Words and Phrases from James Still’s Short Stories: A Glossary

compiled by Tiffany Williams of McRoberts, KY

Resources & Codes

DARE = Dictionary of American Regional English (vol. I, Cassidy, F. & J. Hall, 1985, Harvard U. Press; vol. II, Cassidy, F. & J. Hall, 1991, Harvard U. Press; vol. III, Hall, J. & F. Cassidy, 1996, Harvard U. Press; vol. IV, Hall, J., 2002, Harvard U. Press; vol. V, Hall, J., 2012, Harvard U. Press)

      • Appalachians = Particular to the Appalachian region
      • sAppalachians = Particular to the southern Appalachian region
      • KY = Particular to Kentucky
      • eKY = Particular to eastern Kentucky

DSL = Dictionary of Scots Language (Rennie, S., 2004, University of Dundee)

DSME = Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English (Montgomery, M. & J. Hall, 2004, U. of Tennessee Press)

EAPP = Encyclopedia of Appalachia (Abramson, R. & J. Haskell, 2006, U. of Tennessee Press)

MW = Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged (2002, Merriam-Webster)

POM = Pattern of a Man (Still, J., 1976, Gnomon Press)

RRGW = Rusties, Riddles, and Gee-Haw Whimmydiddles (Still, J., 1989, U. Press of Kentucky)

SC = Sporty Creek (Still, J., 1999, U. Press of Kentucky)

WN = The Wolfpen Notebooks (Still, J., 1991, U. Press of Kentucky)

The references consulted, all of which are recognized standards in the field, were selected after a careful process of comparing available works. The books authored by Still were consulted for entries that could not otherwise be located, their merit as resources lying in their glossaries, which were compiled during Still’s lifetime or by Still himself. DARE, DSME, and MW all rely on original quotations, thus providing ample evidence (when considered alongside the entry in the context of Still’s stories) for the construction of relevant, nuanced definitions. DARE, which catalogs the speech of the entire nation, often serves to corroborate the notion of Still’s language being grounded in the Appalachian region, particularly that of southeastern Kentucky; there are several entries herein that DARE indicates are particular to Appalachia, southern Appalachia, Kentucky, or eastern Kentucky, as indicated by citation coding.

Some of the terms and expressions herein are of Still’s own invention and are not common in the speech of the region. Their inclusion is intended to enhance the interpretation of his work and foster an appreciation of his linguistic ingenuity, which draws deeply upon the local vernacular.

Select a Letter to Browse:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

a-b-abbs: (also a-b-ab’s) noun The alphabet. “Knows his figgers square to a thousand, and says his a-b-abbs, backwards and forwards.” (pg. 132). (RRGW)

addle: verb To daze. “I’d pop your jaws. I’d addle you totally.” (pg. 319). (DSME)

afeared: predicate adjective Afraid. “I’m afeared I won’t live till he gets back.” (pg. 61). (DSME)

afore: Variant of before. A. preposition “Oh hit’s a quare feelin’ to git one piece of you buried afore the rest o’ you dies.” (pg. 40). B. subordinate conjunction “Afore I got in the lot I heered her blowin’ through her nose.” (pg. 35). (DSME)

against: (also agin, ag’in’) A. preposition 1. In opposition or hostility to. “He was agin me havin’ my leg tuk off when I had blood pizen.” (pg. 39). (MW) 2. By the time of or that, before, in time for. “He poked a hand into the saddlebag against the moment the boys would go.” (pg. 353). B. conjunction By the time of or that, before. “‘Ag’in’ we go to the cockpit,’ Fedder said, ‘I’ll let you look.'” (209). (DSME)

Agin: See against.

Ag’in’: See against.

ague: noun A violent fever, especially malarial fever, usually accompanied by severe chills; symptoms associated with such a fever. “They’d throw an ague fit.” (pg. 377). (DARE)

aidge: noun Variant of edge. “I jist pull weeds and feed hit, but they hain’t got enough fleshnin’ to put an aidge on his teeth.” (pg. 195). (DARE)

aim to: verb phrase To intend to, purpose to. “We aim to settle some business tonight.” (pg. 48). (DSME)

air: verb Variant of are. “What air we aiming to do?” (pg. 300). (DSME)

airth: noun Variant of earth. “I reckon we done about everything mean thar is to do on this green airth.” (pg. 24). (DARE)

airy a: adjective Any, either; a single (compare nary a). “I have as much man-courage left as airy a person on Oak.” (pg. 85). (DARE)

all git-out: noun Variant of all get-out: The extreme (as of extent, degree, quality, or condition) encountered or conceivable–used in comparisons to suggest something superlative. “Ole Fiddlin’ Ambrose, who never harmed a critter in his life, who made ole Bollen County the best sheriff they ever knowed, and who could fiddle like all git-out.” (pg. 75) (MW)

allus: adverb Variant of always. “I allus did want me an egg tree.” (pg. 68). (DSME)

Americee: (also Amerikee) noun Variant of America. “There’s a place called South Americee, over in Lott County.” (pg. 118). “Had we the finest cellar in Amerikee, a particle o’ nothing there’d be for winter storing.” (pg. 229). (DARE)

a mind: See of a mind.

a-mind: See of a mind.

ambeer: noun Saliva colored brown by chewing tobacco juice. “He forgot to spit, and ambeer dribbled his chin.” (pg. 86). (DSME)

anticky: adjective Animated or frisky, especially in a clownish or amusing way. “Uncle Jolly came riding his anticky horse down the plank road with Jenny Peg prancing sideways.” (pg. 390). (DSME)

anty mar: noun Also antymire: An ant. “Humans a-running up and down like anty mars.” (pg. 158). (POM)

apple-jack: noun An alcoholic beverage distilled from apple juice. “‘Shade’s likker is the worst in Baldridge County,’ I faulted. ‘The sorriest since Adam made apple-jack.'” (pg. 49). (DSME)

apple stack cake: See stack cake.

ar: adverb Variant of there. “Jist as I see the log got close to my bush I swung back, a scrouging away far as I could git, buddy, and that ar log didn’t miss me a hair.” (pg. 262). (DSME)

arbor: noun An outdoor structure, such as of leafy branches spread across upright posts, in which is held a church service. “Father built an arbor there out of split poplar logs.” (pg. 69). (DSME)

ast: verb Variant of asked. “Grandmaw ast ’em what was wrong.” (pg. 263). (DSME)

auger: verb To talk, converse, chat (with); perhaps a variant of argue. “Steph would auger to git him back, and my pap would throw duck fits.” (pg. 213). (DARE)

aye: interjection Yes, oh. In mild exclamations or oaths, used to express surprise, consternation, or both. “His countenance—aye, I can’t describe it.” (pg. 51). (DSME)

aye gonnies: interjectionLiterally, I’ll bet guineas (gold). A mild exclamation or oath. “Aye gonnies, it was beyond belief unless you saw them yourself.” (pg. 80). (POM)

back to top

 

 

B

 

back and fill: verb phrase Back and forth. “They kept to their feet, backing and filling, breathing as heavily as Muldraugh’s bull had, arms rising and striking.” (pg. 52). (POM)

bad man: noun The devil; a demon or hobgoblin, used especially to threaten children to behave. “Upon my word and honor, the bad man wouldn’t claim him.” (pg. 322). (DSME)

bad off: adjective phrase Seriously ill; in poor health or great need. “Godey smiled slyly. ‘I hain’t so bad off.'” (pg. 380). (DSME)

bait: adjective A sufficient portion, enough. “I’ve had a bait of you fellers.”(pg. 323). (POM)

balk: noun A ridge of land left unplowed between furrows or formerly between the acres or fields in common lands. “Hair grew back on his noggin as thick as crabgrass in a corn balk.” (pg. 80). (MW)

banged: interjection A mild oath. “Banged if I know.” (pg. 162).

banty: noun A type of miniature chicken. “‘No harm, as I see, in a pet chicken,’ Mother said. ‘I want me a banty,’ Lark said.” (pg. 204) (DSME)

bare-bones: A. adverb  1. Bareback; without a saddle. “A saddle hurts my knee and I’d ruther ride bare-bones anyway.” (pg. 41). (DARE) 2. Deprived, sparingly, meagerly. “No use living bare-bones in the midst o’ plenty.” (pg. 205). B. adjective Emaciated, skin-and-bones. “Rant appeared bare-bones, yet in height he stood taller than the Buckhearts.” (pg. 246).

bark: verb 1. To kill a squirrel or other small animal by shooting into a limb beneath or beside it or between the animal and the limb. The shot kills the animal without mutilating it and thus preserves its meat. “He had ‘barked’ them, firing at the tree trunk beside the animals’ heads, and bringing them down without a wound.” (pg. 29). 2. To peel the bark from a log using a spud or other implement. “Fester Shattuck sat astride a beech trunk that had been felled and barked for the log-pulling contest.” (pg. 349). (DSME)

Barlow knife: noun A type of single-bladed pocket knife. “The handle of a Barlow knife protruded at an angle from his breast.” (pg. 19). (DSME)

battling block: noun A wooden block, usually in the form of a short bench, on which clothes are beaten with a battling stick to remove dirt. “Fern picked up the baby and ran around the battling block with him, running with joy.” (pg. 117). (DSME)

beat: noun Something that surpasses. “I’d never seen the beat.” (pg. 169). (DARE)

bee gum: noun A block cut from a black gum tree; a beehive fashioned from a hollowed section of the trunk of a black gum tree; now any hive for bees. “We’ll rob our bee gums and have wax in plenty.” (pg. 276). (DSME)

bee tree: noun A tree (usually a hollow one) in which a colony of wild bees nests and stores its honey. Such a tree is hunted and felled to obtain its honey or to capture the colony. “A patch of ’sang he had expected to harvest in the valley head had disappeared, and a bee tree that bore his ax-mark claim had been robbed.” (pg. 182-183). (DSME)

begats: noun Descendants. Drawn from begat, found in the King James Bible. “Hit’d take Methuselum’s begats to ready that ground for seed.” (pg. 236).

be-word: See by-word.

biddy: A. noun A young or newly hatched chicken; by extension, an affectionate term for any baby animal. Often used as a call. “Fern squatted beside it, calling, ‘Biddy, biddy, biddy,’ and four little polecats came walking to lap the milk, and three big varmints began to nibble the meat.” (pg. 260). B. adjective Small, little. “‘Gee-o,’ Father chuckled, ‘a whole bee swarm o’ chaps. Stair-steppers, creepers, and climbers, biddy ones to nigh growns.'” (pg. 227). (DARE)

big-eyed: adjective 1. Afflicted with insomnia. “Lying big-eyed in the dark I heard Father say to Mother, ‘That fire puzzles me tee-totally.'” (pg. 337). 2. Outright, unabashed. “Without a line of big-eyed lies he couldn’t have sold gnat balls and devil’s snuff boxes.” (pg. 216). (DSME)

big: verb To make pregnant (a term usually avoided in polite or mixed company). “She’s living with another man, been living with him three months. He’s got her bigged.”(pg. 388) (DSME)

bighead pin: noun Presumably, a broach. “[…] and her eyes set on the locket, for never had she owned a grain of gold, never a locket, or a ring, or bighead pin.” (pg. 222).

big one: pronoun phrase Something large, especially an exaggerated tale. “Tell us a big one while you rest.” (pg. 330). (DSME)

big ring: noun In marble play: A large circle drawn on the ground; a marble game using such a circle. “A boy named Leth came up to me and said, ‘Let’s me and you play big ring,’ and he loaned me two marbles.” (pg. 117). (DARE)

big talkers: noun Ones who talk in a exaggerated or excessive way. “You big talkers have got your women mad.” (pg. 314). (DARE)

Big Thick: noun An unabridged dictionary. “My old teacher used to say that once a body breathed chalk dust and pounded the Big Thick Dictionary he was spoiled for common labor.” (pg. 285). (POM)

biled: verb Variant of boiled. “I reckon we got enough shucky beans biled to feed creation.” (pg. 71). (DSME)

bilin’: verb Variant of boiling. “Pap jist set there a-readin’ in the paper, gittin’ all the good out o’ Treble bilin’ outside.” (pg. 34). (DSME)

birdshot: noun A small lead shot for shooting birds. “Birdshot rattled winter leaves far below us, spent with distance.” (pg. 159). (MW)

bird’s-toe: noun A kind of green with a small, white root and pink blossom that grows in rocky places. “We ate branch lettuce and ragged breeches and bird’s-toe and swamp mustard.” (pg. 341). (DARE)

blackberry winter: (also bloom winter) noun A frost or period of freezing weather especially in mid to late spring that kills buds, blossoms, and new plantings in the spring, when blackberries are in full bloom. “The garden grew as by a miracle, and the blackberry winter passed with the early April winds, doing no harm.” (pg. 101). “I recollect thinking Father would come home that day, bringing the frames to set against robbers and bloom winters.” (pg. 233-234). (DSME)

blackguarder: noun A person who uses abusive or obscene langauge; one who is disreputable or untrustworthy. “I relished talk with a speck of seasoning, and Uncle Mize was the fanciest blackguarder in the mountains, slicking the devil’s blessings over his tobacco cud, pouring on the vinegar.” (pg. 81-82). (DSME)

blackgum: noun A tupelo tree (Nyssa sylvatica). “She set up a racket when I hitched a cord around her neck, tying her to a blackgum stump.” (pg. 173). (DARE)

blind staggers: noun Dizziness of a person or animal resulting from a natural or induced condition, such as an inner ear disorder, intoxication, or consumption of certain plants. “You’re riding a horse with the blind staggers. Saddle a fresh mount, say I.” (pg. 269). (DSME)

bloats: noun Chronic stomach gas. “When I heered Treble Finney’s mare had the bloats I was sort o’ tickled.” (pg. 34).

bloodroot: noun A perennial wild plant (Sanguinaria canadensis); the red juice from its root is used to make a medicinal tea and a dye. The plant is often grown for sale. “Bloodroot blossomed under the oaks and I sat down on a root knoll, giving no thought to picking the flowers as Euly would have done, knowing they would droop almost at the touch.” (pg. 92). (DSME)

blood-son: noun Biological son. “Not since he killt his blood-son Parly nigh goin’ on twenty years ago.” (pg. 76).

bloom winter: See blackberry winter.

blow-sarpent: noun Variant of blowing adder, so called from its habit of distending the surface of its head before striking; a hognose snake. “A blow-sarpent couldn’t quile to your saw marks.” (pg. 226). (MW)

blue-back speller: noun An elementary spelling book written by Noah Webster and first published in 1783, still in use in the mountains in the early 20th century. “‘I learned as far as “baker” in the blue-back speller,’ Father said.” (pg. 116). (DSME)

bluff out: verb phrase To faze, disconcert; to suddenly embarrass and thrown off balance. “Nevertheless, be on hand and show you’re not bluffed out.” (pg. 329). (DARE)

bluing weed: noun  Also blueweed: A weed that bears blue flowers and has a long, straight root. “He dug cohosh and crane’s bill and bluing weed and snakeroot.” (pg. 342). (DARE)

bob: noun 1. An earring. “I thought of Mother’s unpierced ear lobes where never a bob had hung […].” (pg. 224). 2. A bob-white. “One blast, three bobs.” (pg. 220). (DARE)

bob-tailed: adjective Short, brief. “Reader-book yarns are too bob-tailed anyhow to suit my notion.” (pg. 293).

boil: verb Of snow: To swirl. “It’s boiling snow, but the wind’s stilling.” (pg. 313). (DSME)

boneset: noun A perennial wild plant (Eupatorium perfoliatum) whose leaves are made into a tea often used to treat colds, coughs, influenza, and various fevers. “You’d not know they were wormy if he hadn’t found out. And he offered to locate some boneset to purge them.” (pg. 217). (DSME)

bonny: adjective Having a pleasing appearance. “We rested on stumps at the top and gazed below at the corn growing black-green and bonny.” (pg. 83). (MW)

booger: noun A demon or ghost; a person having a ghostlike, disheveled, or mischievous appearance. The term is often used to threaten children to make them behave. “I’m scared to go outside. Every night I hear a booger.” (pg. 340). (DSME)

borry: verb Variant of borrow. “And they told her I’d got drowned shore, and they wanted to borry some hooks to scratch me out.” (pg. 263). (DSME)

box supper: noun A community social event to raise funds for a school or other purpose. “The pawpaws got ripe while Uncle Jolly laid out a two-week spell in the county jail for roughing Les Honeycutt at a box supper on Simms Fork.” (pg. 109). (DSME)

branch lettuce: noun An edible wild green (Saxifraga micranthidifolia/michauxii) relished by cattle and bears, and often gathered for human consumption in the early spring. “We ate branch lettuce and ragged breeches and bird’s-toe and swamp mustard.” (pg. 341). (DSME)

branfired: adjective A mild oath. “He wasn’t so branfired feisty thereafter.” (pg. 84).

brang: verb Variant of bring. “He told me to go home and not come back till after dark. And for me to brang the colt in the wagon.” (pg. 36). (DARE)

brash: noun Variant of brush. “My man’s off plowing, else he’d clean the brash out.” (pg. 252). (DARE)

brashy: adjective Hasty, rash, self-assertive. “I’ve never heard a child talk so brashy to olders.” (pg. 254). (DARE)

break of the mountains: noun phrase A gap in the mountains. “I had to travel clear to the breaks of the mountains to upturn a rock I’d spit under six months ago.” (pg. 332-333). (DARE)

breast complaint: noun Pulmonary tuberculosis. “My woman is the only one thet’s crazy, but she hain’t got the breast complaint like some o’ the women.” (pg. 196). (DARE)

breathin’ spell: noun Time to rest or take a break. “The baby is buried here, and I reckon I’ve got a breathin’ spell comin’.”(pg. 71).

breeches: See britches.

bresh: verb Variant of brush. “Hit takes a day like this to bresh up the mind and keep us beholden to the Almighty.” (pg. 56). (DSME)

brigetty: adjective Self-assertive, conceited, head-strong. “What you acting so brigetty about, Pap?” (pg. 84). (DARE, sAppalachians)

britches: noun Trousers, pants. “Ketch ’em by his britches, Pike, en throw ’em over yer haid.” (pg. 21). (DARE)

broadside: noun A sizable sheet of paper printed on one side only, especially one publicizing a controversy or official proclamation. “She goes a-traipsing all hours, selling broadsides with verses writ on them.” (pg. 141). (MW)

brogan: noun A coarse, heavy leather shoe tied with thongs, often homemade. “They would wink, and thrust their brogans at each other under the table.” (pg. 29). (DSME)

brooder: noun A hen that is incubating eggs. “Then she saw the saucer of water she had left the diddles in the brooder.” (pg. 305). (DARE)

broomsage: noun A coarse grass (Andropogon virginicus) cut and made into brooms, baskets, and other items. It often grows in open woods and abandoned fields. “Resting on the broomsage she tried to smile, but her cheeks were too tight and her teeth chattered.” (pg. 302). (DSME)

brute: noun Euphemism for bull or ox. “These brutes guarantee grease in my skillet.” (pg. 154). (DSME)

bubby bush: (also bubby tree) noun A shrub (Calicanthus floridus) whose brown flowers have a fragrant, apple-like smell, but whose leaves are poisonous when eaten. “And then she saw Harl standing beside the bubby bush.” (pg. 173). “They were fat ones, black and rotten- ripe, smelling sweeter than a bubby tree.” (pg. 109). (DSME)

bubby tree: See bubby bush.

bug-hull: noun Presumably, a watch or clock. “Hain’t more’n eight o’clock by my bug-hull.” (pg. 172).

bug race: noun Apparently, the last run of the sap during maple sugaring season, so-called because of the insects which are drowned in the sap. “The next day, I learned I was truly in for a bug race.” (pg. 327). (DARE)

bull-bat: noun A nighthawk. “I recollect bull-bats soared overhead when we reached Shoal Creek in the late afternoon.” (pg. 226). (DARE)

bull-hole: noun A bottomless hole into which defeated candidates are reputed to jump. “To the bull-hole with ’em, the whole shebang.” (pg. 348). (POM)

bull-nettles: noun Course, prickly perennial wild plants (Solanum carolinense) from whose roots a medicinal tea is made, and whose berries have medicinal properties. “Claimed it takes a spell to dig in, but after it does bull nettles hain’t a patching to it.” (pg. 377). (DSME)

bunker coal: noun Coal stored in a coal bunker, a large container outside a personal residence. “Big need for bunker coal up at the lakes, afar yonder.” (pg. 140). (MW)

bunkhouse: noun A building (or occasionally a vehicle) that provides sleeping or living quarters for groups of workers, such as ranch hands, loggers, or railroad crews. “We were to live in the one-room bunkhouse of an abandoned stave mill.” (pg. 334). (DARE)

bunty bird: noun A tailless fowl. “Peep Eye stood pretty as a bunty bird.” (pg. 245). (DARE, Appalachians)

burley: noun A thin-bodied, air-cured tobacco varying in color from buff to chocolate, grown chiefly in Kentucky and used especially in making cigarettes. “On Saturday Pap went bird- hunting, and there were quails’ breasts for dinner, and gravy brown as cured burley.” (pg. 219). (MW)

butterweed: noun A dandelion. “Sula Basham came walking, tall as a butterweed […].” (pg. 222). (DARE)

by-word: (also be-word) interjection A mild oath or exclamation formed with either by or be and used to avoid profanity. Examples include by gollyard (pg. 211), by grabbies (pg. 123), by grabs (pg. 143), by jacks (pg. 219), by juckers (pg. 170), by jukes (pg. 253), by the hokies (pg. 81), be-dabs (pg. 255), be-dogs (pg. 246), be-doggies (pg. 245), be-grabbies (pg. 206), be-jibs (pg. 228). (DSME)

back to top

 

