Appalachian Dialect

Speak Like An Appalachian

Back when I first shared the photos and phrases below, I had just finished reading Horace Kephart’s Our Southern Highlanders. The phrases were examples he used in his chapter on dialect of the southern highlands of Appalachia.

I’m fortunate to live in an area where I still get to hear the phrases as I go about my daily life. Please look through them and leave me a comment if you’re familiar (or not) with the language usage.

the used of hadn't in Appalachia

It’s starting to rain, better get the clothes off the line hadn’t you? (Granny Gazzie in the photo)


Thursday week I’m going to take Mother to the Doctor. (Granny Gazzie and Granny in the photo)


I’d tell a man what for. (My grandfather Charlie Jenkins in the photo)


They went to Franklin or Hayesville one. (Miss Cindy’s father-The Deer Hunter’s Grandfather-Curtis Mease on the left side of the photo)

Pap with his mother and father

We’re aimin to go to town. (Pap as a child, with his Mother and Father-Marie and Wade Wilson)

chittler looks a sight like pap

She looks a sight like her Pap. (Chitter)


I better git on. (Miss Cindy’s Mother-The Deer Hunter’s Grandmother-Bonnie Mease in front of photo)


Be careful or you’ll slide up. (Miss Cindy’s father-The Deer Hunter’s Grandfather-Curtis Mease)

I'll be back directly

I’ll be back directly. (Photo taken by Bonnie or Curtis-Miss Cindy’s parents)

don't much believe the sun'll shine

Don’t much believe the sun’ll shine today. (I don’t know who they are, but the photo came from Miss Cindy’s Grandmother. From the other photos of the couple-it looks like they are at the beach)

point blank

We just point blank got to fix it. (The Deer Hunter’s Daddy-Papaw Tony serving in Panama)


Sit down and eat some supper. (Paul, The Deer Hunter, Chatter, Chitter, and Tipper.)

ain't much on courting

Jake ain’t much on courtin. (Jake Stiles and Pap’s Mother-my Mamaw-Marie Wilson)

stove up

When she fell, she stove up her arm. (Chatter)


We had a good day, for we went on a picnic. (Miss Cindy’s Mother-The Deer Hunter’s Grandmother-Bonnie Mease.)

Don’t forget to leave me a comment and let me know if you’re familiar with the phrases. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine life without them.


Portions of this post were originally published here on the Blind Pig in 2008. 

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  • Reply
    June 18, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    Heard most them growing up in California. Now I still hear several regularly here in Washington state.

  • Reply
    Shannon Vetter
    June 30, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    My dad was visiting me last weekend, and he was describing how his ear infection made him feel “drunker than a coot’.

  • Reply
    June 30, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Dorothy-it was wonderful to meet you too! I hope you get to come back to the folk school sometime and we get to spend more time together : ) I interviewed Bob Dalsemer about the history of contra dancing one time-you can go here to read it:
    Have a great day!!!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Dorothy McCarver
    June 28, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    It was a pleasure to meet you and your darling daughters at the John C Campbell Folk School on Contra Dance Night. Luann introduced us. I had asked about the word ‘contra’ and I am wondering if it is a variation of the word “country”.
    I do enjoy reading your blogs and now I have a face to go with them.
    Dorothy McCarver, Mt. Pleasant, TX

    • Reply
      Gail Banister McCarthy
      June 1, 2020 at 2:24 pm

      I was so happy to discover some info on ‘float’. I was born in Paducah, grew up on a farm in Kuttawa, and our community used ‘float’ to speak of boiled custard or eggnog. When I lived in Alabama I didn’t find anyone who knew this term. Thanks for recipe, too!

      Yes, I’m familiar with the terms under your pictures. In my family there was ‘leanin’ towards Aunt Mary’s’ to mean something wasn’t straight… Has anyone heard that??

  • Reply
    June 28, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Gina-Ive heard folks around here say something was just giving it this too : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Dan O'Connor
    June 28, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Thanks for adding the names, nice family!

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    June 27, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Yep, have heard them all. I remember as children being so amazed at how differently the children from Franklin or Oil City, PA, just 50-60 miles down the road from us, talked. Then we had a cousin living in TN who was born in MS come to visit, and we couldn’t understand nary a single thing he said. Thank God he was a patient boy. LOL
    And by the way, I was thinking Chitter favored the first picture of Marie Wilson, I guess her great-grandmother.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    June 27, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    I don’t hear these phrases much anymore, being transplanted in Central Florida, but the wording and cadence is so natural and comforting, from another time, and loved ones fading yonder. Thank you for keeping it all going.
    Also, I’ve heard almost all of the phrases mentioned by others on here, including “up in under”, but not “slide up”.

