Burke Talk

Attitude Hello & Goodbye Size & Shape
Behavior House & Home Sickness & Health
Bad Habits Intensity Smart and Not
Call of Nature Location Speed
Certainty Looks & Age Strong Words
Character Love & Family Things
Clothing Mental State Time & Distance
Condition Modern World Travel
Conversation Money & Trade Truth and Fiction
Farm Myths & Superstitions Very Personal
Food and Drink Nature Weather
Friends Number or Amount Wisdom
Fuss and Fight Occurrence Working & Doing
Good Times & Bad People Expressions
Happiness Recreation & Fun Burke Words
Heaven & Earth Results  

Burke English


Burke folks spoke a Southern inflected English with many colorlful expressions. There are many lists of old time sayings, but these are ones that we can remember someone at Burke actually using. If you have any favorite expressions or unusual words that you actually heard spoken at Burke, please submit them to the webmaster.

WARNING: Burke talk was not always appropriate for church. For the sake of historical accuracy, the following list contains a few words and expressions that are a bit earthy. Compared to language commonly used in our time, even the worst Burke talk was tame.

Attitude

  • Ain't nobody come
  • No the kind of people you have to put on airs or clean up the house for.
  • Big head
  • Arrogance, as in "He inherited money and go the big head."
  • Been eating razor soup
  • Making "sharp" statements; being a wise guy
  • Common
  • Plain acting; without pretense
  • Fat, dumb and happy
  • Dangerously satisfied; oblivious to risks
  • Feet on the ground
  • Balanced, wise, as in "Old Billy has his feet on the ground."
  • Highfalutin
  • Elegant; snooty
  • High horse
  • Stubborn or haughty, as in "Don't get on a high horse."
  • Might as well
  • Decision to do something. Ex.: "I might as well go on down to the bottom and fix that fence.
  • Nose in the air
  • Possessing an attitude of superiority
  • Put on airs
  • Act important or superior, as in "Since Grace moved to town, she is putting on airs."
  • Rotten
  • Spoiled, as in "That boy is rotten."
  • Sass
  • Speak to someone, esprcially a parent, with disrespect, as in "Don't you sass me!"
  • Second childhood
  • When a middle aged person starts kicking up his heels. Now commonly called "middle age crazy."
  • Shoot a big gun
  • Boast or do things in an ostentatious way
  • Snooty
  • Haughty
  • Snotty
  • Rude
  • Stubborn as a mule
  • Extremely stubborn
  • Too big for his britches
  • Arrogant; inflated sense of self importance
  • Vigorous (v-eye-gorous)
  • Mean or aggressive, as in "a vigorous dog "
  • Wash your mouth out with lye soap
  • Warning to a child who is sassy or says a naughty word, as in "You say that one more time, and I'll wash your mouth out with lye soap."

Behavior

  • Before God and everybody
  • Done very publicly as in "He showed his ass before God and everybody."
  • Bellerin' like a bull
  • Yelling or screaming loudly
  • Blowhard
  • A braggart
  • Born in a barn
  • Failure to close a door, as in "Close that door! Were you born in a barn?"
  • Caught with his pants down
  • Discovered in a compromising position.
  • Conniption fit
  • Tantrum
  • Cut a dido
  • Take a crooked or unusual path
  • Cut a rusty
  • Engage in vigorous fun
  • Cut Someone's Water Off
  • Squelch someone's behavior, as in "She found out he was running around on her, and she cut his water off."
  • Didn't go to do it
  • Unintentional or accidental
  • Cut off his nose to spite his face
  • Act irrationally revengeful.
  • Cut up
  • Misbehave, often in a humorous manner
  • Double dog dare
  • A strong dare
  • Egg someone one
  • Encourage someone to do something wrong or unwise
  • Keep your britches (or drawers) on!
  • Calm down! Be patient!
  • "Mischeevius"
  • Mischievous
  • Monkeyshine
  • Stunt, as in "cut a monkeyshine."
  • Naked as a jaybird
  • Completely naked
  • Odd duck
  • Someone who behaves in a peculiar or unusual way.
  • Pass and repass
  • Have a formal but not friendly relationship
  • Peck's bad boy
  • A mischievous child. Derived for a series of "Bad Boy" books by an author named Peck.
  • Pen
  • Prison, as in "Old Joe's boy Bill went to the pen for two years for making moonshine." Short for "pentitentiary."
  • Pillar to post
  • Erratic, unreliable behavior. Example: "He moves from pillow to post."
  • Pitch (Throw) a fit
  • Show extreme anger
  • Put on the dog
  • Do things in a showy way. Throw a big party.
  • Raise Cain
  • Complain or cause trouble, as in "She came to the school board meeting raising Cain." Refers to the Biblical story of Cain killing his brother Abel.
  • Raise the roof
  • Make a lot of noise
  • Ring tail tooter
  • A wildly energetic person
  • Run someone ragged
  • Tired you out with activity or aggravation
  • Show out
  • Engage in unusual behavior to draw attention to oneself. Example: "Billy, stop showing out!"
  • Show your a**
  • Misbehave in an embarrassing way
  • Stuck
  • Fined for a legal infraction, as in "The constable caught his speeding, and they stuck him."
  • Up and
  • Did something unexpectedly, as in "He up and hit him."
  • Went and
  • Did something as in "He went and hit him."
  • Worry the horns off a billy goat
  • Extremely annoying, as in "That kid would worry the horns off a billy goat!"

Bad Habits

  • Chew
  • Chew tobacco
  • Dip
  • Use snuff,as in "Aunt Emma really likes to dip that old snuff, don't she."
  • Drunk as Cooter Bill
  • Extremely inebrieated.
  • Go across the river
  • To get drunk. Refers to the beer joints located just across the Neches River in Trinity County.
  • Higher than a kite
  • Drunk
  • Levi Garrett
  • A brand of snuff for dipping
  • Prince Albert (in the can)
  • A brand of loose tobacco for rolling cigarettes; a favorite juvenile prank in which a merchant whether he has Prince Albert in the can. When he answers in the affirmative, the prankster responds, "Why don't you let him out?"
  • Riz La
  • A brand of paper for hand rolling cigarettes
  • Roll
  • Make a cigarette using loose tobacco and cigarette paper

  • Tanked Up
  • Drunk

Call of Nature

  • Go outdoors (out of doors, or outa doors) or Go out
  • Go to the toilet
  • Mess
  • To defacate, as in "That blamed rooster messed on the porch!"
  • Poot
  • Pass gas
  • Ripped my britches
  • Passed gas.
  • Slop jar
  • Chamber pot. It's a long way to the outhouse in the dark, especially in the winter.
  • Wet
  • Urinate

