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These Southern sayings just bless my heart

Dr. David L. Chancey's picture

 These Southern sayings just bless my heart

I love the South, especially the way we talk. My first pastorate took me to the Midwest. Some Midwesterners talked funny. They would talk about the “crick” when they were referring to the “creek.” The roof of a house was pronounced rough and the car for some people was the kerr.

No native Midwesterner said “Y’all.” Instead, it was you guys. Down here, we ask for Coke, which might mean any cola, but up there is was pop, or maybe soda, as in “Would you like a pop?”

And don’t even get me started on ice tea. Tea is hot tea, even in summer.

These were good folks, and we made many friends, some of which we still keep up with, but I was glad to head back this way. To hear a Southern drawl from a refined Southern woman is like music to my ears, and the Southern expressions can’t be beat.

What are your favorite Southern sayings? Here are some of mine:

You’re slower than pond water going up a hill backwards meant you need to pick up the pace.

You’d argue with a stop sign and it knocked down meant you were hardheaded.

If you were barking up the wrong tree, you were just plain wrong.

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch was a word of caution: wait and see what happens.

Don’t cross that bridge before you get to it referred to worrying about things that may or may not occur.

To give someone down the country meant you told someone off.

I’ll swanny was kin to I do declare and was an exclamation with no real meaning. Someone would share some news and you’d respond, “Well, I’ll swanny!”

• Or, we might say, “Well, don’t that beat all!” or, if we’re really surprised, then “That takes the cake!”

• If you were told it was time to fish or cut bait, then it was time to stop talking about it and time to act.

• If she rose above her upbringing, then she overcame a bad home situation and turned out all right, despite her raising.

• If you were told, “Don’t get your panties in a wad,” or “your boxers in a bunch,” that meant to calm down and don’t get upset.

• If someone went to bed with the chickens, they turned in really early. If they went whole hog, they really got passionate about something.

We’d better get on the stick meant it was time to get started.

• If someone beat him with an ugly stick, that person was not very good looking.

• If he was dumb as a sack of rocks, then he had a pretty low intellect.

• To be older than dirt meant you were way up there in years.

• To know someone since they were knee high to a grasshopper meant that you have known them almost all of their life.

• Someone dead as a doornail was quite dead.

• If we bump into someone we haven’t seen in awhile, we might say, “I haven’t seen you in a month of Sundays.” That’s a long time, so they might be a sight for sore eyes.

• When we part company, we might say, “Well, I’ll see you later, Good Lord willin’ and the creek (not the crick) don’t rise.”

• I was told more than once, “If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about,” meaning a whipping was right around the corner if I didn’t cool it. If I didn’t straighten up and fly right, then I might be cruisin’ for a bruisin.’

• If you couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, then you probably shouldn’t sing in the choir.

And, when sharing a tale of woe, if someone responded, “Well, bless your heart,” that just made you feel better, whether things got better or not.


[Dr. David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Ga. The church family gathers at 352 McDonough Road, just past the drivers’ services office, and invites you to join them this Sunday for Bible study at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. Visit them on the web at]

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