 

C

 

cagey: adjective High-spirited, excited; sexually aroused, lusty. “I bet he’s a cagey one.” (pg. 246). (DSME)

calendar clock: noun A clock that shows the days of the week and month, phases of the moon, and sometimes other phenomena in addition to hours, minutes, and seconds. “You’re over six years old, half past six by the calendar clock.” (pg. 302). (MW)

cap lamp: See carbide lamp.

capping corn: noun Popping corn. “One house stood yellow as capping corn, and new-painted.” (pg. 153).

carbide: noun Figuratively, gasoline. “Pour on the carbide.” (pg. 376). (MW)

carbide lamp: (also cap lamp) noun A carbide-fueled lantern mounted on caps or helmets worn by underground miners. “Men went by through the mud with carbide lamps burning on their caps.” (pg. 74). “We had gone early, meeting only miners on the creek road with their mud-stiff britches rattling, their cap lamps burning in broad daylight.” (pg. 117).

carr’n crow: noun A vulture. “Yore pappy steals money off dead men’s eyeballs, and yore folks feeds on carr’n crows.” (pg. 244). (DSME)

catamount: noun A mountain panther. “Suddenly Hanley’s left arm shot out with the swiftness of a catamount’s paw […].” (pg. 19). (DSME)

catbird: noun A slate-gray, black-capped bird (Dumatella carolinensis) known for its catlike call. “Leth loaned me two marbles again, and they were the same ones—green as a catbird’s eggs.” (pg. 122). (DARE)

catgut: noun A tough cord that is made from the intestines of certain animals (such as sheep) and that is used for strings of musical instruments, for sports rackets, or for sutures in closing wounds. “But he was still strikin’ that catgut with all his might.” (pg. 78). (MW)

chancet: (also chanct) noun Variant of chance. “Oh that lead had been a-growin’ sixty-two years afore it had a chancet to do its work.” (pg. 77). “We got us a chanct to give our young ’uns a grain o’ education.” (pg. 45). (DARE, sAppalachians)

chap: noun A young child, especially a boy. “My pap could sort o’ go up to a leetle chap and they would stick out their arms and come to him.” (pg. 33). (DSME)

cheap-John: (also cheap-jack) noun A person dealing in inferior goods; by extension, one who does things in a gaudy, cheap, or inferior style; a stingy person. “‘They may bring in enough to shod you,’ Mother said, ‘if you’ll trade with a cheap-John.'” (pg. 344). “Cheap- jacks belong together.” (pg. 351). (DARE)

check-weigh-man: noun In coal mining: The person at the mines whose job is to weigh each miner’s coal to see how many pounds have been loaded, so that each miner is paid accordingly. “The check-weigh-man’s scales at the mines won’t register under a thousand.” (pg. 277). (EAPP)

cheesecloth: noun A very lightweight, unsized cotton fabric loosely woven in plain weave, used originally in cheese-making and now also for surgical gauze, costumes, curtains, and wrapping for food. “A breath of cool night air penetrated the heavy odor of camphor and warm bodies, rippling the cheesecloth curtains at the front window.” (pg. 20). (MW)

cheese pumpkin: noun A cultivated variety of pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata), perhaps so called for its relatively flat shape and cream color. “Their faces were yellow as cheese pumpkins in the reflected gleam.” (pg. 387). (DARE)

cherrybird: noun The cedar waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum). “A cherrybird’s nigh tame as a pet crow.” (pg. 106). (DSME)

chewink: noun The rufous-sided towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus). “There were no birds in the bare orchard, not even the small note of a chewink through the days.” (pg. 59). (DARE)

chicken leg: noun Presumably, a coward. “[…] if you’re yellow enough to take that I’ll call you ‘Chicken Leg’ hereinafter.” (pg. 324).

chimley: noun Variant of chimney. “Thar’s chimley sweeps raising spit to glue their nests.” (pg. 153). (DARE)

chinch bug: noun A bug (Blissus leucopterus) that is harmful to corn and grain and that smells bad when squashed. “They’re unhealthy critters, festered with chinch bugs and lice, scattering plagues of disease.” (pg. 120). (DARE)

chine-bone: noun A backbone. “Nigh broke your chine-bone hunting on this day going on three years ago.” (pg. 173). (POM)

Chiney: noun Variant of China. “I tried grubbing a pawpaw, but its roots sunk to Chiney.” (pg. 231). (DSME)

chinquapin: noun Any of several trees (genus Castanea), especially a dwarf chestnut (C. pumila) of the United States; the sweet edible nut of this tree, usually solitary in the bur. “They cocked their heads, their eyes dark as chinquapins under the bills of mine caps.” (pg. 143). (MW)

choicest: adjective Worthy of being chosen above other; of highest quality; without blemish, demerit, or disadvantage. “[…]a green-speckled shirt was the choicest garment ever a fellow could wear.” (pg. 210). (MW)

choking disease: noun Diphtheria. “Next thing we knowed diphtheria broke out and she had a doctor come and he stuck some needles in all the children and was the last we heard o’ the choking disease.” (pg. 26).

chub: noun Baby; short for cherub. “Let this chub grow up and he’ll be somebody.” (pg. 306). (POM)

chuckwill’s widow: noun A whippoorwill (Caprimulgus carolinensis), a brownish-gray, nocturnal bird with a distinctive call. “When night came we heard the first lorn cry of a chuckwill’s- widow.” (pg. 232). (DSME)

chughole: noun A depression or hole in a road. “He laughed at Cass’s complaint of the chugholes.” (pg. 334). (DARE, KY)

cin: verb Variant of can. “This ole breath cin be mighty puore and sweet when it comes to loosin’ it.” (pg. 75).

cipher: verb To do elementary arithmetic, calculate. “Hain’t nothing wrong with larning to cipher and read writing.” (pg. 107). (DSME)

clabber: noun Milk that has begun to sour and curdle. “Broadus laid over, cold as clabber.” (pg. 84). (DSME)

clar: adjective Variant of clear. “When I’m in hyarin’ distance I thanks to myself that one o’ these purty days we’ll have us another preacher, build us a church-house and have another bell as clar and sweetenin’ as the one we had afore.” (pg. 46). (DARE)

clever: adjective Good-natured, generous, obliging, accommodating; good at talking. “The Perry County woman sounds smart and clever.” (pg. 88). (DSME)

click bug: noun A beetle of the family Elateridae, so named for its capacity to spring into the air with a sharp click when laid on its back. “He cried a little, making no more sound than a click bug in tall weeds.” (pg. 117). (DARE)

clodbuster: See clodhopper.

clod buster: noun A clumsy or awkward person; a rustic person. “He’s a clod buster.” (pg. 358). (DARE)

clodhopper: (also clodbuster) noun A large shoe, especially a coarse or heavy work shoe. “These clodhoppers I’m wearing have wore a half acre o’ bark off my heels.” (pg. 204). “Reckon I’ll just make these clodbusters I got on do.” (pg. 207). (DARE)

coal camp: noun A settlement of houses (the construction of which is commissioned by a coal company) located near a coal mine and intended to house miners and their families. The mining companies often provided various community facilities, such as a store and schools. “And I never favored bringin’ up children in a coal camp.” (pg. 69).

coal gon: (also gon) noun Short for coal gondola: A railroad car with no top, a flat bottom, fixed sides, and sometimes demountable ends that is used for hauling coal. “Lark crawled around the table, pushing a matchbox, playing it was a coal gon.” (pg. 139). “The Butterfly Mine loaded its first gon of coal the last week in June.” (pg. 135). (MW)

cob: noun Something coarse, rugged, unrefined, or in poor quality; a rough person or animal. “That cob—hoofs split like stovewood.” (pg. 355). (DARE)

cob doll: noun A doll made from a corncob. “She hugged her cob dolls and pouted.” (pg. 334).

cobble-pie: noun Variant of cobbler: A deep-dish fruit pie with crust often of biscuit dough, on the top and sometimes lining the pan. “Haste the cobble-pie to the pig pen, and don’t name to the others.” (pg. 259). (DARE)

cocklebur: (also cuckerburr) noun The round, prickly seed of a wild bush. “Shaking out the saddle pad, Fester dislodged a ball of cockleburs and pressed it into the earth with a heel.” (pg. 367). (DSME)

cohosh: noun Any of several plants used medicinally, such as baneberry, cohosh bugbane (a black snakeroot), or blue cohosh. “He dug cohosh and crane’s bill and bluing weed and snakeroot.” (pg. 342). (DARE)

common: adjective Usual. “Abner asked me, ‘How’ve you been standing the times?’ ‘Common,’ I answered.” (pg. 186). (DSME)

copper: noun A penny; hence, something of little value. “‘How does he look to you, friend,’ Godey inquired, though outwardly the man appeared not to possess a copper.” (pg. 350). (DARE)

copse: noun A bunch of trees growing together in open country, especially on a hill; a piece of land covered with trees–if it is only a few acres. “At the copse of gilly trees below town, Fester gave a long eye to a pony with white stockings tied up in the shade, but nobody was about with whom to bargain.” (pg. 367). (DARE)

cord: noun A unit of wood, especially one equal to a stack 4x4x8 foot or 128 cubic feet. “I felt like cutting down a tree or splitting a cord of wood—anything to brush my mind off of Uncle Mize.” (pg. 91). (MW)

corn whiskey: noun Whiskey, usually illegal, made from sprouted corn and corn meal. “It was pure corn whiskey, distilled by the old method, as yellow as the sun.” (pg. 366). (DSME)

corpse cloth: noun A burial shroud. “The darkness there was black as corpse cloth.” (pg. 232).

cotched: verb Variant of caught. “I done a big lot o’ meanness, but it cotched up with me.” (pg. 41). (DSME)

court: verb To seek to win, gain, or achieve. “I’ll not court a wreck.” (pg. 382). (MW)

cowbird: noun A dark-colored passerine bird (Molothrus ater) native to the United States and noted especially for its habit of depositing its eggs in the nest of other birds. “It hung there scarecrowlike and I don’t reckon a cowbird lit in sight of that bush all year.” (pg. 172). (DARE)

cowcumber: noun Variant of cucumber tree: A large deciduous tree (Magnolia acuminata), perhaps so called for their large leaves. “The cowcumber trees broke blossoms the size of plates.” (pg. 340). (DSME)

cozen: verb To deceive by artful wheedling or tricky dishonesty. “‘Ah,’ cozened the grease buyer, ‘let’s cut the gab and get to cases.'” (pg. 356). (MW)

crab: verb To complain, grouse, argue. “I slipped a hand over my bruise and crabbed, ‘I reckon you know haircuts cost money in town.'”(pg. 321). (DARE)

crack-a-loo: noun A game originally played by pitching coins so as to fall on or near cracks. “While Mother washed the dishes we played crack-a-loo, pitching beans at a floor seam.” (pg. 146). (DARE)

cracklings: noun Small pieces of the rind, especially of a hog, taken after the lard has been fried out. Also, the edible fat trimmings of the entrails from which lard has been rendered; these are fried to a crisp or cooked in small loaves of corn bread called crackling bread or fatty bread. “When the cushaws were boiling Mother got out a bag of cracklings.” (pg. 148). (DSME)

crane’s bill: noun The wild geranium, a perennial plant (Geranium maculatum) having medicinal properties. “He dug cohosh and crane’s bill and bluing weed and snakeroot.” (pg. 342). (DSME)

craney crow: noun In the game of chickamy chickamy craney crow: The hawk, witch, or other predatory character. “Human craney crows, she called them.” (pg. 81). (DARE)

crap: noun Variant of crop. “A day’s coming when I’ll need help with my crap.” (pg. 60). (DSME)

crapin’: verbal noun Variant of cropping: Planting or raising a crop; farming. “We done right good crapin’ this year.” (pg. 69). (DARE)

craw: noun One’s stomach. “What lodges in my craw is the mixing of Up Yonder with a place in this world.” (pg. 274). (DARE)

crawdab: verb To move in the manner of a crawfish. “He sidled and crawdabbed until he had sorghum-holed himself.” (pg. 249). (DARE)

crawdabber: (also crawdad) noun A crayfish. “Uncle Jolly reached inside his shirt and drew out four crawdabbers.” (pg. 299). “‘Hit’s the Lord’s pity I jist got one foot,’ he said, ‘to dig crawdads with [..].'” (pg. 40). (DSME)

crazy warrant: noun An affidavit of insanity. “They swore out a crazy warrant for me, her and her sister.” (pg. 388). (POM)

creaseback bean: noun A large, curved green bean. “Mother brought a plate of creaseback beans, buttered cushaw, and a sour-sweet nubbin of pickled corn.” (pg. 151). (DSME)

creation: noun The world; creatures singly or as an aggregate; used to indicate a large proportion. “He’d open that pocketbook mouth of his, and she’d smile as if he owned creation.” (pg 176). (MW)

cress: noun Any of numerous plants of the family Cruciferae whose moderately pungent leaves are used in salads and garnishes. “There were eight poppets made from corncobs sitting on rock chairs, eating giblets of cress from mud dishes.” (pg. 67). (MW)

crossbar hotel: noun A jail. “On account of the contrariness of bee nature I suffered a month’s confinement in the Crossbar Hotel.” (pg 283). (POM)

cross-grain: verb To go against (something); to be in opposition or counter to (something). “This cross-grains my fifty-one years of ministry in His Name.” (pg. 269). (MW)

crosshatch: noun A pattern made up of one series of parallel lines crossing (as at right angles or obliquely) another series of parallel lines with the space between the lines in one series usually being identical to the space between the lines in the other series. “I could see them head to mouth, every creek and crosshatch.” (pg. 173). (MW)

crow to pick: verb phrase To have a disagreement or dispute to settle. “We have a right smart sized crow to pick together.” (pg. 365). (DARE)

cuckerburr: See cockleburr.

cudgel: verb To beat with or as if with a cudgel, a short heavy stick that is shorter than a quarterstaff and is used as an instrument of punishment or a weapon. “In the evening, while I was cudgeling my mind to decide what to do Monday, Argus brought a message.” (pg. 329). (MW)

cull: verb To select or separate out as inferior or worthless. “I ate victuals Lazarus would of culled, slept on a mattress jake-walking with chinch bugs.” (pg. 283). (MW)

cuore: Variant of cure. A. noun “I heered him tell Pap he’d better work a cuore.” (pg. 36). B. verb “Bet was a feller to eat wild fruit, a dram o’ that tonic would cuore the pizen.” (pg. 257).

curry: verb To comb the hair or coat of (as a horse) with a currycomb. “She can do everything but talk, and so gentle you can sit in a chair and curry her.” (pg. 287). (MW)

currycomb: noun A comb made of rows of metallic teeth or serrated ridges and used especially in currying a horse. “Hit’d worry the mare’s currycomb to thrash the burrs.” (pg. 259). (MW)

cushaw: noun A winter squash. “The cushaws were a wonder to see, bloated with yellow flesh.” (pg. 66). (RRGW)

cussedness: noun Spitefulness, perversity. “We’s cut saddles off of horses hitched at the church house at night just for puore cussedness.” (pg. 24). (DSME)

cut eyes: verb phrase To glance out of the corners of one’s eyes; to look furtively. “But I bethought myself: who at the dance would bother to cut eyes at me?” (pg. 49). (DARE)

cut up jack: (also cut up jake) verb phrase To be in high spirits, noisy or rowdy; to cause a disturbance. “Spring birds were cutting up jack, and the hills were the color of greenback money.” (pg. 160). “Rather to see a person cutting up jake on a horse than hear a lie-tale.” (pg. 296). (DARE)

back to top

 

 

D

 

dabbed: adjective A mild oath; a euphemism for damned. “Well, it was Harl’s time to shoot, but aye gonnies if Stote didn’t lose his nerve and shoot three bullets, one jamb after another, missing every dabbed time.” (pg. 180).

dabble: verb To wash or rinse quickly. “We men scalded the carcasses in a barrel; we scraped the bristles free with knives while the women dabbled hot water to keep the hair from setting.” (pg. 311). (DARE)

dadjim: adverb A mild oath; a euphemism for damned. “You dadjim right she can work, and she will work.” (pg. 347).

dandle: verb To ride or bounce up and down. “Will dandled two balloons.” (pg. 313). (DARE)

dasher: noun A device that usually consists of a shaft to which paddles are attached and that is used to agitate liquids or semisolids. “Jist any sweet time I kin grab a churn dasher and make butter o’ airy one o’ my sons.” (pg. 241). (MW)

daub: verb To make (a chimney, room, etc.) snug by covering cracks or crevices with mud or clay. “He scooped mud into the bucket with his hands, and I drew it to the surface and heaped it aside to daub the cracks between the logs of the house.” (pg. 200). (DSME)

deef: adjective Variant of deaf. “You hain’t deef.” (pg. 381). (DSME)

de’il: noun Variant of devil. “Hit’s the De’il, hit is.” (pg. 297). (DARE)

demijohn: noun A liquor jug. “He lifted a demijohn of buttermilk and drank it down.” (pg. 157). (DSME)

devilish: adjective Tormenting, infernal. “Uncle Jolly was devilish like that.” (pg. 64). (DSME)

devilment: noun Mischief, teasing. “A little devilment is natural amongst chaps.” (pg. 121). (DSME)

devil’s snuffboxes: noun A puffball (Lycoperdon spp), the powdery spores of which are used in traditional mountain medicine to staunch blood by placing them into a wound. “‘They ain’t nothing but devil’s snuffboxes,’ Oates said, drawing his lips down sourly. ‘They’re poison as rattlesnake spit.'” (pg. 97). (DSME)

devil take ’em: interjection A curse, an oath. “‘The Devil take ’em,’ Mother said, calming Sula. ‘Menfolks are heathens.'” (pg. 224).

dewclaws: noun The new growth of claws of an animal which is supposed to shed its claws periodically. “The scraping done, gambrels were caught underneath tendons of the hind legs and the animals [= hogs] hefted to pole tripods; they were singed, shaved, and washed, and the toes and dewclaws removed.” (pg. 311). (DARE)

Dick’s hatband: noun In various comparative phrases such as as tight as Dick’s hatband: Very tight. “Godey wagged his head. ‘Tight as Dick’s hatband,’ he informed the attendant.” (pg. 372). (DARE)

diddle: verb 1. To copulate; to cheat, swindle. “I bet this bluegrass woman never done a thing but set up in a courthouse and diddle jackleg lawyers.” (pg. 175). (DARE) 2. To fool around, waste time, pretend to be busy at accomplishing a task. “The critter’ll die while you’re diddling.” (pg. 166). (DSME)

diddle: noun A duckling or baby chick–also used as a call to such an animal. “She was as busy with her young as a hen with diddles.” (pg. 264). (DARE, sAppalachians)

dinner bucket: noun A bucket in which the midday meal is carried to school or work. “His books were caught under his arm as he hurried down the creek road, leaving hat and dinner bucket behind.” (pg. 119). (DSME)

dinnymite: noun, verb Variant of dynamite. “I oughtn’t to tried busting that dinnymite cap.” (pg. 105). “They dinnymited the tunnel betwixt them and the opening, closing up that thin- vein holler where I try out my new diggers.” (pg. 149).

dint: verb In the phrase by dint of: Through the force or power of. “His shoes had lasted by dint of regular mending.”(pg. 340). (MW)

dirk: noun A dagger, knife; a large pocket knife. “Abner raised his cattle knife dirk-fashion and stabbed the log and left it sticking.” (pg. 187). (DARE)

dirt dobber: noun A mud dauber wasp. “‘Them’s the brightest scholars ever was,’ one of the men said, ‘a-going to books ere crack of day.’ Fern spoke her scorn, though not loud enough to be heard. ‘Dirt dobbers,’ she said.” (pg. 117). (DARE)

dock: noun A perennial plant (Rumex crispus) having medicinal properties. “Father dug five-cent dock and twenty-cent wild ginger.” (pg. 342). (DSME)

doctor: verb 1. To treat (a patient or ailment) as a physician. “With the corn in we waited a few days until Grandma’s rheumatism had been doctored with herbs and bitter cherry-bark tea.” (pg. 59). 2. To adapt or modify for a desired end by alteration or special treatment. “Tell of the foot logs you doctored to snap in two under people […].” (pg. 331). (MW)

doddler: noun One who toddles or saunters about. “The old doddler has warmed the bench too long, nigh about burnt a hole in it.” (pg. 348). (DARE)

doddle: verb To shake or nod (as the head). “Doddling his head he disagreed.” (pg. 353). (DARE)

dog days: noun The period between early July and early September when the hot sultry weather of summer usually occurs; figuratively, in the phrase till dog days: For a very long time. “Fern vowed not to eat, though I remember her tongue stayed purple till dog days.” (pg. 250). (MW; DARE)

dogtick: (also dog-tick) noun A castor bean. “You ought to plant a leetle dogtick around. Hit’s the best mole-bane I ever heered tell of.” (pg. 103). “Hain’t everybody breathes till their veins get blue as dog-tick stalks.” (pg. 134). (WN)

dogtrot: noun A roofed passageway, open at each end, between two enclosed sections of a house; the floor of the passageway; a house having such a passageway. “She sat in the cool of the dogtrot, dreading the sun.” (pg. 58). (DSME)

domesday: noun Variant of doomsday. “That’ll be domesday.” (pg. 340). (MW).

