Appalachian Dialect Celebrating Appalachia Videos

Unusual Grammar & Phrases in Appalachia

Tipper discussing Appalachian grammar and phrases

In my latest video I discuss several unusual grammar and phrase usages in Appalachian language.

I hope you enjoyed the video! Are you familiar with the grammar and phrases I discussed? Can you think of any other unusual grammar or phrases that are used in Appalachia?

Help me celebrate Appalachia by subscribing to my YouTube channel!


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

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Norma Hall
    November 5, 2021 at 10:11 am

    Tipper, is “to old to cut the mustard” a phrase you all use in Appalachia?

    • Reply
      November 5, 2021 at 10:49 am

      Norma-it is a phrase I’ve heard πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    December 16, 2020 at 2:51 pm

    Back when I was in the military fresh out of West Virginia, I used to have a little trouble communicating with others. One instance I recall is when we were taking turns manually rotating the crankshaft of a large Diesel engine. I could tell he was starting to fade so I asked: ‘Do you want me to spell you?” The group had me repeat myself but couldn’t understand what I was saying. I had offered to take over cranking and give him a break.

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    December 5, 2020 at 7:37 pm

    i really enjoyed learning about these phrases.
    and believe me..i know you are a smart cookie
    sending big ladybug hugs

  • Reply
    December 5, 2020 at 3:26 pm

    Well we still do use and say these phrases or words. Well alot of them. Hopefully we will pass them down to our children and their children and so on. It’s important to carry it on.

  • Reply
    Allan Guy
    December 5, 2020 at 1:48 pm

    I was born in Kansas City, and grew up in rural Independence. I think I’ve told you before but my kin folk were from around Ashvillle, and my grandparents were from the Missouri Ozarks. I grew up using almost all of those phrases you talked about, even though I had never been to Appalachia. I lived Arkansas, Kentucky, and southern Illinois as an adult. I loved living in the South, but I’m older than dirt and I don’t reckon I’ll ever get back. I still use fixin’, buggy (for grocery cart), a spell, far piece, and a lot of the expressions of my use. I eagerly look forward to your e-mail every morning. Thank for bringing back a lot of fond memories that carry me back to youth.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2020 at 1:35 pm

    I’ve heard all those words from my grandparents and parents. Missed the last three blogs so I am just catching up and can identify with the three previous posts too. Always brings back good memories!!!!

  • Reply
    December 5, 2020 at 1:26 pm

    I had a friend as a kid that said, “You don’t belong to do that.” I thought at the time he meant I wasn’t supposed to do that. I later learned it meant “You are not the type of person that should be acting like that.” I don’t know where he was raised.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 5, 2020 at 1:15 pm

    One of the first few words you used, “interesting”, is not commonly pronounced as you (and I) do. You say inter-rest-ing whereas the “proper” pronunciation is more like intra-sting. We emphasize the “rest” or “resting”syllable. I hadn’t even thought about it until the third time I watched your new video. It’s interesting that even the word itself has more than one pronunciation.
    It’s all coming from radio and TV. Kids learn speech patterns and word pronunciation from their babysitters. When their are home, it’s propped up in front of the TV. At daycare they learn from people whose dialect has been “educated” from them. In school any more, it’s a computer. It’s no wonder our kids and grandkids don’t talk like us. We are unknowingly slipping into socialism.

  • Reply
    Allison B
    December 5, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    Enjoy these presentations…! They do bring good opportunities to think back and remember times and phrases that i never want to forget. Want to carry them on. I’ve heard all the ones you mentioned, and relate to the other characteristics that you talked about.
    One that i notice is saying ‘of a’ morning/ or ‘of a’ night in sentences, instead of ‘in the’. You may have mentioned it before, I’m not sure, but I heard my brother say it not long ago and remember it being said by others over the years. ‘Might ought to’ is another one you mentioned that I think of as common.

  • Reply
    J G Smith
    December 5, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    so many of those are not only used in your area but I was raised in Texas and still use `fixin to` let the cat out of the bag,and many others you mention.Just so you know Texans read and enjoy your writings,recipes and all thank you

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 5, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    Tipper, I think this is just be best ever post. I loved it on YouTube and I love it here. This language and these wonderful phrases are like sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen. We are a very expressive people and have no problem coming up with our own vocabulary to do it. I might be a little prejudiced but I think we are a clever people, we find whatever tool we need, to do whatever job needs to be done. I am including our language as one of our most cherished tools!
    Thank you!

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    December 5, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    I enjoyed this so much!! I am familiar with nearly all the sayings. Also I love your cabinet in the background!

  • Reply
    Charlotte Bristow
    December 5, 2020 at 11:50 am

    Good Morning, Tipper. Your discussion of “had oughta” reminded me that the Beverly Hillbillies used to advertise Winston cigarettes, and I remembered Granny saying, “Winston tastes good like a cigarette — had oughta.” Of course, the actual slogan was “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.” I found a video:

    • Reply
      December 5, 2020 at 1:09 pm

      Charlotte-thank you for sharing the commercial-I had never seen it before πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    December 5, 2020 at 9:54 am

    “Skeezix”…although not a phrase let lone an Appalachian one…but rather in my mind a term of endearment. At least, I believe my Pop used it as such. When we’d stop by my Mam and Pops after Mass we’d always be, as they’d say, “rough-housing” or, making “a lot of racket to wake the dead”… As a young one, maybe around 7 or 8, I never knew what “Skeezix” meant ’cause we were to busy rough-housing. Our Mam and Pop have transitioned from this life many tears ago…and when Tipper comes up with these different topics…they send me back to those days of my youth tugging at memories of days gone by…sometimes it seems like a flash. Now, wishing that I’d spend more of my youth more wisely with Mam and Pop at times I find myself turning to the internet for details that I’ve always wondered but never asked them, Recently, I googled Skeezix and discovered that he was a cartoon character, ahem, a “rascal”, from the ’30’s in a strip:”Gasoline Alley”… Well, in hindsight, I can assure you that my three brothers and I could be legitimately be described as rascals for sure.

