Old Southern Slang

Keep in mind this is merely an observation, many of the terms used within are considered racist. Well, I’m sorry if you’re offended, but this is the way things were from the period these came from.

I recently moved onto my grandparents former house, and after finding their diaries I’ve gathered a collection of old southern slang. Most of it, I’ve heard from many of the older gentlemen in my community. A lot of these I heard my grandfather say, he meant no harm, that’s just how he grew up, so I’ve decided to node them here, so you other people can see some of the weird shit that southerners say. These are in no particular order.

  • Sweatin’ like a whore in church – This exclamation refers to being uncomfortable and sweaty.
  • Useless as tits on a boar – Not sure the exact meaning, but it is a derogatory thing to say to someone
  • Jesus H. Christ on a Popsicle stick – This extremely uncommon phrase is used as a comment of extreme exclamation, and is very rarely accepted by the person it is directed toward.
  • Fine as a frogs hair split 4 ways – Usually a response to the question: How are you?
  • Nigger Shooter – This is in reference to a SlingShot, I have no idea how it started.
  • Tough as nails and twice as sharp – A complimentary term of respect for someone.
  • Preaching to the choir – Repeating yourself to someone who’s heard it all before.
  • There’s a nigger in the woodpile somewhere. – This is usually used to describe a the fact that there is a known problem, but no one knows what the problem is. or refering to the possible existence fo alternate races in a persons family tree. Thank you Dannye!
  • Quick as snoose through a goose. – Apparently chewing tobacco gives a duck the runs… but… who would know shit like that?
  • Dingle – apparently this refers to a penis?
  • Dumb as a load of bricks – This one explains itself I think, if you don’t understand it then this may be your problem.

Now keep in mind I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings, this is just some interesting shit I’ve picked up during my lifetime, all of which has been spent in East Texas.
If you know more please add it...


Have you ever wondered about what it means when Moma’s are askin the poutin' children, Who licked the red off your candy? or telling 'em I love you as much as the cat loves the cream jar? Well, I went huntin' for country sayings and I found more of 'em than ticks on a coon hound! Not jes plain ole uns like fit to be tied or crooked as a dog's hind leg. I found SO MANY I was as excited as a hen on a hot griddle! Shoot, sweet thang, I'm hip to haunch and cheek jowl with these sayin's. I'm talkin' bout sayin’s like, food that tastes so good that if you put it on top of your head your tongue'd slap your brains out tryin' to get it. Now don't that fry your tater?

Here's an assortment of collected sayings from mom’s ‘n dads and aunts ‘n uncles, some from the internet and others are collected from articles. They're descriptive and so much more interesting then the language used every day!