dommer: noun A Dominique fowl; also any chicken with barred or mottled plumage, such as Plymouth Rock. “Mother cut the heads off of fifteen dommers.” (pg. 71). (DARE)

don’t want fer nothin: verb phrase Doesn’t lack anything. “I’m a goin’ ter see she don’t want fer nothin.” (pg. 20).

doodlebug: noun A larva of the ant lion (Myrmelion spp), especially in children’s play. “Ole Trigger came from under the house, shaking doodlebug dust off her hide.” (pg. 173). (DSME)

dough-beater: noun A wife. “They couldn’t be blamed for not finding dough-beaters when women followed shunning them.” (pg. 81). (DSME)

down: verb To speak disparagingly of someone or something. “I aim to down that woman.” (pg. 388).

dram: noun A small glass; hence, a small measure of a liquid, usually whiskey. “Paw’s got a dram hid in the loft, I reckon.” (pg. 97). (DSME)

drap: Variant of drop. 1. noun “He never tetched a drap after that.” (pg. 76). 2. verb “‘If a body here would drap this key by the commissary,’ he said, ‘I’d be obliged.'” (pg. 223). (DSME)

draughts: noun Also Polish draughts: Checkers played usually on a special board of 100 squares in which the men can take opposing men by jumping backward as well as forward and kings can go any distance in one move. “He’s yonside the commissary, playing draughts.” (pg. 214). (MW)

draw: A. noun A steep-sided gully or ravine; a stream-bed, often one that runs dry. “I heard footsteps yonside the barn in a brushy draw.” (pg. 227). (DARE) B. verb To cause to move forward or toward a surface. “Was I her pappy, I’d draw blisters with one hand, bust ’em with the other.” (pg. 87). (MW)

draw sack: noun Presumably, a sack with a drawstring. “She thrust them into an empty draw sack, stowing all in her bosom.” (pg. 207).

driftmouth: (also drift mouth) noun The opening of a tunnel; the entrance to a mine. “A new spur o’ track laid up to the driftmouth.” (pg. 136). “They were setting in wait for me at the drift mouth this morning.” (pg. 140).

drummer: noun A traveling salesman. “I recollect the June the medicine drummer and his woman came down Shoal Creek and camped three days in our mill.” (pg. 250). (DSME)

duck fit: noun A state or outburst of excitement; a reaction greater than called for; a tantrum. “Steph would auger to git him back, and my pap would throw duck fits.” (pg. 213). (DSME)

duck pillow: noun A pillow filled with duck feathers. “[…] Fern and the baby lay in Mother’s bed with their heads on a duck pillow.” (pg. 234).

dumb-bull: noun A noisemaker, especially one consisting of a resonating vessel with a taut covering through which a cord is pulled. “Ark dragged the hickory bow lightly across the dumb-bull’s string, and the sound jumped me full awake.” (pg. 159). (DARE)

dusty-dark: noun Dusk. “When I opened the door it was dusty-dark inside and I didn’t see nothin’ for a minute.” (pg. 35). (DSME)

back to top

 

 

E

 

Easter flower: noun A daffodil (Narcissus spp, especially Narcissus pseudonarcissus). “A clever place I found it, with Easter flowers blooming on leafless stems in yards […].” (pg. 153). (DSME)

eel-string: noun A shoestring. “One knelt and jerked loose the eel-strings of his brogans.” (pg. 222).

egg tree: noun A tree, often a willow or pine, decorated by stringing hollow egg shells (sometimes ones that have been colored) to its branches. “I allus did want me an egg tree.” (pg. 68).

en: conjunction Variant of and. “Ketch ’em by his britches, Pike, en throw ’em over yer haid.” (pg. 21). (DARE)

epizoomicks: noun A disease of livestock, especially horses, usually of indeterminate nature. “The word turned the agent again. ‘Epizoomicks?’ He batted his eyelids. ‘Are you referring to an epizootic, an epidemic among animals?'” (pg. 360). (DARE)

ere: subordinate conjunction Before. “I knowed you’d get dolesome ere we reached Troublesome Creek.” (pg. 105). (MW)

et: verb Ate; eaten. “Treble says he reckons he knowed his mare had et up a sack o’ sweet feed.” (pg. 34). (DSME)

everlasting: adjective Continuous, infernal. “Ole Ring heard and came up the ridge after a spell, but the pups took their everlasting time.” (pg. 175). (DSME)

everly: adverb Always, constantly. “Some folks is everly destroying and putting nothing back.” (pg. 65). (DSME)

eye disease: noun Presumably, conjunctivitis. “She gethered up all the children with the eye disease and sont ’um on to the trachoma hospital.” (pg. 26).

eye pocket: noun An eye socket. “I’ll let you spy at my eye pocket.” (pg. 215).

eyeteeth: noun Canine teeth of the upper jaw; something of great value (used in the phrase give one’s eyeteeth). “We’ve done so much setting these last eight months it’s like pulling eyeteeth climbing that hill.” (pg. 102). (MW)

back to top

 

 

F

 

f’ad die: exclamation A reduced form of if I had to die; a children’s threat similar to cross my heart and hope to die. “‘You’ll spy and won’t go.’ ‘ ‘F’ad die.'” (pg. 209). (DARE, sAppalachians)

farewell-to-summer: noun Any of several asters (Aster spp), especially the blue aster, that bloom only weeks before frost; often made into a tea. “Mother brought out an armload of yellowrods, stickweed blooms, and farewell-to-summer that Euly had stuck around in fruit jars.” (pg. 68). (DSME)

fare-you-well: (also fare-ye-well) noun The utmost degree; thoroughly; in abundance; to perfection. “Rusty jints had got warmed up, and this time we played ‘Ole Joe Clark’ to a fare-you-well.” (pg. 179). “Thrashed us to a fare-ye-well.” (pg. 291). (DARE)

far piece: noun A great distance. “I’ve traveled a far piece in my life.” (pg. 252). (DSME)

fashion: noun Custom, habit; manner, way. “You have no fashion of knowing until you’re there yourself.” (pg. 85). (MW)

fat mouth: noun One who talks too much or blabbers. “I might do ’er, fat mouth.” (pg. 355). (DARE)

fatty bread: noun Corn bread with cracklings fried inside (small pieces of the rind, especially of a hog, taken after the lard has been friend out). “Six pones o’ fatty bread I’m going to make.” (pg. 148). (DARE)

fatty hole: noun A marble game. “The boys crouched on their knees to play fatty hole, the bright marbles spinning from rusty fists into the dirt pockets.” (pg. 117). (DARE)

fee lark: noun A meadow lark. “She hid in the stickweeds to nibble at the crusts in the bucket, scattering the crumbs for the fee larks seeding the grass stalks.” (pg. 116). (DARE)

feller: noun Variant of fellow. “I bet what that feller says is the plime-blank gospel.” (pg. 108). (DSME)

fetch: (also fotch) verb To bring; to bring in, back, forth, etc. “Clebe hopped inside on his one leg, fetching out a fox squirrel by its gray brush.” (pg. 42). “When we seed Treble wasn’t comin’ out Pap told me to go fotch him.” (pg. 36). (DSME)

fetlock: noun A projection like a cushion bearing a tuft of long hair on the back side of the leg above the hoof of the horse and similar animals. “Her belly barreled, the muscles of her legs grew rigid, rear hoofs dug to the fetlocks in the earth.” (pg. 362). (MW)

fiest: noun A small, fearless dog, often of mixed breed, especially one prone to bark vigorously. “Now, I could have said it was the best fox-hunting time ever was with the leaves rattling underfoot and hounds lean as shikepokes, but she didn’t look to me like she’d know a hound from a fiest.” (pg. 170). (DSME)

fiddle: verb 1. To play on a fiddle. “Ole Fiddlin’ Ambrose, who never harmed a critter in his life, who made ole Bollen County the best sheriff they ever knowed, and who could fiddle like all git-out.” (pg. 75). 2. To keep the hands or fingers moving nervously; to work aimlessly, fruitlessly, or pointlessly; to meddle or tamper with. “You mustn’t fiddle with a butt notched log dwelling.” (pg. 280). (MW)

Fifth Sunday meeting: noun A special religious service held when a fifth Sunday occurs in a month. “I was stone-blind jealous of Harl Burke taking her to Fifth Sunday meetings.” (pg. 169). (DARE)

figger: See figure.

fightinist: adjective Most likely or eager to fight; scrappiest. “The fightinest dog would jist walk up to Pap and lick his boots.” (pg. 33). (DARE)

figure: (also figger) verb 1. To think, assume. “I figger folks voted for Ambrose ’cause he didn’t ask ’em to.” (pg. 76).  2. To make arithmetic calculations; to study or consider. “‘I learnt to figure,’ Grandma said, ‘but I never learnt to read writing.'” (pg. 62). (DARE)

final once: adverbial phrase The first, last, and only time. “And I’ll agree with a spending Democrat this final once.” (pg. 349).

firebox: noun A small, furnace-like chamber. “The room became so quiet I could hear flames eating wood in the firebox.” (pg. 267). (MW)

fit: verb Variant of fought. “‘Uncle Jolly fit him square,’ I said. ‘I heard Les cut the saddle off his nag.'” (pg. 109). (DSME)

flag out: verb phrase Apparently, to get rid of, run off. “Whoever is the teacher, I’ll have him flagged out.” (pg. 286).

flat: noun A bedbug. “[…] if the flats don’t bite you the sharps will.” (pg. 283). (POM)

flaxbird: noun A goldfinch. “Flaxbirds settled into the thickets.” (pg. 53). (DARE)

flitter: noun A pancake, usually made from corn meal and often cooked with fruit in the batter, sometimes eaten as a dessert. “He’s set us digging a vein not thick as a flitter.” (pg. 143). (DSME)

flutter-mill: noun A toy waterwheel or windmill. “Drafty as a basket the bunkhouse was, and we turned like flutter-mills before the fire.” (pg. 338). (DARE)

flying-jinny: noun A simple carousel that is made of a plank in the form of a seesaw, but that rotates. On it one or two people can ride by pushing around in a circle with the feet. “Then we went on to the flying-jinny at the pasture gap, and there stood Bailus, waiting.” (pg. 244). (DSME)

follow: verb To practice as a pursuit, activity, profession, or trade; to have a habit or tendency for. “We don’t follow having Sunday cooking on Wednesday.” (pg. 55). (DSME)

foot it: verb phrase Of a person: To hurry on foot. “See that they walk. Make ’em foot it.” (pg. 322). (DSME)

force put: noun An action about which one has no choice. “If it comes to a force put, I’ll forge a pair of shoes for her my own self.” (pg. 287). (DARE)

for sartin: adverb phrase Variant of for certain: With certainty, to be sure. “They’s another thing we’ve got for sartin, and that’s a name for this little tadwhacker.” (pg. 237). “[…] yit it wasn’t a town for sartin.” (pg. 159). (DSME)

fotch: See fetch.

foxfire: noun A luminescent fungus that grows on rotting woood, especially dogwood; the wood itself. “Anxiety burnt cold inside me, cold as foxfire.” (pg. 158). (DSME)

foxgrape winter: noun A period of cold weather in the spring. “We trembled in the night chill, for it was foxgrape winter.” (pg. 227). (DARE)

fox horn: noun A small horn, often made from a steer’s horn, used especially to call foxhounds. “He was going to wade up Caney for a mile, blow his fox horn outside Sibo’s house.” (pg. 24). (DARE)

foxtail: noun Any of several grasses, especially of the genera Alopecurus, Hordeum, and Setaria. “Or if the corn hadn’t been overtaken by crabgrass and foxtail, he might have sent me.” (pg. 88). (DARE)

franzied: adjective Variant of frenzied. “He got sort of franzied at first, but with about four or five shots o’ rotgut he’d put a case o’ dynamite under the courthouse if it entered his mind he wanted to do it.” (pg. 24). (DSME)

froe: noun A long-handled tool having a long, wedge-shaped blade at its end, used to split wood into boards, especially shingles from a block of wood. “Not a marvel the hollow is cold as a froe, having sunlight just three hours a day.” (pg. 338). (DSME)

frog: noun The palm of the hand; the pad of the sole of a horse’s foot. “I held them in the frog of my hand […].” (pg. 122). (DARE)

frog skin: noun A dollar bill. “I need me a new set of teeth, but I’ve no money. It would take many a frog skin.” (pg. 218). (POM)

funeralize: verb Of a minister: To preach a funeral sermon for, perform the last rites for; of a person: to have this done by a minister. In former days, the ceremony was sometimes held weeks after the burial, especially so that relatives could attend; a memorial service held after a person’s burial. “Father’s face darkened when Mother told him about the funeralizing for the baby.” (pg. 68). (DSME)

fun fox: noun Presumably, a prankster. “What that fun fox will do is beyond guessing.” (pg. 327).

furrin: adjective Variant of foreign; having nativity outside the local area (not necessarily from another country) and unfamiliar or unsympathetic with mountain ways. “Mrs. Keyes is furrin to these parts.” (pg. 26). (DSME)

fuss: verb 1. To raise a loud noise, become upset; a be involved in a noisy disturbance, quarrel. “We heard her fussing in the thick leaves, and we heard a cat sharpening her claws on the bark of a tree.” (pg. 97). (DSME) 2. Paying undue attention to small details. “A county lock- up needs a woman’s fussing, and a woman’s hate of gom.” (pg. 283). (MW)

back to top

 

 

G

 

galluses: noun Suspenders; the straps of a pair of overalls. “Gid latched his thumbs on his galluses and spiked his elbows.” (pg. 247). (DARE)

gambrel: noun In butchering: A stick, usually bent, used to spread and hang a carcass. “The scraping done, gambrels were caught underneath tendons of the hind legs and the animals hefted to pole tripods.” (pg. 311). (DARE)

gamer: noun A gamecock. “I aim to own a real gamer.” (pg. 211). (DARE)

gammick: verb To play, romp. “But Uncle Mize took to his rebirth like a sheep to green ivy, gammicking over his farm, beating in a crop, cussing and bossing as in younger days.” (pg. 81). (DARE)

garfish: noun A freshwater fish of the genus Lepisosteus, native chiefly to the South and the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys. “She’s bony as a garfish.” (pg. 342). (DARE)

gate post: exclamation A call of surrender. “And this was to be no fair fist scrap either, no mere knockdown combat, with the one who hollered ‘gate post’ first the loser.” (pg. 51). (POM)

gee: verb To turn right (used as a command to a draft animal). “Gee a little bit.” (pg. 361). (DARE)

gee-haw: noun Something lopsided, awry; figuratively, perhaps one’s left and right commands to an uncooperative mode of transport.  “We heard your old gee-haw four miles away.” (pg. 371). (DARE)

gee and haw: verb phrase To issue the commands gee, “turn right,” and haw, “turn left.” “On untwisting the mule’s harness, Uncle Mize started plowing himself, busting middles, geeing and hawing […].” (pg. 84).

get a hump on: verb phrase To hurry, exert oneself. “[…] you’d better get a hump on. You’re already late.” (pg. 48). (DARE)

get my ready on: verb phrase To complete preparations to leave. “I’ll not leave till I get my ready on.” (pg. 341).

get shut of: verb phrase To get (or be) rid, free, or clear of. “Get shut of them.” (pg. 322). (DARE)

giblet: noun (usually plural) An edible visceral organ of a fowl. “There were eight poppets made from corncobs sitting on rock chairs, eating giblets of cress from mud dishes.” (pg. 67). (MW)

gig: A. noun A small spear having barbed prongs, used to capture fish or frogs. “I’d had to be content drawing the water off after rainy spells and fishing the bottom with frog gig and grab-hooks.” (pg. 199). (DSME) B. verb To prod, spur, or annoy. “You can’t gig a feller laughing harder than you are.” (pg. 83). (DARE)

gill: noun A quarter of a pint. “Anyhow, being drunk, he’d have a bottle on him, and after borrowing a gill I’d skeedaddle.” (pg. 47). (MW)

gilly tree: noun The Balm of Gilead tree. “He’d loll in the shade of the gilly tree in the yard.” (pg. 81). (POM)

gingerbread election: noun An election in which candidates followed the practice of bribing voters with gingerbread cakes. “I seen Brag Thomas soak up a plug o’ lead in his heart last gingerbread election.” (pg. 75).

ginger stew: noun A mixture of ginger and diluted whiskey, often taken as a morning tonic. “Lysses stop plaguing and go make a cup of ginger stew to ease her.” (pg. 313). (DSME)

ginseng: (also ‘sang) noun A small, perennial wild plant (Panax quinquefolium) whose roots are harvested  mainly for export to Asia, where extract of the plant is used as a cure-all and especially to treat impotence, fatigue, loss of memory, and depression. The plant is most commonly known in the mountains as sang. “I’ve heard speak of families of ginseng diggers roaming the hills, free as the birds.” (pg. 340). “I heered tell a little ’sang is right quickening to the blood.” (pg. 130). (DSME)

gin-work: noun 1. Miscellaneous tasks; odd jobs, chores. “‘When a woman undertakes man’s gin- work,’ he spoke, ‘their fingers all turn to thumbs.'” (pg. 236). (DARE) 2. Equivalent to the whole crew. “Be-dabs, if the whole gin-works hain’t got the punies.” (pg. 255).

git: verb Variant of get. “I begin to git sorrier than ever.” (pg. 25). (DSME)

git up and go: noun phrase Energy, drive. “Ain’t nary woman here in these Kentucky hills got the git up and go like Mrs. Keyes.” (pg. 26). (MW)

give out: verb phrase To give up hope of seeing (someone). “I’d nigh give you out.” (pg. 208). (DARE, sAppalachians)

gizzard: noun Innards, guts; usually figurative: Courage, spirit, life. “If you go there, they’s something will scare yore gizzard.” (pg. 260). (DARE)

glory: noun Heaven. “His whole family set had gone to glory, or torment—who can say?” (pg. 80). (DARE)

goat’s-foot morning glories: noun Goutweed. “One day I had summoned the county agriculturist agent to come test the mineral content of a garden plot where I had fought goat’s-foot morning glories for years.” (pg. 398). (DARE)

gob: noun In mining (especially coal mining): Waste rock; an abandoned part of a mine, often filled with waste. “Ruther to live on a gob heap than where no girls are.” (pg. 228). (DARE)

goldenseal: noun A perennial plant (Hydrastis canadensis) having petalless flowers and inedible, raspberry-like berries; its roots are used to make a medicinal tea; used to treat mouth ulcers, certain eye conditions, and as a diuretic. “When ginseng proved scarce and goldenseal and seneca thinly scattered, Father dug five-cent dock and twenty cent wild ginger.” (pg. 342). (DSME)

gom: noun A mess or state of disarray, usually one that is sticky or dirty. “‘Appears a passing hunter slept here last night,’ Father guessed, ‘and sort of fanned out the gom.'” (pg. 336). (DSME)

gon: See coal gon.

gourd: noun A type of squash whose shallow rind is often cleaned out, dried, and formed into any of various implements and containers, such as dippers, cups, bottles, etc. “The crooked- neck gourds on the lot fence grew too large for water dippers.” (pg. 66). (DSME)

grabble: verb To dig up with the hands. “We went to grabble ratsbane and the drummer chuckled all day.” (pg. 257). (DSME)

grackle: noun Any of several rather large American blackbirds (family Icteridae) having black plumage that is glossy and iridescent or reflects metallic shades, such as green, bronze, or purple. “Grackles walked the top rail of a fence, breathing with open beaks.” (pg. 105). (MW)

grain: noun A whit, a bit; a very small amount. “I reckon he’s a grain wild and hard-headed.” (pg. 59). (DARE)

grand-daddy spider: noun A daddy longlegs spider. “An ant marched up and down, feeling along the board, and I saw four grand-daddy spiders.” (pg. 133). (DSME)

grandpap: (also grandpaw, grandsire) noun Grandfather. “Anyway my pap didn’t like his pap, and my grandpap and his grandpap swapped a couple o’ shots at each other way back.” (pg. 23). “Grandpaw went to the barn to light his pipe […].” (pg. 216). (DSME). “I’m tied to a man who is satisfied to live the same as his grandsire.” (pg. 276). (DARE)

grands and greats: noun One’s descendants; thus, a profusion of people. “It would take Adam’s grands and greats to rid that ground in time for planting.” (pg. 231).

grandsire: See grandpap.

granny: noun (also granny-doctor, granny woman) A midwife. “Pull off your shoes and socks and warm your feet. Don’t be ashamed in front of an old granny.” (pg. 310). “Was I the granny-doctor who fotched you?” (pg. 309). “The granny woman cooked up a pigeon pie for supper, but I couldn’t touch a bite.” (pg. 129). (DARE)

granny hatchet: (also granny-hatch) noun A fence lizard. “Maw vowed the brothers put her in mind of granny hatchets burrowing in a rotten log, beetle-eyed and nit-brained.” (pg. 81). “They were swift as granny-hatches in the pennyrile.” (pg. 134). (DARE)

granny-doctor: See granny.

