Appalachian Dialect

She Blessed Me Out!

Blessing somebody out
Back in July I received the following email from Blind Pig Reader Ron Banks.
Hi Tipper,
Just wondering if you are familiar with the term Blessed Out? I haven’t heard it in a while but it is very common where I was raised. Basically it means to get scolded or chewed out for something.
“She really blessed me out for being rude to her!”
——————-
I wrote Ron back and said YES I am familiar with the saying! I still hear and use the phrase bless out to describe a severe scolding.
I had never thought about the phrase being a southern or Appalachian saying until Ron emailed me. A google led me to this wordsmith forum where a quick read makes it evident the phrase is not familiar to everyone.
According to Webb Garrison’s book Why You Say It, the phrase hails from the Dark Ages. During that time period, folks were always worrying about demons and other evil spirits. Those demonic spirits could take possession of people, animals, or things. Garrison says the only way to get rid of the demons was for a man of God to drive them out. Folks watching from the sidelines couldn’t understand exactly what was going on but soon began to describe the act as the Priest blessing out the demon or evil spirit.
Garrison goes on to say “By the 17th century, anyone who administered a tongue-lashing was compared with a priest attacking a demon and said to bless out the person on the receiving end.”
Fascinating!
As I said, I hear the phrase used on a regular basis in my neck of the woods. I also often hear this addition to it:
She blessed me out up one side and down the other!
Tipper
*Source: Why You Say It written by Webb Garrison

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31 Comments

  • Reply
    Rosamary Christiansen
    August 22, 2019 at 9:05 am

    I have been blessed out more than once, but only ever heard that expression used at home by my parents from West Virginia.

  • Reply
    Keith Jones
    August 3, 2017 at 8:16 am

    I know this post is from a couple of years ago, but I wonder if Delores ever received the explanation for your blog’s title. It’s from the phrase, “Well, even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while.” The phrase was used for an unexpected event, like a confirmed bachelor finally convincing a woman to marry him, or the community’s poorest resident getting a good-paying job. It’s also interesting that some beer joints used to be called blind pigs, especially those that were in tents near mining towns like Copperhill TN.

  • Reply
    Joe Mode
    August 15, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    Being blessed out is common here in East Tennessee for sure. Pretty cool that we are still saying phrases that were used so very long ago.

  • Reply
    Tipper
    August 26, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    Ed-Yes I’ve been the victim of a wearing out more than once : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia
    http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    August 25, 2015 at 11:01 pm

    Tipper,
    Yes, I hear blessed out up one side and down the other but not as often as just blessed out.
    Interesting research…strange how our language “morphs” depending on the part of the country and country of origin…
    Please don’t bless me out, but I was in Murphy/Andrews today but didn’t have a chance to give you a ringy-dingy! Was your ears burnin’ for I was thinking of you and Brasstown?

  • Reply
    Frank
    August 25, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    Hi Tipper and all, I was raised in northeast PA and this was not a common term. Up one-side and down the other was common…
    However, when I was in the military stationed at Fort Hood, Texas and Ft. Rucker, Alabama…one would rather frequently hear the ladies express themselves by saying: “…well Bless your Heart…” Not directed towards yours truly however…now I know what they really meant…! (I think, can’t ever be sure with the fairer half that is). What scoundrels I must have associated with…but ya know us pilots were known to get a little wild at times…
    Have a blessed day! (ya’ll)
    Frank

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    August 25, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    I’ve heard, used and been blessed out all my life and if all three of your names happened to come into play during a blessing out you were about to advance to being worn out. I never could figure out why my Dad enjoyed pain so much since he would tell me it hurt him worse than it did me when he was wearing me out.

