Appalachian Dialect

Sugar Kisses

cookie with hersheys kiss

“According to the Dictionary of American English, “sugar” is widespread in the South. They define it as “affection demonstrated through hugs and kisses.” DARE is a splendid online resource and is available to individual subscribing for 50 dollars a year. Without DARE my own dictionary efforts would be largely wandering in wildernesses.”

—Michael Montgomery


When Michael sent me the short message above I was surprised as I often am by documentation of word usage. I thought “What? Doesn’t everyone in the world say sugar for kisses and hugs?”

I remember being instructed to give grandparents sugar before leaving their house and when the girls were small I instructed them to give sugar to their grandparents before leaving.

I was really young when Papaw Wade and Uncle Henry accidentally run into each other in the curve that leads out of Wilson holler. The road was gravel in those days and I’m not sure how the accident happened. I don’t remember Uncle Henry being hurt, but Papaw Wade had a busted lip from the crash. I remember standing just inside the door of his and Mamaw’s little house when someone told me to give Papaw some sugar before I left, but to be careful of his lip.


Subscribe for FREE and get a daily dose of Appalachia in your inbox

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Barbara Parker
    February 14, 2020 at 10:55 pm

    I love that sweet term of endearment.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    February 13, 2020 at 4:28 pm

    The word is “Shuggah” in South Georgian…

  • Reply
    February 13, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    We said that as kids and our mom and dad did. Not so much now. It’s give lovings or kisses. Thats what my daughters tell my grandsons.

  • Reply
    Melissa P. (Misplaced Southerner)
    February 13, 2020 at 11:52 am

    Lord! My southern family always but always would ask for a little sugar when I was little and come visiting. Didn’t matter if I were comin’ or goin’. My northern family always chuckled at me when I’d call anyone “Sweetie, or “Sugar,” or “Honey,” or “Darlin’.” If I asked a little one for “sugar,” they’d dutifully bring the bowl or packets. Now that I’m living full-time in Michigan, I still call younger folk by sweet names. I guess they just figure I’m a “crazy, old woman.”

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 13, 2020 at 11:11 am

    And at the grocery store. “Would you like some help out to the car with that Sugar?” I get some funny looks when I say “Not unless you are going to help me darling. These ugly bag boys just ain’t my type.”

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 13, 2020 at 11:03 am

    Give me some sugars!
    Sugar me baby!
    He’s been stealing my sugar!
    He’s just her sugar daddy!
    ♫♪ Sugar in the morning, sugar in the evening, sugar at supper time. Be my little sugar and love me all the time ♪♫

  • Reply
    Vann Helms
    February 13, 2020 at 10:36 am

    My Grandma Helms had a parakeet in the 1950’s that would sit on her finger as she put her lips close to the bird, and said over and over, “Give me some Sugar…”, and the bird would nibble on her lower lip. Over time, the bird would mimic, “Give me some Sugar”. Sugar always meant kisses in my family. Women would always call me Sugar when I was young. I think they just had trouble remembering my name, or they never knew it to begin with. It was a show of affection. There’s an old Black woman who lives in Black Mountain, and she always begins every conversation with a loud, “SUGAR ?”.

  • Reply
    February 13, 2020 at 10:23 am

    Heard it all my life but not so much up North unless is was my aunts or uncles. I thought it was just part of my Southern Heritage of which I love.

  • Reply
    February 13, 2020 at 9:13 am

    I have not heard that in a long time.

  • Reply
    February 13, 2020 at 9:10 am

    After giving me sugar, my girls would pinch their cheek and add some sugar to my coffee. My sixteen year old grandson just grins when I tell him he’s still my sugar baby.

  • Reply
    Jane W Bolden
    February 13, 2020 at 8:33 am

    My grandmother would say “Give me some sugar.”

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    February 13, 2020 at 8:13 am

    I remember that as a child but don’t think I have heard it recently . It is so sweet and I am trying to remember who said it to me when I was growing up.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    February 13, 2020 at 8:05 am

    That’s the way I always heard it. Guess that must be why “sugar” is also a term of endearment, asking with “honey” and “sweetheart”. That is, a whole range of ‘sweet stuff’. I find myself more and more wanting to use ‘sweet’ words even with strangers. It is my reaction to how ‘ill’ the world has gotten. I have to restrain myself lest I give offense or be thought to be flirting. And that makes me sad because I recall a time when the social atmosphere was very different.

  • Reply
    February 13, 2020 at 7:37 am

    When my mother (Granny) would wash a dirty grandbaby face, she would say ” give me some sweet sugar ” and then she would kiss around the face and neck. When my mom was in her final weeks and I was her care giver. I had washed her face and said the same to her, and scattered kisses over h er face. It is a memory that I will treasure forever.

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney
    February 13, 2020 at 7:24 am

    Tipper your post today brought this old song to mind.
    George Morgan – Candy Kisses – YouTube
    Once My Heart Was Filled With Gladness, Now There’s Sadness…

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    February 13, 2020 at 7:18 am

    Heard and used it my entire life too. Thiught everyone did

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 13, 2020 at 6:16 am

    I’m with you tip, I thought everyone substituted sugar for kissed. I’ve heard that all my life. It is the sweetness in our world!

  • Leave a Reply