Appalachian Dialect

Two Jaybirds

jay bird word usage in appalachia

Jaybird noun A blue jay, used in various similes.
1913 Kephart Our Sthn High 107 He’s as antic as a jay bird when he takes the notion. 1940 Hauns Hawk’s Done 7 There’s always the jay birds trying to take a bath in the water bucket. 1952 Brown NC Folklore 1,431 As happy as a jaybird … As naked as a picked jaybird … As naked as a jaybird’s ass … As saucy as a jaybird … Git along about as well as a jaybird does with a sparrer hawk … As spry as a jaybird in wild cherry time. 1956 Hall Coll. Del Rio TN As naked as a jay bird. (Wilford Metcalf) 1962 Dykeman Tall Woman 95 Mark’s always speaking of her eyes too; and the way she clings to him, the way she’s so quick to walk, and talks already like a jaybird chattering-well, he thinks she’s mighty nigh perfection itself.

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


I live with two jaybirds. Even though they’re sillier than any jaybird I ever did see-I wouldn’t trade them for the world and all it holds.



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  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    April 26, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    Love all the descriptors about ‘those girls’! Guess they can put up with any comment folks hand out! KEEP SMILING!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    April 25, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    Ain’t no better Jaybirds than them two girls right there. The Jaybird will squawk whenever squawking is called for, but it will sing out strongly when it’s time for song.

  • Reply
    April 25, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    I called Donna Lynn at our Christian Radio Station (WKRK) at Murphy and requested a couple of songs. After she played “Walking My Lord up Calvary’s Hill” by Chitter and Chatter and Paul, she played “Careless Soul” by Ray and Pap. She couldn’t find “Pass Me Not Oh Gentle Savior” but it’s on YouTube on my computer, the first 2 lines when I go to Youtube. I’m kinda Scatter-brained, so I might have said the wrong thing. …Ken

  • Reply
    Leslie Haynie
    April 25, 2017 at 11:17 am

    My Grandma Sellers would say that something was a scandal to the jaybirds.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 25, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Not to get technical ner nothin but if you traded your jaybirds for the world and all it holds, you would still have your pretty birds. But then you would be stuck with a world full of ugly birds. So, enjoy the treasures you already hold and don’t forget to share.

  • Reply
    April 25, 2017 at 11:07 am

    I think them Pressley Girls are Super. They’re both gorgeous and speaking of Blue Jays, me and Harold use to find the wing feathers (where they had been fightin’) and put them in the pith of a corn cob. They make excellent “Flyin’ Gennies” with a piece of nail in the other end. We’d throw ’em at tree bodies and they’d stick, also when you threw them in the air, they’d twirl real pretty.
    You put the feathers back to back, in the center in the shape of a “Y”. The nail in the other end is heavier and it goes first. …Ken

  • Reply
    April 25, 2017 at 9:24 am

    Those two always show what we sometimes call a good raisin’. I always loved the sounds of youthful laughter, and I hear it often with a school nearby. I guess it is called selective hearing because I barely notice the sounds of the birds when they have recess.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 25, 2017 at 8:05 am

    Yep, hold them tight as long as you can.
    Jaybirds take a spell of being loud in the spring before they start nesting. But when they are nesting they get kinda quiet. Then in the fall when nesting is over and the acorns are ripe they get loud again.
    I find blue jay feathers scattered around the yard in late summer. I’m bad to pick them up and stick them in my cap. Someone asked me once if the feathers in my cap had any significance, like I was Native American or something. I had to smile because I don’t have a plan for them. It is just a place to store them without messing them up.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    April 25, 2017 at 8:03 am

    Tipper–Those two jaybirds living in your house are sho’ ’nuff jaspers. They are full of tricks as a pet ‘coon, noisy as a bunch of jaybirds in a fussing contest with a muster of crows, and clever as a fox.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 25, 2017 at 7:59 am

    Yes, two silly, sweet, and very precious jaybirds!

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