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    June 27, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Never heard “slide up”. All the rest are very familiar. My Yankee friend had a fit the first time she heard herself say “Fixin to.” I laughed like a coon hound.

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    June 27, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    I hear this way of talking everyday, seems normal to me. I get a kick out of the old pictures, especially the guys climbing the pole,, been there done that.. just not in Panama.. Don’t do much climbing anymore, just once in a blue moon, last poles I had to climb was after the Tornadoes of 2011.

  • Reply
    Ferne K
    June 27, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    Tipper, Thanks for all you do to connect us to our Appalachian roots, even though mine go back a very long ways. I’m a fourth generation Oregonian, and family historian, but my great-great grandpa married in Washington county, Tennessee in 1830. And as near as we can figure, his people came from North Carolina. My family continues to use all the phrases you wrote about in today’s blog, when we talk amongst ourselves, except for sliding up. I didn’t know where all my family’s expressions came from until I started reading your blog. You’ve been a blessing to all of us. Keep up the good work.

  • Reply
    June 27, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    The only one you left out was “go on get”. It is my favorite.

  • Reply
    June 27, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    B.-that is Miss Cindy’s mother, Bonnie Mease! She was a looker wasn’t she : ) I went back and added all the names to the photos-I should have done that in the first place!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    June 27, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Jim-the man on the left-not wearing a hat is Miss Cindy’s father, Curtis Mease. I’m not sure who the other man is-but you’re right both are snappy dressers : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    June 27, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Tipper–It seems pretty clear to me, Horace Kephart’s 27-year sojourn in Swain County notwithstanding, that the phrase”slide up” is a rank stranger to those native to that county–when Don, Ed Ammons, and Bill B. all say they’ve never heard it, and I haven’t either, it offers pretty sound anecdotal evidence to that effect.
    All the rest of them were familiar to me, and if the fellow on the left leaning against a car with a buddy wearing a hat isn’t Daddy as a young man, there’s far more than a passing resemblance. Maybe Don supplied you a photo, and if not, I bet he noticed that as well. The fancy duds, lanky frame, and hair parted in the middle are all suggestive.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    June 27, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Don’t think I’ve heard the phrase
    “slide up”, but I have heard “it’s
    up in under there.”
    Back in the day, when I was going
    to school, some of our teachers
    tried to impress a more proper way
    of speech. Bless their dear hearts,
    they meant well I suppose, but that
    issue didn’t serve the people of
    Appalachia with any meaning…Ken

  • Reply
    Sallie Covolo aka Granny Sal
    June 27, 2013 at 10:33 am

    I still use most of them. I do not believe I was familiar with “slide up”. Thanks for posting, Tipper.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    June 27, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Would you care to tell me the name of the lady in the last picture? She sure does look familiar! Was she from Mars Hill or Boone?
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…She sure is pretty and got that spiffy look…I think I have seen one similar to it in our old family pictures…what year approximately was the picture taken?

  • Reply
    June 27, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    All that sounds like conversation between The Mountain Woman and I at that supper table. Never slid up, though
    “Monday week” has fell out of favor down here at the southern end of the Appalachian Trail except for a few die-hards like us; ending the sentence describing a choice with “one” is just flat out a habit with me. I have gotten a lot of funny looks from folks for the way I talk, but I figger that I’m not about to translate my words for them, they can just get educated and and come up to my standards.
    Love the pix!

  • Reply
    June 27, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    I always enjoy your posts about Appalachian phrases…I hear them every day from my friends and neighbors on our mountain. I often have to listen to the context to be sure I understand what is being said. Now, after living at the cabin for over a year, I find myself thinking with some of the dialect and phrases (though I don’t speak them out loud for fear of not getting it right). I love living in the mountains, can’t wait to be back!

  • Reply
    Bob and Inez Jones
    June 27, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    Tipper-I guess because we live way up here where the Appalachia trail begins, that those are sayings that I grew up with except “slide up”.I would hear “becareful or you might up tip.” Another one,”the nights as black as the inside of a cow”.

  • Reply
    james gentry
    June 27, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Heard ’em all. My mama always said “Watch out! You’ll slide up!”
    She also exclaimed, “I’ll swanny, I don’t know what I’m gonna do with that boy!” and my favorite “Git your best britches on. Their gonna make our picture.”

  • Reply
    Gina S
    June 27, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Hit don’t seem like I ever heerd slide on, but round here, things is always sliding up in under other things. The other day my friend and I were talking about an expression ‘giving it this.’ I once heard a cousin of my friend refer to her wriggling baby by saying she’s just ‘giving it this.’ I still wonder if the phrase was a family one or a common one. Never thought of your other examples as anything but normal.

