Appalachian Dialect


My life in appalachia - Wasper

wasp noun See also jasper.

A variant singular forms wasper, wasp.
1942 Hall Phonetics 27 wasp, 79 wasper.
B variant plural forms was, wasper, waspers, was-pes.
1936 LAMSAS waspers (Madison Co NC). c1940 Simms Coll. waspes [i.e., wasps’] nestes. 1942 Hall Phonetics 82 waspers, waspes, was. 1974 Fink Bits Mt Speech 29 waspers. 1983 Pederson East Tn Folk Speech 95 wasper (Cocke Co TN, Jefferson Co TN). 1986 Pederson et al. LAGS 6 of 13 (46%) of LAGS speakers using wasper were from E. Tenn. 1996 Montgomery Coll. wasper (Cardwell, Oliver).

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


2015 wasper, waspers (Cherokee Co NC). The usage is still alive and well here in my neck of the woods.

The waspers are flying like crazy since warm weather has come on.



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  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    April 21, 2017 at 11:25 am

    A friend and I took her grandson to lunch one day. When I ask what he’d like to eat his reply was “washers”. We ask him more than wants again and that was always the same answer, We ask him how would you eat some and he indignantly said with a fork. We ask where can you buy them and he said the grocery store. When we took him back to his mom she laughed and said he means lobsters.

  • Reply
    May 9, 2016 at 9:16 am

    I say it whenever I see one, just because. I also say “painter” instead of “panther”, just because. No one else around here says either one.

  • Reply
    J Anderson
    May 19, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    My grandpa called them all “wawsts”.

  • Reply
    May 7, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    LOL! An ole buddy from North GA calls ’em woarssts!

  • Reply
    May 6, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    Yep they call em waspers here in S.E.Ky.too and with the weather getting warmer they are more aggressive now.

  • Reply
    May 5, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    I recall hearing the terms “waspers” and “waspees” – maybe German in origin?- I heard it from grandparents and great-grandparents who spoke variants of German – but don’t use either.
    By the way, has anyone else noticed that honeybees will share the offerings of a hummingbird feeder with hummingbirds but wasps will try to chase the hummingbirds away and lay claim to that nectar source?

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 5, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    My mother used to embroider like that!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 5, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    “waust and waustes” is how we pronounced them. My buddy Beanie said “wausper” The au in either was pronounced like awe. We used to knock their nests for fish bait. Best bait in the world.
    Tell Miss Cindy if she will right click on the words with the red zigzagetty underline and choose “Add to dictionary,” she can add words that the spellcheck don’t know.
    My spellcheck didn’t even like spellcheck. It does now!

  • Reply
    Mel Hawkins
    May 5, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    Around here in N. GA (Dahlonega) it was more like “wast”, or “wastiz” for more than one of ’em…

  • Reply
    May 5, 2015 at 11:11 am

    So far this spring we have seen more waspers than ever!

  • Reply
    May 5, 2015 at 11:03 am

    Yes, I too have noticed lots of waspers playing around outside the house. Every once in a while they come indoors, and it is there they meet their demise. I grew up with wasps – more difficult to pronounce.

  • Reply
    May 5, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Don’t mind the Wasp, but I sure hate the Yellow Jackets. I called them Wasper growing up, but somewhere along the way they became Wasp. I might do a private study on friends and family by using Wasper again and seeing if it receives reaction or goes unnoticed. As always, Tipper, totally informative and interesting blog.

  • Reply
    May 5, 2015 at 10:55 am

    That’s what I call ’em too. When I was a kid, I got my share of stings from bees, mostly waspers. We’d gouge the wast nests down from old houses and buildings, put ’em in baccer cans, and head to the river.
    Those larvie stay on your hook much better if you’ll toast ’em in a pie pan for a few minutes,
    first. Those trout liked ’em so
    much, you had to get behind a
    tree to bait your hook…Ken

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    May 5, 2015 at 10:15 am

    Tipper–Interestingly enough, I never heard wasper until I got away from the Smokies. There was a lady here in upstate S. C. from whom I bought garden plants who called them waspers.
    As for Miss Cindy’s discovery of jasper when she tried wasper, let me assure you that a jasper meddling with waspers will soon be jumping and lighting a shuck.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    May 5, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Sorry, waltzes

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    May 5, 2015 at 9:13 am

    That’s what we called them too. Once at church on homecoming day or as we called it decoration day, after dinner on the grounds my brother and I slipped out during the afternoon singing. There was a huge red wasper nest under the overhang of the roof out back. We started chunking small rocks at it and one of those waspers came down and stung my brother right on the end of the nose. His nose swelled up like a clown and we both got our britches dusted for our shenanigans!

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    May 5, 2015 at 9:13 am

    When my daughter, was little she started singing I believe in waspes. She had been hearing Loretta Lynn sing the song I Believe in Walzes on the radio. We had a big laugh over it.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    May 5, 2015 at 9:08 am

    We have a large order of the infamous “red devil wasper” this year! I can’t fully understand why. We didn’t tear down any more nests than usual last year or even any “red devil waspers”! Mainly we got the nests around the small started nests above the door frames and windows, but they were the yellow tail or light colored waspers! It’s pretty quite here most of the time so wasps think they can build just about anywhere, around the outdoor grill, the lawnmowers, the shed doors, etc. Sometimes even in the tops of the birdfeeders…
    We have less of those big yellow and black carpenter bees…but they don’t sting, just swarm around and look tough! LOL The small female does sting, but she doesn’t fly up and around you and wood framed windows and doors like the male…
    Nothing hurts worse than a “big red wasp sting”! We leave a can of “knocker/killer on their butt” wasp spray on the porch for the occasion of being buzzed by an unknown nest of “red or yellow- butt striped waspers”!
    The carpenter bees are about over their buzzing around and have settled down to pollinating now! Along with the big bumble bees!
    We have seen a few more honey bees this year and hope they keep increasing…
    This hot week coming up should bring all the insects even the sweat bees out of the woodwork. We try not to spray as to kill the bees of any form unless they are nesting on our porch or worse the sideboard of the house…yep, one year yellow jackets built under the siding…
    Later, thanks Tipper
    PS…I have and my family has always called the red wasp the “red devil wasper”!

  • Reply
    Celia Miles
    May 5, 2015 at 8:39 am

    I grew up with the word “wasper/s” and still hear it. It has a softer sound than wasp and requires less effort. P.S. What is LAGS speaker?

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 5, 2015 at 8:35 am

    Reminds me of the country churches I knew as a boy. The waspers would fly in half-loops, bumping the ceiling on each upswing, up near the unshaded light bulbs. Occassionally one would land in someone’s hair. But I never knew of anyone getting stung.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 5, 2015 at 7:27 am

    Their certainly seems to be an inordinate number of waspers flying around here in Murphy. Far more than I ever saw in Black mountain.
    My spellcheck came on when I typed waspers. It offered me jaspers instead but it did not offer wasp.

  • Reply
    Henry Horton
    May 5, 2015 at 7:21 am

    Ummmhuuum…any local varient on bumblebee?

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