Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Stove Up

stove up

A few weeks ago Blind Pig Reader Ron Banks left the following comment:

“I know the term stoved up very well and use it often. I’ve stove my fingers up many times when I played basketball and football. When I hurt my back and could hardly walk without a stabbing pain I was sho nuff stoved up! Great expression. I wonder where that one came from?”


A verb past participle of stave.
B adjective (also stove up) Bruised up, crippled to a degree that it is difficult to get around, sore or stiff in the joints from overwork or injury, worn out (usu used predicatively).
1975 Gainer Speech Mtneer 17 That horse got stoved from being rid down hill too fast. 1973 GSMNP-87:2:24 He lost a eye, and he was kind of what I’d call stove up all over. 1976 Weals It’s Owin’ She was in a car wreck and got all stove up. 1979 Carpenter Walton War 178 He come home so stove up he couldn’t hardly git in the bed. 1993 Weaver Scotch-Irish Speech 15 Someone in bad shape from a fall or other injury might be all “stove up” (pp. of the verb To stave?), but this condition could also come with age 1995 Montgomery Coll.  (Cardwell, Shields).

~Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


Like Ron, I’m very familiar with the usage of the word stove described in the definition from the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English. It’s one of those usages that is so ingrained in my mind that I wonder how I would convey being stove up without saying stove up?

I googled around and found this page that discusses the meaning behind the usage.

Have you ever stove your finger up? Or maybe you’ve been stove up after an accident?


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  • Reply
    Alton Wincapaw
    May 2, 2019 at 5:05 pm

    Once I was out in a wicked bad storm and my boat she stove up all to kindling on the rocks..Not a good thing for sure..

  • Reply
    Tom McAbee
    January 13, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    I stumbled upon your website while searching for usage of “stove up”. I heard it as a child and young adult (I grew up in the foothills of North Carolina), and used it recently to describe myself. Moved to California 33 years ago, haven’t heard it used here. I’ve found references to it from Maine, the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest and the South. Perhaps it isn’t as regional as I thought, but rather, rural.

  • Reply
    November 17, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    I’ve been stoved up in my back for a week now!

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    September 3, 2016 at 12:11 am

    I know from a car wreck what it’s like to be all stoved up. Shortly after the collision, my wife heard me telling a friend that I was okay, just “all stoved up”. She still makes fun of my description to the friend. So what does she know about such a serious condition? Or, clarity in description?
    Only someone who has suffered stoving-up could possibly relate.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 2, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    I no longer try to adapt my speech to fit the needs of my listeners. I let them know where I come from and that I am proud of it. I tell them I have reverted to my native tongue and if they have a problem understanding me, just stop me and I will try to explain it to them. Usually if I am comfortable speaking to someone and they are comfortable listening and vice versa we don’t need a translator.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    September 2, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    I am late at reading today’s post and was surprised to see my name mentioned.
    As I speak I am suffering from Plantar fasciitis in my foot and it has me all stove up! I get up in the morning and walk with a limp until I can’t get the darn thing loosened up enough to walk halfway normal. Anybody know of any natural remedies for it?

  • Reply
    June Jolley
    September 2, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    Oh yeah, I know that term. When there is rain in the forecast, my body is all stove up.
    My Mama used to say it all the time when she was hurting.

  • Reply
    eva nell mull wike, PhD
    September 2, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    Never hered the spression the way George Pettle shared hit. Guess you’kn learn a new way of tokin any time!
    Eva Nell Mull Wike
    frum the Matheson Cove

  • Reply
    September 2, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    Okay, who’s in the tree waiting to probably get stoved up? New word for me! Happy weekend to all and be care you don’t get stoved up!

  • Reply
    September 2, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Yea Bubby.. know the word and feel.. My hands were so Stove Up one time my Wife would have to tie my boots before work, and I drove with my wrist, went to the Doctor, he said my hands were inflamed, ( come from working in rubber gloves everyday for months, all day long) he put me on high power anti-inflammatory drugs, messed my stomach up something awful and had to take dosage after dosage for weeks. My Wife read where feverfew was a good anti-inflammatory herb, bought some and started taking it and fixed it in 3 days, with no side effects.. It was a blessing from God, now every time my hands or elbows start to hurt, I reach for the feverfew, and a few doses it goes away… wouldn’t do with out it now..