    • Reply
      December 5, 2020 at 10:30 am

      Frank-what wonderful memories you have! I’m glad I sometimes send you back to those good days πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 5, 2020 at 9:54 am

    I reckon that not realizing just how we say things must be one of the reasons we have no accent to ourselves. Whether I say them I couldn’t say but your examples are ever one familiar to me. My brain wouldn’t have a hitch in understanding what was meant.

    I agree with you totally that a “gentle way” of speaking is a characteristic of Appalachian speech. We tend to talk indirectly and let people take our meaning or not. I think probably your Dad was both that way by nature but also learned to be that way moreso by teaching Sunday School and coaching the boys. None of us can make someone accept what we have to say. That’s up to them. To some, that is frustrating and irritating. They think, ‘Why can’t you just say plainly what you mean?’ But it is a blend of courtesy and modesty.

    I’ve got a word for you; “flinders”. we used to say “tore all to flinders”. I have no idea what a “flinder” is but I reckon it must be ‘pretty’ useless. have not heard it in a long time but I read it last night in an old book. And that made me think of “flatter than a flitter”. Do you all say, “cut a rusty” for acting up?

    You make me want to just sit and listen to a bunch of old Appalachian fellers talk. It would sound so like home. I’d take it all in and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t even notice those local turns of phrase ’cause I’m wired to receive them as the way everybody talks.

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    December 5, 2020 at 9:40 am

    Excellent presentation!

  • Reply
    Gene Smith
    December 5, 2020 at 9:26 am

    I overheard my dad talking to a mountain man we met while fishing. The fellow was very proud of a battery-powered radio he had acquired. He said, “We heered Ihio on it last night.” We knew he had heard WCKY, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Another pronunciation of “heard” in and around the Blue Ridge and undoubtedly elsewhere is “hyeard” or something close to that.

    • Reply
      December 5, 2020 at 10:30 am

      Gene-I’ve heard the Ihio usage and Georgie for Georgia is common here as is using heerd for heard.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2020 at 9:07 am

    As I have found from following your blog, there is so much to our people and land it would take forever to list it. Frankly I was unaware of this until I started following your blog. It has become as much a part of my day as my morning coffee. Now you are on YouTube, so I can get a good dose of Appalachia every day. I don’t know if other readers do this, but something from way back will hit my mind sometimes, and I will know it is something you would find interesting. That gem would slip my mind, and anymore that is like pouring water down a drain–it is not retrievable! I started writing them down, and my sis even shares some of hers with me. How about an entire sentence similar to what I may have overheard in childhood. She is as crazy as all get out for puttin’ on them glad rags to go a sparkin’ with that ole sorry boy. I still use orta. All the children used to always take “a run and go.”

    • Reply
      December 5, 2020 at 10:29 am

      PinnacleCreek-what a great sentence πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Colleen Holmes
    December 5, 2020 at 8:33 am

    Wow, what fun schooling. So interesting to a Michigander. Many are new to me. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2020 at 8:24 am

    Tipper, I have never thought about it being strange, but I use these phrases in my language all the time. I just call my language country boy language. One word I use instead of the word think is figure, instead of saying I think I can do that, I will will say I figure I can do that. A preacher we had one time, that was raised in Pickens, SC and now lives close to Rocky Bottom, SC, like to say when preaching I am going to put this in country boy language. One thing he liked to say was if that don’t get your fire started, your wood is all wet.

    • Reply
      December 5, 2020 at 9:13 pm

      Tipper – I love these videos. and Randy, I am from Pickens, SC & certainly know and frequently use that good old SC country language. But my grandmother was a school teacher & often told us other versions of those phrases or words. I live in Ohio now but treasure my upbringing & our lovely language of the south. (My one and only attempt at church camp was Baptist church camp at Rocky Bottom. I made it from Sunday until Thursday but went home with my parents when they came for Parent Night. I was 12.) Thanks for a great memory jogger!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 5, 2020 at 8:08 am

    With both my parents coming from this area all these phrases are very common and a part of my speech even though I spent no time here until I was a teenager

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney Jr
    December 5, 2020 at 8:07 am

    I have heard all of the phrases you covered in your video.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2020 at 7:23 am

    When I married my husband it was surprising how many difference there were in common sayings. His family is firmly rooted in west central Illinois while mine was in SW Ohio.

    Your mention of the use of ”don’t care to’ meaning, ‘Yes, I’d like to” reminded me that his family surprised me when I realized their positive reaction … I first thought they meant ‘I’d rather Not. His family had no ties to Appalatia as far as I ever knew. Mine was in the foothills – not far from where the glaciers created flatlands north of us.

    Thanks, Tipper, for enlightening me !

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    December 5, 2020 at 6:12 am

    As my Grandpa Nick Byers would have said, “Much obliged” ….wishing you a great weekend!

  • Leave a Reply