Southern Expressions 101

August 12, 2014
I've always been fascinated by different dialects, and ever since moving down South, I've been listening carefully to the way people talk.  Since these Southern expressions are so interesting to me, I begged Everett to teach me some more that are common in this part of Georgia.  Here's what I learned from my "lesson" on Southern phrases from the Low Country.


* Hey sug!  In this case sug is short for sugar.  Ev says girls usually say this as a term of endearment to each other, but that sometimes men will say it to women, though it's less common that way.
* My word!  I knew this expression before I moved down here, but mostly because of Southern belles in the movies.  This is one of Ev's favorite expressions to say when he's shocked, dismayed, horrified, etc, and it's one that I've picked up myself!
* Slower than a Sunday afternoon- Very slow.
* Lord have mercy upon my soul!  I was told that you say this when you don't know what to do or when you're aggravated.
* fixin' to = setting out to do something.
* He hasn't got the sense God gave a billy goat.  This is the perfect thing to say when talking about an idiot.
* Bless her heart.  This can be used as an insult to describe someone clueless, or it can be used when something bad happens and you might not know what to say.
* It looks like the bottom's going to fall out of the sky.  This is how a lot of Georgians describe the sky when it looks like it's going to storm badly.
* Buggy A grocery cart
* If the creek don't rise... This means that you'll be there, God willing.  Example:  See you next Christmas if the creek don't rise.
* Good ole boy- Ev said this is used to describe the typical Southern guy.  I told Ev when I heard the expression, I thought of a bunch of old, white, Southern men who are cronies.  Ev told me that both are right, but it depends how it is used and that it could be either negative or positive.
* Hello darlin'
* Madder than a wet settin hen Ev said his great grandmother used to say this one and he thinks it is more common among older generations, but that it means what it seems like it means--to be pretty pissed off.
* 'Preciate ya- I heard this one the other day when we went out for barbecue.  Ev held the door for a man and he said this in response.  I guess it is common to drop the "a" in appreciate.
* as mean as a rattlesnake- aka really mean.  I guess I'm not surprised about this expression since there are a lot of snakes down here compared to the North!
* taller than a Georgia pine- very tall.  I hope people don't use this expression to describe me, lol.
* Your tongue is tied in the middle and loose at both ends.  This is used to describe someone who runs their mouth a lot.

Of course, there are probably a million more that I'm not listing and these may vary depending on the different regions in the South, so if you have an expression that I haven't listed and want to share it, please do so in the comments below!  I get a kick out of learning them!
38 comments on "Southern Expressions 101"
  1. I like this very much! My boyfriend is from the Alabama/Mississippi area, and I'll have to ask him whether any of these are common in that area, or if he grew up with different ones. I also might have to steal "my word" and "if the creek don't rise" because they're just so fun!!!

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    1. Yeah, I'd be curious to know which ones he says, and maybe he has a few extra to share that weren't on the list!

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  2. I love some of these, especially 'if the creek don't rise', might have to start using that, which would probably sound weird in England. I would love to visit some of the southern states, they've always fascinated me.

    Rosie x | www.eatreadglam.com

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    1. Hahaha...yeah, you'd probably have to "translate" so people knew what you meant, but it's a fun saying all the same.

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    1. Ooooh, I bet you have some more expressions to tell me, don't you? :)

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  4. I'm from the South and I haven't heard some of theses! But I'm from Tennessee. I say "Reckon" a lot, and "y'all" Is definitely in my daily vocabulary. I like that you're so intrigued and want to learn a new culture!

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    1. I forgot about reckon!! Some say y'all up North, so it wasn't completely new to me, but yeah...it is used way more frequently down here for sure!

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  5. These were fun. I have always wanted to date someone from the south just so they would call me darlin.

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    1. I know, right? It would be nice to find a nice, Southern gentleman!

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  6. oh i love learning new sayings and whatnot. Madder than a wet settin hen - totally using this ;)

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    1. I'm sure you've picked up a few in Kentucky, and I learned a new Australian saying from your blog name!! I bet you have lots of fun, Aussie sayings to share with us. :)

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  7. I live in almost downtown Indianapolis now, but I was very much raised in a little po-dunk town in TN....I'm still VERY twangy, and say all of this! Oopsy?! ;)

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    1. I would probably love the way you speak, then!!

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  8. Ahhh I hate sug! Lol! My boyfriend has family in NC and they always say sug. Bugs the crap outta me! Hahaha

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    1. I don't mind it so much...My friend says it a lot because he thinks it's funny.

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  9. Love this! My boyfriend is from Mississippi and I'm always learning new expressions from him. :)

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    1. I bet!! I asked my Southern friend if there were any Northern expressions that he learned from when he lived in Ohio. He said not really and besides that a lot of Ohioans will drop the "to be" when using "need." Example: That needs fixed (as opposed to, "That needs to be fixed.")

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  10. I love living in the south! Southern phrases are so fun. I live in Louisiana, but I actually haven't heard of a few of these! My boyfriend was born and bred in south LA, and he calls me "darlin." I love it. I'm always saying "bless," rather than completing the whole "bless her heart" phrase.

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    1. I can see myself getting swept away with all the Southern charm! :) My friend did say that some of these expressions are more common with the older generation, but it could also be because we're in different regions of the south.

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  11. I love seeing different dialects. I hear 'fixin to' in so many movies and on vlogs on youtube and I always am fascinated by the term haha

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    1. I know, maybe I ought to start saying it...especially because I'm a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge procrastinator, so I would probably get a lot of use out it!

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  12. How cute :) Are you saying yes ma'am there? and ya'll?

    http://neatly-packaged.com/

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    1. Yes Ma'am is SO common, now that you pointed it out!! I kind of like how people say that to me in stores...It makes me feel respected! Hahaha

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  13. Haha my best friend that lives in Little Rock is always saying bless her heart and lord have mercy after only living there for a few months!

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    1. My other roommate (from Ohio) has picked up, "Lord have mercy!" Now I live with two guys saying it pretttty frequently, so I know I'll probably be next!

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  14. As a native Southerner, I loved this post. And the best part is: it's entirely accurate! ;)

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    1. I made my Southern friend read it over before I pressed publish, hahaha.

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  15. I'm from the South and use most of these daily!!!!

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    1. Do you use the "tall as a Georgia pine" one, too? Or is that just common to say in Georgia? I'm curious!

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  16. Hahahah... I say "my word" all the time and I live in MI so I don't know where I got it from! We like to say "have a blessed day" instead of "fuck off", too. :)

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    1. Too bad I didn't know the other meaning of "have a blessed day" when I worked in customer service. I would have been telling A LOT of people to have a blessed day!

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  17. This was so much fun to read! My dad is from the South, and every once in a while he'll say one of these. Love it!

    xo,
    Zoe
    La Vie en Zoe

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    1. It was fun to write!! I can't wait to learn some more.

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  18. And how!!! That's one of my silly Texas ones LOL My granny used to say "bless her heart" as an insult but my granny always followed that with at least one nice thing about that person. Such as "bless her heart, but she's got pretty hair" LOL thanks for the laugh!

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    1. I'm going to have to look that one up so I know the context it's used in. Thanks for sharing!!

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  19. I love this. I'm always interested in phrases that are embedded in areas.

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