folk Speech NC 588 Shank of the evening = late afternoon, early evening. 1995 Montgomery Coll. It was along about the shank of the day when he left (Cardwell). 1999 Carver Branch Water Tales 11 I see this horse and a rider a comin along in the shank of the evening—the rider was pert-near-a fallin out of the saddle.

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

I’ve never heard anyone use the phrase shank of the day nor any of the other variations shared in the dictionary entry, have you? I am familiar with the saying “going by shank’s mare” which means to walk.


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  • Reply
    Sam Stevens
    September 22, 2021 at 7:50 pm

    Shank of the day… late afternoon. Shank of the evening… late evening. Not as commonly heard in my neck of the woods as it once was, but it is certainly still used.

  • Reply
    Carol Roy
    June 24, 2021 at 8:52 pm

    I never heard of it before …. however like you I have heard Shank’s mare !

  • Reply
    Tammy Scott
    June 20, 2021 at 8:52 pm

    Just one of the reasons I love your web page. You’re teaching me things about my Appalachian heritage that I’ve never heard before.

  • Reply
    June 18, 2021 at 8:23 am

    I’ve heard both ‘shank of the evening’ and ‘Shank’s mare’. My maternal grandfather used them.

  • Reply
    Keryl Lassley
    June 18, 2021 at 1:05 am

    My mother said many of the same words and phrases you talk about. I never bothered to ask her where she learned those words, because Gramma talked the same way. My mother used to ask her mother, “Where did we come from? What are we?” The answer was always “Pennsylvania Dutch.” But my grandparents and my parents always lived in the southeast corner of Nebraska, yet they said most all of those Appalachian words and phrases you talk about. It’s been many a moon since I’ve heard the word “shank.” My mother and other relatives spoke of “he rode Shank’s pony,” or “he hoofed it” meaning he walked all that long way.” My Grandmother used the word “hain’t” for “ain’t” and I never did know why. I had the idea that “hain’t” was for emphasis, as in “Hain’t that awful!” or “No it hain’t!” I thoroughly enjoy all of your stories and hearing about all those good ole words and phrases. It brings back precious memories.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 17, 2021 at 9:30 pm

    So, shank of the day is somewheres in between atter supper and gettin dark.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 17, 2021 at 9:29 pm

    Shank, to me, has to do with tools. It’s the part between the handle and the part that does the work. A screwdriver has a handle, a shank and a bit. Same for a drill. The shank on a hog is the piece of meat between the ham and the hock. That would correspond to the thigh on a person. Often the shank on country hams are left on and cured with the ham.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2021 at 8:18 pm

    we use shank of the evening.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2021 at 8:10 pm

    My grandfather and a family friend used the therm “shank of the evening” to mean late evening.

  • Reply
    Janis Sullivan
    June 17, 2021 at 2:05 pm

    I am originally from TN. We used shank of the evening to mean we were almost grown up, and one got to go out on the shank of the evening. It was always a big time to look forward to in my household.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    June 17, 2021 at 12:49 pm

    I am familiar with the term. I don’t believe I have ever heard anyone say it. Probably read in somewhere. I’ve read a lot of books in the 72 years since I learned to read.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2021 at 12:44 pm

    I’ve heard shank before but not in a long time.

  • Reply
    Tommie Lyn
    June 17, 2021 at 11:26 am

    I grew up in north Georgia hearing that term used often, among other colorful, descriptive phrases. I love that rich language from my childhood and miss it (I’m in my late 70s).

  • Reply
    June 17, 2021 at 10:43 am

    I’ve never heard of it, either.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    June 17, 2021 at 10:16 am

    I can think of another use of “shank” which is to refer to the part of a fish hook between the beginning of the curve and the eye. Seems ‘shank’ is generally referring to a ‘middle’ or the area between two changes. Nowadays, we might say ‘shaft’ for part of that idea, such as the fish hook. In ‘shank of the evening’ I guess it refers to an approximate mid-point between noon and sunset which would vary by season. It might have been connected with the idea that the light was “tapering off” as the calf tapers to the ankle.

    I do not recall ever hearing ‘shank of the day’ or ‘of the evening’ spoken. Somehow or other though I know the phrase and its approximate meaning.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    June 17, 2021 at 9:35 am

    I have always heard and said “shank of the evening” but haven’t heard the others.

  • Reply
    Kim Glenn
    June 17, 2021 at 9:34 am

    The only time I ever heard the word “shank” used was when I served on the grand jury and it had nothing to do with time. The officers were giving us information on the case and they were talking about finding a “shank” on a prisoner. Finally I spoke up and asked what a “shank” was, much to the amusement of my fellow jurors. The officer smiled and said it was a handmade weapon that prisoners would make out of combs, toothbrushes, etc. -Needless to say, I’ve led a sheltered life!

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    June 17, 2021 at 9:32 am

    My grandparents used it. I like it, but doubt I will add it to my vocabulary.

  • Reply
    Margie G
    June 17, 2021 at 9:16 am

    In southern WV here and never have I heard shank of the evening used in dialect. What a strange saying but very interesting indeed.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    June 17, 2021 at 8:13 am

    Heard it all the time when I was a kid…..late even9ing…

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 17, 2021 at 7:34 am

    I have heard it but it was a long time ago. I’m think it was my Aunt Ruth, my mother’s older sister and possibly my mother as well. To ride shanks mare to town meant to walk to town. This is a very old memory for me and it is from my mother’s side of the family.
    Wow, Tip, I had to dig deep for that one…haven’t heard it in a very long time!

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      June 17, 2021 at 8:38 pm

      We called “hoofing it!”

  • Reply
    Sheryl A Paul
    June 17, 2021 at 7:08 am

    I have never heard anyone say it, but a very discriptive phrase. It leaves no doubt as to the time of day.

  • Reply
    Patricia Price
    June 17, 2021 at 6:57 am

    I use “shank of the day” all the time. I am in my mid-70s and from TN originally, maybe an hour from Brasstown. To me it means late afternoon into evening and is time not to be wasted: “Why, we’ve still got the shank of the day ahead of us!”

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney Jr
    June 17, 2021 at 6:18 am

    I used to hear shank of day, afternoon or evening, very often used by my Dad and almost everyone in our area. It was referring to the latter part of the day, afternoon or evening. Since the shank is the lower part of a vertebrates’ anatomy, I don’t get the connection, but the older folks knew exactly what ” the shank of” meant in reference to time.

    Shank definition is – the part of the leg between the knee and the ankle in humans or the corresponding part in various other vertebrates.

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