I Cut My Teeth On These Southern Idioms


  1. High cotton – Such as ‘well he’s livin’ in high cotton’. You see, a field hand wouldn’t have to bend over to pick ‘high cotton’. Typically, cotton grows lower to the ground, so workers must stoop to pick the crop. Not comfortable after about 5 minutes.
  2. That dog won’t hunt – This is a useless object, be it animal or man or thing. Ought to get rid of it.
  3. He could eat corn through a picket fence.  A trip to the dentist is required, stat!  Braces!
  4. He thinks the sun comes up just to hear him crow.  Unfortunately, this expression indicates someone laboring under false illusions….conceited…
  5. Bless your heart.  This is code in southern speak, especially for women.  A rough translation is good grief, you’re dumb as a box of rocks.  The deeper the southern inflection/drawl, the worse the insult.
  6. Ain’t that a bird dog!  A good bird dog is a thing to be cherished as a rarity.  This is usually said as a term of huge surprise or admiration.
  7. Lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas.  Said to warn another, usually children, to abstain from keeping unsavory company, unless they wish to travel the same road, pick up the same bad habits.
  8. More anxious than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.  Self-explanatory, especially to cats!
  9. Cain’t never could.  You have to try first to know whether you can or not
  10. Fixin’ to.  Getting to it, as in I’m fixin’ to cook dinner.
  11. Directly.  Could mean anything from I’ll come by/I’ll do it in an hour or a week.  Depends.
  12. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.  Wishing won’t make it so.  Get to work.
  13. She’d just toss the baby out with the dishwater.  Doesn’t pay attention.  Thoughtless or forgetful.
  14. You’d better hush that crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about.  Needs no explanation
  15. When you cut your leg off (due to carelessness in some form), don’t come running to me.  Said by someone with an acute grasp of the obvious.
  16. You want me to give you something to cry about?  I have trouble with this one.  It means hush crying or I’ll spank your butt and you’ll have a reason to cry.
  17. That child is so homely, we had to hang a pork chop around to get the dog to play with him.  This is a very plain child
  18. She’s so ugly, she has to sneak up on a glass of water.  Cruel  Just cruel.
  19. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.  Leave if the conversation doesn’t suit you.
  20. Were you born in a barn?  Said to children/men who continuously leave an outside door open to the delight of all flying insects.
  21. I don’t care if she’s the queen of England, she can eat what’s in front of her or go to bed.
  22. Go cut me a switch.  Yikes!  I hated hearing that!
  23. Ya’ll come back now, y’hear?  Come visit again soon.
  24. You’d complain if we hung ya with a gold rope.  Nothing’s good enough.
  25. Are you sassin’ me?   Are you being a smart mouthed child?
  26. Don’t that beat all?  That takes the cake.
  27. Over yonder.  Just a little ways off.  My daughter actually asked me to point out yonder on a map when she was small.
  28. I like three more.  The word ‘like’ should be ‘lack’.  No idea why.
  29. She’s as cute as a speckled pup.  This is considered high praise.
  30. He’s just plumb ornery. He’s very contrary.

That’s the tip of the iceberg…oh, that reminds me of  ‘slower than molasses in January’…

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Author: Mom Sees All

Mom sees all. Certainly more than I'd like to. But I'm more than a Mom. I'm a Christian - don't leave yet - a wife, a daughter, a sister, a homemaker, a voter. It's really that last hat that should give you pause. I have opinions. I have a brain. I have a voice. I have a vote. So do you. I'm trying to be the person God wants me to be - along the way, I'll sell real estate.

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