Certainty

  • Absotively posilutely
  • Definitely
  • Fact of the Matter
  • Fundamental truth
  • Figure
  • Speculate, as in "I figure he'll buy the Jones place." Usually pronounced "figger".
  • Half a mind
  • Notion, as in "I have half a mind to go tell her off."
  • Iffen
  • If
  • Jubilous
  • Doubtful
  • Liable
  • May. Often pronounced "labble". Example:"We'd better get the clothes in off the line 'cause it labble to rain."
  • Like to
  • Almost, as in "I like to fell down."
  • Nigh onto
  • Nearly, as in "I ain't see Joe in nigh onto 30 years.
  • No ifs ands or buts about it
  • Absolutley certain, as in "I gotta go to town to pay the bank note, no ifs and or buts about."
  • No way on God's green earth
  • Impossible
  • Of a mind to
  • Intend, as in "I'm of a mind to go to town."
  • Out and out
  • Total or complete, as in "out and out lie."
  • Plumb
  • Completely, as in "I'm plumb tired out."
  • Presactly
  • Combination of precisly and exactly
  • Purty Near
  • Almost
  • Reckon
  • Guess, as in "I reckon."
  • See further on down the road
  • Wait for better information, as in "We'd better not buy the land until we can see further on down the road.."
  • Shore
  • Sure
  • Sure as I'm standing here
  • Totally certain
  • Sure as shootin'
  • Certain
  • Tee-totally
  • Completely
  • Up to snuff
  • Meet acceptable standards
  • When all is said and done
  • The essence of the matter. The result.
  • Wouldn't put it past him
  • Capable of something. Wouldn't be surprised if he did.

Character, Good and Bad

  • Amount
  • Succeed, as in "That Jones boy never amounted to anything."
  • As good (bad) as they come
  • Best (worst) or their kind
  • Bad egg
  • A troublemaker or bad person, as in "That Billy Jones is one bad egg."
  • Crooked as a barrel of snakes
  • Dishonest
  • Egg sucking dog
  • A despicable person. Refers to dogs who sneak into the chicken house and steal eggs to eat. The habit is hard to break and usually requires the owner to get rid of the dog.
  • Good for nothin'
  • Lazy or dishonest
  • Honest as the day is long
  • Unquestionably honest
  • How I'm made
  • My moral code or ethics, as in "I won't lie to you because, that's not how I'm made."
  • Knot on a log
  • Useless, as in "He useless as a knot on a log."
  • Lousehead
  • A lazy person
  • No account
  • Worthless, as in "He ain't no account." Often pronounced "no count."
  • Not worth killing
  • Worthless, as in "That old boy ain't worth killin'."
  • Snake in the grass
  • Dishonest or untrustworthy person
  • Sorry
  • Worthless, as in "Old Mac is as sorry as they come."
  • Useless as teats on a boar hog
  • Self expanatory
  • Wouldn't trust him as far as I can throw him
  • Not trustworthy

Clothing and Dress

  • Drawers
  • Underpants, as in "If that kid of mine don't finish college soon, I'll be wearing tow sack drawers."
  • Dressed fit to kill
  • Well dressed
  • Dudey
  • Well dressed
  • Long handles
  • Long underwear. Also called long handle drawers.
  • Sunday best
  • Your nicest clothes
  • Sunday go to meetin' clothes
  • Best clothes, the kind you would wear to church (meetin')
  • Wrong side outards
  • Inside out, as in "My long handles re wrong side outards."

Condition

  • All she wrote
  • The end, as in "That's all she wrote."

  • Fair to middling
  • OK. Response to "How ya' doin'?"

  • Green as a gourd
  • Inexperienced
  • Slicker than owl s**t
  • Very slick
  • Soppin(g) Wet
  • Soaked, as in "Come on in out of the rain. You are soppin' wet.

  • Tolerable
  • OK. Response to "How ya' doin'?

Conversation

  • Allow
  • State an opinion, as in "Bill, what do you allow?"
  • Bless your heart!
  • Expression of gratitude
  • By the by
  • Incidentally, by the way
  • Cat got your tongue?
  • Why are you silent?
  • Ears are burning
  • Somene is talking about you.
  • Full of s**t
  • Wrong
  • Heard tell
  • Heard a rumor, as in "I heard tell that he went to the pen for making moonshine."
  • Hurrah
  • Tease. Pronounced "hoo-raw".
  • I declare! (or I'll declare!)
  • Exclamation of surprise or recognition as in, "Well, I declare! I never heard of such!".
  • I'll swan! (or I'll swanee!)
  • An exclamation of surprise or recognition, as in "I'll swanee! You don't say?"
  • Jabber
  • Speak incomprehensively, as in a foreign language, as in "Them foreigners was just a jabberin' away ".
  • Let on
  • State orgive an indication of, as in "The mule kicked Ed in the leg, but he never let on that he was in pain.
  • Looky here
  • Look here. Or pay attention, this is important.
  • Okey doke (Okey Dokey)
  • O. K.
  • Pop off
  • Boast or make a rude comment.
  • Pull your leg
  • Tease someone by stating an untruth
  • Scat!
  • Statement made when someone sneezes. Equivalent to "geshundheit!" Also warning to a cat to leave the area.
  • Shoot the breeze
  • Talk casually
  • Shuckins
  • Expletive,as in "Aw, shuckins!"
  • Smoke follows beauty
  • Humorous campfire saying
  • Sooner (Just as soon)
  • Rather, as in "i'd sooner haul hay than dig post holes."
  • Speck (expect) so
  • Probably, as in "Uh, huh, speck so." -- Uncle Bob Weisinger
  • Squealed like a stuck pig
  • Complained loudly or made a lot of noise
  • Talk up a storm
  • Talk a lot
  • Tell 'em how the cow ate the cabbage
  • This expression means to forcefully tell someone an unpleasant truth. It comes from a joke in which a circus elephant escapes and gets into an old woman's cabbage patch. The woman, whose eyesight is very bad, calls the sheriff and tell him there is a huge cow in her garden pulling up the cabbages with its tail. When the sheriff asks what the cow is doing with the cabbages, the old lady says, "You would not believe me if I told you!"
  • Throw it up to
  • Reproachfully remind someone of a mistake
  • What in the Sam Hill?
  • Expression of surprise
  • Y'all or You all
  • Third person plural of you, but sometimes singular, as in "How y'all doin'" or "You all come to see us." The defining Texas word.
  • Yessiree, Bob!
  • Enthusiastic agreement
  • You're s***ing me!
  • You are joking!

