Appalachian Dialect

Word Survey – Push, Pull, or Shut

door standing open

My curiosity about words and phrases is constantly being piqued by folks who comment on something I write or on one of my videos.

The individual is usually asking if I’m familiar with a word or phrase their parents or grandparents used. Most of the time I know the piece of language from my own life experiences or from one of my reference books. Although sometimes folks share something I’ve never heard nor read.

Every once in a while the comment contains a usage that I really hadn’t thought of as unusual, but realize it might be to other people even though it’s beyond common to me.

Recently someone noted a person in their family always said “push the door to” or “pull the door to” to mean shut or close the door. Not only have I heard that usage my whole life, I say it myself.

The inhabitants of my house 🙂 are constantly leaving the backdoor open. Our storm door isn’t insulated and in summer the heat comes in and in winter the cold comes in. I’m continually telling someone to push the door to.

I’m also prone to say “pull the door to behind you” as I lead someone down the basement steps.

The usage is so common to me, that I would like to survey Blind Pig readers and see if it’s familiar to you. Please leave a comment and let me know if you’ve heard the phrases “pull the door to” and/or “push the door to.”

Last night’s video: BEST Thing to Grow for Long Term Food Storage!!

Tipper

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80 Comments

  • Reply
    Cheryl Knight
    May 25, 2022 at 9:39 pm

    Tipper, all of those are familiar phrases. For me, though, there is a difference between pulling the door to and shutting the door. When you push or pull the door to, it may still be slightly ajar. Whereas, shutting it means you pushed it to till it latched shut. 😉 My maternal grandparents were raised in the mountains of north Georgia and I have a vocabulary question I’d like to pose to you and your other readers. Mama’s father would tease us and tell my sister and me that we were “getting too big for our bawnts.” I know what the phrase means but have always wondered about the origin of bawnts. Have you ever encountered that word?

  • Reply
    Jim Taylor
    May 23, 2022 at 10:14 am

    Heard it all those ways. Mostly “Shut the door.”

  • Reply
    John Reep
    May 21, 2022 at 8:33 pm

    Reminds me of “Heave to!” which Wikipedia says, “ In sailing, heaving to (to heave to and to be hove to) is a way of slowing a sailing vessel’s forward progress, as well as fixing the helm and sail positions so that the vessel does not have to be steered.”

  • Reply
    Johnny Hurst
    May 16, 2022 at 8:03 pm

    My mother always told me to pull the door to behind me.

  • Reply
    Nan
    May 16, 2022 at 12:59 am

    I’ve heard and said both – being from Texas, does it still count?!?

    • Reply
      Tipper
      May 16, 2022 at 6:21 am

      Nan- of course it counts! Have a great day!

  • Reply
    Cynthia
    May 13, 2022 at 3:44 pm

    I’ve used these expressions, too.

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney
    May 13, 2022 at 3:34 pm

    Tipper,
    This one is a little off subject, but I heard the expression in my family when someone would leave a door open, “Were you raised in a barn”?

  • Reply
    Patricia Rose
    May 12, 2022 at 9:36 pm

    I don’t believe I have ever heard those phrases. We always “shut the door” in my family. I enjoy your work, Tipper!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    May 12, 2022 at 4:20 pm

    Push and pull the door to is very familiar to me. I use a mixture of pull the door to,close the door or shut the door.
    Do you say roll the car window up/down or let the window up/down?

  • Reply
    Peggy
    May 12, 2022 at 3:27 pm

    Yes, Ive heard and used these phrases. Like you, sometimes words just seem common to me that might seem strange to others.

  • Reply
    Regina
    May 12, 2022 at 3:14 pm

    Tipper, I’ve heard all three and use all three. They are all three common here in eastern Kentucky. 🙂

    • Reply
      Leslie
      May 12, 2022 at 6:06 pm

      Yes, I’ve heard and used all of them-I’m a SC girl!

  • Reply
    Cheryl Miller Brown
    May 12, 2022 at 2:41 pm

    Tipper, I use all three. For example if someone comes in the door & does not attempt to shut the door, I say, “shut the door.” If they come through the door & half close the door, I say, “push the door to.” If we are leaving the house I would say to the last person coming out, “pull the door to.”

