Phrases That You Won't Understand Unless You're A Southerner

Apr 20, 2021Reyan Mishra

Call it the nature of their tongue or part of growing up in the south, but some of the phrases that southern peeps use are sure to seize your attention—even celebs like Reese Witherspoon uses them! You may have to take a stroll through the dictionary to get the true meaning of these sayings. Do you know what’s funny? Dozens of them can't even be found in dictionaries! 

Image Credits: Youtube/Vanity Fair


If you have a southern chum, you must have heard this one. Oftentimes, things may get messy, screwed up, or crooked. One word you use to describe all the out of sorts situation or status of something is cattywampus. We are sure you will come across different occasions every day to use this southern phrase.

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons/Infrogmation of New Orleans

She’s Pretty As A Peach

Okay, so this one is a fruity phrase! Southern folks know very well how to deliver a high compliment. This saying is the testament. The phrase is used as an adage to tell a girl she is tremendously beautiful. Fun fact: Southern states such as Georgia and South Carolina are popular for peaches. That is exactly where it originates from. 

Image Credits: Instagram/sweethalesssbama

Fixin’ To

Let’s be honest—it is impossible to have even the vaguest idea of what "fixin’ to" means unless you know the meaning. The phrase is a proper reflection of the southern lifestyle. You say you are "fixin’ to" something when you know you are about to finish it. If you are fixin’ to it, it will get done, right away or later. When are you fixin' to what you love to do?

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons/Futurice

I’m So Full I’m About To Pop

The tales of the big and heavy southern meal are popular in the entire nation. After you have had your lunch or dinner that leaves no space in your tummy, you can say that you feel like you are about to pop. Of course, the saying explains the situation of being very full, and rather evidently. 

Image Credits: Unsplash/Vitolda Klein

See To Christmas

Unfortunately, this saying does not mean what you think it does. In fact, it has nothing to do with Christmas. This phrase may be heard when a woman is wearing a skirt or any dress that is short in length. The phrase is used to point out that your dress might be a little too revealing in simple words. The phrase is common in traditional parties attended by senior citizens. 

Image Credits: Unsplash/Vitolda Klein

Sweating More Than A Sinner In Church

This phrase can be applied in any situation marked with extreme heat. It may be so that the sun is dropping fireballs on the ground, and you can’t find an air-conditioned room. If you feel extreme heat, you can scream out loud that you are sweating more than a sinner in church. The phrase must be frequent when the temperature shoots past 100 degrees in the south. 

Image Credits: Unsplash/Jonny Kennaugh

'Til, The Cows, Come Home

We all know that cows aren’t the fastest animals around. As a matter of fact, they have developed some reputation for being slow—slow eating, slow-moving, and slow walking … If somebody is going to do something till the cows come home, it means they will take it all day. To be precise, it will be boring, and it’ll take an uncomfortable lot of time. 

Image Credits: Unsplash/Stijn te Strake

As All Get Out

If there is one phrase that can be used everywhere, it’s this. The phrase is used as an intensifier; let’s have a look at some examples: “I was acting crazy as all get out.” “My mom was puzzled as all get out.” If any statement is carrying "all get out" in the end, it means it is not a usual tale you hear every day. Look for more such statements in life because it would mean excitement. 

Image Credits: Unsplash/Bewakoof

If The Creek Don’t Rise

Sometimes the promises can’t be kept irrespective of how determined you are. Such a situation may arise due to unforeseen circumstances that are out of your control. For example, to cover your bases while giving your word to someone, you might say, “I’ll attend the party if the creek don’t rise.” Truly, it works better than a promise. 

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons/James Bermi

Busy As A Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

A cat cannot be on a hot tin roof for even a second. In other words, she has got to make a move immediately. Similarly, when you don’t have any time, you say you are busy as a cat on a hot tin roof. This is a polite way to tell somebody that you can’t make it because you have something significant to do immediately. 

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons/Ben Schumin

Aren’t You Precious

Okay, this one is tricky! Only southerners know the real meaning of this trendy saying. The phrase is generally used to compliment someone whom you find cute or sweet. But in the south, it is 180 degrees different. If you hear someone say, “Aren’t you precious?” Be aware that they are probably being sarcastic. They may be using the phrase to suggest that someone has done something stupid or acting lame. 

Image Credits: Unsplash/Michael Malton

Being Ugly

To be clear, this phrase has nothing to do with somebody’s physical appearance. Instead, it is a comment about a person’s bad or demeaning behavior. One can say, “Quit being ugly” to convey that their behavior or approach is not well-received and they should stop it. 

Image Credits: Unsplash/Roman Kraft

That Dog Won’t Hunt

Have you been looking for ways to tell someone that their idea is not going to work? Congratulations, you have found the right phrase! You can say that dog won’t hunt to state that the plan or idea will fail. Additionally, the phrase can also be used to mean that excuses will not be accepted. 

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons/Tadeáš Bednarz

Well, I Declare

This one phrase is interesting because it can be used in several situations. Of course, you can be declaring anything that is happy, something surprising, or dissent. No matter what you wish to declare, it would help if you remembered that the most common way to declare in the south is to be loud and proud. 