The Farm

  • Barnyard fertilizer
  • Dried, decomposed cattle or chicken droppings used to fertilize gardens. Chicken droppings were especially strong and had to be used sparingly.
  • Biddies
  • Baby chicks
  • Bottom
  • Fertile, lowlying land near a creek or river, as in "I'm breaking the bottom field today.
  • Break
  • Plow land for the first time of the season
  • Cackleberry
  • An egg
  • Corn crib
  • A building or barn used to hold corn.
  • Cow pattie
  • Cattle droppings, as in "Watch it! Don't step in that cow pattie!" Sometimes called "pasture lillies."
  • Cut
  • To castrate a calf
  • Dipping vat
  • A long hole filled with insecticide through which cattle are moved to treat them for pests
  • (Cattle) Frames
  • Fencelike cage installed on a pickup bed to haul livestock, as in "Go put the frames on the truck so we can haul them yearlings to the sale barn."
  • Gee
  • Command to a mule to go right. Opposite of "haw."
  • Georgia stock
  • A small, wooden beam plow used for lightly turninng the soil over a wide area.
  • Halvers
  • A split between a landowner and sharecropper to split a crop evenly.
  • Hammock
  • A low hill in a pasture or field.
  • Haw
  • Command to a mule to go left. Opposite of "gee."
  • Heifer
  • A young female cow
  • Hen scratch
  • Chicken feed comprising mixed grains.
  • Hog killing time
  • The time in the cool fall weather when hogs were slaughtered to make bacon, ham and sausage.
  • Horse apples
  • Horse droppings
  • Junk house
  • Storage building
  • Lay By
  • The last cultivation of a crop before harvesting.
  • Mammy cat
  • A female cat
  • Mark
  • Castrate a calf
  • Middlebuster
  • A large plow that turns soil to both sides. A double turning plow.
  • Muley
  • A cow with no horms. Also "muley cow."
  • Nubbin
  • Unmatured ear of corn
  • Pasture lilly
  • Cow droppings
  • Pick off peanuts
  • Remove dried peanuts from the vines.
  • Pistol
  • A spunky person, as in "That gal's a pistol."
  • P.O.
  • Veto an auction sale, as in the sign seen at all auction barns, "No POs after cattle leave ring." Acronym for "pull out".
  • Popping Johnny
  • A small 2 cylinder John Deere tractor with a distinctive popping engine sound. Called a "Johnny popper" in some areas.
  • Prize pole
  • A pry pole, as in "I think we can lift that wagon up with a prize pole."
  • Ring
  • The semi-circular pen inside an auction barn in which livestock are held for sale.
  • Sah
  • Command to a milk cow to calm down. The phrase "Sah! Back your leg!" tells a milk cow to settle down and move her leg to provide access to the udder.
  • Sale barn
  • An auction building with pens for holding cattle for sale.
  • Scovil hoe
  • A heavy duty hoe also called a "planter's hoe". Named for the maufacturer D. & H. Scovil Company.
  • Settin' hen
  • A hen who is sitting on a nest of eggs to hatch them.
  • Shorts
  • A flour-like wheat feed mixed with slop and fed to hogs.
  • Side dress
  • Fertilize a crop on the side after it has started to grow.
  • Slop
  • A mixture of table scraps and dishwater that was fed to hogs.
  • Sook, or Sook Cow
  • A call used to lure cows to the barn. as in "Sook, sook, sook" or "Sook, cow, sook, cow."
  • Springing
  • To show that a cow is carrying a calf . A cow that is showing strongly is said to be "spinging heavy." Probably refers to spring when calves are usually born.
  • Tank
  • A pond for watering cattle
  • Thirds and fourths
  • A split between a landwowner and a sharecropper.
  • Tow sack
  • Burlap bag. probably derives from "tote sack."
  • Turning plow
  • A plow that cuts a deep furrow and moves the soil to one side, in contrast to a turning plow which turns the soild to both sides.

Food and Drink

  • Butterbean
  • A large flat bean similar to a lima bean.
  • Calling for water
  • Thirsty from eating salty meat, as in "That bacon I had for breakfast is calling for water."
  • Chittlins or Chitterlings
  • Fried hog intestines
  • Corn dodger
  • Corn bread
  • Cracklin'
  • Fried bits of pork fat, often used to make cracklin' cornbread.
  • Cush
  • A dish made by frying or boiling cornmeal or crumbled cornbread with grease and often other ingredients such as pieces of meat or onion.
  • Dinner
  • The mid-day meal. The evening meal is "supper."
  • English peas
  • Green peas. Not cowpeas.
  • Eyes bigger than your stomach
  • Took more food than you can eat.
  • Fartin' Dust
  • Thirsty
  • Feed your face
  • Eat
  • Goobers
  • Peanuts
  • Hankering
  • A desire, ad in "I got a hankerin' for pork sausage."
  • Hits the spot
  • Good, referring to food or drink
  • Hog's Head Cheese
  • Food made from hog brains. Also called souse.
  • Larupin
  • Lip smacking good. Ex: "That pie was larupin."
  • Light bread
  • Store-bought sliced bread, as in "We farm kids had a biscuit and bacon for lunch, but the town kids had sandwiches made with light bread."
  • Make you slap your pappy down
  • Referring to food so good that it make you lose control or yourself, as in, "That pecan pie will make you slap your pappy down!"
  • Mayhaw jelly
  • A delicioius, tangy jelly made from the fruit of the mayhaw, a wild apple that grows only in river bottoms that frequently flood.
  • Mess
  • An amount of food necessary for a meal. Example: "I picked a mess of butterbeans for supper."
  • Peas
  • Cowpeas, such as purple hulls, blackeyes, crowder, cream, and whippoorwills. Not green peas as grown up north.
  • Poke salad
  • A wild green that is picked and eaten. Must be parboiled to remove toxins.
  • Polly pop
  • Kool Aid. Apparently from a bottled drink called Polly's Soda Pop probably from the fact that it was made in fruit flavors like Kool Aid.
  • Pot liquor
  • The liquid left after boiling greens or other vegetable.
  • Pulley bone
  • Wishbone from a chicken or turkey, or the cut of meat containing the wishbone when cut separately from the remainder of the breast meat.
  • Put up
  • Can or preserve, as in "I put up 50 quarts of butterbeans this year."
  • Rat Cheese
  • Low quality cheese often used for mouse or rat bait
  • Ribbon cane syrup
  • Syrup made from ribbon (sugar) cane
  • River coffee
  • Coffee made with mudddy river water.
  • Soda water
  • A carbonated drink, such as Coca Cola. What people call "pop" or "soda" in other parts of the country. Often pronounced "sody water."
  • Supper
  • The evening meal
  • Sweet Milk
  • Regular milk, so called to distinguish from the sour taste of buttermilk.
  • Swig
  • A drink, as in "Gimme a swig of that RC".
  • Three sheets to the wind
  • Drunk
  • Took [food] and had [food].
  • Somebody's coming hungry Said when someone takes a food item when they already had it on their plate. Example: "Took bread and had bread. Somebody's coming hungry."

Friends

  • Run (with)
  • Spend time together
  • Thick
  • Maintain a very close friendship, as in "The Smiths and Jones shore are thick."

