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Southern Speak: A Translation Dictionary

August 22, 2011
by Jackie Garvin

Addled:  Confused, disoriented, as in the case of Northern sociologists who try to make sense out of the South, “What’s wrong with that Yankee? He acts right addled.”

 

Afar:  In a state of combustion. “Call the far department. That house is afar.”

 

Ahr:  What we breathe, also a unit of time made up of 60 minutes. “They should’ve been here about an ahr ago.”

 

Ar:  Possessive pronoun. “That’s AR dawg, not yours.”

 

Ary:  Not any. “He hadn’t got ary cent.”

 

Awfullest:  The worst. “That’s the awfullest lie you evr told me in your life.”

 

Bad-mouth:  To disparage or derogate. “All these candidates have bad-mouthed each other so much I’ve about decided not to vote for any of ‘em.”

 

Baws:  Your employer. “The baws may not always be right, but he’s always the baws.”

 

Best:  Another baffling Southernism that is usually couched in the negative. “You best not speak to Bob about his car. He just had to spend $300 on it.”

 

Braht:  Dazzing. “Venus is a braht planet.”

 

Bud:  Small feathered crature that flies. “A robin sure is a pretty bud.”

 

Cawse:  Cause, usually preceded in the South by the adjective “lawst” (lost). “The War Between the States was a lawst cawse.”

 

Cayut:  A furry animal much beloved by little girls but detested by adults when it engages in mating rituals in the middle of the night. “Be sure to put the cayut out-side before you go to bed.”

 

Chunk:  To throw. “Chunk it there, Leroy. Ole Leroy sure can chunk ‘at ball, can’t he? Best pitcher we ever had.”

 

Clone:  A type of scent women put on themselves. “what’s that clone you got on, honey?”

 

Contrary:  Obstinate, perverse. “Jim’s a fine boy, but she won’t have nothin’ to do with him. She’s just contrary, is all Ah can figure.”

 

Daints:  A more or less formal event in which members of the opposite sex hold each other and move rhythmically to the sound of music. “You wanna go to the daints with me Saturday night, Bobbie Sue?”

 

Danjuh:  Imminent peril. What John Paul Jones meant when he said, “Give me a fast ship, for I intend to put her in harm’s way.”

 

Deah:  A term of endearment, except in the sense Rhett Butler used it when he said to Scarlett O’Hara, “Frankly, my deah, Ah don’t give a damn.”

 

Didn’t go to:  Did not intend to. “Don’t whip Billy for knockin’ his little sister down. He didn’t go to do it.”

 

Dollin:  Another term of endearment. (darling) “Dollin, will you marry me?”

 

Dreckly:  Soon. “He’ll be along dreckly.”

 

Effuts:  Exertions. “Lee made great effuts to defeat Grant.”

 

Everthang:  All-encompassing. “everthang’s all messed up.”

 

Everhoo:  Another baffling Southernism – a reverse contraction of whoever.”Everhoo one of you kids wants to go to the movie better clean up their room.”

 

Fahn:  Excellent. “That sure is a fahn-lookin’ woman.”

 

Farn:  Anything that is not domestic. “Ah don’t drink no farn liquor, specially Rooshin vodka.”

 

Fetchin':  Attractive. “That’s a mighty fetchin’ woman. Think I’ll ask her to daints.”

 

Fixin’ to:  About to. “I’m fixin’ to go to the store.”

 

Foolin’ around:  Can mean not doing anything in particular or sex, usually of the extramarital variety. “Sue caught her husband foolin’ around, so she divorced him.”

 

Fummeer:  A place other than one’s present location. “Where do we go fummeer?”

 

Gawn:  Departed. “Bo’s not here. He’s gawn out with somebody else.”

 

Gone:  Going to. “You boys just git out there and play football. We gone make mistakes, but they are, too.”

 

Got a good notion:  A statement of intent. “Ah got a good notion to cut a switch and whale the dickens out of that boy.”

 

Grain of sense:  An appraisal of intelligence, invariably expressed in negative terms. “That boy ain’t got a grain of sense.”

 

Gummut:  A large institution operating out of Washington that consumes taxes at a fearful rate. “Bill’s got it made. He’s got a gummut job.”

 

Hahr:  That which grows on your head and requires cutting periodically. “You need a hahrcut.”

 

Hod:  Not soft, but meaning stubborn or willful when used to describe a Southern child’s head. “That boy’s so hod-headed it’s pitiful.”

