Appalachian Dialect

Warsh And Rench

Warsh and rench

A good while back, Chatter and I helped Granny clean up some of her old canning jars so she’d be ready for this year’s canning season. No matter how hard you try, sometimes in the world of canning and preserving jars of food go bad.

Granny hadn’t cleaned out her old jars in a few summers. We carried them from the basement up to the back yard so we could empty them; wash them in a big bucket of soapy water; and then sit them in the sunshine to dry.

In Appalachia the word wash is often pronounced with an ‘r’ sound added in: warsh. And the word rinse is often pronounced as rench.

I still hear both usages on a regular basis.


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  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney Jr
    March 31, 2021 at 6:45 am

    Warsh can be used as two parts of speech, verb or adjective. Warsh dishes or warsh board?

  • Reply
    Mrs K
    January 19, 2017 at 6:10 am

    Tipper, both my grandmothers pronounced the word wash as warsh – I still catch myself doing it. They are both gone, my paternal grandmother died at age 101 jut a couple years ago. They also pronounced boil as burl, and oil as url. Bother lived all there lives in NYC.

  • Reply
    Bob McArthur
    January 18, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    I don’t think I say ” warsh”; it sounds more like “worsh”. Maybe that’s an Ozark variation. Growing up, I don’t remember being corrected on my pronunciation. I think much of how we pronounce words was learned from our environment; so I supposed this was how I heard it growing up. Can’t recall having heard “rench.”

  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    January 18, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    I still say warsh. One of my grandsons corrected me, he was about 3 or 4. I still say it.
    I grew up saying rench. I use it less frequently.
    I lost a lot of my childhood language when I became a teacher and taught phonics. If I ever have a spelling problem it almost always involves a vowel sound. I swear that as I was growing up we pronounced almost all vowels the same.

  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    June 22, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    I wonder if these words were pronounced the same in the old English or Irish language that was brought here when we were first settled. I think many of the southern words we use came over here from the mother country.
    Just wondering.

  • Reply
    June 22, 2013 at 1:57 am

    My mom’s mom and dad both used warsh and rench and sody for soda as in sody crackers and piller for pillow and you otter do thet. I like it’s a chuck down the road too. I think it’s fun that the language is spoken differently in different areas of the country and to me it makes makes the language bright and not so plastic like when they want everyone to sound exactly the same. Thank you for remembrances of my grandparents.

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    June 21, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    I hadn’t thought about this for a long time., but the city kids where we grew up in NW PA said “warsh”. Our mom did a lot of crossword puzzles and was good at pronunciations, I think because of that, and she was quick to correct us if we pronounced something incorrectly. I remember being corrected pretty regularly on regardless/irregardless, two words that I thought meant about the same thing, but was surprised to find there is no such word as irregardless. LOL
    Never heard the word “rench” used for “rinse” though.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    June 21, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    I warsh n’ rench everyday.
    Warsh dishes
    Warsh cloths
    Warsh th’ car
    Warsh mouths out with soap…
    Love each of your posts! Memories are who we are.

  • Reply
    Louise Fletcher Crouse
    June 21, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Wow! Does this bring back memories. I was raised by my Granny in McDowell County, WV. Early each summer, we had to ‘warsh and rinch’ the cannin’ jars in preparation of preserving all of the garden stuff. We re-used the rings, but always got new lids. My Granny gave me the old lids to use as plates when playing house. We cooked on a coal stove, so the cannin’ made the house awfully hot. Funny, we added ‘r’s, but left off the ‘g’s. It’s been more than 40 years, but seems like yesterday. Thanks for taking me back in time with the great memories.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    June 21, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Warsh makes perfect sense ’cause @ my grandparents house they had lots of “warter”!!

  • Reply
    Joyce Mullikin
    June 21, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    I’ve always said warsh & I’m not from the south or the country. I’ve never heard rench though. These are the things that make America so great, we all speak a bit differently. Enjoy your blog.

  • Reply
    Mel H.
    June 21, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    There are so many influences moderating our native speech that it’s about gone. The last two generations are just about the last to have direct contact with the old speakers. Now even the natives sound like the outlanders sometimes.
    BTW–up here I used to hear “rench” and even “ranch” used for the formal “rinse” a right smart…

  • Reply
    Bob Aufdemberge
    June 21, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    “Warsh” and “Rench” were very common out here on the edge of the plains, and still are. I’ve been accused of being a redneck for using them.

  • Reply
    June 21, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    I still warsh the deeshes after supper each night. And warshing old canning jars is done with a nylon scrubbie and a wooden spoon handle around here. I do remember my farm family in southern Iowa rinching the dishes after warshing them. We put two tin deesh pans on the dining room table right on the oil cloth and poured hot water in one. Added soap and a bit of cooler water to warsh then put the deeshes in the 2nd tub to pour biling water over to rinch them off. When dried they went right back on the table and covered with big white deesh towel until the next meal.

  • Reply
    June 21, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    I’ve heard that pronunciation all my life. That was always my job since I had the smallest hands and could easily get them into the jars. My mother would store the jars in a cellar house and they would be full of bugs and spiders. I would pitch quite a fit when one got on me. Even if they were dried up and dead.

  • Reply
    steve in tn
    June 21, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    might not be proper but words like these give our language personality and interest. i would hate to see them vanish in favor of bland conformity.