Fussing, Fighting, and Feuding

  • Beat the tar out of
  • Give a severe whipping or beating. "Tar" refers to "tarnation," which is a contraction of "eternal damnation." So to beat the tar out of someone is to beat them sufficiently to put them back on the path to righteousness.
  • Bless
  • Curse, as in "he blessed him out."
  • Box ears
  • Slap, as in "Hush up, Jake, or I'll box your ears!"
  • Burned up
  • Angry, as in "it really burned me up when she said I was a gossip!"
  • Crow to pick, or bone to pick
  • Have a reason to complain or disagree, as in "I have a crow to pick with you."
  • Cut off his water
  • Stop misbehavior, as in "If his wife finds out, that'll cut off his water."
  • Dust your britches
  • Spank, as in "You keep that up, Boy, and I'm gonna dust your britches."
  • Fall out or Have a falling out
  • Had a dispute, as in "They had a falling out over the fence line."
  • Fight like cats and dogs
  • Loud intense fight or dispute
  • Fly off the handle
  • Get very mad, very quickly. Probably refers to an axe head separating from the handle.
  • Get someone's goat / nanny goat
  • Make someone angry. Said to come from the old Welsh practice of keeping goats with the cows to calm them and thus increase milk supply. To steal someone's goat was very upsetting. A similar story is told about thoroughbred race horses.
  • Get the razor strap
  • Threaten to spank a child. Refers to the leather strap used to sharpen a straight razor, which als served as a handy means for spanking a child.
  • Haul off
  • Draw back or get ready for (usually violent) action, as in "He just hauled off and hit him."
  • Hissy, or hissy fit, or sh***ing hissy
  • A major fit as in "Throw a hissy fit.".
  • Horsewhipped
  • Given a severe beating, as in "He ought to horsewhipped for that."
  • In Hot Water
  • In trouble.
  • Knock down, drag out
  • A ferocious fight.
  • Let bygones be bygones
  • Forgive and forget
  • Loaded for bear
  • Prepared for a major fight
  • Mad as an old wet hen
  • Very angry
  • Mean as a snake
  • Very mean
  • P**s Ellum club
  • A mythical elm switch or stick for administering punishment. Usually used as a threat as in, "If you don't stop that, I'm gonna take a p*** ellum club to you."
  • Put the quietus
  • Stop a behavior. Pronounced "qui-ee-tus".
  • Raise Old Billy Hell
  • "Raise hell" means to protest or reprimand someone angrily. To "raise Old Billy Hell" is to raise hell of the intensity of the devil (Old Billy).
  • Raise sand
  • Complain.
  • Raise the devil
  • Same as raise Old Billy hell.
  • Scorched
  • Angered, as in "What she said really scorched me."
  • Switch
  • A small, flexible tree branch used to spank someone, as in, "If you don't stop that, I gonna get me a switch and wear you out!"
  • Tan someone's hide
  • Spank or whip someone, as in, "If you don't stop that, I gonna get me a switch and tan your hide!"
  • Wear someone out
  • Spank or whip someone, as in, "If you don't stop that, I gonna get me a switch and wear you out!"
  • Wring someone's neck
  • Expression of anger, as in "I'm so mad at you that I could wring your neck. Refers to the common way of killing a chicken.

Good Times and Bad

  • Ain't got a pot to p*** in or a window to throw it out
  • Destitute
  • Ain't got two dimes to rub together
  • Broke, as in "Old Charlie doesn't have two dimes to rub together.
  • Between a rock and a hard place
  • A difficult financial situation, as in "Since Ed, died Sarah has been between rock and a hard place."
  • Big money
  • Good income
  • Bird's nest on the ground
  • An advantageous or easy situation
  • Busted
  • Financially destitute
  • Day late and and a dollar short
  • Failure
  • Down to the nubbins
  • Consumed all the good one and down to the scraps. Refers to partially matured corn ears.
  • Get by
  • Have resources to cover your needs
  • Got it made / Made it
  • Successful
  • Hard up
  • Lacking essential economic resources, as in "He lost job, and they are hard up."
  • High as a cat's back
  • Expensive. Refers to a cat's arching its back when frightened.
  • High on the hog
  • Living well. Refers to the best meat on a hog. Example: "Since Bill went to work at the foundry, he's been eating high on the hog.
  • Hubbing a row of stumps or hubbing it
  • Experiencing hard times. From early roads that still had stumps high enough to hit a wagon's hub.
  • Life of Riley
  • Easy life, as in "living the life of Riley."
  • Lost his shirt
  • Lost a lot of money.
  • Not worth a hill of beans
  • Worthless.
  • Poor as a snake
  • Poverty stricken
  • Rip your britches
  • Fail stupidly
  • Scrape by
  • Barely make ends meet
  • See further on down the road
  • Wait for more informaiton before taking a major step.
  • Sitting pretty, or Sitting on easy street
  • In very good condition
  • Sleeping on a feather bed
  • Well off. Refers to a time when most people slept on beds stuffed with straw.
  • Sucking hind teat
  • In a disadvantageous position. Refers the last, and least proctive, teat on a sow, which is usually all that is available to the runt of the litter.
  • Up against it
  • Destitute
  • Went under
  • Failed

Hello and Goodbye

  • Be there with bells on!
  • Excited response to an invitation to a social event. Comes from the practice of putting bells on their horses' harness for special occasions.
  • Hidey! Howdy!
  • How do you do?
  • If the Good Lord's willing and the creeks don't rise
  • Strong intentions to do something if possible. Often said in parting.
  • Look what the dogs drug up!
  • Friendly greeting among close friends. Refers to the disgusting things that dog find in the woods and bring home, such as animal caracasses.
  • Y'all come to see us (Y'all come)
  • Invitation to visit, usually upon parting.

Happiness and Fun

  • Grinning like a possum
  • A big smile
  • Grinning like a s*** eating dog
  • A strained grin, for obvious reasons.
  • [As] happy as if I had good sense
  • Very happy
  • Hog heaven
  • A state of extreme happiness. As happy as a hog wallowing in mud, etc.
  • Tickled/Tickled to death
  • Pleased, as in "I'd be tickled to have you visit us." "Ticked to death" means extremely pleased.
  • You make your own happiness
  • No one else can make you happy. You have to do it yourself -- Gertride Johnson Murrah

Heaven and Earth

  • Brother
  • Minister (usually Baptist), as in "Brother Smith is the new preacher."
  • Campbellite
  • An early name for the Church of Christ or Christian Church, which was founded by a man named Campbell.
  • God knows!
  • A mild expletive form of "God only knows."
  • Lordy!
  • Short version of "Lordy mercy!" Often used multiple times as a statment of resignation, as in "Lordy! Lordy! Lordy!"
  • Lordy mercy!
  • Lord have mercy! Invocation of God's assistance.
  • Meetin'
  • A church service, often a revival, as in "Camp meetin'"
  • Once in grace, always in grace
  • Statement about Calvinist predestination as interpreted by Baptists
  • 'Postolic
  • Apostolic (Pentecostal) church
  • Singing
  • A church service, usually at night, devoted to congregational singing.