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons/Andrew

Give Her Two Nickels for a Dime, and She’ll Think She’s Rich

Southerners have a subtle way of taking a dig at someone. If they have a negative comment to share about someone or something, they find an interesting way to express it. This phrase is used to point out that someone is not very bright. However, in some instances, the phrase may be used to highlight the innocence of a child. 

Image Credits: Unsplash/Jelleke Vanooteghem

Makes Me Wanna Slap My Mama

Sometimes, the extent of happiness reaches a level where anything can come out of the mouth. This phrase originates from such situations. When you are feeling extremely joyful, you can use this phrase. After watching an extraordinary baseball game on TV, you may hear some southerners say, “The match was so good it makes me wanna slap my mama!” 

Image Credits: Unsplash/Edu Lauton

Start An Argument In An Empty House

Have you ever come across a person who makes an issue out of small, unimportant things? Well, you must have! This phrase is a way to describe their argumentative nature. If a person says that someone could start an argument in an empty house, it implies that he/she is really argumentative, and it’s best to avoid them. Though sometimes, argumentative people can be fun to listen to, right? 

Image Credits: YouTube/Cult Cinema Classics - Orion-Nova Productions/Twelve Angry Men

Slicker Than A Pig Snot On A Radiator

Again, we would like to reiterate: Southerners have developed the craziest sayings for negative people. If a person is slicker than a pig snot on a radiator, he can’t be trusted at all. There is a good chance that people won’t have any idea what you are saying if you use it elsewhere. Be aware of using this one carefully—not everyone likes being pointed out.

Image Credits: Unsplash/Cytonn Photography

It’s Raining Cats And Dogs

This is one of the most popular southern phrases that has gone global. You might have heard this one on television. It doesn’t mean that cats and dogs are falling from the skies like rain, as some kids would like to imagine. Instead, the phrase is used to highlight the intensity of rain. Simply put, you say it’s raining cats and dogs to mean that it is pouring down rain outside. 

Image Credits: Unsplash/Erik Witsoe

He Thinks The Sun Comes Up To Hear Him Crow

Those who are cocky think that the world revolves because they exist. The saying is for a person who thinks he/she is the only one important and everybody should listen to them. When you find a self-centered, cocky, or arrogant man, you can say, “He thinks the sun comes up just to hear him crow.”

Image Credits: Unsplash/Jim Tegman

Carry Me To The [Store]

Can you guess what this means? Well, if someone asks you to carry them, it simply means they are asking for a ride to the destination. This is just one southern way to ask for a lift. The destination that you want to go to might be your home, college, store, or anywhere else, really! So now you know, it doesn't literally mean getting carried.

Image Credits: Unsplash/Daniel Salcius

Doohicky Or Thingmajig Or Whatchamacallit

These are just a few words used when you can’t remember the name of an object or when you didn’t know about it in the first place. For instance, if you cannot remember the name of the thing that your mother asked you to get from the store—you will call her and say, “Hey Ma, what doohicky you wanted me to get for you on my way back home?” Doohickey is for all!

Image Credits: Unsplash/Franco Antonio Giovanella

Fly Off The Handle

It happens with everybody ... okay, most people. Sometimes, you are enjoying a nice evening, and someone comes up and starts giving you a hard time. Suddenly, you get this feeling that you are on the verge of losing your temper. Well, in other words, you are about to fly off the handle and burst out in anger. 

Image Credits: Unsplash/Ryan Franco

Living In High Cotton

If you didn’t know, cotton is one of the main crops in the south. Therefore, if you live in high cotton, you may feel rich, successful, and proud. The phrase is also issued as a warning or a word of disapproval when someone is still growing but can’t stop thinking about the things he/she has achieved.  

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons/Joshua Hines

Over Yonder

If you drive in the south and need to ask for directions, you may hear this one. People in southern states say "over yonder" to mean that a particular place or destination is in the way at some distance. It is like telling someone that their destination is a little far from where they are right now. In other regions, people won't know what you mean by "over yonder"  at all.

Image Credits: Unsplash/Raimond Klaviers

Blowing Up A Storm

Some changes may easily be observed in the atmosphere when the storm is in the building. The wind starts blowing, skies darken, and the entire feel changes. When such a situation builds up, you may hear people tell their kids or other individuals to go inside because it is blowing up a storm—all it means that there is a storm coming up.

Image Credits: Unsplash/Ricardo Resende

Gimme Some Sugar

It is a popular phrase that is used widely in Hollywood. Though the phrase's literal meaning is to pass the sugar, it refers to a south kiss. If you spend some time among a southern family with kids, you may see mama or papa asking their children to give them some sugar. The kid would come over and give a kiss on the cheek. 

Image Credits: Unsplash/Bruno Nascimento

Hissy Fit

The two-word phrase means temper tantrums of grown-ups. The phrase is often shortened to just hissy, and you may have heard someone tell you this if you are making a big scene. A true southerner gets it every time someone pitches a hissy fit, so you be careful before you do that. 