  • Reply
    Robert
    May 12, 2022 at 2:39 pm

    After reading some of the comments, it occurred to me that in German they said, “Machen Sie den tür zu, bitte!” which literally means ‘make the door to, please’; so maybe there is an Old World source for our usage. Of course, there is also, “Schliesen Sie den tür!” which means ‘close the door’.

    They don’t have that usage in Spanish, AFAIK.

    I’ve asked in a forum read by folks from around the world if they use the idiom in English or if their native tongue has an analogous usage. I’ll report back when I see their responses.

    • Reply
      Robert
      May 13, 2022 at 12:51 pm

      From the forum I mentioned above, I learned that the Dutch have a phrase that means the same as push the door to and I also found that it is used in the UK. I don’t know that it is universally used there but it is in Yorkshire.

      BTW: The avatar here is not me, it’s a pic of me Pa made about 90 years ago.

      • Reply
        Tipper
        May 13, 2022 at 1:40 pm

        Robert-thank you for sharing your findings 🙂

  • Reply
    Robert
    May 12, 2022 at 2:23 pm

    Yes! I have heard and have used my whole life the term “pull/push the door to”.

    Here’s another one for you. Do you turn the lights off or cut them off?

    And another. Do you take someone someplace or carry them there?

    I ask because a speech professor I had in college (who wasn’t from the South) thought them unusual usages.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      May 12, 2022 at 7:33 pm

      or do you cut out the light?

      • Reply
        Patty Hansen
        May 15, 2022 at 8:26 pm

        We say cut the engine, in NY. Never heard push the door to, tho. We have lost a lot of our vernacular & old idioms. sad.

  • Reply
    Charline
    May 12, 2022 at 2:04 pm

    I have a frienfd from Virginia who always says “cut on” or “cut off” the lights.

  • Reply
    Charline
    May 12, 2022 at 2:01 pm

    I have heard them, but mostly just shut or close the door. My Mom was always wanting to “mash” the button, though (Alabama).

  • Reply
    Ron Bass
    May 12, 2022 at 1:58 pm

    I use push/pull the door to and were you born in a barn

  • Reply
    Gloria Hayes
    May 12, 2022 at 12:02 pm

    Tipper, I have heard and say all of these. I will say “pull the door to” and especially the back porch door I will say ” make sure you push the door to.” And of course, “shut the door, please.” I really enjoyed the video about the squash and pumpkins. I didn’t realize you could keep them for so long. That’s amazing! I continue to learn so many things from your blog and videos and enjoy all of them. Thank you!!

  • Reply
    Carol Blackwell
    May 12, 2022 at 11:06 am

    Yep. “Push/pull” the door to. Grew up with my folks saying it and say it myself today.

  • Reply
    Carol Roy
    May 12, 2022 at 10:50 am

    We say Close the Door or Shut the Door….here in Easter Canada. However occ. you would hear someone say Pull the door too please.

  • Reply
    sandra henderson
    May 12, 2022 at 10:35 am

    grew up hearing that, all my life in louisiana.

    granny would yell at us kids to push the door to and quit runnin through the house or the pressure canner is gonna explode! lol

  • Reply
    Jan
    May 12, 2022 at 10:28 am

    I’ve heard both push and pull. Probably depends on which way the door is hinged. Tipper, I think it’s time you invested in a new insulated storm door! They are great to let the light inside. Congratulations on your recent award. Very proud of you…

  • Reply
    Leslie
    May 12, 2022 at 10:15 am

    We shut the door. Now, do y’all push or mash a button?

    • Reply
      Doug Richardson
      May 12, 2022 at 2:14 pm

      Mash. Always mash 🙂

    • Reply
      Robert
      May 12, 2022 at 2:49 pm

      I worked for a time here in Texas with a fellow from Pittsburgh, PA. When he heard a woman say that she didn’t know how a computer works she just . . . ‘mashed the buttons’ . . . he thought she had damaged the keyboard. He laughed about it for months afterwards.