House and Home

  • Cistern
  • An underground or overground tank for holding rain water collected from the roof of the house.
  • Coal oil
  • Kerosene
  • Coal oil lamp
  • Kerosene lamp
  • Divan
  • Couch
  • Draw
  • Lift water from a well or cistern using a bucket, as in "Mac, go an draw a bucket of water out of the well."
  • Frigidaire
  • Refrigerator. From the brand name of a popular early refrigerator.
  • Homemade soap
  • Lye soap
  • Ice box
  • Refrigerator. Derived from original coolers, which were cooled by blocks of ice
  • Line
  • Clothes line, as in "Mac, go get the clothes off the line before it rains."
  • Lye soap
  • Home made soap made from hog fat and ashes.
  • Mosquite bar
  • Mosquito net, commonly made from cheese cloth and used to cover a bed for sleeping mosquito-free
  • Rag
  • A cloth, such as a "wash rag" or a "dish rag."
  • Sack
  • Bag, as in "feed sack," "grocery sack," or "tow sack".
  • Sleeping porch
  • A screeed portch used for sleeping during the hot part of the year
  • Slop bucket
  • A large bucket in the kitchen scraps and dish water
  • Straight chair
  • A simple straight-backed wooden chair
  • Yard broom
  • A leaf rake

Intensity or Degree

  • As all Get-Out
  • Very, as in "Dumb as all get-out."
  • Come down with all four feet
  • Full ferocity, as in "The mill foreman came down on him with all four feet."
  • Just about
  • Nearly, "I just about fell over laughing."
  • Nyelly 'bout (Nearly about)
  • Almost, as in "I nyelly bout broke my neck when I fell off the barn.
  • Pretty
  • Somewhat, as in "pretty good," "pretty near," "pretty sure". Usually pronounce "puer-ty
  • Pure dee
  • Completely, as in "That youngun' is pure dee rotten."
  • Scared the cush out of me
  • Very scared. Probably refers ot the food dish cush.
  • Scared to death
  • Very scared, as in "That bull just about scared me to death."
  • Sooner
  • Rather, as in "I'd sooner have a Ford than a Shivalay."
  • Thick as hair on a dog's back
  • Very thick
  • Tight as Dick's hat band
  • Very tight.
  • To death
  • Completely, or very, as in "I'd be tickled to death to see you."

Location

  • Place
  • Someone's farm or property. Ex: "the Fairchild place".
  • Smack dab
  • Exactly, as in "smack dab in the middle of the road."
  • South side of a north bound mule
  • The mule's rear end
  • Stomping ground
  • Home territory, as in "Jack moved back to his old stomping grounds at Pine Valley."
  • Summers
  • Somewhere
  • Yonder
  • A place removed from here

Looks and Age

  • Big as the side of a barn
  • Very large, especially a person, sd in, "Have you seen Suzy lately? She's getting as big as the side of a barn."
  • Cute as a possum
  • Self explanatory
  • Fat as a bear (pig)
  • Very fat
  • Favor
  • Resemble, as in, "She favors her grandmother."
  • Get your ears lowered
  • Get a haircut
  • No bigger than a bar of soap
  • Small, as in "She's no bigger than a bar of soap.
  • Old as Methuselah
  • Very old
  • Painted up
  • Uses heavy make-up
  • Spring chicken
  • Young, as in "She ain't no spring chicken."
  • Ugly as homemade soap
  • Really unattarctive. Refers to lumpy, unattractive homemade lye soap. Ex: "Old Mac is ugly as homemade soap."
  • Whippersnapper
  • A young person

Love and Family

  • Batching
  • A man making do without a woman in the house, as in "Fred's been batching since his wife went to Houston to visit her sister."
  • Big mama
  • Grandmother
  • Dog kin
  • Distantly related
  • Drove her horses to the wrong stream
  • Did not marry well
  • Hug someone's neck
  • Hug, as in "Come over here and hug my neck, young'un."
  • Paw paw / Pappaw
  • Grandfather
  • Quit
  • Desert or divorce. E.G., "Sally quit her husband."
  • Run around
  • Cheat on your spouse, "Jimmy's running around on his wife."
  • Set her cap for
  • Attracted to, as in "She set er cap for Earl."
  • Settle down
  • Get married, as in "It's time for me to stop sowing wild oats and settle down."
  • Sow wild oats
  • Live a wild single lifestyle.
  • Spark
  • Court
  • Split the sheet, or split up
  • Divorce.
  • Spittin(g) image
  • Identical, as in "Gertie is the spittin' image of her grandmother."

  • Sugar
  • A kiss, as in "Come here, Sweetie, and give me some sugar."
  • Take after
  • Physically resemble, as in "Jack takes after his daddy."
  • Take up with
  • Cohabitate without the benefit of marriage. Also refers to a cow adopting an orphan calf.
  • Woods colt
  • A child born of wedlock

Mental State

  • Afflicted
  • Mentally retarded.
  • (Like a) blind dog in a meat house
  • Happily confused
  • Broke up
  • Confused or grieving, as in "Aunt Bettie is all broke up over Grandpa's death."
  • Bumfuzzled
  • Confused. Probably a corruption of "befuddled."
  • Come hell or high water
  • Statement of determination, as in "I'll be there come hell or high water."
  • Crazy as a bat
  • Crazy
  • Crazy as a bessie bug
  • Extremely crazy, as in "Old Sally is crazy as a bessie bug."
  • Damned and determined
  • Determined beyond all reason, as in , "He'd damned and determine to kill himself ridin' that bull."
  • Doesn't have the sense God gave a goose
  • Foolish
  • Doesn't know which way is up
  • Confused
  • Floored
  • Shocked, as in "I was just floored when I heard they got married."
  • Goofy
  • A bit crazy
  • Got a loose screw
  • A bit crazy
  • Light under the hat
  • Mentally deficient
  • Looney
  • Crazy
  • Lost his marbles
  • Went crazy
  • Not all there
  • Slightly mentally deficient
  • Not right
  • Slightly mentally deficient
  • Nervous as a cat
  • Extremely nervous
  • Off
  • Not mentally normal
  • Off his rocker
  • Very crazy
  • Take a notion
  • Decide
  • Thumb up his a**
  • Act stupid.
  • Touched in the head
  • Crazy

Modern world

  • Bar ditch
  • A place from which fill dirt was taken to build a road. Mispronunciation of borrow ditch.
  • Cut
  • Switch, as in "cut off the lights."
  • Grandma
  • Low-low (lower than normal low) gear in a truck
  • Grocery buggy
  • Grocery cart
  • Hoopy
  • An old car. Probably derived from Hupmobile, an early car brand.
  • Light Bill
  • Electric bill
  • Peckerwood sawmill
  • A small sawmill
  • Show (picture show)
  • Movie or movie theater, as in "Y'all wanna go to the show?"
  • Puddle jumper
  • Small car
  • Shivalay
  • Chevrolet, as in "I shore do love my Shivalay truck."
  • Sirene (SI-reen)
  • Siren
  • Store bought
  • Not homemade. Also "store boughten".
  • Turtle hull
  • Automobile trunk
  • Waterbury
  • Watch, as in "Check your Waterbury and tell me the time."

