A Hellacious Belle’s Guide to the New South: Idiomatic for the People

fighting computer issues so re-posting a favorite:

I never thought much of it until I moved away from Alabama and was surrounded by people from all over the world, but heck…

We Southerners can talk kinda funny.


Not just the accent, since that’s normal for me, and I actually prefer it most of the time, because it sounds like “home.”   I’m talking about the phrases we say in everyday life, that make perfect sense to us, but might sound a little nutty to people who aren’t “from round these parts.”

I hauled together a few phrases, that in the interest of transparency, I will attest to have actually heard someone say out loud (at some point in my life.)  I’ll try to explain the best I can, although some of it’s not really translatable, so I’ll have to trust to your open-mindedness.

As I was most recently telling you about hushpuppies, let’s go ahead and start with the dogs:

“Let sleeping dogs lie.” – Leave it alone.

-1 copy 2

“That dog won’t hunt.” – This is not a valid concept.

“Don’t got a dog in that hunt.” – this is one I actually use quite a bit.  Note, you must improperly conjugate the infinitive.  No one cares about the dogs you have, just the one you don’t got.  Basically this means that you don’t have any stake in a particular situation and would prefer to be uninvolved.  “I’m sorry, but I don’t got a dog in that hunt.”

“Where my dawgs at?” – Said most frequently by good ol’ boys and University of Georgia grads.  “Pardon me, might you recently have seen any of my associates?”

“Who let the dawgs out?” – Again a reference to UGA – It’s chanted at football games, followed by  “Goooooo Dawgs! Sic’ em! Woof, Woof, Woof!”  This is a pledge of allegience bred so deeply into Georgia graduates that you will actually see grown women in ballgowns at charity functions “get down and get their dawg on” while in “polite company.”

“Barking up the wrong tree.” – totally going in the wrong direction or you have the wrong idea.

Additional animal-related sayings include:

“Go hog wild!” – Whoo, whoo!  Par – tay!!

Playin’ possum – feigning sleep.

-2“I ain’t seen you in a coon’s age!” – A very long time.

Off like a herd of turtles – getting off to a very slow start, moving slowly.

Full as a tick! – Stuffed full of food, couldn’t eat another bite.

“Duck fit.” – another one I use a lot.  “He’s havin’ a duck fit since I mocked him in my blog.”  Basically, a really serious “hissy fit.”

“Drunker n Cooter Brown with a skunk in his pocket.” Indicating extreme intoxication.  Cooter Brown is an infamous character in Southern legend, who supposedly lived right on the Mason-Dixon line during the Civil War. To avoid the draft on either side, Cooter decided to stay drunk throughout the entire war, making him ineligible for battle.  Most people just say, “Drunker n Cooter Brown,” but my Evil Twin, Doug, adds the “with a skunk in his pocket.”  I have absolutely no idea what that means, but it sounds good, so I say it too.

A few more random sayings for your education and amusement.

“He don’t know his as* from a hole in the ground.” – just not a bright fella.

“The porch light’s on, but no one’s home.” NASA is most likely not recruiting in his neighborhood.

“He lives so far up a dirt road that he thinks asphalt is something wrong with your butt.” – not necessarily a gentleman of worldliness and sophistication.

“My teeth are floatin’.”  “I must relieve myself, in the worst way. Please direct me to the facilities.”

“Sweatin’ like a whore in church.” – A situation of great discomfort.

“Don’t get’cher panties in a knot.” – Please don’t have a duck fit.

“Those pants are so tight I could see her religion.” – A fashion faux pas – typically an ill-judged instance of “camel toe.”

“Twenty pounds of sh*t in a five pound sack.”  Very tight, or tightly packed, frequently referring to snugly fitting clothes.

“Happier’n a tornado in a trailer park.” – exuberantly joyous.

“Fine as frog hair split three ways and sandpapered down the middle.”  This is one of my Daddy’s sayings. “I’m very well, thank you.  And you?”

“He doesn’t know whether to check his as* or scratch his watch.” – Great confusion. Someone uncertain of their situation.


“Beaten senseless with an ugly stick.” Describing an unattractive person.  Can be further emphasized as “Beaten senseless with an ugly stick and left for dead,” or “He fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.”

“I brought you into this world and I can take you out of it.”  Things parents say to their children.

I could keep on going til the rains come, but with work n’ all, I’m busier n’ a cat coverin’ crap on a marble floor.

I’d best get on the stick and wrap this rascal up.

Tootle loo, y’all.