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13 Southern Sayings that the Rest of America Won’t Understand

Language discrepancies naturally arise in different geographic regions, like the raging “pop” vs. “soda” debate.
But the South undoubtedly takes the cake.

Conversations south of the Mason-Dixon line will befuddle anyone not born there.

1. “We’re living in high cotton.”

Cotton has long been a key crop to the South’s economy, so every harvest farmers pray for tall bushes loaded with white fluffy balls in their fields. Tall cotton bushes are easier to pick and yield higher returns. If you’re living “in high cotton,” it means you’re feeling particularly successful or wealthy.

2. “She was madder than a wet hen.”

Hens sometimes enter a phase of “broodiness” — they’ll stop at nothing to incubate their eggs and get agitated when farmers try to collect them. Farmers used to dunk hens in cold water to “break” their broodiness.

You don’t want to be around a hormonal hen after she’s had an ice bath.

3. “He could eat corn through a picket fence.”

This describes someone with an unfortunate set of buck teeth. They tend to stick up and outward, like a horse’s teeth. Imagine a horse eating a carrot, and you’ll get the picture.

4. “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

A pig’s ear may look soft, pink, and shiny, but you’re not fooling anyone by calling it your new Marc Jacobs bag. A Southerner might say this about her redneck cousin who likes to decorate his house with deer antlers.

5. “You look rode hard and put up wet.”

No, this isn’t Southern sexual innuendo. The phrase refers to a key step in horse grooming — when a horse runs fast, it works up a sweat, especially under the saddle. A good rider knows to walk the horse around so it can dry off before going back to the stable. A horse will look sick and tired if you forget this step, much like a person who misses sleep or drinks too much.

6. “He’s as drunk as Cooter Brown.”

Cooter Brown is an infamous character in Southern lore. Legend tells that he lived on the Mason-Dixon line — the border between the North and South — during the Civil War. To avoid the draft on either side, Cooter decided to stay drunk throughout the entire war, making him ineligible for battle.

Inebriated Southerners have measured their drunkenness by him ever since.

7. “She’s as happy as a dead pig in the sunshine.”

When a pig dies, presumably in a sty outside, the sun dries out its skin. This effect pulls the pig’s lips back to reveal a toothy “grin,” making it look happy even though it’s dead. This phrase describes a person who’s blissfully ignorant of reality.

8. “She’s got more nerve than Carter’s got Liver Pills.”

Carters Products started as a pill-peddling company in the latter part of the 19th century. Specifically, Carters repped its “Little Liver Pills” so hard a Southern saying spawned from the omnipresent advertisements.

Alas, the Federal Trade Commission forced the drug-group to drop the “liver” portion of the ad, claiming it was deceptive. Carter’s “Little Liver Pills” became Carter’s “Little Pills” in 1951, but the South doesn’t really pay attention to history. The phrase stuck.

9. “I’m finer than frog hair split four ways.”

Southerners mostly use this phrase to answer, “How are you?” Even those below the Mason-Dixon know frogs don’t have hair, and the irony means to highlight just how dandy you feel.

The phrase reportedly originated in C. Davis’ “Diary of 1865.”

10. “He thinks the sun comes up just to hear him crow.”

On farms (not just in the South) roosters usually crow when the sun rises. Their vociferous habit wakes up the house, signaling time to work.

An extremely cocky rooster might think the sun rises simply because he crows. Similarly, an extremely cocky man might think the same when he speaks — and also that everyone should listen to him.

11. “That’s about as useful as tits on a bull.”

Only female dairy cows produce milk. Male cows are called bulls. And even if you could “milk anything with nipples,” bulls tend to be rather ornery. Good luck with that.

12. “That thing is all catawampus.”

Catawampus adj: askew, awry, cater-cornered.

Lexicographers don’t really know how it evolved, though. They speculate it’s a colloquial perversion of “cater-corner.” Variations include: catawampous, cattywampus, catty wonkus. The South isn’t really big on details.

13. “He’s got enough money to burn a wet mule.”

In 1929, then-Governor of Louisiana Huey Long, nicknamed “The Kingfish,” tried to enact a five-cent tax on each barrel of refined oil to fund welfare programs. Naturally, Standard Oil threw a hissy fit and tried to impeach him on some fairly erroneous charges (including attending a drunken party with a stripper).

But Long, a good ole’ boy, fought back. He reportedly said the company had offered legislators as much as $25,000 for their votes to kick him out of office — what he called “enough money to burn a wet mule.”

