Southern Sayings
Illustration by Elizabeth Abrahamsen. Photo:Flickr/Alias 0591

10 Southern Sayings Most People Have to Look Up

[dropcap]E[/dropcap]very American culture has little sayings that are unique to them. The South, from Georgia to Texas, is definitely no exception. Most common country phrases, like Wet Hen, slicker, and cattywampus, get lost in translation to those without a southern drawl. So I'm fixin' to give you a list of some favorite southern slang you probably heard back in the day growing up. 

Maybe it's time you get out of your neck of the woods to try some of these "southernisms." The southern way is the only way right? Yankee Northerners, hold your horses and take notes. And then get us a Coke.

10. Don't get your knickers in a knot

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 hissy fit. So if someone brings up your knotted knickers or britches in conversation, you might want to cool down.

9. You're slower than molasses in the winter

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

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 short, or used 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

Now, before you think your friend's mama is giving you a sweet compliment, you might want to double-check for sarcasm. Typically, southern women's gossip begins or ends with these simple words, and maybe a sweet tea. However, "bless your heart" can be a friendly gesture similar to saying "thank you."

6. We're walking in high cotton

I reckon 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 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

This one really baffles non-southerners. It also has nothing to do with hunting or dogs. If you've ever pitched a lame idea or offered a weak 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

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

Going to town is often an ordeal in the country, especially before people had cars. This phrase refers to 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


 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

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.