  • Reply
    Dan O'Connor
    June 27, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Have heard most, some made me think, enjoyed them all! Love the blog, thanks!

  • Reply
    robyn hancock
    June 27, 2013 at 10:45 am

    My sister has kept the language alive for sure ,with lines like:I had hardly turned my head,and she’d done clumb plumb atop the thing!And,We had the preacher for dinner.I cooked up a bait(?)of beans,a pone o’cornbread and some fat back!When she is happy,its ‘proud’as in We was real proud to see Uncle Mack at church Sunday!I have many more,I love my mountain heritage!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    June 27, 2013 at 10:35 am

    I know all of them but sliding up. We would have said, you’re gonna slip up and fall if you ain’t careful. Like the Deer Hunter I have found things up under the couch too. Great post!

  • Reply
    June 27, 2013 at 10:08 am

    This flat lander grew up with “falling down” and “falling up” the steps. I fulling understand both terms.
    When my husband and I moved to Graham County 30 years ago, I experienced “sliding up” and still am overly cautious on wet rocks.

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    June 27, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Tipper: when our North Carolina family came west they brought the language and the culture with them, and it still for the most is here today.some have lost their “tar”.as my dad would say. my grandfather was a school teacher,so they got all the book learning they needed.they were home schooled after about the 3rd grade,and went to work in the mills. my father was the best speller i ever heard. best wishes k.o.h

  • Reply
    Bobby C
    June 27, 2013 at 9:59 am

    I really enjoy your posts about “Appalachian speak”. Makes me realize just how much of a hillbilly I really am. And that’s a good thing!
    Like PinnacleCreek I’m afraid the young’uns are straying from their heritage as their speach is being trained by television.
    I’ve heard them all but “slide up”. And like the Deer Hunter, I have plenty of stuff up in under my couch!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    June 27, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Oh boy did Don open hisself up to not knowing about “slide up”! Of course he never heerd it…he was too busy “slippy-slidin'” down the mountain on the wet maple leaves!
    Heard them all but “slide up”! Have heard, He “slid plum up” to that big overhang rock in the curve last winter, ’bout ever time he come down the mountain to Grannys! His old rattletrap has more dents where-in hit kissed that old rock, til finally the ice worn down!

  • Reply
    Kimberly Burnette
    June 27, 2013 at 9:47 am

    I have heard or used everyone single one of these phrases! 🙂 I am very proud of the sayings and speech that I grew up with and wouldn’t change it for nothing!

  • Reply
    June 27, 2013 at 9:45 am

    Great pictures Tipper, especially the ones of Granny Gazzie! She reminds me so much of my Granny Mandy. Proud to say I am familiar with all of the phrases!

  • Reply
    June 27, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Miss Cindy-Yes the airplane pic is from you as well : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    June 27, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Mike-The Deer Hunter had never heard slide up until he came to Brasstown. Over the years he has made fun of me more than once when I say “Be careful or you’ll slide up.” He says its impossible to slide up. I say “No whats impossible is for a ball to be ‘up in unde’r a couch.” ‘Up in under’ is a phrase he uses to explain an item being underneath something.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    June 27, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Many familiar phrases that I heard often growing up in TN. I think my folks were a might more backwoods though for at our place we’d be there “dreckly”, rather than directly, LOL. I love my homeland mountains and culture. Thanks again for helping preserve the mountain life.

  • Reply
    sheryl Paul
    June 27, 2013 at 9:04 am

    I have for sure heard them all and often use them

  • Reply
    June 27, 2013 at 9:02 am

    My Central and South Texas family (backtracking the generations through Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and the Virginias) uses all those phrases except “slide up”. “. . . aimin’ to go to” is sometimes “fixin’ to get ready to go to. . . .”.

  • Reply
    June 27, 2013 at 9:02 am

    Reading this reminded me of my older relatives. It was almost as if I could hear them talking.
    We live in central Ohio.

  • Reply
    Darlene Debty Kimsey
    June 27, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Yep. I know and love everyone of them.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    June 27, 2013 at 8:48 am

    The only one I’m not familiar with is the “sliding up”, sliding down yes but the sliding up seems to defy gravity. So much of “Our Southern Highlanders” was derogatory to the locals who had welcomed Kephart into their midst Many felt the purpose of his sensationalism was to sell his book. These “simple minded mountain folks” had helped nurse him back to health. They then felt their supposed friend had basically slandered them in several instances for commercial gain which went against their grain and mountain values.

  • Reply
    June 27, 2013 at 8:39 am

    You are good at teaching the life and language of the Applichian. You are keeping it alive and with love you present it. Keep up the great work! I am still learning to appreciate its use and beauty.

