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Talkin' Country Don't Make One A Hillbilly -- Does It?

Updated on July 18, 2012
Nope...this ain't the old home place!
Nope...this ain't the old home place! | Source

"What did he allow?"

Have you ever wondered where all those old sayings came from? Well, I sure do ‘cause fact is I still use a lot of ‘em. When I come up with some of my “country” lingo my nieces and nephew often look at me like I’m demented or speaking a foreign language – the first could be true but the second would really be a longshot! Fact is, I CAN speak the King’s English and pretty well – but lapsing into the country vernacular is easy because that’s where I come from and how I was raised. If I go to a snooty party I do my best to avoid it but as often as not I fail on that front – however, it will start some good conversations with strangers!

I just did it -- “Where I come from and where I was raised!” I think that’s pretty clear but lots of people would prefer one says “I was born and spent my childhood in Pittsburgh” or “my early life was spent in Mississippi.” The old sayin’ about “don’t rise above your raisin” is pretty accurate right there. It means don’t grow up and pretend to be something you’re not! I know lots of folks who do that and it must be a real problem having to re-invent one’s self all the time.

One of my favorites is when a country person says “well, what did he allow?” That, of course, means what did the person you’re discussing have to talk about or what news did he/she convey – that one covers a lot of territory in small towns ‘cause there’s always some gossip floating around somewhere.


And no...this isn't a member of my family!
And no...this isn't a member of my family! | Source

"That old dog won't hunt..."

“You can hear anything in this town except money rattling and bacon frying!” If you remember that one you’re very close to my age as it’s an oldie. It means everybody’s broke – no money rattling in their pockets and no meat to cook (beans and cornbread only situation). “They ain’t got two nickels to rub together.” Another statement about being poor.

“That old man didn’t come into town on a new load of watermelons!” This saying means the person being discussed is not a dummy and is pretty quick on the uptake no matter what it is.

“Oh, Lord, that just makes my butt wanna dip snuff!” This statement obviously means whatever is being discussed is disgusting and no one would even consider doing it – the commenter is obviously turned off by the whole incident, etc.

“Sundown better not catch that fool in my front yard!” Now, this one means a person is tremendously disliked and subject to trouble if he/she comes around the commenter’s property.

“Better a bird in the hand than two in the bush!” Obviously “a bird in the hand” is caught and under control – “two in the bush” could fly away, avoid capture, etc. so a wise person keeps what he has and doesn’t chase after the unknown.

“That old fool could make the buffalo on a nickel scream!” The guy’s cheap and thrifty.

“He’s tighter than Dick’s hatband.” Again, back to the thrifty thing – this guy doesn’t waste a penny.

“Well, that’s a case of the tail waggin’ the dog!” A statement that means everything’s backwards and the wrong person’s in charge of whatever.

“That old man’s busier than a one-armed paper hanger!” The reference here is to wallpaper hanging and it would be a difficult undertaking with only one arm. The second part of this one is “ he’s busier than a one-legged man at an ass-kicking!” Obviously, the same sentiment.

“Who stepped on his rubber tail?” A reference to a person who’s grouchy and out of sorts for no good reason that anyone knows about.

“Some days chicken; some days chicken s%#$!” Another self explanatory statement – every day’s different!

“Grow where you’re planted!” Be satisfied with where you are and make progress.

“One-eyed mules pull just as good.” A handicap isn’t the end of the world and is no excuse for not working.

“He’s a wild horse rider and a pretty good windmill man.” The person being discussed can do many things; has multiple talents.

“Once bitten; twice shy.” Once you’ve been hurt by something one’s not likely to do the same thing again.

“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” Men and women should have equal rights – what’s good for one is good for the other.

“Same song, second verse” or “same old seven and six.” Something that happens again and again in the same way.

“The south pasture passed by the house today.” The wind’s blowing like crazy and the sand/dust is thick.

“Most of the frogs in Texas don’t even know how to swim.” Texas can be a dry, dry state and the inference here is that some frogs can’t live long enough nor find enough water to learn how to swim.