  • Ate that chicken til it was slick as a ribbon.
  • A wink is as good as a nod, to a blind horse.
  • Barefooted as a yard dog.
  • Better than a sharp stick in the eye.
  • Birds of a feather flock together.
  • Bleedin' like a stuck pig.
  • Busy as a one armed paper hanger.
  • Butter my butt and call me a biscuit! (term of amazement)
  • Cold as a frog's behind.
  • Cold as a banker's heart.
  • Colder than a mother-in-laws love.
  • Colder than a well digger's destination.
  • Clean as a hound's tooth.
  • Could go bear huntin' with a switch.
  • Craw fishin' (going back on something like your word). dannye
  • Crooked as a barrel full of fish hooks.
  • Cute as a toe sack full of puppies.
  • Dark as the inside of a cow.
  • Deader'n a doornail.
  • Didn't have sense enough to pound sand into a rat hole.
  • Don't flog (or beat) a dead horse.
  • Don't get your cows runnin.
  • Don't monkey with that.
  • Eatin' the gospel bird (that's chicken, since the preacher always seemed to show up when there was fried chicken for dinner.
  • 'et up with.
  • Empty as a winter rain barrel.
  • Everything's chicken but the bill.
  • Fast as all get out.
  • Fine as a frog's hair split up the middle and tied at both ends.
  • Flat as a flitter.
  • From now until Gabriel blows his horn
  • Gee willikers.
  • Getting too big for his britches.
  • Going at it like killing snakes. (Doing something with more vigor and enthusiasm than the task requires.)
  • Gooder'n snuff.
  • Green as a gourd.
  • Happier than a dead pig in the sunshine.
  • Happier than a pig in slop.
  • He ain't got the sense he was born with.
  • He hasn't hit a lick with a snake. (He hasn't worked in a while.)
  • He moves like the lice is fallin' off him.
  • He put the "e" in ignorant ig-nernt. Submitted by novasy.
  • He talks like he's got a mouthful of mush.
  • He thinks he's the best thing since sliced bread.
  • He's cooler than the other side of the pillow. dannye
  • He's all hat and no cattle.
  • He's got a tough row to hoe.
  • He was moving so slow, dead flies wouldn't fall off 'im.
  • Hells' bells.
  • Highfalutin'.
  • High muckety-mucks.
  • Hotter than a June bride.
  • Hotter than a $2 pistol.
  • I ain't got no dog in that fight.
  • I didn't just fall off the turnip truck.
  • I didn't take her to raise. (I'm not responsible for her)
  • I don't know her from Adam's house cat.
  • I feel like a banjo. Everybody's picking on me.
  • I feel like the underside of a turnip green. (I feel sick or low and green.)
  • I feel lower than a snake in snowshoes.
  • I suwanne. (I swear.)
  • I spoke to her and she didn't say pea turkey squat.
  • I was as surprised as if a sheep had bit me.
  • I went to the barber and got my ears lowered.
  • I wouldn't give you air if you were in a jug.
  • I wouldn't p*** on him if he was on fire.
  • I'd have to feel better to die.
  • I'll do that directly.
  • I'll get all over you like white on rice.
  • I'll knock you into next week.
  • I'm feelin' lower than a a snake's belly in a mud rut.
  • I'm gonna jerk you through a knot.
  • I'm gonna slap you so hard when you quit rollin' your clothes'll be outta style.
  • I'm so busy, I don't have time to cuss the cat.
  • If she had one more wrinkle , she could screw her hat on.
  • If you don't do that, I'll be all over you like stink on a skunk.
  • If it'd been a snake it would have bit you.
  • If you lie down with dogs, you'll get up with fleas.
  • Is it any 'count? (is it any good?) Submitted by novasy.
  • It was so good it would have brought tears to a glass eye.
  • It's been so long since the last rain I had to blow dust out of the rain gauge.
  • It's comin' up a bad cloud.
  • It’s more than I can say grace over.
  • It's not too pretty for nice, but it's great for good.
  • It's pourin' down bullfrogs.
  • Jumpy as a long tailed cat in a room full of rockin' chairs.
  • Live and learn, die and know it all.
  • Like tryin' to poke a cat out from under the porch with a rope.
  • Livin' high on the hog.
  • Loosing my religion. (At whit's end.)
  • Mad as a mule chewing on bumblebees.
  • Madder than a wet hen. (Don’t be monkeyin’ with wet hens)
  • Make hay while the sun shines.
  • My mouth is dry enough to spin cotton.
  • My stars and garters.
  • Older than dirt.
  • One of 'em will lie and the other one'll swear to it.
  • Petered out.
  • Pipe down.
  • Plumb tickled to death.
  • Pulled too green.
  • Put on the dog.
  • Right as rain.
  • Rode hard and put up wet.
  • Runnin' like the house is afire.
  • Running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
  • Scarce as deviled eggs after a church picnic.
  • Scarcer than hen's teeth
  • She's a caution.(She's a trip or she's unusual).
  • She's so poor she ain't got two nickels to rub together.
  • She was cryin' and slingin' snot.
  • Slicker than snot.
  • Slower than cream risin' on last years buttermilk.
  • Slower than molasses trying to run uphill in January.
  • Snake-bit.
  • Snatch the taste right out of her mouth.
  • So dry, the trees are bribing the dogs.
  • So surprised you coulda knocked his eyes off with a stick.
  • Squirmin' like a worm in hot ashes.
  • Staggerin' around like a blind horse in a punkin patch.
  • Stout as a mule.
  • Straight as a string.
  • Sunday-go-t'meetin' clothes.
  • Sure as a cat's got climbing gear. Submitted by Slidewell.
  • Tall enough to go duck huntin' with a rake.
  • Tender as a judge's heart.
  • That dog won't hunt.
  • That kid ain't knee-high to a duck.
  • That truck couldn't pull a fat baby off a tricycle.
  • That's a fine how d'ya do.
  • That's as good as a cold collard sandwich.
  • That's not big enough to cuss the cat in.
  • Thick as flies on a dog's back.
  • Thicker than fiddlers in hell.
  • Tight as Dick's hatband.
  • Useless as teats on a boarhog.
  • Walkin' like he's rakin' up shucks.
  • We didn't have [crowded to swing a cat.
  • Weak as dishwater.
  • Well, shut my mouth.
  • We've howdied, but not met.
  • What ever blows your dress up.
  • You can't beat that with a stick.
  • You can't judge the depth of a well by the handle of the pump.
  • You have a hollow leg.
  • You lie like a dirty cur dog.
  • You're going to wool that baby to death." (to wool = to cuddle or love on excessively) Submitted by novasy.
  • You scared the livin’ daylights out of me.