Image Credits: Unsplash/Andre Hunter

Eyeballs Are Floating

In the south, you can hear this phrase if someone needs to use the bathroom urgently. Truth be told, this phrase kind of underlines the crux of the situation. You seriously don’t know where your eyeballs are when you need to use the toilet very badly, do you? That's probably what led to the creation of this phrase. 

Image Credits: Unsplash/Sinitta Leunen

Hold Your Horses

“Hold your horses' kid; you will get to open your gifts later.” Pretty self-explanatory, huh? The phrase is used to ask someone to be patient, wait, or slow down. The phrase can be used in a variety of circumstances, from moments of excitement to danger. 

Image Credits: Unsplash/Michal Parzuchowski

Worn Slap Out Or Worn Slam Out

When you are totally exhausted, both mentally and physically, you are worn slap out. The phrase is also used to tell somebody that you have no energy left to do anything else. It is not very unusual in southern heat to get worn slap out, so people are used to it. 

Image Credits: Unsplash/Tim De Pauw

Hush Your Mouth

South is a culturally strong place where it is not ideal to speak offensively. If you say something bad or use a curse word, you may have somebody asking you to hush your mouth. In families where children can’t stop talking and keep cutting up the elders, parents may use this phrase. 

Image Credits: Unsplash/Kristina Flour

Can’t Never Could

If you think you can, you will. There is no place for the word "can’t" where dreams are born. Southerners want everybody to remember this lesson of positivity. Hence, they say can’t never could to state that one should always have high and positive spirits.  

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons/Ashley Sutz - Georgia National Guard

Barking Up The Wrong Tree

In the south, the phrase is used to issue a warning for someone to back off. “It’s been enough. You don’t know you are barking up the wrong tree.” Though, in other parts, the same phrase can tell someone that they are being misled. What does it mean when someone says, "I Reckon?" Keep reading to find out!  

Image Credits: Unsplash/NeOnbrand

I Reckon

If you believe something to be true, you can use the word "reckon." Initially popular only in the southern states, the saying is now spoken widely throughout the country. We reckon you understand it! The south has many more unique sayings that have curious and often hilarious meanings. 

Image Credits: Instagram/mikaelaville

Sho Nuff

Okay, we know it doesn’t look familiar, but does it sound familiar to you. If it does, you are right; sho Nuff is a funky version of the phrase "sure enough." Southerners say it so quickly that you can’t really get it. You can thank us later when you hear this saying down south! 

Image Credits: Instagram/livtaylortats


This is one phrase that can be heard very often in the southern part of the country. It is nothing but a shortened version of ‘you all.’ It can refer to a group of people or an individual who may be representing the group. Up next is one of our favorites! 

Image Credits: Instagram/heatherlesz

Bless Your Heart

People in the south say bless your heart either when they are politely thanking somebody or as a show of sympathy. However, there is one hidden side to this very generous-sounding phrase. In some instances, it may mean that the speaker thinks that the recipient is cute and nice but also a bit stupid.

Image Credits: Instagram/cmarieboutiqueco

Hill Of Beans

As you might have guessed, a hill of bean isn’t a real hill which means it doesn’t have a real value. Thus, you say hill of the bean when you think something is worth very, very little. It could be used for a situation, thing, or even a place. Where is the hill of beans for you?

Image Credits: Instagram/judith_rakers

Pot Calling The Kettle Black

In most blame game sessions, all the parties involved are guilty, aren’t they? When someone accuses somebody of the same mistake they have committed, this pretty understandable phrase can be used. The relation between a pot and kettle makes quite a lot of sense, right?

Image Credits: Instagram/ikolsgirl


Almost no one knows what the opposite of the backyard is. Well, southerners know what it is. You guessed it right—a Frunchard is a word southern folks used to describe the space left in the opposite direction of the backyard. Can you spot your frunchard now?

Image Credits: Instagram/cmarieboutiqueco


Highfalutin is a word you use to describe a person who is deliberately trying to be fancy or classy, and everybody notices it. Be careful because this phrase can lead to an argument with your so-called fancy friend. It is not the nicest thing you can say to someone, so be warned. 

Image Credits: Instagram/cmarieboutiqueco


Southerners have a different way of describing the high intensity of an action or situation. They use plumb in place of absolutely or totally. For instance, you can say, “I’m plumb dumbfounded to know what plumb means.” You can swap plumb with any word that means absolutely. 

Image Credits: Instagram/cmarieboutiqueco

Ain’t Got The Good Sense God Gave A Rock

It’s rude to tell someone straight away that they lack common sense. So, what’s the right way to tell them? You can say, “He Ain’t Got The Good Sense God Gave A Rock.” Well, it does not sound too bad. The best part is that the listener may not even get it. If we look closely, we will observe that every southern phrase has been crafted out from a real situation in life. The natural sense of every phrase's sound suggests its real meaning! 

Image Credits: Instagram/mcfluffyfarm

There is one thing that you cannot deny—these sayings are fun to speak about and make every sense no matter where you live. Some of these phrases can bewilder your friends and family. Now, we will have the southern touch on our words. Which phrase is your favorite from the pack? Leave us a comment to let us know!    

You May Also Like

⚠︎ Fiction content

The information in this article is finctional and created for entertainment purposes only.