Money and Trade

  • Bit
  • 1/8 of a Dollar. "Two bits" = a quarter. "Four bits"=a half dollar. "Six bits" = seventy-five cents.
  • Boot
  • Something given in a sale or exchange to equalize the value of the exchange. Example: "He gave me a cow and $50 to boot for the mule."
  • Cash money
  • Cash, as in "I got $100 cash money for the mule."
  • Money burns a hole in his pocket
  • He's a spendthrift
  • Squeaks when he walks
  • Frugal. Squeaks because he is "tight."
  • Stand good for
  • Be responsible for someone else's debt, as in, "Don't worry about your money. I'll stand good for it."
  • Tight
  • Frugal
  • Trade
  • Purchase necessities, as in "We trade a Uncle Bob's store."
  • Turn loose of money
  • Spend
  • Wagon wheel dollars
  • Big money. Often used to mock someone who boasts of making big money on a job. Example: "Joe's working construction down in Houston makin' them wagon wheel dollars."

Myths, Superstitions, and Tales

  • Booger man
  • A mythical evil man who would "get" children if they were bad, as in "Johnny, if you don't behave, the booger man is gonna get you." Also "boogie man."
  • A cat will kill a baby by sucking its breath
  • Catch a bird by putting salt on its tail
  • This is whimsical advice given to small children who would like a bird to play with. The idea comes from a folk story which says that you can capture a bird by sneaking up behind it and sprinkling salt on it's tail. This story goes back at least to the 1840s when it was mentioned in a story by Sir Walter Scott. This is equivalent to a "snipe hunt" for small children.
  • Consuming fish and milk products together will make you ill
  • The Signs (of the Zodiac)
  • Farmers needed all the help they could get, and they often timed their activities by the "signs". These are the astrolgical signs of the zodiac, and it was customary to plant gardens and "work on" calves, for example, only when the "signs are right." On calendars targeted at farmers, the signs were expressed as parts of the body since the signs of the zodiac are said to influence specific parts of the body. Each of the twelve sign usually dominate one or more days of the month. So you might not "work on" calves unless the signs were "in the knees," for example.
  • Snipe hunt
  • A coming of age hunting ritual usually played on naive young men. The older men take the youngster to the woods and ask him to hold a tow sack open on a cow trail while they go drive the snipe into the sack. The The older men, of course, go home leaving the youngster "holding the bag" until he realizes he has been tricked and sheepishly sneaks home to face the laughing tricksters.

Nature

  • Ellum
  • Elm
  • Bee tree
  • A hollow tree in which bees have established a hive.
  • "Chip fell out of the red oak"
  • Call of the whippoorwill
  • Devil's horse / devil's walking stick
  • A praying mantis
  • Dirt dobber
  • A mud dauber wasp
  • Frogs are calling for rain
  • Statement made when frogs are croaking heavily
  • Hickornut
  • A hickory nut
  • Hoot owl
  • An owl
  • Mosquito hawk
  • A dragon fly
  • Peckerwood
  • A woodpecker. A rogue, but sometimes used as an endearment for a child as in, "You little peckerwood!"
  • Piney Woods rooter
  • Feral hog, wild descendants of domestic hogs, razorback
  • Polecat
  • Skunk
  • Rat
  • A rat or a mouse
  • Rat pills
  • Mouse droppings
  • Slough
  • A small, naturally occurring body of water, usually in a creek or river bottom. Pronounced "slew."
  • Switch cane
  • Small cane suitable for making a switch to spank a child.
  • Wiggle tails
  • Mosquito larvae

Number or Amount

  • More than Carter's got pills
  • A very large number
  • More than you could shake a stick at
  • Many
  • Scarce as hen's teeth
  • Extremely rare

Occurence

  • Taken
  • Took, as in "He taken the fever and died."

People

  • [Someone] and them ("anem")
  • A group of related people, such as a family. Example: "We saw Charley and them at Brookshire Brothers last Saturday.
  • Aunt
  • A respected older woman not related to you
  • Big shot
  • An important person. Example: "The big shots were in from Chicargo to visit the plant."
  • Blowhard
  • Braggart
  • Dirty dozen
  • Large family that live in squalor
  • Doomaflotchie
  • A person whose name you can't remember, as in "Why don't you call Doomaflotchie and ask him?" Also an unidentified thing.
  • Dried up
  • Small person with wrinkled skin, as in "He married a dried up little woman."
  • Droopy drawers
  • Pet name for a person with baggy pants, especially a child.
  • Git up an go has got up an went
  • Vigor is lost
  • Heifer
  • A belligerent or difficult woman
  • His'n
  • His own. Example: "The horse is his'n". Similar to her'n and your'n.
  • Hootsie Dootsie
  • A person whose name you can't remember
  • Horse's ass
  • A disagreeable person
  • Hussy
  • A bad woman, as in "I saw you talking to that hussy."
  • Ma'am
  • Respectful way to address a woman.
  • Rough (or tough) customer
  • A mean person, as in "Old Joe is one tough customer."
  • Shade tree mechanic
  • An amateur mechanic who often worked on his car under a shade tree.
  • Sukey
  • Old fashioned nickname for Susan or Susannah, but often as a generic name when addressng a girl, as in, "How's your mama doing, Sukey?".
  • Titty baby
  • An immature person. Used as a taunt by children.
  • Too old to cut the mustard
  • Physically diminished by age.
  • Trashy
  • Live a dissolute life
  • Tumblebug
  • Pet name for a child.
  • Uncle
  • A respected older man not related to you, as in "Uncle Bob Weisinger".
  • Whistle britches
  • Whimsical name for a young male
  • Widow woman
  • A Widow
  • Young 'un
  • Child. Literally "young one".

Recreation & Fun

  • Annie over
  • Game involving throwing a ball over the roof of a building
  • Coon hunting
  • Hunting raccoons at night using dogs and lights.
  • Hide 'n go seat
  • Hide and seek
  • Funny as a Barrel of Monkeys
  • Very humorous.
  • It
  • The chaser in tag
  • Mumbly peg, or mumblety peg
  • Game involving flipping a two-bladed knife and attempting to stick it in the ground
  • Tom walkers
  • Stilts
  • Tree
  • In hunting, when a dog locates a squirrel or raccoon in a tree. Dogs make a characteristic yelp when they have treed an animal.