We Northerners may not know what that means, but at least we know where it comes from.

Bonus: Bless Your Heart

Almost everyone knows Southern women drop this phrase constantly. But it might not mean what you think it means.

In reality, the phrase has little to do with religion and more to do with a passive-aggressive way to call you an idiot. Depending on your inflection, saying “bless your heart” can sting worse than any insult.


Here's S'more Advice For All The Southbound Folks!

If you are planning on visiting or moving to the South, (whatever state) there are a few handy things you should know that will help you adapt to the difference in lifestyles. For instance:

If you run your car into a ditch, don't panic. Four men in a four-wheel- drive pickup truck and a tow chain will be along shortly. Don't try to help them, just stay out of their way. This is what they live for.

Don't be surprised to find movie rentals and bait in the same store. Do not buy food at this store.

Remember, "y'all" is singular, "all y'all" is plural, and "all y'all's" is plural possessive.

Get used to hearing "You ain't from around here, are ya?

Don't be worried at not understanding what people are saying. We can't understand you either.

The first Southern expression to creep into a transplanted Northerner's vocabulary is the adjective "big ol'," as in "big ol' truck" or "big ol' boy." Most Northerners begin their Southern-influenced dialect this way. All of them are in denial about it.

The proper pronunciation you learned in school is no longer proper.

Be advised that "He needed killin'" is a valid defense here.

If you hear someone exclaim, "Hey, ya'll, watch this!" stay out of the way. These are likely to be the last words he'll ever say.

If there is the prediction of the slightest chance of even the smallest accumulation of snow, GET TO THE NEAREST GROCERY STORE IMMEDIATELY! It doesn't matter whether you need anything or not. You just have to go there.

When you come up on a person driving 15 mph down the middle of the road, remember that most folks learn to drive on a John Deere, and that this is the proper speed and position for that vehicle. It's called 'moseyin'

Do not be surprised to find that 10 year olds own their own shotguns and are proficient marksmen. Or that their mammas taught them how to aim.

Never, ever, attack our religion or our 2nd Amendment rights. Somebody'll put a hurtin' on you real quick.

If you ever end up in a situation where you don't know what to say, just say "Howsyemomenem?"

If somebody ask you if you have any washin' powders they mean, laundry detergent.

If you see folks running, Just RUN! Something really bad has happened or is fixin' to!

In the South, we have found that the best way to grow a lush, green lawn is to pour gravel on it and call it a driveway.

Don't order a steak at a Waffle House. They serve breakfast 24 hours a day, so let them cook something they know.

Don't laugh at people's names, and don't say the words "corn fed". Norma Jean, Tammy Sue, Betty Lou, Mari Beth, and Inez have all been known to WHOOP A MAN'S BUTT for much less than that.

Don't order a bottle of pop or a can of soda; this can lead to a butt kickin'! Down South, it's called Coke, or Coke-Coler.

Don't show allegiances to any college football squad that isn't an SEC team.

Don't refer to Southerners as a bunch of hillbillies. Most of us are extremely literate. (e.g., Welty, Williams, William Faulkner. We've also got plenty of business sense (e.g.,Turner Broadcasting, MCI/WorldCom, MTV, Netscape & etc..). Naturally, we can have lapses of judgment from time to time such as (e.g., Clinton, Fordice, Duke).
Also when it comes to music, If we can't sang (sing).. can't NOBODY sang!

We don't care if you think we're dumb; we know better!

We are fully aware that the humidity is high. Quit your griping, and spend your money!

Don't order wheat toast at the Cracker Barrel. If you do this, everyone will know you're from Michigan. Eat the biscuits like God intended, and for God's sake, don't let anybody see you put sugar in your grits.

Don't attempt to fake a Southern accent. Nothing will get the crap beat out of you faster.

Don't go around talking about how much better it is back home. If you don't like it here, take your butt on back home.

We know how to speak proper English; we talk this way because we want to and we can. It's like playing jazz; you have to know how to do it right first.

Last, but by no means, least, DO NOT try to tell us how to BB-Q. You're mighty privileged to even be down here in the first place.

Have a nice day and y'all come on back now, ya hear?


I think most  in KY, and most love if not enjoy the humor, even in other states enjoy these. maybe not all agree.I think they do. the South has a certain Charm..


There is no other place like the South for dialect and humor, it is like time warping. A mix of creole, cajun and redneck phrases take on a special meaning.

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