“Can’t hurt; might help.” Go ahead and do whatever it is under discussion.

“Go ahead on, now – y’ hear?” Get out of the way or continue with what you’re doing. Also a statement of approval for some action or situation.

“Crazy as a Betsy Bug or crazy as a Bed Bug.” Obviously the person being discussed is mentally unbalanced but as no one knows what a Betsy Bug is (or at least not a person that I know) it’s rather hard to judge how crazy that particular person is by this description. Few people have ever seen a bed bug, either but they could be crazy – who knows?

“Oh, he’s dropped a few stitches along the way.” Again referring to someone who’s a bit mentally unbalanced.

“All them chickens will come home to roost.” This refers to someone doing a bad thing and fate deals them a blow in return – there’s a payback for every bad thing someone does.

“Ain’t got a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out of.” This used to mean someone was seriously poor – now it kinda refers to the direction Americans are being led by our POTUS.

“If you’re gonna hunt with the big dogs you gotta get off the front porch.” One can’t make any progress sitting on one’s own front porch – gotta get up and get movin’.

“That old dog won’t hunt!” Usually refers to something that’s been tried before and didn’t work the first time so won’t work thereafter – whatever it is has been tried and failed.


Looks like them folks next door got a new clothes dryer...
Looks like them folks next door got a new clothes dryer... | Source

When Granny spoke...

“Meaner than a rattlesnake.” Self-explanatory – real damned mean!

“A penny for your thoughts?” I’ve used this one and wound up believin’ I’d spent my penny foolishly!

There’s probably a million more of these old sayings – and I probably know most of them – it’s just that they’re not used among polite society much anymore and are disappearing fast. Is that a loss? Well, hard to say. Sometimes these sayings were shorthand for a long explanation about how crazy someone was, how cheap someone was or how sorry someone was. In other words, it saved a lot of gossip time if one could narrow the verbage down to a few words. . . and old sayings were very good for that. One couldn’t gossip over the back fence all day, you know?

My sainted Granny had a few special sayings that due to the language can’t be repeated but I’ll never forget her attitude about a new, very young preacher that had dinner with us one Sunday. After he’d left I asked Granny if she liked the new minister. Her reply comes very close to explaining my condition at this point in time on a day-to-day basis.

“Precious, that young man reminds me of a fart in a whirlwind!”


Copyright 2012 Angela T. Blair All Rights Reserved


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    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      I have heard most of these and use a few myself. I wasn't even raised in the country. I was raised by someone who was raised in the country. 'Apples don't fall far from the tree'.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thanks for these, they tickled my funny bone. A couple my mom, who was raised in west Texas uses, is "He's a few bricks short of a load" and "He's slower than cream risin' on buttermilk" (which is pretty slow since cream doesn't rise on buttermilk".

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I think a few of these have been used on television shows. "Where I come from and where I was raised'" I've used the first part of this but not the other part. In the mid-west we seem to have our own idioms probably becausse so many scandinavians here changed the English to some sort of combination.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I am blessed with the education which allows me to use proper English when I need to and the experience that allows me to speak low down and country when I'm among friends, or writing a story.

      I once told a teacher that I could speak two languages and she was suitably impressed until she asked what they were, and I said, "North and South." That cost me some after-school detention.

      I see some real knee-slappers here, Angela, and I'm proud to say that I'm familiar with all but a couple, and I know several more, like:

      "Y'all come see us, y'hear, and carry your wife and family too."

      Which means, "Come visit and bring your family."

      "Y'all hand me that spider...the big one."

      Which means, "Hand me the large cast iron skillet."

      Fun Hub, Angela!