Granny Nature: noun Mother Nature. “But after things get rolling, Granny Nature will pull the main haul.” (pg. 338).

granny woman: See granny.

grave-box: noun A coffin. “Hit’s a lot o’ tales they tell on ole Ambrose. About him scratchin’ up the grave-box with his fingernails the night after the buryin’.” (pg. 76).

grave-house: noun A crude covering of rough planks supported by four short posts, erected at the time of the burial to shelter the dead from rain, snow, and wind. “You ought to be nailin’ up a little grave-house for the baby then.” (pg. 73). (DSME)

greenback: noun A legal-tender note issued by the United States government. “The pay pocket was opened, the greenbacks spread upon the table.” (pg. 206). (MW)

green sugar top: See sugar top.

grinders: noun Teeth. “Could stand a new set of grinders the same as myself.” (pg. 357). (MW)

grippe: noun Influenza or a similar viral condition. “Let one of us get twenty or thirty years along, outlast pneumonia fever, typhoid, and grippe, we’re apt to inhabit this earth a good long spell.” (pg. 80).

grub: noun A soft, thick wormlike larva of an insect, such as a beetle. “Mulberries in the tree behind our house ripened untouched. Lark and I dared not taste, fearing to swallow a grub.” (pg. 250). (MW)

grunt-box: noun One who grumbles or complains. “Suit a grunt-box, you can’t.” (pg. 320). (DSME)

guinea: noun A guinea fowl (Numida meleagris), which was quasi-domesticated in the mountains; these birds were kept as “watch dogs” due to the frightful noise they make when disturbed, and were sometimes used for food. “Muldraugh’s works were hid as clever as a guinea’s nest.” (pg. 49). (DARE)

gullet: noun The throat of an animal. “He wriggled his arm, reaching thumb and forefinger into the calf ’s gullet.” (pg. 165). (MW)

gums pop: noun phrase Presumably, when one’s jaw trembles in response to cold; the equivalent of chattering of the teeth when the teeth are missing. “I don’t hear your gums popping.” (pg. 316).

gum up: verb phrase To ruin things, mess things up; to get the work(s) stuck. “All you’re good for is to gum up.” (pg. 384).

gunnysack: noun A coarse sack made of burlap. “Riar put a gunnysack on the grass and spread breakfast […].” (pg. 373). (DSME)

back to top

 

 

H

 

hackle feather: noun One of the long narrow feathers on the neck or saddle of a bird; the neck plumage of a domestic fowl. “Blood beads tipped his hackle feathers.” (pg. 213). (MW)

haid: noun Variant of head. “Ketch ’em by his britches, Pike, en throw ’em over yer haid.” (pg. 21). (DARE)

hain’t: (also haint) verb Variant of ain’t. “Eggshells hain’t a grain o’ good except to prettify with.” (pg. 68). “Nine days haint long […].” (pg. 111). (DSME)

hairy: adjective Difficult to deal with or comprehend. “What struck me on the hairy side was the hiring of the skunk of the universe to do their dirty work.” (pg. 349). (MW)

hames: noun Straps (made of leather, rope, or other material) that are fastened to the collar of a horse or mule. “His steed was fitted out in a platted cornshuck collar with buckeye hames.”(pg. 350). (DSME)

handkercher: noun Variant of handkerchief. “Then he went onto the porch and people crowded to pump his hand, the men sniggering fit to choke, the women giggling behind handkerchers.” (pg. 89). (DARE, KY)

hand-pie: noun A small pie shaped by hand and filled with fruit. “She handed us a plate of cold hand-pies, and a rag bag of aquilt.” (pg. 154). (POM)

hand-running: (also handrunning) adverb In immediate succession, continuously. “For days hand-running Uncle Mize would say to Bot, ‘Bohannon’— that was Bot’s real name—’read that there letter again.'” (pg. 87). “Deat Sheldon claims he made twenty dollars, four days handrunning.” (pg. 210). (DSME)

hanker: verb To have a strong or persistent desire. “When you stump playing wild man you might hanker to return to civilization.” (pg. 336-337). (MW)

hap: adverb Perhaps. “Then hap baby will go to sleep.” (pg. 232).

hard number: noun One who is strong-willed and tenacious physically. “The boilers of hell would explode did this pair lock horns. Hard numbers, the both.” (pg. 48).

hardtail: noun A mule. “Lumbering beats grubbing new-ground in February and pushing a hardtail along a corn furrow in the heat of the gnats.” (pg. 391). (DSME)

hate: verb To regret; to mourn, feel sorry about. “I hate like rip to call the old man down. I hate to.” (pg. 217). (DARE, KY).

haw: noun A hawthorn tree; a berry of the hawthorn tree. “Beneath a haw where leaves were drifted she drew her coat tight about her shoulders and closed her eyes.” (pg. 303). (MW)

hawker: noun A street vendor or itinerant peddler. “The medicine hawker and his sidekick were not to be discovered.” (pg. 348). (DARE)

hazel bush: noun Any of a genus (Corylus and especially the American C. americana and the European C. avellana) of shrubs or small trees of the birch family bearing nuts enclosed in a leafy involucre. “Hazel bushes bust blossoms the first month of the year.” (pg. 82). (MW)

head: noun The upper or higher end or the part most distant from an entrance; the source of a stream. “Years ago when I lived in the head of Jump Up Hollow I went a-fishing on Shikepoke Creek.” (pg. 220). “We reached the head of Little Carr Creek when the sun-ball stood overhead.” (pg. 109). (MW)

heap: noun Many, a great deal of (usually in the phrase heap of); much, extremely. “I thought a heap o’ my brother Tom for doin’ that for me.” (pg. 40). (DSME)

heat-booger: noun A ghost-like mirage produced during times of considerable heat. “Uncle Jolly rode past Surrey School on an August afternoon when heat-boogers danced the dry creek- bed and willows hung limp with thirst.” (pg. 293). (DARE)

heered: verb Variant of heard. “I heered him tell Pap he’d better work a cuore.” (pg. 36). (DSME)

heir: verb To inherit. “Allus I’ve aimed to have a house built on the acres we heired on Shoal Creek o’ Troublesome.” (pg. 205). (DSME)

Hell’s bangers: exclamation An oath expressing exasperation or surprise. “I heard a little creak- creak, and hell’s bangers if a rock size of a washpot didn’t come down a-front o’ me.” (pg. 141). (DARE, sAppalachians)

hen-fooler: noun A small gourd used as an artificial egg. “I gave him a hen-fooler to play with.” (pg. 167). (SC)

het: verb Variant of heated. “She was that het up.” (pg. 176). (DSME)

hie: verb To go quickly, hasten. “I reckon nothing will do but I hie at daybreak to Tillett’s and ’gin making them.” (pg. 228). (MW)

highboy: noun A tall chest of drawers with a legged base. “He lifted the great Bible from the maple highboy.” (pg. 55). (MW)

high-low-jack: noun A card game, in which high, low, and jack of trumps represent three of the points. “Hit’s high-low-jack, and them fools lose every button cent.” (pg. 211). (DARE)

hightail: verb To move at full speed or rapidly, often in making a retreat. “It was a lonesomey place and I longed to hightail it.” (pg. 49). (MW)

hillock: noun A small hill. “The path curved among the hillocks of earth, running before him into the hills.” (pg. 57). (MW)

hip-roof: (also hip roof) noun A roof having sloping ends and sloping sides. “The hip-roof was broken and sagging.” (pg. 95). “The hip roof had its back broken.” (pg. 195). (MW)

hit: pronoun Variant of it. “Hit was a male.” (pg 35). (DSME)

hit a lick: verb phrase To lift a finger, make an effort, work on (usually in negative constructions). “We swear not to hit it another lick till spring.” (pg. 241). (DARE)

hits: possessive pronoun Variant of its. “Thar might be a spring lizard sticking hits head out o’ the mud.” (pg. 106). (DSME)

hobby bread: noun A small, round cake made of corn meal. “At eleven, after the sun had finally topped the hills, Mother made hobby bread and fried salt meat.” (pg. 337). (DARE)

hocus: verb To perpetrate a trick or hoax on. “Yet I doubt he’d let pass a chance to hocus any person.” (pg. 327). (MW)

hoe cake: (also hoecake) noun A flat cake of corn bread, usually the size of the hand or shaped by hand, originally baked on a hoe, on a board set in the hot coals of a fire, or in a Dutch oven. “Uncle Mize ate common at breakfast: two hoe cakes, butter and molasses, a slice of cob smoked ham.” (pg. 89). “Grandma looked hard at the hoecake, then broke a piece for me […].” (pg. 129). (DSME)

hogback: verb To desert a political party. “I get a vote any way can be got, buy or swap, hogback or straddle-pole […].” (pg. 113). (DARE, eKY)

hog-kill: noun An annual neighborhood gathering to butcher hogs in the late fall. “He’s wanting you to come enjoy a hog-kill at his place next Thursday.” (pg. 309). (DSME).

hog-killing time: noun A day during the winter, especially after the first frost in November, when temperatures are ideal to safely preserve freshly dressed pork. “Hit’ll keep me here plumb till hog-killing time.” (pg. 114). (EAPP)

hold your ‘tater: verb phrase To be patient, wait, not be hasty. “‘Hold your ’tater,’ Mace said, ‘and directly I’ll tell what you’re assessed.'” (pg. 332). (DARE)

holler tail: noun Also hollow tail: A nonspecific debility of cattle, usually attributable to dietary deficiency, and erroneously thought to be treatable by splitting the cow’s tail and applying a substance, such as salt and pepper or turpentine. “I hope yore whole gang dies o’ the holler tail.” (pg. 156). (MW)

hollow: (also holler) noun A gap between ridges; a small, sheltered valley that may or may not have a watercourse. “It’s a sight on this green airth what that woman has done to this hollow.” (pg. 26). “Smoke blowing and a-blacking, no matter where you set down in Blackjack holler.” (pg. 136). (DSME)

holp: verb Variant of helped. “Baldridge holp us lay-by our crap two days ago […].” (pg. 38). (DSME)

holt: verb Variant of hold. “Oncet I took holt of her tail and wrung it right good.” (pg. 97). (DSME)

homeseat: noun Home place; place of residence. “A fair homeseat we’ll have once the crop’s planted, and they’s a spare minute.” (pg. 228).

hominy: noun Whole or ground kernels of corn separated from the hull and germ and usually prepared by boiling. “She knelt by the hearth, frying a skillet of hominy, cooking it mortal slow.” (pg. 227). (DARE)

honeyvine: noun  Also sand vine: a scrambling vine (Ampelanus albidus) of the southeastern United States related to the milkweeds and having a milky juice. “While I drew off the water and threw it on the ground, the well digger rested in the shade of the honeyvines.” (pg. 199). (MW)

hookety-hook: adverb phrase Presumably, back and forth. “‘You snore just to make the music, aye?’ said Riar. ‘It was hookety-hook between you.'” (pg. 372).

hooty-owl: noun A owl that hoots, such as the barred owl or the great horned owl. “Broadus and Kell were stretched behind a dead chestnut, a fruit jar between them, drunk as hooty owls.” (pg. 84). (DARE)

hopper: noun A usually funnel-shaped receptacle for delivering material, such as grain or coal. “Corn in the hopper and meal in the sack.” (pg. 206). (MW)

hornbeam: noun A small, often crooked tree (Carpinus caroliniana) noted for its strong, hard wood. “The mare drank her fill and Father tied her to the muscled limb of a hornbeam while we scooped up water in our hats.” (pg. 110). (DARE)

horse apple: noun 1. A variety of large, yellow apple that ripens in early August. “There was a baked horse apple in my bucket, oozing sugar from the top […].” (pg. 124). (DSME) 2. A piece of horse manure. “Riar’s mule came to view, a spool of slobber dangling from its muzzle; horse apples steamed.” (pg. 365). (DARE)

horse doctor: (also hoss doctor) noun A veterinarian, often one without formal training. “I ain’t a regular horse doctor, and got no right to charge.” (pg. 97). “Pap says hit takes a hoss doctor to tell what’s the matter with stock.” (pg. 34). (RRGW)

horsemint: noun A perennial plant (Pycnanthemum incanum) used as a spice. “We were there at daylight, chopping at horsemint and crab grass with blunt hoes.” (pg. 66). (DSME)

horse-mule: noun A male mule. “A horse-mule stubs pine-blank like a man.” (pg. 162). (DARE)

horse-swapping court: noun When a group of horse traders (often ones who followed a judge’s circuit from county to county) would congregate at a county seat for a week or two while annual local court was in session in order to swap horses and other animals. “The weeks had gone by and he had not come into the county seat at horse-swapping court or the last gingerbread election.” (pg. 39).

horsetails: noun A type of cirrus cloud, fleecy and delicate, usually preceding rain. “There were no clouds other than a scattering of horsetails.” (pg. 53). (DARE)

hoss doctor: See horse doctor.

hum-bird: noun Variant of hummingbird. “That spindling Branders stranger couldn’t make a hum bird a living.” (pg. 248).

hump: verb To exert oneself; to hurry. “A walker had a foot stepped on and let out a yowl that brought the county agent humping.” (pg. 352). (DARE)

hurrah’s nest: noun A place or thing in disorder, confusion, or a mess. “It’s worth it to fly out of this hurrah’s nest.” (pg. 351). (DSME)

hyar: A. adverb Variant of here. “Brang Luke over hyar, Byson.” (pg. 19). (DSME) B. verb Variant of hear. “When I’m in hyarin’ distance I thanks to myself that one o’ these purty days we’ll have us another preacher, build us a church-house and have another bell as clar and sweetenin’ as the one we had afore.” (pg. 46). (DSME)

back to top

 

 

I

 

idjit: noun Variant of idiot. “[…] you’re an idjit if you think I’m mixing in your and Cletis’s scrapes.” (pg. 48). (DARE)

if’n: conjunction Variant of if. “If’n I had me one I’d give nigh everthing […].” (pg. 95). (DSME)

Ike Pike: noun An arrogant or self-important person. “Todd smoking a cob pipe Grandpaw made for him, a-blowing smoke big as Ike Pike.” (pg. 221). (DSME)

in a bad way: prepositional phrase In a seemingly hopeless situation. “You’re in a bad way.” (pg. 321).

in a bull hole: prepositional phrase Stuck. “‘He’s not paid me neither,’ Ark said. ‘He’s got us in a bull hole.'” (pg. 154).

in a notion: prepositional phrase In the mood, inclined; in favor (of something). “I hain’t in a notion yet setting aside for tombstone and coffin box.” (pg. 210). (DARE)

Irish potatoe: noun The common white potato (with Irish added to distinguish it from a sweet potato). “After warming, I dug in the garden, unearthing a hatful of Irish potatoes and a few onions.” (pg. 191). (DSME)

back to top

 

 

J

 

jack: noun 1. A male donkey, a jackass (Equus asinus). “A man on a jack drew rein in the boys’ path and gave Riar’s mule calculated inspection.” (pg. 350). (DSME) 2. A man or boy–used as a form of address. “Every man jack of us had to go to the bull-hole.” (pg. 291). (DARE) 3. A pocket-knife. “It was a two-bladed Barlow jack B. J. Claymore sold for seventy-five cents.” (pg. 186).

jackleg: adjective Usually a member of an occupational group: Inept, untrained, unprofessional; dishonest. “I bet this bluegrass woman never done a thing but set up in a courthouse and diddle jackleg lawyers.” (pg. 175). (DARE)

jack rock: (also jackrock) noun Waste rock associated with coal, as shale or limonite. “And by grabbies if he didn’t put them to snagging jack rock.” (pg. 140). “Mine put fifty men hauling fallen jackrock and setting new timbers.” (pg. 135). (DARE)

jake: noun A rustic person, especially one who is uncouth or inexperienced. “Tell that young jake to git his growth.” (pg. 248). (DSME)

jake-walking: verbal noun Incapacitation of the legs that often manifests in an awkward, flat- footed walk and is a result of permanent damage done to the nervous system, caused by drinking poor-quality liquor. “I ate victuals Lazarus would of culled, slept on a mattress jake-walking with chinch bugs.” (pg. 283). (DSME)

jam cake: noun A spice cake flavored with jam. “We sat to a feast of potatoes, hominy, cushaw, beans, fried and boiled pork, baked chicken, buttered dumplings, gravy, stacks of hand- pies, and jam cake.” (pg. 314). (DSME)

jander: noun 1. (usually plural) Variant of jaundice. “The shucky beans got done; the cushaw pies, yellow as janders, were shelved behind the stove.” (pg. 148-149). 2. Yellow; used to refer to bread that has a yellow color due to an excess amount of baking soda. “A pone Father baked was a jander of soda.” (pg. 251). (SC)

Jape: adjective Japanese. “Why didn’t you follow the pattern of other soldier boys and bring home fighting knives and German guns and Jape swords?” (pg. 270). (POM)

jar-fly: noun A cicada. “A jar-fly fiddled in the maple shading the yard and buttery croaks of a frog sounded from the meadow.” (pg. 56). (DSME)

jasper: noun A fellow, guy, especially a rustic, stranger, or one who behaves unacceptably. “That’s what the jaspers on the inside call it.” (pg. 283). (DARE)

jaw: verb To talk with some intensity or at some length, especially with no particular purpose in mind. “Jawing with Uncle Mize they would presently feel content to wring the pleasures such as they were from this world […].” (pg. 81).

jimson weed: noun An intensely poisonous, tall, coarse annual weed (Datura stramonium) having rank-smelling foliage and large white or violet trumpet-shaped flowers that are succeeded by globose prickly fruits. “Jimson weeds were cut out of the backyard, and the woodpile straightened.” (pg. 71). (MW)

jinny: noun Variant of jenny: A female ass or mule. “Once he had a jinny to die after he’d called Pap too late.” (pg. 33). (DARE)

jint: noun Variant of joint; pronounced to rhyme with “pint.” “It was time to swang, and I swung like my jints was frost-bit.” (pg. 79). (DARE)

jist: adverb Variant of just. “Pap jist sent me out to tell him he’d be there in a minute.” (pg. 34). (DARE)

Job’s Tears: noun Hard, pearly white seeds often sold as beads or strung in necklaces. “She brought out a string of Job’s tears she had been threading.” (pg. 61). (MW)

john corn: noun Corn liquor. “Air you been dranking john corn.” (pg. 245).

johnny-humpback: noun An earthworm. “Looks like a johnny-humpback,” he said. It did look like a worm.” (pg. 135). (DARE)

johnny-walkers: noun Long wooden poles (often fashioned from small trees or branches) with a footpiece that children walk around on to make them tall; stilts. “She retraced her steps, walking stiffly as upon johnny-walkers, holding her hands before her.” (pg. 305). (DARE)

joree: noun The towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus). “Gazing into his mouth was akin to peeping into a hollow stump nested with joree eggs.” (pg. 80). (DSME)

jowl: noun Jaw; cheek. “I get my jowls slapped.” (pg. 286). (MW)

jumping-off-place: noun A place regarded as marking the farthest limit of civilization; a remote or isolated place. “Keg Branch was in the upper part of the county—’the jumping-off-place,’ some folk call it.” (pg. 326). (MW)

June bug: noun Any of numerous rather large leaf-eating scarabaeoid beetles that fly chiefly in late spring. “I found a June bug and tied a sewing thread to its legs, letting him hold the thread while the bug flew around and around, wings humming like a dulcimer string.” (pg. 137). (MW)

back to top

 

 

K

 

keen: verb To put a sharp edge on. “Then he keened his eyes at Mother.” (pg. 205). (MW)

keep a peg on: verb phrase To keep tabs on. “Bot Shedders stopped by every mail day, keeping peg on Uncle Mize’s health, delivering more letters.” (pg. 87).