Results Not So Good

  • Barking up the wrong tree
  • Mistaken, as in "I don't know anything about it. You are barking up the wrong tree."
  • Cleaned his plow (or wagon)
  • Took advantage in a business deal. "He really cleaned Joe's plow when he bought fine bull for $10."
  • Cooked his goose
  • Made him look bad
  • Deader than a door nail
  • Absolutely dead. Refers to old time nails that were unsalvagable when a house was torn down. From Shakespeare
  • Fix your wagon
  • Receive your comeuppance
  • Go to the dogs
  • Deteriorate

Size and Shape

  • Antigodlin
  • Postioned crosswise or severely out of alignment
  • Bass ackards
  • Backwards. Spoonerism for "ass backwards."
  • Cattywampus
  • Severly out of alignment
  • Flat as a flitter
  • Very flat. Flat as a fritter.
  • Hard as a rock
  • Extremely hard
  • Lick
  • A small amount
  • Not enough room to cuss a cat
  • Small
  • Peediddley
  • Small or insignificant
  • Scrunch up
  • Squeeze together, as in "Scrunch up, or we won't get everyone in the truck."
  • Smidgen
  • A small amount, as in "Would you please give me just a smidgen on that pie?"
  • Whomperjawed
  • Severly out of alignment

Sickness and health

  • All blowed up
  • Suffering severe intestinal gas attack.
  • Down
  • Bedridden with illness, as in "She's down with the flu."
  • Got the colly mobus
  • This refers to a serious, messy illness. It probably refers to cholera morbius, or "deadly cholera" which causes a messy lost of body fluids in every way possible.
  • Head is swimming
  • Dizzy
  • Hitch in your gitalong
  • A limp. Not doing well
  • Lay a corpse
  • Died, as in "when Uncle Bill lay a corpse."
  • Loose as a goose
  • Has diarrhea
  • Peaked
  • Pale or drawn, as in "Sally looked peaked today." Pronounced "peak-ed".
  • Pert
  • In good spirits or health. Pronounced "pyee-urt". Ex: I'm not feelling pert today.
  • Risin' (rising)
  • A boil
  • Sick as a dog (or horse)
  • Very sick
  • Sit up with
  • Stay all night with someone who is ill.
  • S**tting over a ten foot rail
  • Diarrhea
  • Stove up
  • Stiff or immobile
  • Trots
  • Diarrhea
  • Took
  • Caught or became infected by an illness, as in "He took the pneumonia and died."
  • Up to it
  • Capable, as in "I was going to put in another crop this year, but I'm not up to it."

Smart and Not

  • Absent-minded as a goose
  • Forgetful
  • Can't find his butt with both hands
  • Incompetent
  • Can't tell his a** from a hole the ground
  • Incompetent
  • Couldn't pour p*** out of a boot (with directions on the heel)
  • Incompetent
  • Dumber than a post
  • Not very intelligent.
  • Gumption
  • Common sense
  • Head full of sense
  • Smart
  • Head screwed on straight
  • Has good judgment, as in "That old boy don't have his head screwed on straight."
  • Horse sense
  • Common sense
  • Lick of sense
  • Intelligence, as in "That old boy ain't got a lick of sense."
  • Light under the hat
  • Not intelligent
  • Not all there
  • Mentally deficient
  • Put two and two together
  • Figure something out. Reason by inference.
  • Smart as a whip
  • Very intelligent.
  • Smart duck
  • An intelligent person, as in "that kid is one smart duck."
  • Wakes up in a new world every day
  • Absent-minded

Speed

  • Like a bat out of hell
  • Very fast, as in "He drives that truck like a bat out of hell."
  • Like a dose of salts thorough a widder woman
  • Fast. Epson salts was used as a laxative. The reference to a "widow woman" is unclear.
  • Ninety to nothing
  • Very fast, as in "He came around the bend going ninety to nothing.
  • Ran like a scalded dog
  • Fast.
  • Shake a leg!
  • Hurry, as in "We're late already. Shake a leg!"
  • Slow as Christmas
  • Very slow.

Strong Words

  • Blamed
  • "That blamed cat got on the table and grabbed a piece of chicken!"
  • Dadgum
  • A spoonerism for a well-known curse.
  • Mighty
  • Very, as in "It's a mighty fine day."
  • One
  • A with emphasis, as in "He's one tough customer."

Things

  • Doohickey
  • Something whose name you cannot remember. Comparable to "thingamajig"
  • Thingamajig (thingamabob)
  • An unidentified thing

Time and Distance

  • After [a] while
  • Later, as in "I'll do it after while."
  • A ways
  • A long distance, as it "It's a ways to Uncle Joe's house."
  • By and by
  • 1. Eventually, as in "We'll get there by and by." 2. Eternity, as in the gospel song "in the Sweet By and By"
  • Can to can't
  • From dawn to dusk, as in "Frank worked from can to can't all week."
  • Coon's age
  • A long time. Ex: "I haven't seen you in a coon's age." Based on the old time belief that raccoons lived a long time.
  • Creation
  • A large area, as in "The train wreck was scattered all over creation."
  • Dark thirty
  • Just after dark, as in "I'll be over about dark thirty."
  • Directly
  • Soon, as in "I'll be there directly." Pronounced "d-rectly".
  • Dusk (or dusky) dark
  • Dusk.
  • Forty forevers
  • A very long time.
  • Hop, skip and a jump
  • A short distance, as in "It's just a hop, skip and a jump from Burk to my place."
  • Month of Sundays
  • A long time
  • Piece
  • Distance. Ex: "Down the road a piece."
  • So far back in the woods that we don't get the Grand Ole Opry until Wednesday night
  • Way back in the woods. The Grand Ole Opry is broadcast on Saturday night -- Marcus Burrous
  • Spell
  • An indeterminate period of time, as in "cold spell" or "It's been quite a spell since we'v seen Jim."
  • 'Til the water gets hot
  • A short time, as in "They're in love, but it won't last until the water gets hot."
  • When all is said and done
  • At the end or conclusion of anything.

Travel

  • Traipse
  • Walk aimlessly or carelessly
  • Lit
  • Landed, as in "The plane lit in the field behind the school" or "The bird lit on the power line."
  • Lit out
  • Left in a hurry, as in "He lit out across the field on his way to Burke."

Truth and Fiction

  • Bet your bottom dollar
  • You can bet you last dollar that it is true
  • Building air castles
  • Telling tall tales
  • Cross your heart and hope to die
  • Swear
  • Go on!
  • Tell tall tales, as in "Grandpa would always go on about being a war hero." Also and expression of skepticism, as in "Oh, go on! Are you sure about that?"
  • Gospel truth
  • Absolutely true. As true as the Bible, as in "And that's the Gospel truth."
  • Hits the nail on the head
  • Correct
  • Honest to God truth
  • Absolutely true
  • I'd be lying if I told you that...
  • I'm telling you the truth.
  • Lying like a dog
  • Clearly lying
  • Pulling your leg
  • Putting you on
  • Put that in your pipe and smoke it
  • The truth
  • Right as rain
  • Absolutely correct
  • Story
  • A child's lie, as in "Are you telling me a story, Billy?"
  • Windy, or windy as a bird dog
  • To talk excessively, especially telling stories that are not true. The reference to bird dog is unclear.