 

Hot:  A muscle that pumps blood through the body, but also regarded as the center of emotion. “That gull (girl) has just broke his hot.”

 

Hush yo’ mouth:  An expression of pleased embarrassment, as when a Southern female is paid an extravagant compliment. “Honey, you’re ’bout the sweetest, best-lookin’ woman in Tennessee. Now hush yo’ mouth, Jim Bob.”

 

Ignert:  Ignorant. “Ah’ve figgered out what’s wrong with Congress. Most of ‘em are just plain ignert.”

 

Ill:  Angry, testy. “What’s wrong with Molly today? She’s ill as a hornet.”

 

Innerduce:  To make one person acquainted with another. “Lemme innerduce you to my cousin.  She’s a little on the heavy side, but she’s got a great personality.”

 

Iont:  I don’t. “Iont know if Ah can eat another bobbycue (barbecue) or not.”

 

Jack-leg:  Self taught, especially in reference to automobile mechanics and clergy-men. “He’s just a jack-leg preacher, but he sure knows how to put out the hellfire and brimstone.”

 

Jewant:  Do you want. “Jewant to go over to the Red Rooster and have a few beers?”

 

Ka-yun:  A sealed cylinder containing food. “If that woman didn’t have a kay-un opener, her family would starve to death.”

 

Kerosene cat in hell with gasoline drawers on:  A colorful Southern expression used as as evaluation of someone’s ability to accomplish something. “He ain’t got no more chance than a kerosene cat in hell with gasoline drawers on.”

 

Kin:  Related to. An Elizabethan expression, one of many which survived in the South. “Are you kin to him?” “Yeah, He’s my brother.”

 

Klect:  To receive money to which one is entitled. “Ah don’t think you’ll ever klect that bill.”

 

Laht:  A source of illumination. “This room’s too doc (dark). We need more laht in here.”

 

Lar:  One who tells untruths. “Not all fishermen are lars. It’s just that a lot of lars fish.”

 

Layin’ up:  Resting or meditating. Or as Southern women usually put it, loafing. “Cecil didn’t go to work today ’cause of a chronic case of laziness. He’s been layin’ up in the house all day, drivin’ me crazy.”

 

Let alone:  Much less. “He can’t even hold a job and support himself, let alone support a family.”

 

Let out:  Dismissed. “What time does school let out?”

 

Lick and a promise:  To do something in a hurried or perfunctory fashion. “We don’t have time to clean this house so it’s spotless. Just give it a lick and a promise.”

 

Mahty raht:  Correct. “You mahty raht about that, Awficer. Guess Ah WAS speedin’ a little bit.”

 

Make out:  Yes, it means that in the South too, but it also means finish your meal. “You chirren (Children) hadn’t had nearly enough to eat. Make out your supper.”

 

Mind to:  To have the intention of doing something. “Ah got a mind to quit my job and just loaf for a while.”

 

Nawth:  Any part of the country outside the South _Midwest, California or whatever.If it’s not South, it’s Nawth. “People from up Nawth sure do talk funny.”

 

Nekkid:  To be unclothed. “Did you see her in that movie? She was nekkid as a jaybird.”

 

Nemmine:  Never mind, but used in the sense of difference. “It don’t make no nemmine to me.”

 

Of a moanin:  Of a morning, meaning in the morning. “My daddy always liked his coffee of a moanin.”

 

Ownliest:  The only one. “That’s the ownliest one Ah’ve got left.”

 

Parts:  Buccaneers who sailed under the dreaded skull and crossbones. “See that third baseman?  He just signed a big contrack with the Pittsburg Parts.”

 

PEEcans:  Northerners call them peCONNS for some obscure reason. “Honey, go out in the yard and pick up a passel of PEEcans. Ah’m gonna make us a pie.”

 

Pert:  Perky, full of energy. “You look mighty pert today.”

 

Pick at:  To pester and annoy. “Jimmy, Ah told you not to pick at your little sister.”

 

Purtiest:  The most pretty. “ain’t she the purtiest thing you ever seen?”

 

Quar:  An organized choral group, usually connected with a church or school. “Did you hear the news? The preacher left his wife and run off with the quar director.”

 

Raffle:  A long-barrelled firearm. “Dan’l Boone was a good shot with a raffle.”

 

Rahtnaow:  At once. “Linda Sue, Ah want you to tell that boy it’s time to go home and come in the house rahtnaow.”

