10 Reasons Why

10 Cute Southern Phrases and What They Actually Mean

1. “Well, sugar my foot!”

Translation: “I am thoroughly astonished that what you just said is actually true. Even if it’s really not.” This is a response often heard during whispered gossip sessions at the local Baptist church.

2. “That thing just flopped back yonder.”

Translation: “The item which you seek has bounced to a location that is no longer near us and may be inaccessible at this point.” This often happens with beer bottle caps and contraceptive devices.

3. “Oh, I really like what you’ve done with your hair.”

Translation: “I am so stunned by that mess on your head that I couldn’t look away and you caught me staring, so I had to say something.” This phrase gets the most usage during Prom Season, when young women often confuse height and bulk with actual style.

4. “I would never tell a soul.”

Translation: “The very second you disappear around the corner I am going to bust my ass telling your secret to everybody in a 5-mile radius.” If the person making this statement also adds “cross my heart”, the radius instantly increases to 10 miles.

5. “I’m gonna lay into you like a ton of bricks!”

Translation: “I am so miffed at a perceived transgression of yours that I am going to beat you senseless just as soon as I finish my beer.” The origination of this phrase probably had something to do with stupid people doing stupid things near abandoned houses with crumbling chimneys, and somebody took notes after they hauled Bubba away in that 9-1-1 contraption.

6. “I’ll knock you into the middle of next week!”

Translation: “If you don’t stop doing that thing which I find incredibly annoying, I will use my fists and short-term time travel to resolve the situation.” No word on how such a science-based concept made its way into rural, flat-earth-believing populations, but it did.

7. “Rode hard and put up wet.”

Translation: “A person’s appearance is less than flattering and/or the person has not aged with any particular grace.” This term originally had something to do with sweaty horses and saddles back in the day. It’s not clear what an actual human would have to do to achieve the same aura, but apparently some folks have mastered the skill. The misuse of alcohol, drugs, cosmetics or sexual opportunities may be contributing factors.

8. “Bobby Joe is ate up with the dumb-ass.”

Translation: “The level of that person’s stupidity is mind-boggling.” Presumably this is a quite different condition than being a smart-ass, although one must wonder how intelligence is considered to be somehow rectum-based.

9. “He’s going to hell in a hand basket.”

Translation: “He has done something so astoundingly un-recommended that his after-life travel plans may include destinations that were not on his preferred itinerary.” However, the inclusion of the foo-foo basket accessory reference may indicate that this fool is actually going to Martha Stewart’s Vineyard, which might actually be worse than fire and brimstone. Would you want to make table centerpieces for all eternity?

10. “She was sweatin’ like a whore in church.”

Translation: “The woman felt quite uncomfortable to be in a place that may not fully support her chosen way of making a living and/or entertainment options she had pursued in her past.” Then again, the poor thing might actually be sweating because she wasn’t used to seeing so many of her clients in one room. And that was just the choir…


To be continued…


Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 05/17/12 and “Bonnywood Manor” on 01/28/14 and 12/16/16. No changes made. I realize this is not really a Christmas story, but this was actually one of the most popular posts in last year’s Yuletide Roundup, so if it ain’t broke…


62 replies »

  1. Adorable! I’ve been saying them out loud and they possibly don’t have the same impact with my perfect BBC English pronunciation – I may amuse myself further by uttering them in my best French accent – the last four in particular lend themselves rather well I feel. Thank you, maestro … this masterpiece will give me HOURS of endless fun on a rainy day 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bless his heart, he’s dumb as a dirt farmer.
    Did you see him tumped over in that canoe? What a goat rodeo!
    Proof that you can insult anyone and remove the sting if you’re from Texas. A language, a patois if you will, unto itself, only leaked out through passers by like myself who warn people of those seemingly kind waitresses at the Dallas Love Field Airport’s lounge and their scorpion like stings to what may seem to any random outsider like a compliment. Bless your heart, your husband gave you a coon skin coat for Christmas, did he?
    Um, it’s mink.
    Awww, that’s cute darlin’ -aside – Betty Lou you gone come see her new “mink”? Er whut? It’s so sweet how the insults just get drowned by the headrush from the hairspray and gasoline fumes in Dallas and Houston alone!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. hahahahahahahah (I’lll find the giggling emoji in a minute if it kills me) hahahahahahahahahahahahaha …
    HUGEly enjoyable post .. thanks for reposting, because if I’m being 100% honest, I had a vision of going back through your blog posts from the past, but have had to dip my toe in the waters of that lurking pointy-clawed black-caped engager.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I completely understand about not having time to explore the archives. I follow a lot of great bloggers, and I would love to leisurely stroll through their backlogs, but it’s just not feasible if I expect to get anything else done in my life. So I happily re-post, even if it might annoy some of the longtime guests at Bonnywood Manor who might be thinking “really, you’re throwing this one out there AGAIN?”…. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, not exactly.
        Those folks just look, lower their eyebrows, make a weird puzzled face and move on possibly thinking I must have jumped off the deep end and lost my last marble and like themselves searching for a new one!

        MOST comments come from the old folks (Bless their hearts) on Senior Day at the local Kroger. They are genuinely concerned that it is due to cancer or worse!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Quite a few of these have wended their way north-ward (isn’t Utah north of Texas? Damned public school eddication anyway)..5, 6, 7, 9 and 10 were common around my home growing up. Perhaps Pop’s grand-dad’s forays into New Mexico to escape the law (he was a polygamist and had to jump state lines a lot apparently) brought the patois into Utah? Or all those outlaws who liked to hide out in the rocks and caves ’round our southern reaches.. Or maybe it was hubby? Hmm…well I heard “I’m gonna knock you into next week if you don’t stop *insert miscreant behavior* right now” and “lay into you like a ton of bricks” a lot as a child. Not directed at ME, mind you, at my brothers for fighting or doing whatever it is that boys do that makes/made parents want to wallop them. The “whore in church” and “rode hard and put up wet” came from hubby, although I had the first phrase applied to me once by my mother (bless her heart). What an interesting trot up a lingual path.. I’ll have to go and find the ‘Utah” version and dust it off…. hee hee hee

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s interesting how certain phrases and colloquialisms can wander near and far, but even more interesting how the implied meaning can change in those wanderings. Of course, this tendency to subvert the original meaning of something is perhaps one of the foundations of society, despite our best intentions. It’s no wonder that two people can get two completely different messages from the same words, and no wonder that the wrong people get elected for very wrong reasons…


      • My granny would have have just told the devil to come get her if she said a curse word. She found a deck of cards once and it scared her to death. She buried them where nobody would ever find them….and mama…..I never heard her say a curse word in her life. Now, beat the shit out of you and throw you out barefoot in the snow? Yep. Wasn’t above doing that but she didn’t curse. LOL

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Hilarious! Down here in Alabama, Bobby Joe is “eat up with ir.” Tenses, past or otherwise, have no meaning in the Land That Time Forgot.👍👍
    ^^ Buffalo Tom

    Liked by 1 person

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 )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.