  • Reply
    Ken
    August 25, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    Tipper,
    After reading Ed’s first comment, I was reminded that I was a victim of being woreout.
    When I was about 6 and my older
    brother was about 8, daddy took us with him over to “Bigfist’s store.” (A country store and Gulf Station.) Anyway, after we all had us a dope (small Coke),
    my brother slid a little Devil’s
    Food Cake into my coat pocket.
    All the way home, I tried to keep
    the racket down, but soon as we
    got home daddy made us empty our
    pockets. That alder limb didn’t
    hurt half as much and as going
    back over to Bigfist’s the next
    day to apologise for stealing a
    5 cent cake. I never stole again!
    …Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 25, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    “Up one side and down the other” might also go back to exorcising demons. The egg of a black hen was rolled all over the body of the possessed person to draw out the evil spirits then thrown into running water. If that failed then they tried to whole bird. The final resort involved sprinkling the hen’s blood all over the victim.
    If that really worked we would all need a chicken coop.

  • Reply
    Ken
    August 25, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    Tipper,
    I’ve heard that expression all my
    life. Thanks for the History Lesson.
    Today is my daddy’s birthday. He
    would have been 105, just like Jim, Don, and Annette’s dad, Commodore. I held his hand back in ’82 as he was led by Angles to be with The Lord. I miss him.
    Happy Birthday, daddy…Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 25, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    In my youth a blessing out had to be taken seriously. If the spoken words didn’t cause your ill intended spirits to exit hurriedly, then the wearing out by a switch that followed surely would. Our innermost demons learned to compromise quickly. What’s that old saying, “The heeded word is mightier than a hickory switch?”
    Have you ever been the victim of a wearing out?

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    August 25, 2015 at 11:50 am

    Well Tipper: I will ‘add my 2cents worth’ to this topic! Those cases of ‘blessing out’ happened a lot in our house of ELEVEN CHILDREN! Mainly by my Mama! But Lord knows she had her ‘job cut out for her’ and she sure kept us ‘on the straight and narrow’ as we grew up!
    THANKS!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Vann Helms
    August 25, 2015 at 11:38 am

    My parents were farm people from the Piedmont of North Carolina, and BOTH of them used the term often. Just recently, mt brother in Florida used it when he referred to a particularly fierce tongue-lashing he had received from our father years ago. It was a common saying in our house, but I never knew where it came from. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Bob Aufdemberge
    August 25, 2015 at 11:34 am

    Used to hear that phrase pretty often here in eastern Kansas but haven’t for years.

  • Reply
    Cheryl Soehl
    August 25, 2015 at 11:18 am

    I think that a phrase we here in South Carolina use a good bit may have its origins in “blessing” someone out (which I have heard and used myself). When we are unable to say something good about a person who is acting in an impolite (or sometimes incredibly obnoxious) manner, we will say “Bless her heart,” meaning that we can’t imagine how the person in question can get away with what she is doing, and must give up judgment or retribution to a higher power. It may seem genteel, but makes a very obvious point!

  • Reply
    Shirley
    August 25, 2015 at 11:18 am

    Yes, I heard both sayings growing up in Mississippi usually from one of my girlfriends after some escapade that ended in getting “blessed out” from either another friend or a parent. I, however, rarely got “blessed out” because I was such an angel :P….

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    August 25, 2015 at 10:50 am

    You had to really do something bad to get a “blessing out.” “Smarting off” to your elders would do it in a heartbeat. There were always a lot of blessings around the house with “Bless Pat” used when something amazed you. Pat was also a popular fellow. If something was brief, “it didn’t last as long as Pat stayed in the army.”
    I totally love the words and sayings from our neck of the woods, Tipper. Before The Blind Pig, I actually hadn’t thought of it since years ago when I resided in a state other than my home state. A niece by marriage remarked she knew where I was from when I stated something was “the best in the Union.” I never used the expression again because I figured it must have been a leftover from when WV split during the Civil War.
    One could totally have their own language and use only words and expressions from Appalachia.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    August 25, 2015 at 10:49 am

    I like blessed out much better than the saying “she got you told”. It sounds form but kind.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    August 25, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Yes, I’ve been “blessed out” lots of times–Mama was an expert at it. My brothers recorded her once in full cry & got a worse blessing out for doing it.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    August 25, 2015 at 9:14 am

    I never heard that until I moved to East Texas when I was 12. Then — and this very day when I read your history of the expression, Tipper — I have never understood what it meant. It seemed such a contradiction in terms. Also I never heard it in New Mexico or Oregon, so I think it is mostly used in the South. The other “blessing” expression that I loved
    was “Bless my buttons!” — usually said as a statement of utter amazement, such as: “Well, bless my buttons, that lazy boy finally went and got a job!”