  • Reply
    September 2, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    So many rabbit trails to follow here . . . .
    I’ve heard and used “stove up” and “stove in” as long as I can remember. Since I was a kid I’ve always tried to make sense out of the words and phrases I heard so I decided that “stove up” meant any illness or malaise that made one want to stay closer to the coal stove so the warmth would make them feel better. It made sense to me for all the aches, and pains, and sniffles, and chills, and flu illnesses that seemed to make folks cozy up to the fire. (Somewhat like Wanda’s inference.)
    But “stove in” I never could figure out a satisfactory explanation. Maybe, when a roof “stove in” it collapsed toward the stove or fireplace (re: George’s comment); but when my friend got polio and her chest “stove in” as she tried to breathe, well, there was no sense to the word in that nor any sense that such a sweet person should be so sick.
    Ron’s relating “stubbed” to the “stove up/in” discussion puzzled me. We use “stub” for a relatively minor impact on a toe -might leave a body’s toe or foot a little sore and bruised for a day or two but not likely to stop one from going about one’s business.
    As for changing the was I speak according to the company I’m in, I do that both consciously and unconsciously. Sometimes my more casual speech comes out simply because I’m very relaxed and comfortable and I know the folks I’m with will understand the phrases I use. Other times, I must be more “formal” or “professional” so as not to confuse the “audience” with terms and phrases, even inflections they may not be familiar with or may misinterpret. Then there are the times I just slip into the “accent”/”syntax”/”inflections” of those I’m with and I don’t even realize it – I’ve gotten in trouble with that when the host group thought I was mocking them. . . .didn’t even know I was speaking any different from normal!
    (Gee, Jim – deciding which trail to follow almost gave me a conniption fit! 😉 )

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 2, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    I think staved or stoved up goes back to when people kept a lot of things in wooden barrels. Wooden barrels are made of staves bound together by metal bands. When they were opened you couldn’t take off the bands because the barrel would fall apart so you would break a stave(s) in the top with a hammer to get to the contents. They called it staving up. Stove is the past tense of stave therefore stoved up is the the past tense of staved up. Then they began to describe a similar crushing blow to your ribs as stave up or stove up. From there it spread to other parts of the body.
    I didn’t just make this up. I’m pretty sure I read it somewhere when I was considering trying to make a wooden barrel.

  • Reply
    September 2, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    I seem to have a tendency to stay stove up lately. After my second surgery on my right shoulder the surgeon said, “On behalf of orthopedic surgeons nationwide I want to thank you for continuing to get bunged up.”
    They tell me both knees and both hips are functioning ‘bone on bone’ and both shoulders have been worked over. Last month I tore a hamstring. I’m just this week walking without a cane. (I still carry it in case I come to a hill or steps.)
    My medical doctor tells me quite often, “You’re not twenty anymore.” I don’t know when I aged. I was just going along enjoying life and suddenly old age launched an overwhelming attack on me.

  • Reply
    September 2, 2016 at 11:58 am

    When I was much younger, I stove up my fingers and thumbs a lot playing cowpaster football. One time I kicked off to the other side with steel towed shoes on. The ball went a long way, but there I was lying on the ground, trying to get the blooming shoe off. My big toe had went underneath the steel toe just as I kicked and that turned my big toenail up. All the guys had done left to tackle the opposing side and left me whinning for awhile. Sometimes unexpected things happen…Ken

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    September 2, 2016 at 11:55 am

    Nothing hurts worse than a finger that was hit right on the first digit and jammed digit to digit until stopped of a sort by the knuckle. Many a basketball and softball played havoc with my fingers. We never used a glove back in the day and being short I never was too good at catching a higher tossed basketball either.
    My finger swelled, turned purple and blue and “stove up” so bad that soaking in Epsom salt didn’t phase it. Now then, I know the etymology of the word stove-up as you gave us, but let me be here to tell you back when it happened, my finger had to be held as stiff and straight as a “stove pipe” or I would get the “dizzy vapors” just thinking about the pain involved moving it! No kidding, it was “stove-pipe up”! This was my middle/tall man finger and back in the day you had to be careful just how you turned your hand to show off that “stoved up finger”! Not every kid thought you had a stoved up finger!
    thanks tipper

