Top 25 Southernisms
As we continue to celebrate our 25th anniversary by naming our “Top 25,” we decided to vote on our favorite 25 Southern expressions … needless to say there is a seemingly infinite selection of phrases! Of the many aspects that make our Southern culture unique, the expressions that we use seem to be a favorite of locals and visitors alike. We hope you enjoy this experience of our colorful culture as much as we did!
1. Bless your heart.
Can be meant sincerely, but is most often said to couch an insult … “If she were an inch taller she’d be round. Bless her heart.”
2. Fixin’ to.
3. He’s about as useful as a steering wheel on a mule.
If you have ever tried to drive a mule you know how pointless a steering wheel would be …
4. Bird-doggin’ something.
To stick with something and stay after it.
5. Better to be lucky than to have good sense.
So true, so true.
6. Easier to scramble eggs than to unscramble them.
Some decisions can’t be reversed … and if this warning is ignored, it can often be the prelude to “You’ve made your bed, now lie in it.”
7. He ran off like a scalded haint.
To move lickety-split. (A “haint” is old Southern terminology for a ghost.)
8. Off like a heard of turtles.
Trying to get the family out the door for church or vacation.
9. As quick as a duck on a June bug.
To jump on something right away.
10. Madder than a wet hen.
Even madder than a wet cat …
11. Hasn’t got the brains God gave a billy goat.
No brains at all.
12. Scarce as hen’s teeth.
Have you ever seen a hen’s teeth? Didn’t think so. …
13. It’s like herding cats.
Just try herding cats sometime, and you’ll catch the meaning.
14. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise!
Hearkening back to the horse and buggy days in the country, people would use this phrase to qualify whether or not they would in fact see each other at the next appointed time, such as at church on Sunday.
15. Run with the big dogs or stay on the porch!
Man-up or shut up.
16. Drunker than Cooter Brown.
Cooter Brown supposedly remained so staggeringly drunk throughout the entire Civil War that he avoided conscription.
17. Happy as a dead pig in the sunshine.
As a dead pig lies out in the sun, its lips begin to pull back from its teeth, creating the illusion of a wide grin.
18. A hissy fit.
Similar to a conniption.
19. Knee-high to a grasshopper.
Most often used to denote growth, as in: “I haven’t seen you since you were knee-high to a grasshopper!”
20. Enough money to burn a wet mule.
This expression was made famous when the infamous Louisiana governor Huey Long used it in reference to deep-pocketed nemesis Standard Oil, though it’s origin is anyone’s guess.
21. He’s as happy as if he had good sense.
22. I am going to jerk a knot in your tail.
You had better watch out!
23. He smelled bad enough to gag a maggot.
24. Slower than molasses running uphill in January.
Even slower than a “herd of turtles.”
A euphemistic explicative like dagnabbit.