keer: verb Variant of care. “Old Aunt Dosha, if you don’t keer I’ll leave my demijohn setting right here.” (pg. 355). (DARE)

ketch: verb Variant of catch. “Ketch ’em by his britches, Pike, en throw ’em over yer haid.” (pg. 21). (DSME)

killt: (also kilt) verb Variant of killed. “Not since he killt his blood-son Parly nigh goin’ on twenty years ago.”(pg. 76). “He’d kilt two men, I’d heered it told.” (pg. 33). (DSME)

kin: A. verb Variant of can. “Naw you, you kin do better’n me.” (pg. 21). B. noun Related by blood, an individual blood relation. “Even if they are your blood kin, we can’t feed them much longer.” (pg. 28). (DSME)

kingdom come: noun The Second Coming, Judgment Day. “You couldn’t save enough by Kingdom Come.” (pg. 212).

kit: noun A wooden tub or small barrel (as for butter, milk, water, fish). “I’m a-mind to buy a whole wooden kit o’ mackerel.” (pg. 204). (MW)

kiver: Variant of cover. A. verb “They kivered the grave with yellowrod.” (pg. 40). B. noun “The next thing I know I was in the house, and thar was a granny woman setting beside the bed with something wrapped up in a kiver.” (pg. 129). (DSME)

knob: noun A high point on a mountain ridge, the top of a mountain, often a rounded one. “The moon set behind Crofts Knob, and it got chilly.” (pg. 176). (DSME)

knowance to: adjective phrase Knowledgeable about, aware of. “I’m knowance to the fact.” (pg. 351). (DARE, sAppalachians)

knucks: noun Brass knuckles: A set of four metal finger rings or guards attached to a transverse piece and worn over the front of the doubled fist for use as a weapon. “Hit’s not honest to fight with knucks unless a feller’s bigger’n you.” (pg. 239). (MW)

back to top

 

 

L

 

ladybean seed: noun The seed of a variety of runner bean, also called painted lady bean. “I saw her teeth were white as ladybean seeds and even-set as corn grains on a nubbin.” (pg. 171).

lak: conjunction Variant of like. “Then it ’pears to me lak she’s shorely got her hands full […].” (pg. 27). (DARE)

larn: Variant of learn. verb 1. To learn. “No man kin larn squar’ to the end o’ nothin’.” (pg. 33). 2. To teach. “Oh, she’ll larn all her children to grow up hating their ol’ Granny.” (pg. 60). (DSME)

latch pin: noun A safety pin. “I wore an old mine cap with a carbide lamp hung over the bill, the round of the head pinched and fastened with a latch pin.” (pg. 122). (DSME)

laurel: noun The mountain term for evergreen rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum and Rhododendron catawbiense). “They stood by the table and studied the dishes, rimmed with laurel buds.” (pg. 55). (DSME)

‘lassy: See molasses.

lazy-wife bean: noun A legume planted next to the house so the bean can be picked with little effort. “He swept an arm toward gourds of lard, strings of lazy-wife beans […].” (pg. 240). (DSME)

learnt: verb Variant of learned. “And I learnt a bat’s not a bird.” (pg. 120). (DSME)

leetle: adjective Variant of little. “My pap could sort o’ go up to a leetle chap and they would stick out their arms and come to him.” (pg. 33). (DARE)

let on: verb phrase To divulge, disclose, betray. “When I tapped your head last, I heard more brains than I let on.” (pg. 394). (DSME)

lick: noun A punch, hit, or blow. “Swapping licks was Godey’s delight.” (pg. 318).

lief: adverb Gladly, willingly, likely, rather (especially in phrases as lief, just as lief). “A fellow might as lief hang red on a bull’s horns as yell that taunt passing a schoolhouse in those days.” (pg. 292). (DSME)

light, light out: verb, verb phrase To depart or leave in haste. “Harl lit for the door.” (pg. 179). “When I seen everythang was all right I lit out for the house.” (pg. 35). (DSME)

light a shuck: verb phrase To run fast, leave in a hurry. “I whistled up Trigger and lit a shuck down the road.” (pg. 179). (DSME)

lights: noun The lungs of a hog eaten as a dish of food. “Want the lights saved?” (pg. 312). (DSME)

like forty: adverb Used in comparative phrases for emphasis or to indicate a great or extreme degree. “Her turkeys are croaking like forty.” (pg. 360). (DARE)

like rip: adverb phrase A mild oath. “I hate like rip to call the old man down. I hate to.” (pg. 217).

limber-jim: noun A small switch used to whip children. “She wouldn’t spare the limber-jim.” (pg. 216). (DARE)

limerock: noun Limestone. “I squatted on the limerock hearth before an ashhill where the bread baked.” (pg. 127).

linn: noun Short for linden: A tall forest tree (Tilia americana or Tilia glabra) of eastern and central North America, also called American Linden or basswood. “We thatched the roof with branches of linn.” (pg. 69). (MW)

linsey: noun A strong, coarse fabric, the warp of which is sometimes linen and the web of which is sometimes woolen (later cotton). “We polished them with linsey rags until they shone.” (pg. 152). (DSME)

lit: See light, light out, light a shuck.

locust: noun 1. Any of various hard-wooded trees of the family Leguminosae. “The flat fruit of the locust fell, lying like curved blades in the grass.” (pg. 116). 2. A grasshopper of the family Acrididae, especially any of numerous migratory grasshoppers that often travel in vast swarms and strip the areas through which they pass of all vegetation; sometimes a cicada. “It was the time seventeen-year locusts cried “Pharaoh” upon the hills […].” (pg. 250). (MW)

log butt: noun The base of a tree trunk; the big end of a log. “By the size of the log butts I judge the fire was built yesterday.” (pg. 336). (MW)

log-pull: See log-pulling.

log-pulling: (also log-pull) noun A contest to see which horse or mule can pull a log the farthest. “[…] the judge paying four dollars out of his pocket for a day’s rent, as well as putting up five as a prize for the log-pulling contest.” (pg. 346). “But if the ranks of the traders thinned, there was a gain in onlookers from the town roosting above the commotion, apparently awaiting the log-pull, as nothing else promised.” (pg. 354).

long eye: noun A covetous glance. “At the copse of gilly trees below town, Fester gave a long eye to a pony with white stockings tied up in the shade, but nobody was about with whom to bargain.” (pg. 367). (DARE)

long-johns: noun Long underwear. “[…] hay doodles in Alonzo Tate’s pasture, a crazy chimney leaning away from a house, long-johns on clotheslines.” (pg. 319). (DARE)

low-rate: verb To denigrate, criticize, disparage. “They low-rated him partly because he didn’t belong to their congregation […].” (pg. 81). (DSME)

back to top

 

 

M

 

madder: noun A plant whose root was once used in dyeing chiefly because of its content of alizarin in the form of the glycoside ruberythric acid, which produced a brilliant, durable red upon cotton. “You couldn’t learn till rain washed away the pokeberry and madder dye.” (pg. 328). (MW)

mail hack: noun A horse-drawn cart used by a postal worker to transport mail. “The mail hack had passed, and the wheels had rutted their tracks in the creek road.” (pg. 53).

make-like: A. verb To pretend. “I spoke small into his ear, ‘Act it’s not so,’ but Morg could never make-like.” (pg. 267). B. adjective Pretended. “He sniffled, but I saw it was make-like.” (pg. 244). (DARE)

mam: noun A mother. “Mam told me to git out o’ that mud, or I’d stick something in my foot.” (pg. 262). (DARE)

Man Above: noun God. “Why, we’ve got a cellar dug by the Man Above.” (pg. 237).

mare-mule: noun A female mule. “And at this juncture the owner of the mare-mule, addled though he was, withdrew from the competition.” (pg. 361). (DSME)

mark: noun A physical or mental peculiarity of an unborn child, supposed to be a direct consequence of an experience of the mother’s or an event during her pregnancy. “‘Hi, now, you git inside,’ Brack said, and I did, fearing my child would bear a mark if I tuk a sudden fright.” (pg. 127). (DARE)

married-kin: adjective Related by marriage. “I’m married-kin to plenty of folks in your territory.” (pg. 283).

martin: noun A small European swallow (Delichon urbica) having a moderately forked tail, bluish black head and back, and white rump and underparts. “Martins flew the valley after the sun was gone, fluttering sharp wings, slicing the air.” (pg. 108). (MW)

martin pole: noun A pole upon which are hung hollowed-out gourds used as bird houses. “The crooked-neck gourds on the lot fence grew too large for water dippers. They were just right for martin poles.” (pg. 66).

mast: (also mast-ball) noun A season’s accumulation of fallen nuts, seeds, berries, and similar fruit of the forest forming the natural diet of bears, wild hogs, and other animals. “The pigs came down out of the hills from their mast hunting […].” (pg. 72). “Loneliness swelled large as mast-balls inside of us.” (pg 232). (DSME)

master: adjective Exceptional, superb. “The master crop of corn you’ve raised is the wonder of the county.” (pg. 290). (DSME)

maw: noun Variant of mother. “On account of his years, Maw and the other women on Oak were easier on Uncle Mize than on his sons.” (pg. 81). (DSME)

meal mush: noun Cornmeal boiled in water, eaten hot as a cereal or pudding, fried as cakes, or molded until cold and then sliced and fried. “Mother was cooking a skillet of meal mush and the air was heavy with the good smell.” (pg. 206). (MW)

mealy-mouthed: adjective Unwilling to tell the truth in plain language, tending to cloak thoughts, ideas, or intents by the use of obscure or devious language. “Mealy-mouthed, two-faced, slick as a dogwood hoe handle.” (pg. 284). (MW)

meanness: noun Mischief, mean-spirited behavior, a spiteful or nasty act. “He’d look guilty as the devil for a month after we’d pulled a little meanness.” (pg. 24). (DSME)

meatbox: noun A container used to store preserved meat. “I licked the flakes of salt off the meatbox with my tongue.” (pg. 133).

menfolks: noun Men; the men of a family or community. “Menfolks are heathens.” (pg. 224). (DARE)

mess: noun A collection or portion. “I’m goin’ to have me a mess o’ martins livin’ in them gourds.” (pg. 67). (DSME)

Methuselum: noun Variant of Methuselah: A Biblical patriarch represented as having lived 969 years; a person of great age. “And, by the gods, I believe I’m a brother to Methuselum.” (pg. 82). (MW)

midge: noun Any of numerous tiny two-winged flies chiefly of the families Ceratopogonidae, Cecidomyiidae, and Chironomidae, many of which are capable of giving painful bites and some of which are vectors or intermediate hosts of parasites of man and various other vertebrates; by extension, something very small. “I lay quiet, listening, and my ears were large with dark, catching midges of sound.” (pg. 234). (MW)

milkweed: noun A plant of the family Asclepiadacceae, so named for its milky juice. “The fall had been dry and the giant milkweed pods broke early in September.” (pg. 58). (DARE)

millet: noun Any of various small-seeded annual cereal and forage grasses that produces an edible grain. “They lay on the ground, green as millet juice.” (pg. 126). (MW)

mind: A. noun Attention, heed (especially in the phrase pay no mind). “If I was actin’ quare nobody paid me any mind.” (pg. 79). B. verb To watch, attend to. “I’d go along peart. I’d not mind my hand.” (pg. 105). (DSME)

mine props: noun Timbers used to prop up a mine roof. “These logs are going into mine props.” (pg. 186).

mite: noun A bit, small amount. “Dan sprang forward and caught the calf’s hind legs, not flinching a mite.” (pg. 166). (DSME)

mize: verb To act like a miser; to hoard (money). “How much money have you mized.” (pg. 212). (DARE)

moggy: adjective Perhaps, a fusing of muddy and boggy. “The draw was a moggy place.” (pg. 231).

molasses: (also molassy) noun A common liquid sweetener made from sorghum. “And I reckon they’ll fetch us back a jug full of molasses.” (pg. 42). “I sat on a heap of milled sorghum stalks, my molassy spoon ready, anxious to taste the foam.” (pg 246). (DSME)

moon-ball: noun The moon. “He cocked his chin and sighted the moon-ball.” (pg. 48). (DARE)

mort: noun A great quantity, much. “A mort of things she had told Father before he had gone to raise the dwelling.” (pg. 226). (DSME)

mortal: adjective Extreme, utter. “Hit’s mortal sin to make gypsies of a family.” (pg. 223). (DSME)

mortally: (also mortal) adverb Extremely, utterly. “Maw did mortally relish partridge.” (pg. 220). “She knelt by the hearth, frying a skillet of hominy, cooking it mortal slow.” (pg. 227). (DSME)

mought, mought’n: verb Variant of might, might not. “‘[I] Mought and I mought’n,’ Jubal said. ‘Pike kin have first try.'” (pg. 22). (DARE)

mouth: noun A point at which a hollow opens or widens into a larger area. “Father met Preacher Sim Manley at the mouth of Flaxpatch Saturday morning […].” (pg. 71). (DSME)

mouth-harp: noun A harmonica. “Now, I’m right clever on the mouth-harp.” (pg. 175). (DSME)

muleycow: noun A hornless cow or ox. “These boys’d scare worse’n muleycows at the sight o’ a train engine.” (pg. 156). (DSME)

mullein: noun An herb of the genus Verbascum. “Ring’s ears were big as mullein leaves […].” (pg. 170). (MW)

mulligrubs: noun Ill temper, sulkiness, despondency, vague unwellness. “She was heartsick with the mulligrubs.” (pg. 226). (DSME)

mumbly-peg: noun A game in which the players try to flip or throw a knife from various positions so that the blade will stick into the ground upright. “And I thought of one-eyed Fedder Mott, who oft played mumbly-peg with me […].” (pg. 204). (MW)

music engine: noun Perhaps a calliope, a musical instrument consisting of a series of crude steam or air whistles used on riverboats and in circuses and carnivals. “The carnival folk yawned in the sun, blinking like owls. A music engine played.” (pg. 278). (MW)

mustache cup: noun A cup having a guard to keep the moustache out of the liquid while one is drinking. “No more coffee in the mustache cup.” (pg. 9). (MW)

back to top

 

 

N

 

name: verb  To mention (something). “Haste the cobble-pie to the pig pen, and don’t name to the others.” (pg. 259). (DARE, sAppalachians)

nanny: noun A mother cat. “He pointed at the old nanny smelling the fish kit.” (pg. 215).

nary a: adjective phrase Not a single, none, any (compare airy a). “Nary a bite they’ve had this living day.” (pg. 148). (DSME)

needcessity: noun Variant of necessity. ” No needcessity o’ lock or key on Shoal Creek.” (pg. 227). (DSME)

neighbor: verb To be neighborly with, associate with. “You neighbor that feller, hear me? If he suffered a wrong the law’d clap you in jail first thing, guilty or no.” (pg. 185). (DSME)

nettle: verb To arouse displeasure, impatience, or anger in; to stir up, incite, or annoy. “Nettle him. Speak a thing he can’t let pass. Make him mad.” (pg. 324). (MW)

never say scat: verb phrase Also never say dog: Not to say the least thing. “[…] henever said scat.” (pg. 35). (DARE)

new-ground: noun An area newly cleared for cultivation by grubbing, log rolling, etc. “Hain’t the healthy kind like the wild dirt in my new-ground.” (pg. 55). (DSME)

nigh: A. adverb Almost, nearly. “Treble squar’ through his gizzard to pay cash and the craps not nigh out o’ the ground.” (pg. 34). B. preposition Near. “Hit was gittin’ nigh her time.” (pg. 35). (DSME)

nip: noun A small quantity of liquor; a sip. “Confidence supported by nips of the sugar-top stored in his saddlebags […].” (pg. 349). (MW)

nit-fly: noun The egg of a louse or other parasitic insect; the insect itself when young. “A big house draws kinfolks like a horse draws nit-flies.” (pg. 30). (MW)

no account: adjective Of little quality, value, or use; good for nothing. “He wasn’t in pain, just weak, sluggish, no account.” (pg. 87). (DSME)

notch our ears: verb phrase To punish severely; used figuratively to reference the method by which an owner marks a hog as his own. “We’d jeered and mocked until they had begged the turnkey to fetch us inside, they would notch our ears, they would trim us.” (pg. 319).

no two ways talking: adjective phrase Without a doubt.  “The boy was on the very spot. No two ways talking.” (pg. 271).

nubbin: noun A stunted or immature ear of corn. “Near the middle of December the mare stopped eating the nubbins of corn I took her.” (pg. 63). (DSME)

nymph: noun A mite or tick in the first eight-legged form that immediately follows the last larval molt. “Wild fruit dried to seeds, and scarcely would birds peck them, so full their crops were with nymphs.” (pg. 250). (MW)

back to top

 

 

O

 

oak gall: noun A gall or blister on oak caused by the presence of insect larvae especially of the family Cynipidae. “I’m bound there’s a politician behind the deal, and it stands to reason you’re bitter as an oak gall.” (pg. 282). (MW)

of a mind: (also a mind, a-mind) adjective phrase Disposed (to do something). “Folks living so close together they kin shake hands out o’ windows if they’re of a mind.” (pg. 158). “[…] but I’m a mind Poppy’s done been beat out o’ that fifty dollars.” (pg. 39). “Everybody that’s a-mind to come is asked.” (pg. 68). (DARE)

off’en: preposition Off of; off. “You ain’t to let anybody know I bought it off ’en you, though.” (pg. 14). (DARE)

old-age draw: noun Old age pension. “Her sister tore her dress and swore rape on me—me at my age, seventy-one, and on the old-age draw.” (pg. 388). (POM)

Old Christmas: noun An alternative observance of Christmas, celebrated in the 20th century, usually on January 6 and reflecting the date of the holiday according to the Julian (or Old Style) calendar. “Thursday fell on the eve of Old Christmas, in January, a day of bitter wind.” (pg. 309). (DSME)

Old Billy Devil: noun The devil. “You’re as stubborn as Old Billy Devil!” (pg. 343). (DARE, KY)

Old Gouge: noun The devil. “Who sent you? Old Scratch? Lucifer incarnate? Old Gouge?” (pg. 271).

old head: noun An older person, one considered to embody the wisdom of the community. “No old heads like me—none except Aunt Besh Lipscomb, but she won’t hinder.” (pg. 309). (DSME)

Old Horny: noun The devil. “They preach, and Old Horny reaps the benefit.” (pg. 269). (DARE)

Old Regular: adjective Having to do with the Old Regular Baptist faith, a religious denomination particular to the Appalachian region whose followers maintain many eighteenth and nineteenth century traditions, such as lined a cappella singing. “As we cooled on the porch we could hear her working over the stove, and the hoarse clucking of her voice singing an Old Regular hymn.” (pg. 195). (EAPP)

Old Scratch: noun The devil. “Who sent you? Old Scratch? Lucifer incarnate? Old Gouge?” (pg. 271). (DSME)

old sister: noun The moon. “The old sister was flying, and if anything, the more Jiddy drank the soberer he became.” (pg. 51).