  • Reply
    anita griffith
    September 2, 2016 at 10:36 am

    To Ron Stephens. Years ago I was in the Cleveland clinic.A nurse mentioned my hill accent and asked where i was from.I put on the dog a little bit and gave her the speech she expected. I guess i was feeling briggidy. Briggidy is a word i commonly use.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    September 2, 2016 at 10:25 am

    I have heard, used and been “stove up” pert near fer the last six decades but like Ann I can’t remember hearing or using “stoved up”. The older I get the more often this condition seems to occur and the longer it takes to recover from it.

  • Reply
    Carol Rosenbalm
    September 2, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Learned this very early in life! My familey whenever someone would get hurt it was its just stove up you’re going to be ok! In other words if there was no blood you’re good!
    Love and blessings!
    Carol Rosenbalm

  • Reply
    September 2, 2016 at 8:28 am

    This weather from TS Hermine would normally have me stove up so bad I’d have to spend the day in the recliner. But I got a cortisone shot in my knee yesterday, and every bad joint feels brand new right now. Good timing. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts. I’ll arrange my chores after the weather to do some heavy beekeeping before this good feeling wears off.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    September 2, 2016 at 8:27 am

    I just drove back from Pittsburgh after sitting at a desk for 3 days. I’m all stove up.
    I love that word.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    September 2, 2016 at 8:26 am

    I have never heard “stoved” but “stove up” has always been standard for stiff, sore, unable to move about as easily as usual. If a horse gets stove up, you don’t ride until he’s spry again. If a person gets stove up, either more rest or — in the case of the elderly — more exercise will help. I can’t think of another English word that means precisely the same thing.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    September 2, 2016 at 8:25 am

    I do not use the word “up” with stove but I do say I did not break my finger I just stove it.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    September 2, 2016 at 8:24 am

    We seem to stay “stove up” in one part or another around here. Had to buy a new heating pad last year! It’s in the dryer right now. That heating pad & hot baths are a life saver for me!

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    September 2, 2016 at 8:24 am

    That house is ruin’t. The roof’s all stove in.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    September 2, 2016 at 8:23 am

    Been there, done that as we say these days. I use ‘stove up’ to meet a kinda all over stiffness and soreness. Sounds like some folks use it similarly to “stubbed” for fingers and toes. I had never in my mind made any connection between ‘stove’ and ‘stave’ but it makes sense. That is, ‘staved in’ means ‘busted up’.
    I’m with you about not having alternatives that convey the same idea as well. I want to hang on to my Appalachian dialect expressions. The idea that we all have to talk like a Midwestern newscaster is just sad.
    I’m curious. Do any of you all change how you talk depending on who you are with? If so, do you know when you change or is it unconcious? I’m actually unsure whether I do or not. I think I might. But is it a matter of courtesy or is it ‘gettin above our raisin’ or is ita mixture of both? (Actually I’m old enough now I don’t think about it except as a reflection back across the years.)

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    September 2, 2016 at 8:13 am

    Tipper–These days I stay in one state or another of being stove up. That’s a product of age I reckon, and the irritating thing is that my various states of being stove up require a far longer period of recovery than was once the case. If I keep having lower back pain I reckon I’ll be as crooked as that sourwood tree(r at least the bark looks like somewhat like a sourwood and they are about as prone to grow sigogglin’ as any tree I know) with a fetching lass up it. I’ll betcha that she’s limber as a hickory switch and isn’t likely to get stove up through such conniptions.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 2, 2016 at 8:10 am

    Tip, I’ve heard stove up all my life but did not know it is the past tense of stave. Not even sure I can figure put how the two are related. I’ll have to think on it and see if I can make sense of it. LOL

  • Reply
    anita griffith
    September 2, 2016 at 8:09 am

    I’ve heard stove used that way all my life.I too wouldn’t know what other word to use.
    My father was a lineman for the telephone company and burnt a pole.He was so stove up he couldn’t walk for a week.

  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    September 2, 2016 at 8:07 am


  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    September 2, 2016 at 8:03 am

    I too am very familiar with the use of stove. I have never actually used the word though. My dad used it though. It gives a great mental image.

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