Lifestyle

10 Southern Sayings Most People Have to Look Up

Illustration by Elizabeth Abrahamsen. Photo:Flickr/Alias 0591

Every American culture has little sayings that are unique to them. The South is definitely no exception. Most common country phrases get lost in translation to those without a southern drawl. Here’s a list of some favorites you probably heard growing up. Maybe it’s time you start recycling some of these one liners to those outside your neck of the woods.

10. Don’t get your knickers in a knot

Flickr/ Graeme Maclean
Flickr/ Graeme Maclean

We’ll start with one of the more basic sayings. Ever had someone say, “Don’t get your panties in a twist?” You’ve got it – this phrase refers to someone who’s all riled up about something not worth the fuss. So if someone brings up your knotted knickers in conversation, you might want to cool down.

9. You’re slower than molasses in the winter

5536453935_a336ba35a6_o
Flickr/ Kelvin Beecroft

If someone says this to you, then you better pick up the pace. If you’ve ever eaten molasses you know it’s a thick and gooey sweetener, similar to honey. Most people outside of the South don’t refer to it in conversation. If you really need to test the theory, put a jar of it in the fridge, and then try to pour it out. You’ll be waiting a very long time.

 

8. Knee-high to a grasshopper

Flickr/ Lon Martin
Flickr/ Lon Martin

Think about this one long enough and you’ll figure it out. If someone came up to a grasshopper’s knee, then they’d be pretty dang small. It refers to someone who’s short, or use to be short and is all grown up. Your grandpa probably said, “Last time I saw you, you were knee-high to a grasshopper. Look at you now!”

7. Aw, bless your heart

flickr/ Neil Staeck
flickr/ Neil Staeck

Now, before you think your friend’s mama is giving you a sweet compliment, you might want to double check for sarcasm. Typically, southern gossip begins or ends with these simple words. However, “bless your heart” can definitely be a sweet gesture  similar to saying “thank you.”

6. We’re walking in high cotton

Flickr/ Photoflurry
Flickr/ Photoflurry

Chances are, you’ve heard this one a few times. Remember that classic Alabama tune, “High Cotton?” They said it all right there. This phrase refers to a period of time when someone is prospering, making money or just doing well in life overall. It’s often used when referring to the past, like remembering the good old days.

5. Honey, that dog won’t hunt

flickr/ Robert Simmons
flickr/ Robert Simmons

This one definitely baffles non-southerners. It also has nothing to do with hunting or dogs. If you’ve ever pitched a lame idea or offered a poor solution to a problem, then you’ve heard the phrase. You guessed it, “that dog won’t hunt” means your idea is no good or won’t work. Try to recover.

4. Well, I’m just fat as a tick

flickr/ Ikhlasul Amal
flickr/ Ikhlasul Amal

Someone at almost every country dinner table has spoken this phrase. After two helpings of country fried steak, you’ll be “fat as a tick” yourself. This southern saying means you’re full or stuffed. You’re probably totally satisfied with the meal you just had.

3. He’s really goin’ to town

Flickr/ Alan Kotok
Flickr/ Alan Kotok

Going to town is often an ordeal in the country, especially before people had cars. This phrase refers a person taking over something or dominating a fight. People often use it towards someone who’s eating a ton of food. For example, “He’s goin’ to town on that pizza.” It’s more of an observation. However, it can also be a compliment.

2. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise

 

Flickr/ Neil Takaberry
Flickr/ Neil Takaberry

No one controls the weather. In the country, you always have to worry about heavy rains flooding the backroads. If the bridges and roads flood, you have to wait until the water goes back down before you can drive. People use this phrase when they’re trying to stay optimistic about something out of their control. You could just say “lord willing,” but it doesn’t have the southern flare.

1. That’s the pot callin’ the kettle black

Flickr/ Wasile
Flickr/ Wasile

It’s not exactly rocket science. Fire is fire. If you scorch something, a pot or a kettle, both will burn and turn black. This southern phrase refers to someone who is hypocritical or has a double standard. So, if you’re a gossip and you call someone else a gossip? You guessed it – you’re the pot and you sure are calling the kettle black.

recommended for you

10 Southern Sayings Most People Have to Look Up