Old Virginia: noun The present-day state of Virginia, especially the eastern portion, in distinction to the state of West Virginia. “Once I went to Glamorgan, in Old Virginia.” (pg. 159). (DSME)

old woman: noun A man’s wife, at any age. “My old woman’s mad, says got to hang shades to the windows to stop the spying in.” (pg. 182). (DSME)

oncet: adverb Variant of once. “Oncet I got me a hollow log and stretched a strip o’ dried bull’s hide over it […].” (pg. 40). (DSME)

onhealthy: adjective Variant of unhealthy. “Ought to haul that gom away before it driddles back into the well. It’s onhealthy.” (pg. 201). (DSME)

onknowing: See untelling.

onliest: adjective Variant of only. “He says he’s the onliest one in this country that got the right to say what’s wrong with a mare for shore.” (pg. 34). (DSME)

onreckonin’: See untelling.

ontelling: See untelling.

oughten to: verb phrase Ought not to; shouldn’t. “People oughten to smoke after each other.” (pg. 218). (DARE)

out of whanker: adjective phrase Askew, leaning. “A grandson of mine climbed a tower in Italy called Pisa, and to hear him tell it, it was out of whanker, leaning on air.” (pg. 269).

outsharp: verb To outdo, outwit. “We’ll not be outsharped.” (pg. 314). (DSME)

back to top

 

 

P

 

pack: verb To carry, lug, tote (especially something heavy). “More pounds to her statue than ever I saw a human pack.” (pg. 279). (DARE, sAppalachians)

pap: (also pappy, poppy, paw) noun Father. “Anyway my pap didn’t like his pap, and my grandpap and his grandpap swapped a couple o’ shots at each other way back.” (pg. 23). “I’d die single ere I’d call Old Ab Stegall pappy.” (pg. 183). “Won’t even let its own poppy come nigh?” (pg. 33). “Paw’s got a dram hid in the loft, I reckon.” (pg. 97). (DSME)

pappy: A. noun See pap. B. verb To father, sire. “He married two times and pappied twenty three.” (pg. 233). (DARE)

particulars: noun The sex organs of a slaughtered hog. “‘Want the lights saved?’ ‘Yes, s’r,’ Ulysses replied. ‘Heart-lump?’ ‘Yip.’ ‘The particulars?’ ‘Nay-o.'” (pg. 312). (POM)

patching: noun (usually used in negative constructions) Someone or something equal or comparable. “Claimed it takes a spell to dig in, but after it does bull nettles hain’t a patching to it.” (pg. 377). (MW)

paw: See pap.

pawpaw: noun The fruit of the pawpaw tree (Asimina triloba); America’s largest native edible fruit, which falls to the ground still green and needs to ripen and sweeten off the tree. Once ripe, it has a tropical flavor reminiscent of banana, mango, and pineapple. “She often made her dinner of pawpaws, smelling sickly sweet of them.” (pg. 67). (EAPP)

pea-jibbit: noun Something especially small. “These I found hereabouts, and they’re pea-jibbits to what must grow in the wild place I told you about […].” (pg. 392).

peart: (also pert) adverb, adjective Lively, perky, briskly; in good spirits or health. “I was drankin’ right peart.” (pg. 79). “Father came just before dark, and the pretty-by-nights were open and pert by the doorsill.” (pg. 68). (DSME)

pea threshin: noun A social gathering at which peas are shelled by piling them on top of large sheets and beating them with sticks or poles. “This Little Angus hollow is dusty as a pea threshin’.” (pg. 69).

peavey: noun A stout lever used in lumbering. “Stubborn as peavies.” (pg. 48). (MW)

peddle: verb To travel about with wares for sale. “If he bought them reasonably and peddled them at two fifty, he could clear his debts and have money left.” (pg. 378-379). (MW)

peg: noun A homemade wooden pin used in the mountains before metal nails became widely available. “Mother finished stringing the beans and hung the bucket on a peg.” (pg. 131). (DSME)

pency-piece: noun A penny. “‘We can pay,’ the drummer said to Mother. ‘Not a pency-piece we’d take,’ Mother assured.” (pg. 252).

pen-hooker: noun A speculator who buys a product directly from an owner for an agreed-upon price rather than bidding for it at auction. “Zeb mixed my calf amongst his brutes and went herding downcreek, acting like the king of the pen-hookers.” (pg. 284). (DSME)

pennyrile: noun Variant of pennyroyal: A branching annual mint (Hedeoma pulegioides) having medicinal properties and many uses, especially to treat pneumonia and colds. “I’d pull a mess o’ pennyrile and feed him ever day till they wouldn’t be a bone showing.” (pg. 96). (DSME)

pert: See peart.

petticoat: noun A woman. “We men, we might as well allow the petticoats to hug the coals a spell.” (pg. 310). (MW)

pick at: verb phrase To find fault with continuously; to pester. “He came in too weary to pick at us and he rarely saw the baby awake.” (pg. 341). (MW)

picklement: noun A difficult or awkward situation, probably a melding of pickle and predicament. “That brought-on woman has got us into a mess of trouble. A pure picklement.” (pg. 90). (DARE)

picture-piece: (also picture piece) noun A picture, image, or photograph. “A white-dusty sack of flour, and on it a picture-piece of a woman holding an armful of wheat straws.” (pg. 137). “She’s a widow woman, fair as a picture piece.” (pg. 141).

piddle out: verb phrase To dwindle down to nothing or inactivity; to give up from exhaustion, physical or otherwise. “We’re bout to piddle out.” (pg.196).

piddle: verb To deal or work in trifling or petty ways; to act idly or inefficiently; to loiter. “Bot was company for Uncle Mize, with me in the fields trying to conquer weeds, and Broadus and Kell piddling.” (pg. 84). (MW) Hence piddling, adjective Trifling, insignificant, paltry. “A mighty piddling few.” (pg. 162). (DSME)

piece-quilt: noun A quilt made by sewing together various pieces of cloth. “One day she counted the stitches in the piece-quilt on her bed.” (pg. 62).

pieded: adjective Especially of an animal’s coat: Pied, spotted, mottled. “Looky yonder at that there pieded cat setting in the crotch o’ that tree.” (pg. 97). (DARE)

pig in a poke: noun Something one cannot see or evaluate before deciding to accept or purchase it. “‘What’s in the bundle?’ a complaint sounded. ‘We’re buying a pig in a poke.'” (pg. 331). (DARE)

pig shorts: noun Also shorts: A by-product of wheat milling that includes the germ, fine bran, and a small amount of flour; its presence in the mash makes the liquor undesirable.  “I skipped it myself, for it had a whang of coal oil and lye, and the pig shorts in the mash didn’t recommend it.” (pg. 50-51). (POM; MW)

pill: noun A pellet of animal dung. “I had to find him a pocketful of rabbit pills to get him to stop.” (pg. 93). (DARE)

pinch-nickel: noun A tightwad, miser. “‘And speaking of that pinch-nickel,’ Godey said, ‘I aim to get up with him right shortly and hear what he has to talk about.'” (pg. 365).

pine-knot: noun A joint of pine wood rich in resin that burns easily and makes good fuel, with the burning knot often serving as a hand-held torch. “I lit a pine-knot, but nary a sight or sign I found of Harl.” (pg. 180). (DSME)

pin-pretty: noun A broach. “I thought of Mother’s unpierced ear lobes where never a bob had hung, the worn stems of her fingers never circled by gold, her plain bosom no pin-pretty had ever hooked.” (pg. 224).

pine-blank: (also pint-blank, plime-blank) adjective, adverb Point blank; exact, precise; exactly, directly, positively. “It was pine-blank murder.” (pg. 23). “We have come together to ask the blessed Saviour one thing pint-blank.” (pg. 72). “The Book says plime-blank hit’s got four corners.” (pg. 107). (DARE, sAppalachians, esp eKY)

pip: verb Variant of pop. “‘Sprouting horns like bully-cows,’ Godey said. ‘Budding under the skin and ready to pip.’” (pg. 321).

pizen: noun Variant of poison. “You had to be good to Tobe Romer or he’d feed pizen to yore hound dogs.” (pg. 77). (DSME)

plantain: noun A common wild green (Plantago) in the mountains. “Before the garden was ready, Mother and Euly gathered a mess of plantain and speckled jack […].” (pg. 101). (DSME)

play-pretty: See pretty.

play the goat: verb phrase Presumably, to do something foolish at the behest of others who are not willing to do it themselves. “Someone else can play the goat.” (pg. 333).

pleasure: verb To give or provide pleasure to; to please. “I allus did pleasure myself ridin’ bare- bones afore I got hurt.” (pg. 41). (DSME)

plime-blank: See pine-blank.

plug: A. noun 1. Something inferior or defective of its kind. “Our plug of a postmaster said I ought to crawl out of my terrapin shell and join the universe.” (pg. 270). 2. An inferior and often aged or unsound horse or mule. “‘Who owns this plug?’ The grease buyer had tapped Godey’s elbow and stood calculating the weight of the mule.” (pg. 355). B. verb Presumably, to approach as if on a plug horse or other animal, slowly and clumsily. “I plugged up to where they were standing ten yards apart in a clearing […].” (pg. 180). (MW)

plumb: A. adjective Complete, thorough, absolute. “A plumb doll.” (pg. 353). B. adverb Completely, absolutely, directly. “I was plumb scairt for my pap.” (pg. 36). (DSME)

poke: noun A bag, sack. “Late in the afternoon we stood by the mill with a poke crammed full of roots.” (pg. 257). (DSME)

pokeberry: noun Also pokeweed: A perennial plant (Phytolacca americana) whose fleshy, dark- purple berries that contain poisonous seeds and yield emetic and purgative extracts and a crimson juice used in making a dye. “You couldn’t learn till rain washed away the pokeberry and madder dye.” (pg. 328). (MW)

poky: adjective Annoyingly slow. “Broadus set off, giving the animals their heads, letting them take their sweet time. Being poky was his revenge.” (pg. 88). (MW)

pole bean: noun A green bean grown on an upright pole or stick. “The pole beans, the salt pork, the beet pickles and sliced onions were in the new dishes Rein had sent from Ohio in the spring.” (pg. 55). (DSME)

poll: noun One’s head. “They were about nine years old, as alike as two peas, and had not a hair on their heads. Their polls were shaven clean.” (pg. 320). (MW)

pone: noun A patty or cake of bread, especially of corn meal. “Father’s cousins fed well, and grumblingly, upon beans and corn pone.” (pg. 28). (DSME)

poppet: noun A doll. “There were eight poppets made from corn-cobs sitting on rock chairs.” (pg. 67). (DSME)

poppy: See pap.

pore: adjective Variant of poor. “Ransey was pore as a mare’s skeleton when the buzzards got through with it.” (pg. 24). (DSME)

porely: adjective Poor, destitute; in poor health, unwell. “I’ve lived hard and porely at times […].” (pg. 45). “It looks like the Lord is trying my patience in my last days when I’m weak and porely.” (pg. 63). (DSME)

possum baby: noun The favorite child. “Rein, the youngest of eleven, the most cherished, was the ‘possum baby,’ as the saying went.” (pg. 54). (DARE)

pot: verb Presumably, to hammer. “I’d give a Tennessee pearl to see you atop a twenty-foot ladder potting nails.” (pg. 229).

potato bug: noun An insect that attacks potato plants. “We picked off the potato bugs and scraped their egg patches from the leaves.” (pg. 101). (MW)

potato onion: noun A green onion. “I’ve seen him down a half-gallon of buttermilk, a bowl of shucky beans, two potato onions, and four breakings of cornbread at a sitting.” (pg. 85). (DARE)

potter-racking: verb Also potracking: The characteristic cry of the guinea fowl; to make this sound. “She’s running them little ’uns square to death, a-taking off through the weeds like a ruffed grouse, a-potter-racking and giving them chicks nary a minute to pick their craws full.” (pg. 134). (DARE)

potty: noun One’s belly. “A time comes he’ll not latch the top button of his breeches—ah, when a man turns his potty out, he’s beyond cure.” (pg. 266). (POM)

pouter pigeon: noun A domestic pigeon of a breed that has the ability to puff out its breast. “She sat there laughing, fluttering like a pouter pigeon trying to light.” (pg. 169). (MW)

powerful: A. adjective Extreme, great. “When I come in sight thar was a powerful big crowd thar.” (pg. 25). B. adverb Extremely, greatly, thoroughly. “Ole Dolly rared powerful when I tuk the colt and laid him down in the wagon-bed.” (pg. 36). (DSME)

prank: verb To play pranks, experiment. “My arm throbbed and I had no notion to prank.” (pg. 319). (DSME)

pretty: (also play-pretty, pretty-piece) noun A small item of showy color, design, etc., especially a plaything or toy. “For a pretty I’d set a fuse and blow that trap in.” (pg. 143). “‘I’ve seen typewriters in plenty,’ Mr. Maggers explained, ‘but they were ever sitting aside, like a play-pretty.'” (pg. 202). “I bet he wants a pretty-piece bought for him.” (pg. 205). (DSME)

pretty-by-night: noun The nightshade (Mirabilis jalapa), a flower that blooms late in the day. “Uncle Jolly got so tickled he reeled on the porch, holding his stomach, and he fell off into the pretty-by-night bed.” (pg. 70). (DSME)

pretty nigh: adverb Very nearly, almost. “That’d come pretty nigh being heaven on earth, it seemed to me then […].” (pg. 174). (DSME)

pretty-piece: See pretty.

primer: noun, adjective A small book for beginning readers; used to indicate one who studies from such a volume. “I learned to read the first page in the primer.” (pg. 123). “I kept close to Leth, finding a place beside him on the bench where the primer children sat.” (pg. 118). (MW)

primp: verb To take on a finicky or affected look. “He neared Dan and Dan sheltered behind Mother. He reached to gather up the baby and it primped its face to cry.” (pg. 344). (DARE)

prize: verb To raise, pry, or force with or as with a lever; to exert leverage to open or move. “Have to be prized out of bed mornings.” (pg. 305). (DSME)

proud walker: noun A daddy longlegs spider. “[…] and I saw four grand-daddy spiders. Three were tight in a corner, their pill-bodies hung in a web of legs. A fourth walked alone. I took up a shoe and slapped the proud walker, and he went down, flattened upon the floor.” (pg. 133). (Editor’s note: The story title “Proud Walkers” does not refer to daddy longlegs spiders. Rather, it simply refers to what its words denote: individuals who walk and are proud.)

puccoon: noun Also bloodroot: A perennial wild plant (Sanguinaria canadensis) having a red root and red sap and bearing a solitary lobed leaf and white flower in early spring. “She had seen Mother’s face grow whiter than puccoon blossoms.” (pg. 252). (MW)

puck: verb To contract or contort. “She recollected once kissing the baby, her lips against its mouth, its bright face pucked.” (pg. 302). (POM)

pull-candy: noun Hard molasses candy, made by stretching warm molasses that hardened as it cooled. “I choose pull-candy to sirup.” (pg. 242).

pullet: noun A hen less than a year old; by extension, a young lady. “One daughter left untaken in his household. She’s not a pullet, has shed her pinfeathers, but bear in head you’re on the high side of the twenties.” (pg. 290). (MW)

punch: noun A tool, usually in the form of a short rod of steel, that is variously shaped at one end for different operations, such as forming, perforating, embossing, or cutting; a short tapering steel rod for driving the heads of nails or brads below a surface. “Four regular blades, and an awl, and a punch, and a shoe hook […].” (pg. 374). (MW)

punchboard: noun A small game board with many holes that was used for gambling, giving the player a chance to win cash or other prizes. “A danger to leave home with that plug. Must have got it off a punchboard.” (pg. 186). (MW)

puncheon: noun A heavy piece of timber, usually three to four feet long, split from a log and having at least one face hewn and roughly dressed by an adze. It is used in the construction of log buildings, floors, and school benches, and in siding log buildings. “At seven o’clock next morning Fern and I sat on the puncheon steps of Old Hargett church house.” (pg. 117). (DSME)

punies: noun An unwell feeling; sickness. “Uncle Mize took the punies.” (pg. 84). (DSME)

puny: adjective In poor health, out of sorts; having a sickly appearance. “The puny spell hung on.” (DSME)

puore: adjective, adverb Variant of pure; real, veritable, regular; really, veritably. “That mill’s a puore varmint den.” (pg. 253). “She puore lives her religion.” (pg. 26). (DARE)

purgative: noun A laxative. “Not even John Shell, the oldest man in the world, who had his picture in the almanac advertising purgatives, could make this claim.” (pg. 80).

put by: verb phrase To lay aside for future use, save. “We put by the sweetbreads.” (pg. 312). (MW)

put-on: verb To mislead deliberately, especially for amusement. “‘Ah,’ Pless said, ‘they know we’re putting-on.'” (pg. 314).

put on the dog: verb phrase To affect an air of importance; to be ostentatious or make a display of stylishness; to dress stylishly. “It’ll look like we’re tryin’ to put on the dog.” (pg. 68). (DARE)

put sugar in the gourd: verb phrase To provide an ample income, one sufficient to afford relatively expensive non-essentials, such as granular sugar. “Beef steers are what puts sugar in the gourd […].” (pg. 151).

put the bud to: verb phrase To strike or whip, perhaps from bud stick: A limber shoot usually of the current year’s growth which is cut from a tree and from which buds are removed for budding.  “Anyhow, the Buffalo Wallow teacher is a whip-jack. He’ll put the bud to you.” (pg. 394). (MW)

put the cat on: verb phrase Presumably, to agitate or stir up. “Oh he put the cat on the fellows runnin’ agin’ him.” (pg. 76).

put-up: noun A pretense, joke. “Is this a put-up?” (pg. 360).

back to top

 

 

Q

 

quare: adjective Variant of queer: Differing in some odd way from what is usual or normal. “Hit was quare how I killed a bobwhite once.” (pg. 220). (MW)

quietus: noun A hush, a state of calm or quiet, as in the early morning or after a rain; something that brings calm or that causes action to cease. “Listen, you devils, I can put a quietus on you and not have to soil my hands.” (pg. 323). (DSME)

quile: verb Variant of coil.  “A blow-sarpent couldn’t quile to your saw marks.” (pg. 226). (DSME)

quinsy: noun Inflammation of the throat. “A church-house without a bell would be like a preacher with the quinsy.” (pg. 46). (MW)

back to top

 

 

R

 

rabbit lick: noun A blow with the side of the hand to the base of the neck. “Enos tucked his head, fearing a rabbit lick […].” (pg. 318). (POM)

rabble: noun A disorganized or disorderly crowd of people. “The traders moved toward their mounts, and the rabble on the slope arose and stretched and began to leave by the route they had come.” (pg. 362). (MW)

rack: verb To afflict with torture, pain, or anguish comparable to that suffered on a rack, an instrument of torture that stretched the body. “I’ll go along and start him talking so he won’t rack you too heavy.” (pg. 329). (MW)

ragged breeches: noun Ballhead waterleaf: A low, perennial herb with deeply-lobed, long-stalked, hairy leaves. “We ate branch lettuce and ragged breeches and bird’s-toe and swamp mustard.” (pg. 341). (DARE)

rail: A. adjective Variant of real. “Tom says he’s a-goin’ to have a rail funeralizin’ on the p’int.” (pg. 39). (DARE) B. noun A rough board split from a log, used in making fences, pens, etc. “This coming from a man who beyond a doubt was rode out of a schoolhouse on a rail.” (pg. 287). (DSME)

rare: verb Variant of rear. “Ole Dolly rared powerful when I tuk the colt and laid him down in the wagon-bed.” (pg. 36). (DSME)

rasher: noun A thin slice of bacon or ham, usually broiled or fried. “Mother was putting dough-bread and rashers on the table when I hurried indoors.” (pg. 231). (MW)

rassle: verb Variant of wrestle. “I’ll rassle anybody here.” (pg. 21). (DSME)

ratsbane: noun A tall-growing, perennial evergreen plant (Chimaphila maculata) whose leaves have medicinal properties. “We went to grabble ratsbane and the drummer chuckled all day.” (pg. 257). (DSME)

ready cash: noun Cash on hand, immediate payout. “Herbs and pelts would furnish ready cash.” (pg. 334).

reckon: verb To suppose, be of the opinion (that), believe. “I reckon we done about everything mean thar is to do on this green airth.” (pg. 24). (DSME)

recollect: verb To remember. “I recollect his eyes flicked like a wren’s tail.” (pg. 51). (DSME)

redbud: noun A tree (Cercis canadensis) of eastern North America that has pale, rosy pink, or occasionally white flowers appearing before the leaves expand. “Jabe did not hear, her words being smothered by the redbud thicket between.” (pg. 54). (MW)

retch: verb Variant of reach. “I seen Treble retch down in his pocket fur his money.” (pg. 34). (DSME)

retread: noun A new tread on a tire; a retreaded tire. “I’ve had her repaired for the trip, though I couldn’t afford it: brakes re-lined, spark plugs changed, retreads all round.” (pg. 371). (MW)

rheumatiz: noun Variant of rheumatism. “And hit’s pritty hard on the rheumatiz in my jints.” (pg. 196). (DSME)

ribbon cane: noun Also ribbon plant cane: A variety of sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum). “Aunt Sage hurried in from the kitchen, wiping the sticky remnants of ribbon cane syrup from her purple lips as she came.” (pg. 9). (DARE)

ride out on a rail: verb phrase Figuratively, to run (someone) out of a town or place, an act generally endorsed by the population at large and meant to humiliate. “My opinion, the feller’s been rode out of Linemark School on a rail, else he’d not o’ left a good job.” (pg. 182).

rifle-gun: noun A long-barreled firearm; a gun whose bore has been grooved or rifled. “Never more than three were taken for the rifle-gun, and Father rarely missed.” (pg. 100). (DSME)

rig: verb To joke, prank. “You’re rigging me.” (pg. 354). (DARE)

right: adverb Very, rather. “Toll would be right glad to come.” (pg. 61). (DSME)

right smart: adverb, adjective. Considerable; considerably, quite a bit. “Well, I was right smart proud o’ that colt.” (pg. 35). “I’ve aimed to be around a right smart number of years, and I’ve lived accordingly.” (pg. 82). (DSME)

rigamaroar: (also rigmaroar) noun Variant of rigmarole: An unnecessarily elaborate or complicated procedure; confusion. “Everything’s in a rigamaroar.” (pg. 289). “Sheriffs, summonses, roosting in the witness chair, a big rigmaroar.” (pg. 48). (MW)

rimwreck, rimwrecked: verb, adjective To destroy; destroyed. “Steph Harben’s Red Pyle rimwrecked my Duckwing.” (pg. 209). “Hit’s too small and rimwrecked.” (pg. 155). (DARE)

rimy: adjective From rime; indicating an accumulation of granular ice. “The feud ended and all tramped indoors good-humoredly, the wives to comb rimy hair […].” (pg. 316). (MW)

riz: verb Variant of rose, risen. “He thinks the sun riz in that Toll.” (pg. 119). “My wage has riz three times.” (pg. 210). (DARE)

roach: noun A roll-back wave induced by combing or brushing the hair back. “[…] Fester leaned against the critter as against a wall and stroked the roach of mane […].” (pg. 367). (DSME)

rooftree: noun The long beam across the top of a roof; used in a manner to express a roof over one’s head, i.e., a place to reside. “I say as long’s a body has got a rooftree, let him roost under it.” (pg. 223). (DSME)

rotgut: noun Poor-grade homemade whiskey. “He got sort of franzied at first, but with about four or five shots o’ rotgut he’d put a case o’ dynamite under the courthouse if it entered his mind he wanted to do it.” (pg. 24). (DSME)

ruint: past-participle, adjective Variant of ruined; also used to indicate a state of extreme but temporary disarray. “It’s ruint our only chance earthy.” (pg. 125). “The floor gets ruint every night.” (pg. 118). (DARE)

runner: noun Also runner bean: A cultivated pole bean. “The baby crawled between the bean vines, pulling at the runners.” (pg. 136). (DARE)

run with: verb phrase To hang around with; to associate with. “Afore long I stopped running with Clayt.” (pg. 24).

rusty: A. noun A turn of wit, trick of words, or common prank; used with the verb cut or pull. “Next rusty I cut, it’s the pen two years for shore.” (pg. 111). “I watched out of the tail of my eye, thinking a rusty might be pulled.” (pg. 223). (RRGW) B. adjective Covered with dirt. “‘Strawberries,’ hooted Godey, ‘my rusty ankles.'” (pg 359). (DSME)

ruther: adverb Variant of rather. “Ruther play than to eat groundhog gravy.” (pg. 76). (DARE)

back to top

 

 

S

 

saddle boil: noun Also saddle sore: A gall or open sore developing on the back of a horse at points of pressure from an ill-fitting or improperly adjusted saddle. “Father said he didn’t know the pony had a saddle boil until he had started with her.” (pg. 71). (MW)

saddle of the gap: noun phrase The middle of the gap. “We mounted until we had gained the saddle of the gap […].” (pg. 323). (POM)

sallet-greens: (also salet greens) noun Greens, especially wild greens, that are cooked and eaten. “My woman feeds nothing but garden stuffs and sallet-greens of a summer.” (pg. 128). “[…] we had salet greens cooked with meat rind.” (pg. 101). (DSME)

saltbox: noun A wooden box varying in size, used to store salt and other dry goods. “Pless and Leander, knowing where to search, jumped off the saltbox and raised the lid.” (pg. 310).

saltcellar: noun A vessel usually of glass or silver used on the table for holding salt. “[…] he tapped the pewter saltcellar impatiently with his spoon.” (pg. 9). (MW)

salt pork: (also salt meat) noun Hog meat that has been preserved by salt; dry salt bacon. “The pole beans, the salt pork, the beet pickles and sliced onions were in the new dishes Rein had sent from Ohio in the spring.” (pg. 55). “Mother made hobby bread and fried salt meat.” (pg. 337). (DARE)

(the) same difference: adverb phrase Exactly the same. “‘Does sawdust smell as sweet to you as coal dust?’ ‘The same difference,’ said Pap.” (pg. 391).