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    May 12, 2022 at 10:04 am

    I grew up with both push and pull and use them.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 12, 2022 at 10:02 am

    I’ve heard it all. Pull the door to, push it to. pull it shut, push it shut, pull it closed, push it closed, even shet the door. I don’t know if that means I’ve been around a lot of different people or if I’ve just been around a long time.

    When I was a kid, I was most likely to hear “You get back here and shut that door right and you better not slam it!”

    Oh, and “Shut that pneumonia hole!”

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    May 12, 2022 at 10:02 am

    I’ve heard “pull the door to” many times,

    Weather here seems to be on a roller coaster. We finally got most of our planting done and now we may have to water! My peonies are blooming & so beautiful! I may get marigolds as well–My husband had to make a metal screen to go over the planter as the squirrels or Somebody kept digging in the planter. I wonder what they thought when they found they got blocked out!

  • Reply
    Jackie
    May 12, 2022 at 9:56 am

    I’ve heard both in the past but I usually say, “Close the door.” My wife and her family say, “Pull the blinds” for opening and closing them. My sister used to say, “Raise the window up and raise the window down.”

  • Reply
    Jeanie
    May 12, 2022 at 9:28 am

    I never heard those phrases but I grew up in Wisconsin. We have our own unique expressions.

  • Reply
    Sallie the apple doll lady
    May 12, 2022 at 9:25 am

    I’m not familiar with those phrases but all my life I heard “Shut that door.” Followed by “Were you raised in a barn?” That really didn’t make sense to me because you would need to close a barn door to keep the animals in.

  • Reply
    Mint2Bee
    May 12, 2022 at 9:23 am

    My other half reminded me of a phrase that is not the same but kind of similar: “crack the door” or “crack the window”.

  • Reply
    Lana
    May 12, 2022 at 9:21 am

    I have heard and used “push or pull the door to” all my life. However, over the past decade or so, I find myself more often using “shut the door” instead. Outside influences, especially media, are changing the way we speak and we’re losing so much of the “color” of our dialects.

  • Reply
    Sheila G Glover
    May 12, 2022 at 9:20 am

    “Push or pull the door to” were phrases my Grandmother used. She grew up on a very rural farm in NE Georgia in the early 1900s. But even though we lived on a farm in NE Georgia, my parents said “close the door”. My Grandmother had lots of sayings that we wish we had written down as we are forgetting them. My sister and I both had long hair and Grandmother often told us to brush it because our “part was crooked as a dog’s hind leg”.

  • Reply
    Bob Lingle
    May 12, 2022 at 9:09 am

    Heard many times, but never gave ’em any thought. Recon it has anything to do with how the door closes? Miss Tipper, you sure sure keep us on our toes! lol

  • Reply
    Richard
    May 12, 2022 at 9:06 am

    I’ve heard,”close the door! Were you raised in a barn!?”

  • Reply
    Robert Louis
    May 12, 2022 at 9:04 am

    In Pennsylvania we say close the door

  • Reply
    dee
    May 12, 2022 at 9:03 am

    I’ve heard my parents and grandparents say both and I have used them sometimes but mostly now I say shut the door please.

    I enjoyed your video on squash and didn’t realize you could keep them sitting around in your kitchen for 5 or 6 months. My Mother had a small bedroom that she closed the heat vent and used it as a cold storage room. She kept acorn squash in there and other produce which kept beautifully. I love yellow squash, zucchini, and baked acorn squash in the winter is a real treat for me.

  • Reply
    Shirl
    May 12, 2022 at 8:58 am

    Yes, I grew up hearing the phrases and I think I still say them. Either way, the grandkids know what I mean if I say pull that door to or shut that door. Mom would have said shet that door!

  • Reply
    L Todd
    May 12, 2022 at 8:40 am

    Yes, here in the deep south we push, we pull, we shut! And, as youngsters when we heard someone holler out “were you raised in a barn?”, we knew we’d left that door open!