    • Angela Blair profile image
      Author

      Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas

      Becky -- definitely agree -- I'm one of those apples, too! Thanks for stopping by. Best/Sis

    • Angela Blair profile image
      Author

      Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas

      Sherry -- love both those sayings and have heard them all my life -- now why couldn't I think of them when I was writing this? Thanks for commenting -- your mom sounds like a super lady. Best/Sis

    • Angela Blair profile image
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      Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas

      dahoglund -- yep, think there's a different set of these old sayings for every part of the country. Appreciate you commenting. Best/Sis

    • Angela Blair profile image
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      Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks, Will -- yep, between us we could probably write a million of these. Isn't it odd how one knows who to lapse into the vernacular with and who not to? That's a pretty good talent unto itself! Thanks for your comments. Best/Sis

    • Dale Hyde profile image

      Dale Hyde 5 years ago from Tropical Paradise on Planet X

      Right on the money, Angela! Having lived in many rural areas in my life, and blessed to have met some very wonderful folks doing so, I am familiar with most of what you repeat within the hub. Being a writer, I tend to not use "country", lol. But those that know me in person that read this would think I could have helped you write it! At least they would see that I am not so weird or unique. :)

      I truly enjoyed this hub as dessert after my "dinner". :) Thanks for the smiles! Great job, voted up and interesting!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I wish I had made a movie of my mother when she lived in Louisiana. Imagine a "classic" gun toting hillbilly with a heavy German accent. :))

    • Angela Blair profile image
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      Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas

      Dale -- perhaps living in Texas gives us a natural edge on a bit of the vernacular! Glad to provide a bit of amusement and fun and appreciate you commenting. Best/Sis

    • Angela Blair profile image
      Author

      Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas

      Mhatter99 -- wow, the word picture you paint of your Mom sounds like you should write a Hub on that lady -- interesting indeed. Appreciate you commenting. Best/Sis

    • profile image

      SusieQ42 5 years ago

      Love your hub, Angela. I wrote one like it a while ago and I'm not from Texas! Voted up and awesome. God bless, Susieq42

      P.S. I especially your grandma's remark about the preacher. (O:

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 5 years ago

      Thank you for the education of a lifetime. Some of the expressions were familiar to me, but most were not. Now I'm a country girl! Up interesting, useful and awesome.

    • profile image

      iamaudraleigh 5 years ago

      What a great hub...made me giggle a lot! I really liked, "“He’s tighter than Dick’s hatband.” ! You have a great sense of humor that must make your Texas friends proud!

    • Angela Blair profile image
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      Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas

      SusieQ42 -- thanks so much! My Granny was a real hoot and often came up with -- shall we say "unrepeatable" little sayings! Best/Sis

    • Angela Blair profile image
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      Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas

      Pop -- thanks very much -- glad you stopped by! Best/Sis

    • Angela Blair profile image
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      Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas

      iamaaudraleigh -- don't know if my friends are proud of me or not but most think I'm a bit off center! LOL! Thanks so very much for commenting. Best/Sis

    • The Frog Prince profile image

      The Frog Prince 5 years ago from Arlington, TX

      Depends on who I speaking with actually. I can talk up, down and most places in between :)

      Nice work Sis.

      The Frog

    • Angela Blair profile image
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      Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas

      You've got the definitive answer, Frog -- good one -- thanks! Best/Sis

    • mjboomer profile image

      Mike Elzner 5 years ago from Oregon

      I spent some time this past week with a self proclaimed "Red Neck" who would like you to think he is "dumber than a box of rocks." He is a good old boy and interestingly enough could hold his own in any conversation.

      Love your sayings they bring back memories.

    • FitnezzJim profile image

      FitnezzJim 5 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

      Cruisin for a Bruisin - Gonna Take you out behind the woodshed - Out by the North Forty - Can't see his nose to spite his face (that one always made me look cross-eyed)

      This one made me feel young again, and reminded me of my childhood visits to my West Virginia cousins.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      It gets better! She left Louisiana by test driving a mobile home (from a dealership) to Nevada. :))

    • Angela Blair profile image
      Author

      Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas

      FitnezzJim -- remembering this stuff made me feel both young and old -- especially since of the youngsters in my part of Texas still talk just like that! Thanks for commenting -- good to see you! Best/Sis

    • Angela Blair profile image
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      Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas

      Mhatter99 -- kinda like the kid the parents didn't like -- he came home and they were gone -- just hooked up the mobile home and left. Thanks so much for commenting and love the "test drive" statement -- hadn't heard that one but it's a hoot! Best/Sis

    • Angela Blair profile image
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      Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas

      mjboomer -- there's a lot of folks who hide behind country talk and they're smarter than one would ever believe -- some politicians are the best at that! Thanks for commenting. Best/Sis

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 5 years ago from Great Britain

      OH Angela,

      You have me laughing so much it hurts.

