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Some "Old As Dirt" Southern Sayings

Updated on October 26, 2011

Are you a hon, a suga, or a dumpling?

Many of the sayings I grew up thinking were nothing unusual, weren’t……if you lived in the south. To this day, I can’t figure out which sayings are purely southern until someone giggles and says, “You must be from the south”. For years, I tried to get rid of this strong southern accent, but not anymore-it’s me. So, as a southern girl through and through, let me share some of our silly sayings with you!

Here are a few you may have heard:

He is old as Methuselah. Wonder if he had to spell his name in first grade? Did you know he was 969 years old when he died? Whew, I get tired just thinking about it!

You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. I have said this one a hundred times in my life and never knew it originated in the south.

He ain’t got a pot to pee in. I expect the poor fellow is broke!

I’m going to see a man about a mule. When my dad would say this one, it meant he had business to take care of and was not sharing it with us.

You can’t trust her far as you can throw her. Not a person you’d want to loan money, for sure!

He can’t hit the broad side of a barn.This one describes my aim with a baseball!

She’s mad as a wet hen. Evidently hens don’t like getting wet.

I remember my mom saying Jehoshaphat if something surprised her and it always had an exclamation behind it. I wonder if she knew he was a figure in the Bible or if it was another one of those sayings that just stuck.

There a many more southern sayings and colloquialisms, but does the south have more than other parts of the country? I didn’t think so until I found …a Southern Slang Dictionary for anyone getting ready to visit the south. Ya’ll is one of my favorites and believe me, once this one comes out, everyone knows you are a southerner!

I have a test for you. Do you know the meanings of the following words?

Cattywampus: A. Broken B. Askew C. Literally

Darn Tootin: A. Correct B. Aggravating C. Impossible

Fit as a Fiddle: A. Overweight B. Shapely C. Good Shape

Bowed Up: A. In a Knot B. Ill-humored C. Humorous

Hankering: A. Desire B. Habit C. Toothache

Lickety Split: A. Fencing B. Tongue Suppressor C. Quick

Over Yonder: A. Over the moon B. Over the top C. Over there

Answers: B, A, C, B, A, C, C

Now, just how much did you know about Southern Colloquialisms? Even if you are not a “from here”, but a “come here”, if you’ve been down here long enough, these words may be a part of your new southern lingo. If not, but you want to visit us, study your Southern Dictionary and come on down, ya’ll! If you’re lucky, someone may offer you some collards or turnip salad cooked with fatback. Just don’t forget to tell them to include some of the pot liquor! Umm…Umm Good!

Enjoy a couple of Southern jokes:

A man in North Carolina had a flat tire, pulled off on the side of the road,
and proceeded to put a bouquet of flowers in front of the car and one behind

Then he got back in the car to wait. A passerby studied the scene as he
drove by and was so curious he turned around and went back. He asked the
fellow what the problem was.

The man replied, ‘I have a flat tire.’

The passerby asked, ‘But what’s with the flowers?’

The man responded, ‘When you break down they tell you to put flares in the
front and flares in the back. Hey, it makes no sense to me neither.’


You can say what you want about the South, but I never heard of anyone wanting to retire to the north.

James Taylor-"Carolina In My Mind"


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    • picklesandrufus profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      Hi DDE.

      Glad you liked the sayings:) Will you be using any of them around your friends...ha ha!! Thanks for stopping by to comment.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      First time for reading most of these sayings and I am gla I got a chance to, voted up!

    • picklesandrufus profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      Thanks for stopping by James. I guess those sayings stuck with you!

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      6 years ago from Chicago

      I enjoyed your fun and funny Hub. And I scored 100 on your pop quiz. I am not from the South but both my parents are. :-)

    • picklesandrufus profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      glad I could educate and entertain you Dream On!! Thanks for the comments!!!

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 

      6 years ago

      I grew up in the North in Massachusetts.I didn't realize I'm a southern in disguise.I love the sayings and have heard and said most of them.I loved your hub.Funny and it was funny how I would say certain ones but never really knew what they meant.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      6 years ago from North Texas

      I heard all of these expressions growing up on a daily basis and my ancestors are from the northeast. I grew up in central Wisconsin, so somebody is pullin' your leg if they're telling you these expressions are only heard or originate in the south.