  • Reply
    June 21, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    I haven;t heard rench, but I remember warsh from Colorado. When I worked in Boulder, my boss used to mock my Massachusetts accent. One day he said, “What did you do with the R you took out of your ‘cah’?” I told him, “I gave it to you so you could ‘warsh’ yours!” 😉

  • Reply
    June 21, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Yes, I hear these usages a lot. When I was a little girl, that used to be my job to “warsh and rench” the glass jars for canning. My mother would put them in a number 3 washtub and pour hot water over them and soap and let them soak for awhile. Then I would wash them and put them over into another tub full of hot water to rinse. I can remember how shriveled my poor little fingers would get.

  • Reply
    June 21, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    You sure are bringing back those memories! Remarkable girls to wash jars with you. I think I had mentioned before on The Blind Pig that I was the official jar washer growing up, as my small hands could reach inside easily. We had two big ole washtubs, and I was plopped down in the yard with what seemed like a thousand dirty jars filled with dead creatures, dried food, and what seemed like dirt on their bottoms. There were no plastic gloves, and I would go by feel and sight. Those jars were scrubbed clean, and then they went through the next process before canning; they were boiled in a big “warsh” tub over a fire in the yard. Mom’s goal 500 cans of anything.
    I didn’t mind, as even then my spirit and heart were truly Appalachian. Anyhow, there was a breathtaking view on that mountainside, a train that went by daily laden with coal down in the valley, so why would I not enjoy my jar warshin’.

  • Reply
    June 21, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Washing and rinsing jars made me
    almost forget that today is the
    beginning of Summertime. I dread
    those long hot days of Summer but
    that’s when the gardens flourish
    as well as the weeds…Ken

  • Reply
    June 21, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Warsh I have heard a mountain friend use, but have never picked up on rench. I’ll pay closer attention; maybe I paid more attention to the content and understood the meaning without realizing it. Good info; I’m still learnin’.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    June 21, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Ewwwww, I hated doing that
    “Warsh & Rench” of the jars! When my Grandmother died Mother brough back all her jars or her share. Some I guess didn’t want to fool with the old canned goods. Not my Mom, she toted them back to East TN…emptied them and warshed and renched them all out side. There were some with the sizzeled zinc caps from being so old, with old kraut inside…ewwww. Mother never intended to ever can again in those jars…I have some of them sittin’ right cheer in my kitchen winder. Yep, they were old blue quarts, pints, really strange clear ones…ones with clear lock type lids, some I’d never seen before. She knew the value of those old jars…My Grannie had quit canning way before she passed…Mother said, “I’d swear I remember helping with canning some of these old beans, jellies, etc.”
    That is when she told me that the glass insert under the zinc lid was given to her for her play plates dishes when she was a child. She said she would always hope one of the zinc lids would be salt etched so she could keep one of those little white plates!
    Yep, I’ve heard Warsh and Rench…
    Thanks Tipper, for the memories!

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    June 21, 2013 at 11:47 am

    I don’t hear “warsh” and “rench” much any more, but I did when I was a kid.

  • Reply
    June 21, 2013 at 11:45 am

    What?? there’s more than one way to say ‘Warsh’?

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 21, 2013 at 11:41 am

    I don’t hear it as much as I used to but still occasionally hear someone say to a child “warsh your hands”.
    Canning jars are not easy to clean, some take some serious scrubbing. Granny does a lot of canning. It’s nice of you girls to help with the jars.
    I went to a yard sale last Saturday that had a bunch of canning jars for sale. They have been in someone’s basement for years, I can tell because they are so dirty. I bought them anyway. Wanna come help me scrub them?

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 21, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Not so much anymore.

  • Reply
    June 21, 2013 at 11:20 am

    As soon as I saw the word “warsh”, I got a giggle attack! “Rench” sent me into a belly jiggling fit!
    Just recently, a friend of ours who is multi-lingual and very particular about her pronunciation of the English language pointed out that I had just told her that I would “warsh” the dishes and she could “rench” them.
    In all my 6 plus decades of living, teaching, and singing and trying to enunciate clearly had I ever realized that in common conversation I said those words the same way my Grandmother and Granny did. – and that’s not a bad thing ; )

  • Reply
    Ron Perry, Sr.
    June 21, 2013 at 11:10 am

    I use both words and my grandkids are always making fun of the way I say wash and rinse…

  • Reply
    June 21, 2013 at 11:03 am

    I didn’t get the Blind Pig today
    in my e-mail, but found it anyway
    through yesterday’s post under
    “recent posts”.
    The canning jar picture reminded
    me of the long canning days just
    ahead. The only thing I enjoy is
    canning tomatoes…I can do that!
    Although the weeds are a hard thing to contend with, I love doing what I can in the garden.

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    June 21, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Yep,, here it quite often.. Reminds me of the song Coal Miners Daughter, when Loretta sings the verse,,Mommy scrubbed our clothes on a warshboard every day,, I believe she pronounced it warsh,, as most older folks do in our area…

  • Reply
    Gina S
    June 21, 2013 at 10:32 am

    I haven’t heard the words in many years. Wonder if that is so because many of the older generation are gone. You know once those clothes were dry, you had to arn many of them.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 21, 2013 at 9:58 am

    As a child I pronounced it worsh, not warsh but rinse was rinse. Rench sounded too much like something used to take tars off of cars.

  • Reply
    Kerry in GA
    June 21, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Everyday 🙂

  • Reply
    Wanda in NoAla
    June 21, 2013 at 9:43 am

    My parents always said ‘warsh and rench”. When my dad took a sponge bath before supper, he would say he was going to “rench off”.
    Washing the canning jars was my least favorite job when I was a child. I think it was assigned to me because my hands were small enough to get inside the jar!

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