Colorful Insults

  • He's dumb as a sack full of hammers.
  • He looks like he got beat with an ugly stick.
  • He was so buck toothed he could eat an apple through a picket fence.
  • He's about half a bubble off plumb.
  • He's as ugly as homemade lye soap.
  • He's got the personality of a dishrag.
  • He's so low down he could crawl under a snake's belly.
  • I wonder what she would charge to haunt a house.
  • If you had bird brains you'd fly backwards.
  • She had a face as ugly as a stack of black cats with their tails cut off.
  • She had a face so ugly she wore out two bodies.
  • She's as ugly as a mud fence daubed with tadpoles.
  • She's so ugly she could scare the bulldog off a meat truck.
  • She's so ugly they had to tie a pork chop around her neck to get the dog to play with her.
  • She's three pickles shy of a quart.
  • She's ugly enough to stop an eight day clock.
  • That face might not stop a clock, but it'd sure raise Cain with watches.
  • You look like something the cat dragged in.
  • You're not worth the powder and shot it'd take to blow you to kingdom come.
  • You're so dumb if they put your brain on the head of a pin it would roll around like a BB on a six-lane highway.


  • Cute as a bug's ear.
  • He's handier than a pocket on a shirt.
  • He's as fast as greased lightening'.
  • I wouldn't trade you for a farm in Georgia.
  • She's as purty as a speckled pup under a red wagon.
  • She's as purty as a spotted horse in a daisy pasture.
  • Sure as the vine twines 'round the stump, you are my darlin' sugar lump.

Things Only a True Southerner Knows

More as I recall and collect them. /msg me if you have some favorites to add.

Hillbottom says Hi, Lometa! I'm entirely new here, but your inclusion of "I Suwanne" in the Southern slang list jarred me out of my screen stupor! I grew up with this expression, except the Western Virginia version was not graced with the diphthong. It sounded more like "I swan," and it was often accompanied by the raising of the speaker's left hand. It was not until I reached my teenage years that I realized this was a stylized and time-altered pronunciation of "I's sworn," accompanied by mimicking the left hand in the air and the right hand on the Bible. Gotta love the South. I can visit areas on the other side of the Mason-Dixon, but they will never feel like home. Thanks!