      Interesting and fun hub. Enjoyed reading.

    • picklesandrufus profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      that's very funny!! thanks for stopping by!

    • RTalloni profile image


      6 years ago from the short journey

      Moving to the Carolinas had me curious about flowers once. I thought a check-out clerk was saying "floors" and I had to figure it out through systematic deduction. I was not trying to buy flowers, only a green plant, but everyone behind me knew what she meant. Regional phrasing is a fun thing if there isn't a line of people waiting to check out behind you.

    • picklesandrufus profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      Yea Brenda! Thanks for checking out my hub!!

    • Brenda Holstine profile image

      Brenda Holstine 

      7 years ago from Denton, Texas

      I grew up in Oklahoma and now live in Texas and I have heard and used these all my life. Loved the hub and got 100% correct on the quiz.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for reminding me of these great sayings.

    • picklesandrufus profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      thanks so much Epigramman!! So glad you liked my Hub.

    • epigramman profile image


      7 years ago

      ......well I have a good old Northern boy saying about someone like you - this is such a fun hub and not just because you look so great in the luckiest sunglasses of all time - thank you for your labor of love here , your research and your homework - this is a great hub for future reference ..... lake erie time ontario canada 12:09pm

    • kellymom1970 profile image


      7 years ago

      Picklesandrufus, I'm from

      NC so I know what you mean.great hub.Vote Up!

    • picklesandrufus profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      Good answer rjsadowski! thanks for following!!

    • rjsadowski profile image


      7 years ago

      I grew up in Wisconsin and I am familiar with almost all of those sayings too.I guess if you have lived as long as I have, you get to hear a lot of things.

      If you ask me if I have lived in Wisconsin all of my life, my answer would be "Not yet".

    • picklesandrufus profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      thanks Eiddwen! I appreciate you following me and the vote up!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      Oh how I loved this one and thre were many I hadn't heard before.

      Thank you so much for sharing and I vote up.

      I now look forward to reading many more by you.

      Take care and have a great day.


    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 

      7 years ago from United States

      Very funny! I don't want to lose my Southern accent either.

    • picklesandrufus profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      good one Mary, I will have to remember it for the next worthless skutter I see!

      thanks Donna...I would love to be a fly on the wall at your family reunion.

    • profile image

      donna lynn 

      7 years ago

      reading these are like going to a family reunion. again, i will use this article as a reference. Sheila, I love your Hub Page!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      7 years ago from Florida

      Hi, being a Southern gal, I just loved this. One of my favorites is when someone is worthless, you say, "they are as worthless as teats on a bull". I passed the test, by the way. Love it. Voted it UP

    • Shawn Scarborough profile image

      Shawn Scarborough 

      7 years ago from The Lone Star State

      Growing up in Texas, I have heard most of these sayings many times. I even use some of them regularly like "over yonder" and "likety split".

      Great hub, voted up!

    • picklesandrufus profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      glad you all liked reading this Hub!:)thanks so much for the comments

    • profile image

      Jack Bentley 

      7 years ago

      Love it...look forward to all you share. Kelly sends her love.

    • profile image

      Linda Morgan 

      7 years ago

      Memory Lane! I've gotta go call my mom! haha

      Thanks, Sheila, for a great hub

    • profile image

      Lynn S. Murphy 

      7 years ago

      What a fun hub and some of these I remember as well.

    • picklesandrufus profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      thanks for the comments! Good to know these saying have made their way around into lots of hearts and minds!!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Oh I love it..... and I love your accent and I love you Sheila Marie...

    • Eliza57 profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for a great HUB. I remember all of those sayings, and I can remember my Grandmother saying "Bless her heart" when I was young. The southern lingo I have even used myself. Thanks again

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Brings back fond memories! Heard many of these growing up! Great article as always!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Probably due to mass media but we northerners have heard many of these saying.One thing is rather strange is how fast one picks up a southern drawl.

    • leroy64 profile image

      Brian L. Powell 

      7 years ago from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff)


      I have used all of those saying for most of my life. I grew up in Texas; and, I have relatives in Bay Minette, Alabama. That joke was great. Thanks for the laugh.


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