‘sang: See ginseng.

sass: noun Vegetables. “I stayed behind to help plant beans in the sass patch.” (pg. 83). (RRGW)

sassafras: noun A common deciduous tree (Sassafras albidum). From its roots or bark, sassafras tea (or sass tea) is made and often drunk for kidney trouble, as a spring tonic, for refreshment, or to substitute for coffee. “He grabbed up a sassafras root and tickle-toed toward the noise.” (pg. 84). (DSME)

sawbriar: noun (also sawbrier) Any of several prickly plants of the genus Smilax. “Well now, I waded sawbriars to the road, snatching threads out of my britches, hardly believing my sight.” (pg. 169). “Bind-vines hindered, sawbriers punished her garments.” (pg. 304).  (DSME)

say-so: noun Authority; a right of final decision. “Aye, I aim to talk to the lawyer in Thacker who has say-so over the property.” (pg. 392). (MW)

scairt: verb, adjective (also scart) Variant of scared. “Big Coll Tolbert come to his house drunk while his wife was a fur piece along and scairt her so the girl-child was marked when hit was borned.” (pg. 195). “I was scairt Pap was goin’ to git hisself shot.” (pg. 36).  “I’d ruther be killed than scart to death.” (pg. 263). (DSME)

scaly bark: (also scalybark) noun A scaly-bark hickory or shagbark hickory tree, distinguished by a thick, light, gray bark which often curls back in large plates from the underlying structure. “Then Treble says he’s got a jug up in the hayloft, and him and my pap skinned up that ladder like a squirrel up a scaly bark.” (pg. 37). “A bushtail squirrel crept down a scalybark to wonder at us with bright eyes.” (pg. 177). (MW)

scanty: adjective Not ample or sufficient, meager. “By late April the salt meat was down to rind, the meal sack more poke than bread, the lard scanty.” (pg. 341). (DSME)

scart: See scairt.

scary: adjective Easily frightened, inclined to be scared, skittish. “Fern’s teeth chattered. She was ever the scary one.” (pg. 227). (DSME)

scholar: noun A student. “Not an absent or tardy scholar.” (pg. 123). (RRGW)

scope: noun A tract of land, timber, etc., especially an extensive one. “I’m the appointed caretaker of this scope of land.” (pg. 341). (DSME)

scrapper: noun A quarreler, fighter; one who has a proclivity for confrontation and scrapes. “Me and Clayt had been running round together nigh on ten years, ever since we was little scrappers.” (pg. 23). (MW)

scratch me out: verb phrase Presumably, to pull one out from a obscured place using a hook or similar device. “And they told her I’d got drowned shore, and they wanted to borry some hooks to scratch me out.” (pg. 263).

scrimption: noun A small amount or number. “I’ve seen rams butt skulls till it thundered. I’ve witnessed caged wildcats tear hide. Neither was a scrimption to this.” (pg. 52). (DSME)

scrouge: verb To move over to make room for others; to crouch, huddle. “Jist as I see the log got close to my bush I swung back, a-scrouging away far as I could git […].” (pg. 262). (DSME)

scrub: noun A tract of country covered with vegetation, consisting chiefly of dwarf or stunted trees and shrubs, that is often thick and impenetrable. “Sprouting switches grew from the stumps, and the sweet smell of a bubby bush came down out of the scrub.” (pg. 94). (MW)

Sears and Rearback: noun Variant of Sears and Roebuck. “A check of yours wouldn’t be as good as a page of the Sears and Rearback catalog.” (pg. 357).

second table: noun A table in addition to the main dining table, at which women and children would sit out of necessity due to lack of space, in deference to the men, or as a matter of convenience (allowing the women, who prepared the meal, to serve others and then be seated themselves). “Why don’t you eat with us women at the second table?” (pg. 314).

sedge: noun Also sage; sage grass; a coarse grass (Andropogon virginicus) that often grows in open woods and abandoned fields. “Rabbits huddled in the sedge clumps, swollen and stupid.” (pg. 100). (DSME)

seneca: noun Also seneca snakeroot: A milkwort (Polygala senega) of eastern North America having racemes of small white flowers. “When ginseng proved scarce and goldenseal and seneca thinly scattered, Father dug five-cent dock and twenty-cent wild ginger.” (pg. 342). (MW)

service: noun A common deciduous tree (Amelanchier laevis) that is known especially for its display of white flowers in early spring. “Dogwood and service whitened the ridges, and wheedle-dees called in the laurel.” (pg. 340). (DSME)

set one’s bonnet too high: verb phrase To be overly ambitious; to expect more than is feasible. “I reckon I’ve set my bonnet too high.” (pg. 229).

shake: noun A shingle. “Could we get a block and tackle, we might lift her up through the roof. No harm done to tear off a few shakes.” (pg. 280). (POM)

sharp: noun A sharp edge or point. “If the flats don’t bite you, the sharps will.” (pg. 283). (MW)

sharp tack: noun A wise guy, a know-it-all. “Are you some sort of sharp tack?” (pg. 351). (RRGW)

sheep’s eyes: noun Presumably, the bubbles that form on the surface of a liquid that are comparable in size to a sheep’s eyes and indicate that the liquid is at a boil. “Stir till it ’gins making sheep’s eyes, and mind not to over-bile.” (pg. 247).

shet: verb, verb phrase Variant of shut. “We heered Treble comin’ to the barn and Pap went outside and shet the door.” (pg. 35-36). “Two years he got in the state pen for dinnymiting Pate Horn’s mill dam, and after he’d been shet up nine months they give him a parole.” (pg. 109). (DARE)

shikepoke: noun One who is long-legged or gangly. “A beanstalk of a feller has made tracks here already, a shikepoke I’ve never met, a stranger tee-total.” (pg. 241). (DARE)

shoat: noun A young hog, especially one that has been weaned. “This here one ought to make the shoats squeal.” (pg. 115). (MW)

shore, shorely: adjective, adverb Variants of sure, surely. “[…] though I ain’t shore now whether it’s a blessin’ or a damnation.” (pg. 45). “And he was shore slow as Egypt about it.” (pg. 34). “You’re not baking a cake on Wednesday, shorely.” (pg. 55). (DSME)

shuck: A. noun A corn husk, leaf of an ear of corn, having many uses in traditional mountain society. “The hayloft was empty and the corncrib a nest of shucks.” (pg. 58). (DSME) B. verb Variant of shook, shaken. “He shuck his head and I knowed he didn’t want me to go out.” (pg. 79). “Hit must a shuck his insides powerful to laugh and holler like he done.” (pg. 37).

shuck off: verb phrase To peel off; to remove (something). “Clebe shucked off his shoe and wiggled his toes in the water.” (pg. 40).

shucky beans: noun Green beans put on a string or thread, dried in the pod by hanging on the porch, by the fireplace, in the rafters, or by being placed on trays or scaffolds in the sun. Preserved for boiling in water and eaten in winter, either in the pod or shelled. “He loaded his plate with shucky beans and a slice of meat, talking as he ate.” (pg. 65). (DSME)

sight: A. noun Something extreme or extraordinary. “It’s a sight on this green airth what that woman has done to this hollow.” (pg. 26). (DSME) B. verb To aim. “He sat at the end of the dogtrot with a long gun sighted into the kitchen, his crutch leaning against one knee.” (pg. 38).

sigoggling: (also si-goggling) adverb, adjective Askew, off-center, crooked. “We raised him sigoggling opposite to the right way.” (pg. 199). “A grandson of mine climbed a tower in Italy called Pisa, and to hear him tell it, it was out of whanker, leaning on air, against nature and the plan of the Almighty. Plumb si-goggling!” (pg. 269). (DARE, sAppalachians)

Silver War: noun The Civil War. “Aye gonnies, the Silver War might of come out different did our side have them then.” (pg. 270). (POM)

simian: adjective Of, relating to, or resembling monkeys or apes. “Magoffin’s simian arm shot up even before he smelled the whiskey.” (pg. 368). (MW)

‘simmon: noun Short for persimmon. “Hit kind o’ drawed up in a knot like a ripe ‘simmon.” (pg. 36-37). (MW)

singe: verb To cook, burn. “The scraping done, gambrels were caught underneath tendons of the hind legs and the animals hefted to pole tripods; they were singed, shaved, and washed, and the toes and dewclaws removed.” (pg. 311). (DSME)

skipper: noun A maggot. “Skippers had got into a pork shoulder during the unnaturally warm December […].” (pg. 28). (MW)

skulp: verb Presumably, a variant of the Scottish skelp: To strike, hit, especially with something flat; to slap. “She’d skulp me, was I to trade.” (pg. 257). (DSL)

skunk-cat: noun One who cheats or deceives. “I didn’t figger to be killt by a lousy skunk-cat.” (pg. 19). (DARE)

slag pile: noun  In mining: A large pile of waste rock. “The slag pile towering over the camp burned with an acre of oily flames […].” (pg. 73). (EAPP)

slick: verb To defraud cleverly, outsmart, trick. “I’m a plain talker, and I’m telling you to your teeth I’ll not be slicked out of them.” (pg. 381). (MW)

slow fever: noun A fever that is not acute; a disease characterized by such fever, especially infectious anemia. “They thought if Old Doc Beardsley was there something might be done, but Doc was off on Pushback with a case of slow fever and might not be in for days.” (pg. 18). (MW)

sluice water: noun A stream flowing through a floodgate. “They poured out of him like sluice water.” (pg. 123). (MW)

smoke-grinder: noun An imaginary object used as the basis of a practical joke. “Fes, old neighbor, I swear to my heart if I had a smoke-grinder for sale you’d be my first customer.” (pg. 352). (DARE)

smokehouse: noun An outbuilding in which preserved meat is stored, especially for winter consumption. “Ulysses and John hustled their jobs, the rest of us transporting hams, loins, shoulders, and bacon strips to the smokehouse.” (pg. 312). (DSME)

snakeroot: noun Any of numerous plants, most having repute as remedies for snake bites. “He dug cohosh and crane’s bill and bluing weed and snakeroot.” (pg. 342).

snapping pocketbook: noun Presumably, a change purse or coin purse. “He fished two silver dollars out of his snapping pocketbook for bait.” (pg. 88).

sneezeweed: noun Any of several plants of the genus Helenium, such as a North American yellow- flowered perennial herb (H. autumnale), the odor of which is said to cause sneezing. “Thorns were in my chair, cockleburs in my pockets, a fresh bouquet of sneezeweeds atop my desk daily.” (pg. 328). (MW)

Snider’s hound: noun Used in comparative phrases to illustrate great speed or quickness. “My opinion, he’s tuk off like Snider’s hound with Poppy’s money.” (pg. 43). (DSME)

snigger: verb To laugh in a slight, covert, or partly suppressed manner (as in derision or from embarrassment). “Godey and Mal sniggered.” (pg. 376). (MW)

sont: verb Variant of sent. “She gethered up all the children with the eye disease and sont ’um on to the trachoma hospital.” (pg. 26). (DARE)

sop: A. noun Variant of sip. “Try a sop and mind you don’t swallow your tongue.” (pg. 342). B. verb To dip or soak food in a liquid before eating. “We’ve got more sirup now than can be sopped till Jedgment.” (pg. 247). (DARE)

sore-eye: noun Presumably, conjunctivitis. “Hit’s jist a leetle sore-eye I got.” (pg. 193).

sorghum: noun A cane plant from whose stalk juice is squeezed (usually in a sorghum mill) and boiled into molasses, which is a common sweetener in mountain cooking and is also made into syrup and candy. “I sat on a heap of milled sorghum stalks […].” (pg. 246). (DSME)

sorghum gin: noun A machine that extracts juice by grinding and squeezing the stalk of a sorghum plant, the juice then being used to make molasses. “We topped a knob and afar in a hollow stood the Buckhearts’ great log house, and  beyond under gilly trees was the sorghum gin.” (pg. 240).

sorghum hole: A. noun A hole into which is shoveled the undesirable film that forms on top of sorghum juice as it is boiled to make molasses. “Leander chunked the fire and U. Z. ladled green skimmings into the sorghum hole.” (pg. 247). B. verb To fall or otherwise land in a sorghum hole. “He sidled and crawdabbed until he had sorghum-holed himself.” (pg. 249).

sot: verb Variant of set, sat. “I got up and sot one eye on a crack in the door.” (pg. 34). “Well, we sot thar and waited for him to come.” (pg. 36). (DARE)

sourwood: (also sourwood bushes) noun A small deciduous tree (Oxydendrum arboreum), whose fragrant, white flowers are the source of a well-reputed honey. “I took the lead lines, breaking through a sourwood thicket along the ridge hip […].” (pg. 174). “Fall came in the almanac, and the sourwood bushes were like fire on the mountains.” (pg. 69). (DSME)

sowbelly: noun Bacon, meat from the side of the hog. “A square of sowbelly, thin and hairy.” (pg. 137). (DSME)

sow-cat: noun A female cat. “I ran all the way home, going into the kitchen door as Father went, not staying the sow-cat that stole in between my legs.” (pg. 215). (DARE)

spark: verb To woo or court. “Jiddy had been sparking Woots Houndshell’s daughter for near on to a year but lately Cletis Wilhoyt had been cutting in on him.” (pg. 48). (DSME)

spavined: adjective Of a horse: Lame, maimed. “Fester had swapped out within forty-five minutes of his arrival, the nag he came on, a spavined horse […].” (pg. 349). (MW)

speak: noun Talk. “I’ve heard speak of families of ginseng diggers roaming the hills, free as the birds.” (pg. 340).

speckled jack: noun Also speckled John: Milkweed, an edible green. “Before the garden was ready, Mother and Euly gathered a mess of plantain and speckled jack.” (pg. 101). (DARE)

spell: A. noun An indefinite, but usually short, period of time or weather; an attack or period of   illness, indisposition, agitation, etc.; a portion, run; a short distance. “He’d had that money tater-holed for a spell.” (pg. 39). (DSME) B. verb To take the place of. “Wild greens spelled the pintos and rabbit.” (pg. 341). (MW)

spell down: verb phrase To defeat in a spelling match. “I’m uneasy Jonce Weathers is going to get spelled down before the year is up.” (pg. 121). (DSME)

spike: noun An arrow, as in bow and spike. “‘Did I have my bow and spike,’ Ard breathed, ‘they’d make the finest bull’s-eye ever was.'” (pg. 294). (DSME)

spile: verb Variant of spoil. “If a woman hain’t got chaps to spile, she’ll pamper a critter to death.” (pg. 255). (DSME)

spindling: adjective Thin, lacking in vitality, strength, or development. “Blooming whitetop covered the pasture before the house, and spindling stickweeds shook out their purple bonnets.” (pg. 68). (DSME)

spit: verb Of weather: To rain or snow slightly or with scattered drops or flakes. “When she reached the bench snow was spitting.” (pg. 306). (MW)

splint chair: noun Also splint bottom: A chair having a seat woven of splints (thin strips of wood). “We settled into white-oak splint chairs and looked out on the untended patch before the house […].” (pg. 38). (MW)

spotted round the liver: adjective phrase Cowardly. “I heered tell you Baldridges is spotted round the liver.” (pg. 98).

spraddle-legged: adjective Having the legs spread out. “Aus Hanley lay spraddle-legged upon the powdery sand, his head resting against a saddle-seat.” (pg. 17). (DSME)

sprangle: noun A stream or flow of water that spreads or branches out in many directions. “Wahoos grew thick against a limerock wall, and a sprangle of water ran out.” (pg. 231). (DSME)

sprig: A. noun 1. Of a plant: A small shoot. “He plucked a weed sprig from his grab pocket.” (pg. 257). 2. A small headless nail. “Sharp as a sprig, that little feller is.” (pg. 132). B. verb To drive sprigs into (shoes). “Them boots must o’ been sprigged with gold tacks.” (pg. 207). (MW)

spur: noun Also spur track: A railroad track that diverges from a main line. “A new spur o’ track laid up to the driftmouth.” (pg. 136). (MW)

square: A. adverb Completely; exactly. “I seen Ruf Craig swallow a bullet square in his mouth […].” (pg. 75). B. adjective Complete; exact. “You’ll have a square pick of the world.” (pg. 87). (DSME) C. noun Variant of squire. “Roust the square if they’s to be a wedding.” (pg. 249).

squire: noun A justice of the peace, magistrate. “The squire was a magistrate and bound to put a damper on the stir-off party.” (pg.  240). (DSME)

stack cake: (also apple stack cake) noun A heavy round cake of six to eight layers, or “stacks,” of dough alternating with applesauce, apple butter, or dried apples. “I’m baking an apple stack cake for dinner.” (pg. 55). (DSME)

stalking horse: noun A candidate put forward to divide the opposition. “My opinion, a stalking horse put in by Zeb Thornton to snag my votes.” (pg. 286). (POM)

starve out: verb phrase To become destitute, to famish. “When you’ve learned we can’t live like foxes will you bow to the truth? Or will you hang on till we starve out?” (pg. 336). (DSME)

stave: noun Any of the narrow strips of wood or iron plates placed edge to edge to form the sides, covering, or lining of a vessel or structure, such as a barrel or a hayrack. “[…] he got hisself sawed up at a stave mill afore he got a chanct.” (pg. 195). (MW)

stay on the whiz: verb phrase To continue going fast. “‘Stay on the whiz,’ cheered Godey, ‘and maybe she’ll shed the rust.'” (pg. 385).

stickweed: noun Any of various plants noted for their clinging seeds or sticklike stems. “The sparrows set up a clatter in the stickweed patch.” (pg. 39). (DARE, sAppalachians)

still-beer: noun In making whiskey: The fermented mash solution produced during the first stage of distillation, sometimes drunk but more often redistilled. “He leaned over the tub of still- beer and scooped a gourd dipper full.” (pg. 49). (DSME)

stir-off: A. verb phrase To stir and skim sorghum cane as it is boiled and made into molasses. “[…] they’re stirrin’-off sorghum ’lasses to pay back.” (pg. 38). B. noun A social gathering during which people make molasses. “Come to the stir-off party, and take a night.” (pg. 239). (DSME)

straddle-pole: noun Of politics: One who is noncommittal. “Next election I’ll wade manure to my knees if I have to go vote against ’em, be they Democrat, Republican, or straddle-pole.” (pg. 349).