      One or two of these have ´crossed the pond´ but the majority......?

      I am so glad you wrote an explanation for them.

      Voted up, funny and interesting.

      OH! and I´m so glad the 1st pic is not the old homestead.

    • Angela Blair profile image
      Author

      Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas

      Dim -- truth is the first pic isn't too far from the old homestead -- but it was painted white! Thanks for stopping by and glad you got a hoot out of our nutsville sayings! Best/Sis

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      I loved this! Great humor, great explanations and it reminded me so much of my dear Dad. I learned many of the sayings you've listed from him and continue with them to this day. There are several I hand't heard but so enjoyed learning them!!!

      Thanks for the smiles.

    • Angela Blair profile image
      Author

      Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas

      shiningirisheyes -- glad you got a hoot out of some of these -- as some are probably regional I'll bet that's the ones you didn't know about. Sounds like your dad was quite a guy -- how very fortunate you are to have shared his wonderful life. Best/Sis

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      My grandson asked my daughter, who is 15, if she would 'carry' him down to the park. I thought we had lived in the South longer than to hear her tell him that he was too heavy, he was going to have to walk. He just wanted her to take him but his granny (the other one, I am Grandma) is hick to the core.

    • Angela Blair profile image
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      Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas

      Ya--hoooo -- loved that phrase. My Granny used to "tote" everything rather than "carry" it. I think different parts of the country have different vernaculars -- and I love them all. Rather than calling us "hicks" my brother calls us "Mountain Williams" which is a kind phrase for "hillbilly!" Always love your comments. Best/Sis

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Oh, I wasn't using it that way, she lives in Hickman Co. lol

    • Angela Blair profile image
      Author

      Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas

      Becky -- I know you weren't using it that way -- I was just playing on the words "hicks" as my brother and have done that for years -- he says, in actuality, we're both just carnies and always have been! Appreciate you stopping back by -- you always give me a brand new grin! Best/Sis

    • profile image

      ElleBee 4 years ago

      These are great sayings! They're not all super country though, because I didn't grow up in a real rural area and I still know some of them! Definitely a few that were brand new to me though, as well as some that I've heard of but am to young to have used or heard used in regular speech.

    • Angela Blair profile image
      Author

      Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

      ElleBee -- thanks so much for commenting. A lot of old sayings are familiar to the younger folks as parents/grandparents keep using them down through the years as it's just habit. Appreciate you commenting so very much! Best/Sis

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 4 years ago

      I'm glad I came across this hub. It gave me a good laugh for the day. I've heard most of the ones you listed, but a few are new. See, even those of us from up around Picksburgh (that's the way most people around here say Pittsburgh but don't ask me why) have heard them. Then again, my mom's kin are from Tennessee, so I'm like WillStar and I'm bilingual. I hate hearing people around here saying "yins" when everyone should know it's "y'all". In fact, I even know to say "all y'all" when referring to a large group of people. I clicked to follow you because it looks like you discuss some really interesting things.

    • Angela Blair profile image
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      Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

      Sheilamyers -- hello and thanks so very much for the follow and the comments. Seems we all have regional sayings that lap over here and there -- loved your "bilingual" statement and imagine all of us use a bit of that! Best/Sis

    • Lastheart profile image

      Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill 3 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

      I relate to some that are very close to few that we say here in PR. It was fun to read, and I am happy that I read silently because I was trying to put the hillbilly tone.

      Good job!

    • Angela Blair profile image
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      Angela Blair 3 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks, Lastheart -- it was fun to write. Best/Sis

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