  • Reply
    Charles Melvin
    May 12, 2022 at 8:40 am

    Way over here in northwest Alabama we are still in the Appalachian foothills. Don’t believe it? Follow a topographic map and you’ll se our “mountains” (hills really) run in a pretty straight line all the way to the southern Appalachians in southeastern Tennessee and northern Georgia. Most of of my ancestors migrated here from your mountains and felt right at home in the hollers and hills around here. Yes we use all those phrases regularly. Two other commonly used phrases here I’m pretty sure are common there are “mash the button” and “fixin’ to”. And oh yea–“shut off the lights”..

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      May 12, 2022 at 7:48 pm

      My g-g-great grandfather “migrated” from Swain County NC to Jackson County AL with his mistress around 1880. We could be related’

  • Reply
    Gary Lee Galbreath
    May 12, 2022 at 8:37 am

    “Pull that door to afore you let that cold arr in”

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 12, 2022 at 8:26 am

    You did it again. Growing up, I heard ‘pull the door to’. I do not recall hearing ‘push the door to’, though I may well have heard each. (See below.) To me, ‘pull the door to’ is most related to an outside door and leaving the house to go somewhere else. ‘Push the door to’ makes me think of just stopping a draft or moving the door out of the way.

    Just wondering, would each be specific to a particular door and a particular stance relative to it? For example, would “push” be for a door that closes by swinging away and “pull” be for a door that closes by swinging toward? But of course that changes depending on which side one is on. Or is the use just by an habitual form without thought of such details? (I know. Sometimes I think too much.)

    • Reply
      Tipper
      May 12, 2022 at 10:47 am

      Ron-I’ve not noticed it being specific to a certain door 🙂

      • Reply
        Wayne hackworth
        May 12, 2022 at 10:56 pm

        We pull the door to and shut out the light

  • Reply
    Melanie Emory
    May 12, 2022 at 8:23 am

    Super common around where we live….in fact, it’s so common I didn’t realize everyone didn’t say it from time to time!

  • Reply
    JC
    May 12, 2022 at 8:12 am

    My mother:
    “Push that door to! It knackers me to have to say that all day!”
    “Don’t slam that screen door; you’ve done knackered it off its hinges.”

    We used “pull to” and “push to” all the time. In those days doors were made of solid wood and were a lot heavier-you literally had to push or pull them. When my husband made me a canning cabin out of logs, he made an old fashioned solid wood door for the front. I have muscles from pulling that door to.

    “Knacker” and “knackered” are two variations of the same word used in my Appalachian mountain family. When you’re “plumb knackered” you’re so tired you could sleep a week. To knacker something means to beat it up the way it was used. A man from Canada once told me it means something not so nice they way they use it. I told him he was in the Appalachian mountains of the good ol’ USA so he’s going to hear used much more nicely here. LOL.

    • Reply
      Gail Doss
      May 12, 2022 at 11:31 am

      My family used “plumb tuckered out” to mean completely tired.

    • Reply
      John Reep
      May 21, 2022 at 8:31 pm

      In Britain, a knacker is who you take you cow to, when it’s time for slaughter. And knackered is a common term for extremely tired.

  • Reply
    Larry Paul Eddings
    May 12, 2022 at 8:11 am

    Yes, I have used those phrases all my life. Most folks in my neck of the woods do too.

  • Reply
    Gene Smith
    May 12, 2022 at 8:10 am

    Our family just said “Close the door; were you raised in a barn?”

  • Reply
    Scott Grogan
    May 12, 2022 at 7:59 am

    I have heard and used those phrases my entire life. It’s common language in north GA.

  • Reply
    Rebecca Hebert
    May 12, 2022 at 7:55 am

    Definitely! I’m an English teacher and say “pull to door to” all the time- grew up saying it!

  • Reply
    Ava
    May 12, 2022 at 7:55 am

    I have heard close the door and shut the door more often but I have also heard pull and push.

  • Reply
    Margie G
    May 12, 2022 at 7:54 am

    “Pull the door to!” is alive and well here in Bluefield, WV. If I say “shut the front door!” it usually means something else… lol

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 12, 2022 at 7:36 am

    Tipper, I know them both. I have heard them plenty, it’s just common. I just love that we have our own language. Our ancestors in this country grew up in something of an isolated way of life. Of course, they used words in a fashion that made sense to them or that fit the need.