 

Ranch:  A tool used to lossen or tighten nuts and bolts. “Hand me that ranch, Homer.”

 

Raut:  A method of getting from one place to another which Southerners pronounce to rhyme with “kraut”. Yankees, for reasons that remain shrouded in mystery, pronounce “route” to rhyme with “root”. Or worse still, “foot.”

 

Restrunt:  A place to eat. “New Yorker’s got a lot of good restrunts.”

 

Retard:  No longer employed. “He’s retard now.”

 

Sass:  Another Elizabethan term derived from the word saucy, meaning to speak in an impertinent manner. “Don’t sass me, young lady. You’re not too old to get a whippin’.”

 

Shainteer:  Indicates the absence of a female. “Is the lady of the house in?” “Nope. Shainteer.”

 

Shudenoughta:  Should not. “You shudenoughta have another drink.”

 

Spell:  An indetermined length of time. “Let’s sit here and rest a spell.”

 

Stain:  The opposite of leaving. “Ah hate this party, and Ah’m not stain much longer.”

 

Supper:  The evening meal Southererners are having while Yankees are having dinner. “What’s for supper, honey?

 

Take on:  To behave in a highly emotional manner. “Don’t take on like that, Brenda Sue. He’s not the only man in Lee County.”

 

Tal:  What you dry off with after you take a share. “Would you bring me a tal, sweetheart?”

 

Tawt:  To instruct. “Don’t pull that cat’s tail. Ah tawt you better’n that.”

 

Thank:  Think. “Ah thank Ah’ll go to a movie tonight.”

 

That ole dawg won’t hunt no more:  That will not work. “You want to borrow $20 when you still owe me fifty? That ole dawg won’t hunt no more.”

 

Tore up:  Distraught, very upset. “His wife just left him, and he’s all tore up about it.”

 

Uhmewzin:  Funny, comical. “Few things are more uhmewzin than a Yankee tryin’ to affect a Southern accent, since they invariably address one person as ‘y’all when any Southern six-year-old knows ‘y’all is always plural because it means ‘all of you.'”

 

Unbeknownst:  Lacking knowledge of. “Unbeknownst to them, he had marked the cards.”

 

Usta:  Used to. “Ah usta live in Savanah.”

 

Vaymuch:  Not a whole lot, when expressed in the negative. “Ah don’t like this ham vaymuch.”

 

Wahn:  What Jesus turned the water into, unless you’re Babdist who is persuaded it was only grape juice. “Could Ah have another glass of that wahn?”

 

Wars:  Slender strands of coated copper that carry power over long distances. “They’re puttin’ telephone wars underground now.”

 

Wawk:  A method of non-polluting travel by foot. “Why don’t we take an old-fashioned wawk?”

 

Wear out:  An expression used to describe a highly-effective method of behavior modification in children. “When Ah get ahold of that boy, Ah’m gonna wear him out.”

 

Wender:  A glass-covered opening in a wawl. “Open that wender, It’s too hot in here.”

 

Yat:  A common greeting in the Irish Channel section of New Orleans. Instead of saying “hey” in lieu of “hello” the way most Southerners do, they say, “Where yat?”

 

Yew:  Not a tree, but a personal pronoun. “Yew wanna shoot some pool?”

 

Y’heah?:  A redundant expression tacked onto the end of sentences by Southerners. “Y’all come back soon, y’heah?”

 

Yontny:  Do you want any. “Yontny more cornbread?”

 

Yungins:  Also spelled younguns, meaning young ones. “Ah want all you yungins in bed in five minutes.”

 

Zit:  Is it. “Zit already midnight, sugar? Tahm sure flies when you’re having fun.”

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. JSi permalink
    March 6, 2012 12:04 am

    I love this translation dictionary! I wish I’d seen it years ago when I moved down south, it could have saved me a lot of trouble :)

  2. Stacey permalink
    August 14, 2012 1:05 pm

    Been feeling pretty down lately ~ came across this today ~ I’m so enjoying the southernness here :) Reminds me of when I was a child growing up in south Mississippi and Alabama ~ back in a better day :) Feels good to smile.

    • August 14, 2012 3:27 pm

      Stacey,

      I’m so glad you found us!! The reason I created Syrup and Biscuits was to do just what you expressed: remind folks of happy times, happy memories and highlight the Southern lifestyle. I hope you visit us often and will be able to shake the blues. I’d love to hear from you from time to time to know how you’re doing. :)

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