I can only think of a couple at the moment, but they're quality:

"That stuff's so good it makes you wanna jump up and slap yo' mama!"

(a gem my brother-in-law from Arkansas said about an old co-worker):
"He's a good guy and all, but he's dumber than a box of rocks."

"That girl's uglier than homemade sin."

(my sister's favorite, now that she's a mom)
"You better clean that up yerself, cuz my name ain't Hazel."

"Man, that boy's got more problems than a math book!"

(When you try on an article of clothing and realize it's too small for you)
"Girl, that's 6 pounds of sugar in a 5 pound bag."

I grew up in the south in the late 50's - 70's before moving to SoCal.
So it was cool seeing the one's already listed.
I also will not get into racial slurs from the 50's and early 60's.

I also remember
Puttin' "auil" in the car or cookin' with it instead of "oil".

Gettin' "minnas" for fishin' instead of "minnows".

Openin' the "winder instead of "window".

Also Goin' "over yonder" as a distance related to "out of sight".

Why it "ain't" instead of "are not, is not or am not"

Bein' "plum tuckerd out" instead of "exhausted".

Talkin' to "y'all" or "all y'all" instead of "all of you".

More sayings
"He is as un-lucky as a one legged man in a butt kicking contest"

"Have you lost your ever luvin' mind"

"Big as a tick on a coon hound"

"Air-up them tires"

".....no matter where you are from"


Well, I had no idea this node existed on E2, but I’ve had a lot of fun reading the writeups. I was born in the eastern part of Kentucky and grew up in the west, in a small town near the old Confederate capitol of Kentucky, Bowling Green.

Consequently, I’ve heard, and used, many of the sayings and slang in these writeups. However, I remember some that my late mother said frequently, that I don’t see anywhere here. Now, Mama’s people originated in England, Somerset to be exact, but they emigrated to America in the late 1500s and morphed into pure Kentucky stock. I’m not at all certain of the origin of these sayings, but I have heard some of them from others with whom I grew up. Imagine most of these said in a slightly indignant tone of voice …

“You’ll shit if you eat regular, too!” -- This one’s a little hard to explain. Let’s say I had this conversation with Mama:

Me: Mama, I’m goin’ up t’ town today.
Mama: Oh no, y’ain’t. I’ve got stuff f’r you to do around here t’day.
Me: But I wanna go in t’town today!
Mama: And I told you you’re not goin’!!
Me: Mama, I am goin’ to town!
Mama: “Uh-huh. And you’ll shit if you eat regular, too!”

It’s to say that … oh, hell, you had to grow up with it to really get the meaning!

“There ain’t nothin’ goes over the devil’s back but what it don’t come up his front.” -- This would’ve been how Mama expressed the popular meme, “What goes around, comes around”.

“Like a dose of salts through a widow woman.” -- As in, “Them kids started at the front door and went through that house like a dose of salts through a widow woman”. Said of people, mostly kids, that go rambling through a house not their own, poking through everything not their business.

“She (he) thinks her (his) shit don’t stink.” -- Said of grand or pretentious people; Mama usually said it about women she didn’t like.

“That boy’s walkin’ like he’s got a corncob stuck up his ass!” -- Mama used to say this whenever she saw someone walking strangely.

“The jaws of hell are gapin’ for somebody that’d do that!” --This one was Mama’s favorite for anyone who committed a particularly heinous crime, usually abusing children or especially animals. Animal abuse in particular tended to put Mama into a rage (and I inherited that from her!).

“I’d like to buy him for what I think he’s worth ‘n sell him for what HE thinks she’s worth!” -- Said of people who had, in Mama’s opinion, a very exaggerated sense of their own worth, or people who tended to look down the bridge of their nose at others.

Them two’s practicin’ on bein’ married! -- Mama used to say this about a man and woman she heard was “shackin’ up” – that is, living together.

My mother never made it past the tenth grade in high school, but she had a way of expressing herself. I miss it.

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