  • Reply
    dolores
    August 25, 2015 at 9:12 am

    Wordsmith is a wonderful site to keep one’s vocabulary up to snuff. I enjoy it as much as Blind Pig’s daily writing. As I looked at the Blind Pig site today, it occurred to me that I really don’t know why it is called ‘Blind Pig and………..’ Perhaps you can tell us where the name came to be developed.
    Where I grew up we used ‘chewed me out,’ but I think I like the term blessed me out!’ Gotta make that part of my vocabulary.

  • Reply
    Mommar6
    August 25, 2015 at 9:03 am

    New one to this Illinois girl. I thought it was like Bless Your Heart which I now believe is a little bit offensive. I always thought it was such a nice term.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 25, 2015 at 8:45 am

    The expression ‘blessed out’ was not common in southeastern KY where I grew up but ‘up one side and down the other’ was. I’ve lived in north GA for 32 years now and I don’t recall hearing either. But I also know we don’t “hear” in such a way as to remember expressions we readily understand, only the unusual ones. Our mind gets the meaning without focusing on the words.
    I wonder if the two sides referred to relate to ‘ridge’ or ‘mountain’ terrain as in going up one side, over the crest and down the other side. That’s what it makes me think of anyway.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    August 25, 2015 at 8:42 am

    Thanks Tipper for doing the research on the saying. It makes a little more sense to me now. I was talking to my oldest sister the other day and she used the saying and it made me smile. Growing up it was so common you didn’t think much about it. It occurred to me that it was one of the sayings I didn’t hear very much anymore. I hope the old saying continues to live on!

  • Reply
    barbara Gantt
    August 25, 2015 at 8:08 am

    I grew up hearing this phrase with the added up one side and down the other. I have never heard that said in Vermont. Barbara

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    August 25, 2015 at 7:34 am

    I heard it often in my childhood and youth (Maybe that was because I was often the recipient of the “blessing out”!). But in recent years I have not heard the term very much. Interesting history on the term; thanks for sharing it. I guess we somewhat look at it “backwards” according to the meaning. We think of it as a severe scolding. Actually, in the original context, the person was “blessed” because the evil was extricated from the person. Maybe that’s what we Appalachians hope will happen to the person whom we “bless out” or scold. That if he/she follows our firmly given advice, blessings will follow!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    August 25, 2015 at 7:33 am

    Oh yes, I hear it a lot. Even the ” she blessed me up one side and down the other”. All the women in my family say this.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 25, 2015 at 7:23 am

    Tip, that’s one of those expressions I’ve heard all my life, with and without the up one side and down the other. Like you, I never thought of it being Appalachian. I guess we brought it with us then it evolved as language usually does.
    Thanks, Ron and Tipper. It’s interesting to explore these expressions in our heritage.

  • Reply
    Fay Nell Pitts
    August 25, 2015 at 7:16 am

    Dear Tipper,
    I lived in Ga. for 66 years before moving to N.C. and “Blessed out” was a common saying that I heard from the “grown ups” when they came calling. Most all of the sayings that you’ve mentioned I heard all my life. Who says you can’t learn an old dog new tricks. I love to read about canning and gardening and and cooking. I just turned 82 and I love to read your page. Keep it up.

  • Reply
    carol stuart
    August 25, 2015 at 7:14 am

    Oh, my goodness!!! I hadn’t thought of that expression in years, but I heard it in WV all of the time when I was a kid. The “up one side and down the other” I still use today.

  • Reply
    Glynn Harris
    August 25, 2015 at 7:13 am

    Yep….that phrase used here in LA too!

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