Magnolia Blossoms, Canopy Roads, and Spanish Moss

Southern Magnolia Blossom [Magnolia grandiflora]

Dear Readers, 

We have an expression in the South:  “I was not born in the South — but I got here just as soon as I could!”  [Source unknown.]

I was born on a military base in Texas, not in North Carolina, the home state of my parents and of all their kin.  After Texas, my family moved to North Carolina, then California, back to Texas, then to Louisiana, and back to California.  My parents retired to Florida and built a summer home in North Carolina.

I lived a total of ten years in California, far away from the South.

I returned to the South, in 1970, to attend FSU in Tallahassee, and I have lived here ever since.  Every summer, we have a Family Reunion in the mountains of North Carolina, the state I claim as my “home state.”

The first time I said to my grandson, “Young man, you are skating on mighty thin ice!”  I could hear the echo of my mother’s voice in my own.   She died in 2005 but her colloquialisms live on.  They are as Southern as magnolias blossoms, canopy roads, and Spanish moss.

Have you heard of any of these?  If you have any genteel and refined Southern expressions, colloquialisms, similes, please reply or comment, to contribute to this list!

Coram Deo,


A Canopy of Oaks Trees, With Branches Bearing Spanish Moss

Southern Colloquialisms


Unless otherwise noted:  Margaret Elizabeth “PEG” Van Hoy Blair, 1917-2005, raised in Yadkin County, NC.

Terms of Endearment:  for babies and children, as in, “You’re my little . . . “
. . . Sweet Pea
. . . Squash Blossom
. . . Pocket Peach
. . . Snicker Doodle
. . .Sweetie Pie
. . .Ginger Snap
. . .Sweet Lamb
. . .Heart Strings
. . .Pumpkin
Well, bless your heart!
Well, bless your little bones!  [From my paternal great-grandmother.]
Well, bless your little ole pea-pickin’ heart!  [From Tennessee Ernie Ford.]
First thing in the morning:
There I was, running around in my shimmy tail![“Shimmy” means “chemise,” a slip or nightgown.]
Food: hunger, preparation, appreciation
Talk about good! OR Now, that’s what I’m talking about!
I’m getting’ a little thin around the waist!
Doodle it around![Mix it up and be quick about it.]
But don’t make a loblolly out of it!  [Don’t mix it too much or for too long and don’t make a mess.]
It scared the pee-waddlin’ out of me!  [WAHD-deh-lin]
It’s fixin’ to rain OR I’m fixin’ to go.
It pleasures me.
Let’s get to work!
We’re gonna clean this house for a fare-thee-well!
What you say or do is pompous or funny:
Well, poo-dill-ee-doo!
Oh, you just won’t do!
Warning misbehaving children:
You’re skatin’ on mighty thin ice!
I’m gonna snatch you bald-headed!
I’m gonna slap you into next week!
I’m gonna jerk a knot in your tail!
Surprise, astonishment, fatigue, frustration, impatience, incredulity, or disappointment:
Oh, good night!
Great day in the mornin’!
Heavenly days!
Oh, rat’s ankle!
Oh, shavin’s!
Ye gods!
Shoot a monkey!
Heck fire! [Heck FAHR!]
Oh, my soul and body!
Aah, lah! [or Hah, lah]!
Oh, for pity’s sake!
Lawsy, Pete!
My . . . my . . .  my . . . [slowly]
Good night a-living!  [From Ida Jean Hartsfield Sapp]
Well, I swanney!
Intention and Resolve:
I vow and declare!
I’m bound and determined!
I’m fixin’ to carry you to the hospital.
You’re shore right about that.
What you talkin’ about!
I mean!


Southern Similes:

 Like . . . . . . white on rice. Great interest, attraction, or enjoyment.
Like . . . . . . a duck on a June bug. Great interest, attraction, or enjoyment.
Cold as . . . . . . a frog.
Flat as . . . . .a fritter.
Slow as . . . . . .molasses [in January].
Hot as . . . . . . a firecracker.
Hot as . . . . . . a house-afire.
Tight as . . . . . . a drum.
Full as . . . . . . a tick.
Running around like . . . . . . a chicken with its head cut off!
Loose as . . . . . a goose!
Small as . . . . . Carter’s Little Liver Pills!
Quick as . . . . . .two shakes of a lamb’s tail.
As many as . . . . . . Carter has Little Pills!

Other Southern Expressions:

I don’t have a dog in that fight. I have no vested interest, informed opinion or comment.  From a friend of Amy Blair Sweeney, my sister. 
Honey!  She wasn’t wearing enough clothes to flag down a train!    From Lucy Sewell. 
Honey, that child was so rebellious!  Why, he dragged his whole family through a key hole!   From Lucy Sewell. 


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