  • Reply
    Dan O’Connor
    May 12, 2022 at 7:34 am

    Yes, it has been a common phrase, both growing up in the Washington, DC suburbs and more so in Knoxville, TN.

  • Reply
    Martha Justice
    May 12, 2022 at 7:23 am

    Having four children, nine grandchildren and now nine great grandchildren I’ve spent most of my life hollering “shut the door !” However my parent and grandparents always said “push or “pull the door to,” so I am very familiar with those phrases, but I haven’t thought of them in a long while. Thanks for jogging my memory ❤

  • Reply
    Lenora Lewis
    May 12, 2022 at 7:21 am

    Yes to push and pull the door shut.

  • Reply
    Doug Richardson
    May 12, 2022 at 6:55 am

    Like you Tipper, I have heard push or pull used in place of shut my whole life. Both those phrases are common to me and I’m sure I say them often.

  • Reply
    Glenda G. Page
    May 12, 2022 at 6:54 am

    I don’t think I have ever seen squashes that large…very interesting. I do can my butternut and will use it for soups, which is quite tasty. I know you stay so busy, but I do follow along and learn from you daily. Can’t wait for tomorrow’s reading. Stay well, God Bless.

    • Reply
      Christine
      May 12, 2022 at 8:35 am

      Yes, I say push the door or pull the door. I have used shut the door before too, but the word shut has also been used to tell someone to stop talking and usually it’s me being told that…lol…

  • Reply
    Pastor Lon
    May 12, 2022 at 6:52 am

    Good morning Miss Tipper, yes mam now you talkin my kind of language, I’ve heard this phrase all my life and we still use it today probably everyday lol “pull the door to please on your way out” or “ will you push that door to so that cat won’t sneak in” We have more in common with the Appalachian language around here than folks realize and I’m proud to know that. GOD BLESS YALL. ❤️❤️☀️☀️

    • Reply
      Jack
      May 12, 2022 at 9:35 am

      I am familiar with phrases, but I always say shut the door.

  • Reply
    Denise R
    May 12, 2022 at 6:47 am

    Nope to both phrases! We’ve not heard those used here in our neck of the woods, but I instantly knew the meaning behind them before you gave the definition. It will be interesting to see what everyone else has to say.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 12, 2022 at 6:46 am

    I shut the door but my grand parents said push or pull.

  • Reply
    Gail
    May 12, 2022 at 6:34 am

    Yes, in the Piedmont area of NC I’ve heard these phrases, and I think I’ve said them myself.

  • Reply
    Mint2Bee
    May 12, 2022 at 6:23 am

    Yes, I’ve heard both of those phrases.

  • Reply
    Pam
    May 12, 2022 at 6:23 am

    Absolutely I pull and push all my doors “to”.

  • Reply
    Patti Brockwell
    May 12, 2022 at 6:12 am

    Yes to both. I heard them growing up and still use them today.

    When I was a teen, I dated a guy whose family said, “pull the door around”, when they wanted someone to close a door. I thought that was so strange! But I guess the door does swing “around” in an arc when it’s being closed, so maybe it’s not that strange.

    Nah! It’s strange! 😉

  • Reply
    Patti Brockwell
    May 12, 2022 at 6:08 am

    Yes to both. I heard them growing up and still use them today.

    When I was a teen I dated a guy whose family said, “pull the door around”, when they wanted someone to close a door. I thought that was so strange! But I guess the door does swing “around” in an arc when it’s being closed, so maybe it’s not so strange.

    Nah! It’s still strange! 🙂

  • Reply
    Robin
    May 12, 2022 at 5:58 am

    Good morning Tipper. No, I’ve not heard these phrases nor do I use them. Around here it’s “shut the door please” or “shut that door!” LOL.

    • Reply
      Robert
      May 12, 2022 at 2:24 pm

      Or sometimes, “Shut the door! Were you born in a barn?”

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