  • Reply
    June 27, 2013 at 8:37 am

    I couldn’t imagine life without them either. The folks around here don’t talk the right way. I used to think about every sentence I was about to say. Not anymore! It’s their fault if they don’t know proper jargon.

  • Reply
    June 27, 2013 at 8:32 am

    Most of these phrases are so interwoven in my speech that I am not always aware they are Appalachian in origin. The Thursday week one always confused me, but I never hear it anymore.
    I fear the young ones are making an attempt to make their speech sound much like a news broadcast. If this happens their speech will not have the character and individuality once found in these mountains.
    Some of these have a slight variation in the WV area, but many of these expressions are familiar and used commonly. I’ll use a common one now by saying “Bless your little heart, Tipper for making such an effort to keep everything Appalachian alive.”
    Genealogy study has shown me that much of my family came into these mountains a couple of hundred years ago, so much of the Appalachian dialect and ways have remained. My Dad spoke of his Grandpa showing him a secret herb remedy he was not supposed to share. I’ve often thought this may be a part of Appalachia already lost forever.
    Tipper, you are making such an effort to educate, and education stops stereotyping. Unfortunately, it is still politically correct to portray Appalachia as full of toothless hillbillies. If any other culture is maligned there is speedy consequences. We are a beautiful people, and I personally feel there is a reason God placed this love in your heart.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    June 27, 2013 at 7:43 am

    I knew all of them except for “Be careful or you’ll slide up”. I don’t recall ever hearing that one.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 27, 2013 at 7:43 am

    Well I wuz sittin here and I wuz trying to think if I had heard any of them phrases and I decided I had heard them all but the one about sliding up. I remember one time when I was living up on Alarka and I wuz working at Baker Furniture over in Andrews and I had to get up real early to catch a ride with my brother in law Ulies. He was a bossman over there and he got me the job. Anyway it was still black dark and there wuz snow and ice on that hill I had to go down to get to the road down there where he wuz stopped. I guess I got in too big of a hurry and wuzn’t careful enough and my right foot slipped and I fell right down on top of it. I heard and felt it pop but I wuzn’t about to believe it wuz broke. I was all time praying that it was just stove up and it would be alright after while. Well it wuddent all right. It wuz broke and it had to have cast and I never went back Baker.
    Now that was way back. After my ankle finely healed up we had to move in with my wife’s parents down here in Connelly Springs and I got the job I am still at right now. Been there goin on 37 years now.
    Skuse the ramblin. It just opens up and bubbles out sometimes!
    PS: The “mistakes” in spelling and grammar are deliberate. I could write better than that, if I wanted to.

  • Reply
    June 27, 2013 at 7:39 am

    I better git on going.
    Haint no need to hurry. Sit down and stay a while.
    Mama will be fixin a mess of fresh greens and fried arsh potatoes. Ya’ll just stay the night. We’ll throw a pallet on the floor for the young’uns.

  • Reply
    June 27, 2013 at 7:34 am

    Heard them all but sight like and slide up. Great pictures

  • Reply
    Mike Fleming
    June 27, 2013 at 7:33 am

    LOve this . My mother used many of these including ,”I’ve bout had my bait (sp) of this rain”.

  • Reply
    Charles Fletcher
    June 27, 2013 at 7:29 am

    Heard these all my life and still hear them when I
    visit everywhere after you past the North Carolina
    line when I visit Western North Carolina where i
    grew up . Also some areas had nicknames like
    the Thickety area of Canton. ometimes refered to as
    “The Corn Belt: I miss hearing and using these
    since I moved away.
    Charles Fletcher

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 27, 2013 at 7:28 am

    Oh yes, know them all, hear most of them, and use a lot of them. The last on, I’ve heard the least.
    None of these expressions fall strangely on my ear, just sounds like every day.
    I love the pictures, Tip. You’ve got my Mom and Dad, in their prime. My mother sure was a pretty woman. My dad was a handsome man as well. And there is the Deer Hunters dad, up a pole in Panama.
    Was that airplane from my family pictures? It would probably from the time my parents worked at Bell Aircraft, during the war.

  • Reply
    June 27, 2013 at 7:27 am

    Yep. Am familiar with the sayings. Guess they came to Texas along with my ancestors.

  • Reply
    Carol Stuart
    June 27, 2013 at 7:20 am

    Have heard all but one of the usages and hadn’t thought them to be unusual!!!

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    June 27, 2013 at 7:17 am

    Never heard “slide up.” All the others range from regularly used to sometimes heard.

  • Reply
    Sherry Lowe
    June 27, 2013 at 6:56 am

    Tipper – I love your blog and know all of these from my Tennessee kin. Made me miss the ones that are gone… Sherry

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