Very Personal

  • Behind
  • Buttocks. as in "Stop that, or I'll tan your behind."switch
  • Bow-tee
  • Bottom. Alternate for "butty"
  • Female trouble
  • Medical problems with a woman's reproductive organs
  • Goober
  • Male organ. Also a peanut.
  • Piles
  • Hemarrhoids
  • Private
  • Sex organ
  • Tallywhacker
  • Male organ

Weather

  • The bottom dropped out
  • It rained very hard
  • Clabber up
  • To become overcast
  • Cold as a well digger's tail
  • Self explanatory
  • The devil is beating his wife with a frying pan
  • Explanatory expression used when it is raining while the sun is shining
  • Fair off
  • Sky clearing after a rain
  • Gully washer
  • Heavy rain
  • Hotter than the 4th of July
  • Very hot
  • Toad stringer
  • Heavy rain. Mispronunciation of "toad strangler."
  • When the wind comes whistling through the peach orchard
  • Cold

Wisdom

  • Beggars can't be choosers
  • One who is dependent on someone else loses the right to call ths shots
  • He made his bed. Now let him lie (or sleep) in it
  • This expression means to let someone suffer the consequences of their foolish actions.
  • I've always heard...
  • Opening for a pearl of wisdom, as in "I've always heard that the early bird catches the worm."
  • Let sleeping dogs lie
  • Don't stir up trouble unnecessarily
  • A watched pot never boils
  • Too much attention seems to slow the passage of time.

Working and Doing

  • Anohter day, another dollar
  • World-weary comment on routine toil to earn a living.
  • Back up your ears
  • Get prepared to do something difficult. Probably refers to the way a dog folds back it ears when getting ready to fight.
  • Big shot
  • A high ranking person in an organization, as in , "The big shots came down to see the new plant we built."
  • Blowin' and goin'
  • Making rapid progress or doing extremely well
  • Built by a jake leg carpenter
  • Poorly constructed. Refers to someone who consumes lead tained moonshine ("jake") and developed muscular problems ("jake leg") from lead poisoning. Some say jake leg was caused by denatured jamaican ginger.
  • Busy as a cat covering up s***.
  • Very busy
  • Cooking on the front burner
  • Easy
  • Cooking with gas
  • Doing well. Ex: "Now you are cooking with gas!". Cooking with gas is far easier than cooking the old fashioned way with wood.
  • Easy as falling off a log
  • Very easy.
  • Easy as pie
  • Very easy.
  • Fixing
  • Getting prepared to do something. Example: "I'm fixing to go to town."
  • Fool around
  • Putter around.
  • Give out
  • Tired, as in "I'm plumb give out!."
  • Go whole hog
  • Pursue something to the maximum
  • Go to town
  • Tackle a job very efficiently or successfully, as in "He really went to town on that pile of wood!"
  • Got the bull by the tail on a downhill drag
  • Has an extremely advantageous situation.
  • Grab the bull by the horns
  • Meet a problem head on
  • Hard row to hoe
  • Difficult.
  • Hit a lick
  • Work a small amount, as in "He came to the barn raising, but he never hit a lick."
  • Made
  • Became a member of a profession, as in , "Lee made a lawyer".
  • Make hay while the sun shines
  • Take advantage of an opportunity
  • Messin' and a gummin'
  • Activty without progress, or making things worse
  • Ran it in to the ground
  • Abused or overdid
  • Rat killing
  • Routine work. Ex: " I need to get back to my rat killing."
  • Root, hog, or die
  • Necessary for survival
  • Run for their (his) money
  • A strong contest, as in "Burke's got the better ball team, but Hoshall will give them a run for their money."
  • Running around like a chicken with its head cut off
  • Aimless or confused action. Refers to the actions of a chicken whose head has been severed with an axe to prepare for Sunday chicken and dressing or dumplings.
  • Tote
  • Carry
  • Tuckered out
  • Tired
  • Turn a hand
  • Work, as in "She did not turn a hand to help with the dishes after dinner."
  • Went and [did something]
  • Emphatic way of saying that someone did something, as in "He went and hit him."

Expressions

  • Could (mess) up a good train wreck
  • Incompetent
  • Couldn't hit the (broad) side of a barn
  • Inaccurate
  • Curl your toenails
  • Very frightening or disgusting, as in "It was enough to curl your toenails."
  • Dead dog and no hot water!
  • Teasing phrase said to a sleepy child or pet
  • Hen scratches
  • Poor handwriting
  • Hide or hair
  • Presence, as in "We searched the entire creek bottom, and we never saw hide or hair of that cow."
  • Hold your horses!
  • Calm down!
  • Hunky dory
  • Excellent
  • If it had been a snake, it woulda bit me!
  • Remark upon overlooking something obvious or close by.
  • Kick the traces
  • Threw off all constraints. Refers to the trace chains used to pull a plow with a mule. The mule would sometimes object to the trace chains rubbing his back legs and try to kick them away.
  • Let well enough alone
  • Be satisfied with a good though not perfect result.
  • Light a shuck
  • Motivate. Example: "If you want Billy to that hay in today, you better light a shuck under him."
  • Nothing to write home about
  • Unremarkable
  • Push comes to shove
  • When action must be taken, as in "When push comes to shove, we'll have to buy a new truck."
  • Put on our thinking cap
  • Concentrate. Think hard.
  • Speak of the devil and his imps appear
  • Someone you have been talking about unexpectedly appears. An imp is an attendant to the devil.
  • Strong as an ox
  • Very stong
  • Tired little merchant
  • A sleepy child
  • Turn your damper down!
  • Calm down! This refers to the damper on a wood stove or heater, which controls the stove burn rate and thus temperature.
  • Wet your plow
  • Punish, as in "You keep doing that, and I'll wet your plow." Probably refers to the fact that a wet plow cuts through the soil with difficulty.

Burke Words

Unusual words or regular words used or pronounced in an unusual way at Burke.
  • A tall
  • > At all, as in "I don't feel good a tall."
  • Brung
  • Past tense of "bring" (brought) as in "He brung his shotgun with him."
  • Directly
  • Soon, as in "I'll be there directly." Pronounced "d-rectly".
  • Dose-t
  • Dose, as in "A dose-t of whiskey and honey will cure that cough."
  • Dudn, or dudn't
  • Doesn't. Misuse use of "don't" as in "He don't" was not common at Burke.
  • Got
  • Has, as in "Bobby's got the measles."
  • Hit
  • Old fashioned way to say "it".
  • Holp
  • Old fashioned past tense of help, i.e., helped.
  • Iffn
  • If.
  • Nary
  • None, as in "Nary one of them eggs hatched."
  • "Naw"
  • No
  • "Once-st"
  • Once
  • "Ort"
  • Ought
  • Pore
  • Poor, meaning either in ill health or very thin.
  • Shed, or Shet
  • Rid, as in "We need to get shet of that dog." Often pronounced "shut" or "shet".
  • Taken
  • Took, as in "He taken the mule over to the Treadwell place."

Sources:

  1. M. Lee Murrah, Personal Recollections