straighten breath: verb phrase To cover up the scent of alcohol on one’s breath. “A jar of pickled pears was opened to straighten breaths.” (pg. 311).

strickynine: noun Variant of strychnine; poison. “Wild fruit’s pizen as strickynine when locusts swarm.” (pg. 252).

studs: noun A fit of stubborn opposition, balkiness. “Has she tuk the studs on you?” (pg. 384). (DARE)

sugar-top: (also green sugar-top) noun Inferior whiskey, distilled using sugar rather than corn. “The bolstering courage of the sugar-top was wearing thin.” (pg. 18). “But there was a stink of green sugar-top on his breath.” (pg. 18). (POM)

sugar tree: noun A sugar maple (Acer nigrum) having black bark and dark soft leaves; so called for its sweetish resin. “Father set up his trap line along the branch and then started a search for sugar trees and game.” (pg. 338). (MW)

sulphur: verb To dry and preserve (especially apples) by exposing them to the smoke of burning sulfur. “We peeled and sulphured three bushels of McIntoshes.” (pg. 66). (DSME)

sumac: noun The sumac bush (Rhus glabra), whose bark is made into a preparation to treat burns and whose blossoms and fruit are used for a tea drunk as medicine or for refreshment. “There was a thicket of sumac at the foot of the pocket, and a steep bed of limerock dropping to a bench level.” (pg. 180). (DSME)

sun-ball: noun The sun. “We dug till the sun-ball stooped in the sky.” (pg. 257). (DSME)

supper: noun The evening meal when dinner is taken at midday; an evening social, such as a box social, especially for raising funds for charitable or other purposes (See box supper). “After supper Mother and Father took a lamp and went out to the smokehouse.” (pg. 29). (MW)

swag: noun A low or level place on a ridge, a gap. “Broadus and Kell set off one morning for the high swag of the ridge to thin and plow corn.” (pg. 83). (DSME)

swamp mustard: noun An edible wild green. “We ate branch lettuce and ragged breeches and bird’s-toe and swamp mustard.” (pg. 341).

sweetbreads: noun The spleen of an animal, eaten as food. “We put by the sweetbreads.” (pg. 312). (POM)

sweetening: noun Honey. “I’d take a peck measure outside and set me down on it where I could see the garden crap growing, and the bees fotching sweetening.” (pg. 127). (DSME)

swingletree: noun Also singletree: A whiffletree, the movable horizontal bar to which the traces of a horse are hitched to pull a wagon, plow, or other object. “The skinned tree was an act of foresight on the part of the county agent, who had the grabs, the harness, and the swingletree in readiness as well.” (pg. 349). (DSME)

switchtail: noun A sexually provocative or attractive woman. “The switchtail you sparked on Bee Branch four or five seasons—what’s become of her?” (pg. 392). (DARE)

back to top

 

 

T

 

tad: (also tadwhacker, tad whacker) noun A small child. “Forty-eight children, ranging in age from six to sixteen, from tads in the primer to overgrown eighth-graders, attended school the first day, and they came with eyes gleaming.” (pg. 327). “I’m fotching, and that’s a name for this tadwhacker.” (pg. 229). “You tad whackers better save a big little spot for the molassy foam.” (pg 242). (RRGW)

tag-o: noun Presumably, tag. “Two children ran by, playing tag-o.” (pg. 208).

take a notion: verb phrase To decide on a whim (to take a course of action). “When Uncle Mize took a notion to do a thing, he was all grit and go.” (pg. 88). (DSME)

take the rag off the bush: verb phrase To fly into a rage. “The least thing and she took the rag off the bush.” (pg. 280). (POM)

take out: verb phrase To set out, especially in haste, leave. “The horses and mules kicked the barn doors down and tuk out after them.” (pg. 23). (DARE)

take up: verb phrase To lodge, take up residence. “He knows I ain’t been packing no particular brotherly love for Sibo Bonner since my foxhound tuk up with him six months ago.” (pg. 23).

talk turkey: verb phrase To speak seriously; to get to the point. “Let’s talk turkey. I’ll sell him hide and ears for twenty dollars. And throw in the eyeballs.” (pg. 351).

tallow: noun Animal fat. “I’ve heered he’d shuck a flea for hits hide and tallow […].” (pg. 154). (MW)

tansy: noun A plant of the genus Tanacetum, especially a common herb (T. vulgare) with a strong aromatic odor and a very bitter taste. “The blades rustled, the air smelled of tansy.” (pg. 83). (MW)

tater-hole: (also ‘tater hole) verb To store in a cellarlike hole either outside the house or underneath the floorboards near the hearth; to hide. “He’d had that money ’tater holed for a spell before he turned it loose.” (pg. 43). “I’ll keep that pipe tater-holed.” (pg. 219). (DSME)

taw: noun A marble to be used as a shooter. “He drew a taw line in the yard and set them playing crack-o-loo.” (pg. 88). (MW)

tear up stakes: verb phrase To go on a rampage. “‘Was I to go,’ I said, ‘my pap would tear up stakes.'” (pg. 208).

teejous: adjective Variant of tedious. “The hours get teejous counting cracks in the ceiling and listening to the roosters crow.” (pg. 88). (DSME)

tee-total: (also tee-totally) adjective, adverb Absolute, complete, entire; absolutely, completely, entirely. “I’m broke tee-total.” (pg. 156). “That fire puzzles me tee-totally.” (pg. 337). “A beanstalk of a feller has made tracks here already, a shikepoke I’ve never met, a stranger tee-total.” (pg. 241). (DSME)

teetotum: noun A small top. “The agent spun round like a teetotum.” (pg. 359). (MW)

tell one: verb phrase To lie. “Are you saying I’m telling one?” (pg. 360).

Tennessee pearl: noun A pearl found in the shell of a mussel, a freshwater mollusk that once thrived in the large streams of Tennessee and nearby areas. “I’d give a Tennessee pearl to see you atop a twenty-foot ladder potting nails.” (pg. 229).

ten-penny: noun A dime. “His eyes were bright as new ten-pennies.” (pg. 235).

tetch: verb Variant of touch. “It would tetch a body’s soul to see Ransey looking like that.” (pg. 25). (DSME)

ter: preposition Variant of to. “[…] Waitin’ fer the boat ter Gloryland […].” (pg. 22). “I’m a-goin’ ter see she don’t want fer nothin.” (pg. 20). (DARE)

thang: pronoun Variant of thing. “I’ll be doin’ the right thang.” (pg. 21). (DARE)

thank: verb Variant of think. “He always did thank more of his creatures than he did folks.” (pg. 33). (DARE)

thar: adverb Variant of there. “I reckon we waited thar nigh two hours.” (pg. 36). “Thar was a light burnin’ in the house and we knowed he was still up.” (pg. 36). “The teacher run Tom off ’cause she couldn’t git the scholars in with my leg out thar to look at.” (pg. 39). (DARE)

thresh my oats: verb phrase To cash in one’s crop. “‘When I thresh my oats,’ Father spoke, grinning, ‘I’m a-liable to buy me a pair.’” (pg. 153).

throw over: verb phrase To get rid of, relinquish. “Father had thrown over his job, bought steel traps and gun shells and provisions, including a hundred-pound sack of pinto beans.” (pg. 334).

tick: noun The case or cover of a mattress, made of heavy fabric, into which is stuffed straw, corn husks, feathers, leaves, or other material that is replaced periodically. “We stayed the night, sleeping deep in a feather tick.” (pg. 155). (DSME)

tickle: verb To excite amusement or merriment in; to provide with pleasure or enjoyment. “Now, what was it tickled you feymales back yonder?” (pg. 316). (MW)

tipple: noun  In mining: An apparatus by which loaded cars are emptied by tipping, sometimes including an elevated runway or framework upon which the cars are run. “Fedder and I planned to climb the mine tipple.” (pg. 206). (MW)

titmouse: noun Any of numerous widely distributed small passerine birds of the family Paridae and especially of the genus Parus. “A titmouse whistled overhead, lonesome and questioning.” (pg. 119). (MW)

to death: adverb phrase Excessively. “This time don’t water it to death.” (pg. 316).

toll-corn: noun The portion of corn or meal taken by a miller as the fee for grinding it. “As good a fellow as I ever hunted with, willing to go the whole rope, free as toll-corn pouring out of the hopper.” (pg. 170). (DSME)

tomfool: adverb Foolishly, used as a mild oath. “[…] and me tomfool bailing him out.” (pg. 200). (DSME)

towhee: noun Any of numerous American finches (genera Pipilo and Chlorura), especially a common finch (P. erythrophthalmus) of eastern North America. “A towhee made the mast fly.” (pg. 366). (MW)

towline: noun A line (such as a rope, cable, or hawser) used in towing (as a boat or automobile). “He playfully drew the muscles of his arms and shoulders until they bulged like knots on a towline.” (pg. 21). (MW)

tow-wad: noun A wad of tow, short, broken fiber removed from flax, hemp, or jute and used for yarn, twine, or stuffing; used in comparative phrases to indicate something very tight. “It’s a sight to have such a passel o’ victuals after livin’ tight as a tow-wad.” (pg. 66). (MW)

treble: verb Variant of triple. “I figure the price will double or treble.” (pg. 203).

trick: verb To dress or adorn, especially fancifully or ornately. “The forked ginseng roots were clothed in tiny breeches, the spindle-shaped ones tricked in wee skirts.” (pg. 344). (MW)

trim: verb To castrate. “We’d jeered and mocked until they had begged the turnkey to fetch us inside, they would notch our ears, they would trim us.” (pg. 319). (DSME)

tuk: verb Variant of took, taken. “I never tuk no joy in that mare sufferin’.” (pg. 34). “Oh Lord, she’s done gone, she’s been tuk away.” (pg. 22). (DARE)

tumblebug: noun  Any of various scarabaeid beetles (as members of the genera Scarabaeus, Canthon, Copris, or Phanaeus) that form globular masses of dung which they roll and bury in holes excavated in the ground, in which they lay their eggs, and which serve as food for the larvae. “When the spool was put on the ground it rolled along like a tumblebug.” (pg. 117). (MW)

turkle: noun Variant of turtle. “He came out green as a mossed turkle.” (pg. 249). (DSME)

turn: noun The amount of meal, wood, corn, or other material one can carry at a time. “He threw the turn of wood into the box beside the stove and kneeled to thrust splinters to quicken the coals.” (pg. 55). (DSME)

turnkey: noun The person in charge of a prison’s keys; the jailor. “The turnkey had told them to be patient, we’d get in on our own hook.” (pg. 319). (POM)

tush: noun Variant of tusk. “Two of them stuck down in the corners of his mouth like tushes.” (pg. 95). (DSME)

twicet: adverb Variant of twice. “We moved up to Hardburley twicet, and to Blackjack beyond countin’.” (pg. 71). (DSME)

back to top

 

 

U

 

untelling: (also ontelling, onreckonin’, onknowing) adjective Untellable, indescribable, unbelievable. “What that mischief will do is untelling.” (pg. 300). “I say it’s ontelling what a ton o’ coal will sell for.” (pg. 203). “It’s onreckonin’ what a woman’ll think about with her man off tryin’ to make a livin.” (pg. 68). “Oh man-judgment’s like weather. Hit’s onknowing.” (pg. 231). (DSME)

upon my honor: interjection Honestly; this is the truth; on my word. “Upon my honor, you can order a woman through a newspaper.” (pg. 85). (DSME)

back to top

 

 

V

 

varmint: noun Variant of vermin: Any unwanted creature, especially one that is a source of mischief, nuisance, or depredation, such as one that preys on chickens or stock. “The timber was alive with varmints.” (pg. 159). (DSME)

vein: noun Of coal: A seam. “I’m longin’ to git me a pick and stick it in a coal vein.” (pg. 69).

vermifuge: noun Something that serves to destroy or expel parasitic worms, especially of the intestine. “Leaf and I had been starved for two days, having taken the vermifuge Thursday and forbidden to eat a bite since.” (pg. 219). (MW)

victuals: noun Food for a meal. “I reckon he’d got more jailhouse victuals than any other kind.” (pg. 77). (DSME)

back to top

 

 

W

 

wag: verb To strongly influence or exert control over (a related thing) out of proportion to size or true importance. “He’s just wagging you fellers.” (pg. 330). (MW)

waggle: verb To move back and forth or up and down, especially repeatedly and with a jerky or undulating movement. “His tongue waggled to speak and could not.” (pg. 325). (MW)

wahoo: noun Any of various American trees or shrubs, such as rock elm, winged elm, cascara buckthorn, basswood, or umbrella tree. “Wahoos grew thick against a limerock wall, and a sprangle of water ran out.” (pg. 231). (MW)

wall: verb To roll (one’s eyes) in or as if in expression of emotion. “Her fearful eyes walled and set.” (pg. 165). (MW)

warn’t: verb Variant of wasn’t. “Seems like thar warn’t no stoppin’ her though.” (pg. 26). (DARE, sAppalachians)

war penny: noun A penny in circulation during WWII, when copper was saved for use in the war effort. “We moved from Tullock’s lumber camp to Tight Hollow on a day in March when the sky was as gray as a war penny […].” (pg. 334).

warp you one: verb phrase To hit or beat (someone). “If I hadn’t sworn not to, I’d warp you one.” (pg. 365). (DARE)

wasper: noun Variant of wasp. ” A master boy, smart as a wasper.” (pg. 305). (DARE)

water-head: noun Having to do with hydrocephalus, which results in abnormal enlargement of the skull (especially the forehead) and atrophy of the brain.I saw a water-head baby in the camps once.” (pg. 227). (MW)

weather: verb To storm, become inclement. “‘When it ’gins to blow around the north points of a morning,’ explained Father, ‘sign hit’s going to weather.'” (pg. 131). (DSME)

wend: verb To turn from one direction, position, condition, or form to another. “I caught the hen as she wended to roost.” (pg. 192). (MW)

whack: noun A large quantity (of tobacco). “He drew a whack of tobacco from a hind pocket, bit a squirrely bite, and offered the cut to me.” (pg. 208). (DSME)

whang: noun An unpleasant or sharp taste or scent. “I skipped it myself, for it had a whang of coal oil and lye […].” (pg. 50-51). (DARE)

whang leather: noun Tough rawhide leather. “He’s got five boys, tough as whang leather […].” (pg. 239). (DSME)

whar: conjunction, adverb, pronoun  Variant of where. “I ain’t figgering these hyar hills whar I was born and raised is going to forgit that.” (pg. 19). “G’won, Luke, hold ’em whar you got ’em.” (pg. 21). “Whar’s Jubal at?” (pg. 22). (DARE)

wheedle-dee: noun A wood thrush. “Dogwood and service whitened the ridges, and wheedle- dees called in the laurel.” (pg. 340). (DARE, KY)

whet: noun A small amount. “He was a whet anxious.” (pg. 221). (POM)

whig: noun Any of various products of milk, especially whey. “I never could swallow such stuff myself. It’s sour as whigs.” (pg. 50). (MW)

whimmy-diddle: noun A wooden toy consisting of two sticks. To the end of the stick held in the left hand a small propeller is loosely nailed and on its side several notches are cut. A stick held in the right hand is rubbed vigorously across the notches by the one held in the right hand, causing the propeller to spin. “His woman—why, he’d swap her for a whimmy- diddle did somebody make him an offer.” (pg. 352). (DSME)

whirly hole: noun Presumably, a whirlpool. “Water was so swift hit washed me down to the deep part, in a whirly hole.” (pg. 262).

whirly-wind: noun A whirlwind. “I wish a whirly-wind would blow our books to nowhere.” (pg. 296). (DARE)

whiskey blossom: noun Presumably, a flush of the cheek resulting from consumption of alcohol. “The whiskey blossoms on Taylor Horne’s cheeks burned.” (pg. 362).

whiteback: noun A downy woodpecker. “He worked like a twenty-year-old, like a whiteback.” (pg. 84). (POM)

white-eye: verb To quit working. “Wheresoever it was you journeyed, did you sneak away to it from the battle? Upon my honor, I believe you white-eyed.” (pg. 272). (DARE, sAppalachians, especially eKY)

whitehead: noun In the phrase like a whitehead: Very fast or vigorously. “He worked like a whitehead.” (pg. 342). (DARE)

White House: noun The privy, toilet. “It’s sour as whigs. Causes a wild head and too many trips to the White House.” (pg. 50). (POM)

whoop: verb Variant of whip. 1. To thrash, beat. “Mam told me to git out o’ that mud, or I’d stick something in my foot. I thought she’d whoop me so I come out.” (pg. 262). (DSME) 2. To defeat in a contest. “We’ll larn which roosters whooped.” (pg. 208).

who-shot: noun In making liquor: Low-grade whiskey having a high alcoholic content, usually illegally made. “Nobody made such spirits any more. All you could find was who-shot.” (pg. 50). (DARE; DSME)

wid: preposition Variant of with. “Reckon you could knock down a bale of cotton wid yer shoulder?” (pg. 21). (DARE)

wink at a dime: verb phrase To refuse money; to dismiss a sum as paltry. “Those days I didn’t wink at a dime. Even a penny.” (pg. 82).

wish-book: noun A mail-order catalog. “‘I gave him a hen-fooler to play with,’ she explained, ‘and tore a page from the wish-book for him to rattle.'” (pg. 167). (DSME)

withouten: preposition  Variant of without. “The creek hollows below were day-white, withouten a thimbleful of fog.” (pg. 173). (DSME)

witty: noun A half-witted person. “Yet I’m no witty, no dumb-head.” (pg. 48). (DSME)

womenfolks: noun Women collectively, the female members of a family or group. “Our womenfolks and children are right mealy in the face.” (pg. 103). (DSME)

worm: noun The long, usually spiral-shaped, copper tube attached to the cap of a still or cooker and then submerged in cold water, in which vaporized alcohol condenses. “He sold me a short-quart on credit, fresh-run, hot from the worm.” (pg. 50). (DSME)

wormy: adjective Infested or afflicted with worms. “Aye, I figure Pap keeps a good eye on the boys. You’d not know they were wormy if he hadn’t found out. And he offered to locate some boneset to purge them.” (pg. 217). (MW)

wouldn’t pitch a straw for the differ: verb phrase Presumably, equivalent to wouldn’t care in the least. “‘That’s fool talk. They’ll salt you down in Frankfort for shore.’ ‘Wouldn’t pitch a straw for the differ.'” (pg. 111).

wroth: adjective Moved to intense anger; highly incensed. “I’m wroth enough to set off dynamite.” (pg. 348). (MW)

back to top

 

 

X

 

back to top

 

 

Y

 

yaller: adjective Variant of yellow. “Hit’s like lightnin’ strikin’ a yaller poplar and skinnin’ her all the way down.” (pg. 75). (DARE)

yander: See yonder.

yarn: noun An entertaining narrative of real or fictitious adventures. “Well, we’d go in for dinner and find Bot telling some winding yarn that would redden the face of a Frankfort lawyer.” (pg. 84-85). (MW)

yawl: noun Variant of y’all, you-all. “Don’t yawl be worrin’ none ’bout me.” (pg. 21). (DARE)

ye: pronoun Variant of you. “Are ye killing the hogs or not?” (pg. 311). (DARE)

yellow dog: noun, adjective A dog whose cowardice is attributed to mixed ancestry; by extension a cowardly or despicable person. “If you’re hunting yellow dogs, the courthouse is packed with them, the fellers we elected.” (pg. 348). “Hain’t no yellow-dog coward Baldridge going to git my colt.” (pg. 98). (DSME)

yellowrod: noun Presumably, goldenrod. “Mother brought out an armload of yellowrods, stickweed blooms, and farewell-to-summer that Euly had stuck around in fruit jars.” (pg. 68).

yonder: (also yon, yander) noun, adverb, adjective Over there; back then (especially in the phrase back yonder). “He had daughters living here and yon, Tennessee mostly, and a son in the north, he didn’t know where.” (pg. 199). “Two days ago they hired four new miners, fellers from away yander.” (pg. 213). “Bee Tree is the next hollow to Short Fork, and Short Fork is over yonder ridge.” (pg. 389). (DSME)

yonside: preposition On the farther (or other) side. “Thar was a boy in jail named Tobe Romer who had jist about growed up yonside the bars.” (pg. 77). (DARE)

yore: A. (also yer) possessive pronoun Variant of your. “It’s plain as yore nose.” (pg. 372). “Ketch ’em by his britches, Pike, en throw ’em over yer haid.” (pg. 21). (DARE) B. noun Time past and especially long since past. “Young lady, take the floor and lead with the history of the Trojan horse in days of yore.” (pg. 295). (DARE)

young ‘un: noun Variant of young one: A child or adolescent. “I reckon Ole Treble thought more o’ that mare than he did his passel o’ young ’uns.” (pg. 33). (DARE)

back to top

 

 

Z

 

zizzards: interjection Expression of exasperation or disbelief; a mild oath. “‘Zizzards,’ Claymore chuffed, ‘Tonight will freeze clappers in cowbells.'” (pg. 189).

back to top

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s