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10 Things Southerners Say {And What They Mean}

Having grown up in the South, the following things Southerners say are commonplace to me. I may not say them all, but you can bet your bottom dollar I’ve heard them all and I certainly know what they mean.

If you’re from the South you’ll definitely relate and can most likely add to my short list.

And if you’re from the North, well then, your schoolin’ starts now.

Having grown up in the South, these things that southerners say are commonplace to me... If you're from the North, well then, your schoolin' starts now.


1. That girl looks like a busted can o’ biscuits! This is a phrase that’s often overheard in Wal-Mart or maybe at the Dollar General. It simply means that a size 14 somebody has been spotted wearing a size 10 outfit. Everything may be zipped and buttoned, but you don’t want to get too close ’cause if something pops the trajectory could result in the loss of an eye.

2. Hot as blue blazes! This phrase can be used on any given day between mid-March and late November to describe the ridiculously high temperatures that plague the South.

3. Wrung-suh-doubters. The state of having your shirt on inside out. You know…when the tag’s in the front and/or the seams are showing.

4. That young’un’s iller’n a hornet! Pretty self-explanatory actually. This is usually said when one of the kids missed nap time and they’re grumpy beyond belief. Drop the “young’un” part and it can be used to describe anybody who’s got a bee in their bonnet. Those words may or may not have been spoken about me by my husband a time or two.

5. I’m gone tan your hide! Those five words had the ability to strike fear in my sister and me when we were growing up. They mean somebody’s about to get their can busted. What? You need a better translation than that? Ok…in the simplest form possible it means someone’s getting a spanking if some serious straightenin’ up doesn’t happen real quick.

6. That fella’s too big for his britches. This describes someone who thinks more highly of themselves than they should. Or a 13 year old who thinks they’re grown.

7. Bless her heart. This multi-faceted phrase can mean oh, so many things depending on the circumstances surrounding its utterance. If you say it after sharing a juicy tid-bit of gossip, that phrase absolves you of all guilt. (You can also precede the gossip with “I need you to be prayin’ about something…” for good measure.) It can also mean “She’s dumber than dirt, but I’m too nice to say that.” And believe it or not, it can actually be a sincere, heart-felt way to express your concern for someone who’s going through a particularly hard time.

8. Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit! This expression is saved for moments of great surprise. Like when you run into someone at the grocery store you haven’t seen since high school or when you get an unexpected rebate on your utility bill.

9. Fix me a glass of sodie water. What’s “sodie water,” you ask. Well, it’s water with a little bit of baking soda dissolved in it. And according to my grandma, drinking some of this every day will cure just about anything. I don’t know about it being a cure for everything, but it definitely takes care of indigestion like nobody’s business.

10. Well, I’ll be dawg! Just as #8, this phrase is used to express surprise, but where #8 is boisterous,  “I’ll be dawg!”  is uttered in a more subdued tone that suggests disbelief mingled with the surprise. Andy Griffith often provided the perfect example of how to properly use this phrase in that well-loved show from years gone by.

My list should by no means be considered exhaustive…I’ve got a heap more where those came from! Who knows, maybe one day we’ll do a “10 More Things…” post.

Feel free to share your favorite Southern sayings in the comments!

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Candy is a southern girl who enjoys the simple things in life. Dirt road drivin’, Sunday afternoon nappin’, back yard swingin’, and sunset watchin’ are a few of the things that make her smile. She’s been married to her best friend and the love of her life for almost 25 years and is navigating motherhood with her 4 children, aged 23, 19, 14, & 11. Homeschooling for over 18 years now, she is also a bit of a word-nerd (ok, maybe more than a “bit” – she actually considers making lists of homophones to be entertaining), a lover of books and chocolate, a survivor of cancer, an author, and a hula hoop maker.


9 Responses to 10 Things Southerners Say {And What They Mean}

  1. Victoria February 6, 2017 at 9:25 am #

    Interesting phrases I’ve heard since moving to the South:
    1. You might/could go to the store. (Meaning: You could or might go to the store)
    2. How’s your mamer and them? (Meaning : How is your mother and the rest of the family)
    3.Stop being so ugly. (Meaning: Stop being so grumpy)
    4. She’s a mess. (Meaning: She’s a funny or interesting character)

    • Candy February 7, 2017 at 12:17 pm #

      Love these! I use some version of numbers 3 and 4 on a daily basis. 😉

  2. Heather Hart January 27, 2015 at 11:10 am #

    Interesting! We moved to Texas several years ago and I haven’t heard half of these phrases. I wonder if they are more cultural or South-eastern (or I might just not get out enough)? The other half, I heard all the time growing up in the north… Like “too big for his britches” and “tan your hide”

    Since moving to Texas I have learned about the many different meanings of “Bless your/her Heart” – It’s crazy how one phrase can be both an endearment or a belittlement.

    • Candy January 27, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

      That is interesting! I’ve never been far from my southeastern home (except a few months in Colorado where nobody knew what I was talking about, but everybody wanted to hear me talk because my accent was “so cute”!), so the 1/2 you’ve not heard could definitely be limited to my little corner of the world and I wouldn’t even know it. 😉 But the southerners around here definitely use those phrases. 🙂

  3. Candace September 10, 2014 at 10:55 pm #

    I love this, Candy! I’m a Southern girl, raised in Atlanta, Ga. I laughed all the way through this, nodding at all of the incredibly familiar phrases :). Thanks for the smile today. I’m hoping for a “10 more things…” post someday!

    • Candy September 11, 2014 at 5:49 am #

      So glad I could bring a little bit of “home” into your day! I’m sure there will definitely be (at least) a “10 more things…” post at some point. I don’t have to dig very far to find lots of uniquely expressive words/phrases. 🙂

  4. KIm September 8, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

    How about (after a big meal) “I’m full as a tick.” You can also say, “I’m full as a tick on a big fat dog.” Or just, “I’m ’bout to pop.”

    A person with a mad disposition might be called “meaner than a strip-ed snake.” That’s striped with 2 syllables, y’all. Or you might say they have their butt on their shoulders.

    LOL I’m sitting here trying to think of things I no longer get to say since I moved to Florida…which is NOT the South, despite its geographical location! Thanks for visiting my blog today; I wanted to return the compliment. 🙂


    • Candy September 8, 2014 at 7:14 pm #

      Oh my goodness! I’m familiar with all those phrases! I guess we eat a lot around here because there’s another saying that comes to mind about eating too much is “I’m ’bout to bust a gut!” 🙂

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