Dictionary of Southern Slang (2023)

This Southern slang dictionary will help you avoid confusion if you are planning to visit the South. These are some of the most common (and not so common) Southern slang terms heard in Arkansas and throughout the South.


Pronunciation: 'Ant

Etymology: Contraction of are not

Date: 1778

  • Am not: are not: is not
  • Have not: has not
  • Do not: does not; did not (used in some varieties of Black English)


Function: Verb

To pressurize or inflate. Example: "Air-up your car tires before you go on a long trip."

A Larking

Function: Verbal phrase

Originates from the word "lark," which means to engage in harmless fun or mischief. To go a larking means to play a prank or joke on someone.

All Y'all

Etymology: Intensive form of y'all

This usage states, "you all" more emphatically. For example, saying "I know y'all," would mean that one knows a group of people, saying, "I know all y'all" would mean that one knows the members of the group individually.

Arkansas Toothpick

Function: Noun

A large knife.

Arkansawyer, Arkansan, Arkie

Function: Adjective or noun

  • A resident or native of Arkansas.
  • Referring to a resident or native of Arkansas.Residents who refer to themselves as Arkansawyers commonly proclaim, "There is no Kansas in Arkansas." when you call them Arkansans.

Bowed Up

Function: Colloquialism

Marked by impatience or ill humor. This refers to the way a snake bows up his head before he strikes.

Bread Basket

Function: Colloquialism



Function: Adjective

Askew. Example: "The storm knocked the boat cattywampus, and it started to take on water."

Chief Cook and Bottle Washer

Function: Colloquialism

A person capable of doing many things.

Darn Tootin'

Function: Colloquialism

For sure. Correct. "You're darn tootin', that is oil."

Egg On

Function: Verbal phrase

To urge to do something. Example: "He only did it because the crowd egged him on."


Function: Verb

To calculate, consider, conclude, or decide. Example: "He hadn't figured on winning the lottery."

Fit as a Fiddle

Function: Colloquialism

In good shape, healthy.

Fit to Be Tied

Function: Colloquialism



Function: Verb

To get set: Be on the verge. Example: "We're fixin' to leave soon."

Function: Noun

Customary accompaniments. Example: "We had a turkey dinner with all the fixins."

Frog Gig

Function: Noun

A pole used to spear frogs for cooking.

Function: Verb

The act of hunting frogs for meat. Often called "frog gigging."


Function: Noun


Grab a Root

Function: Colloquialism

Have dinner. "Root" refers to potatoes.


Etymology: probably from Flemishhankeren, frequentative ofhangento hang; akin to Old Englishhangian


A strong or persistent desire or yearning often used with for or after.Example: "I have a hankering for fried okra. I've really been craving it."



A large quantity.Example: "Billy got into a heap of trouble when he stole his dad's car."

Hear Tell

Function:Verbal phrase

A form of "hear it told." Often conveys that the information was passed second hand.Example: "I hear tell that the new mini-mall is going up next month."

Horse Sense

Function: Colloquialism

Smart.Example: "She has horse sense. She'll make it in business."


Pronunciation: 'hau-dE

Function: Interjection

Etymology: alteration ofhowdo ye

Date: 1712

Used to express greeting.

Hunkey Dorey

Function: Adjective

Everything is great.

June Bug

Function: Noun

Date: 1829

Any of numerous rather large leaf-eating scarab beetles (subfamily Melolonthinae) that fly chiefly in late spring and have larvae that are white grubs which live in soil and feed chiefly on the roots of grasses and other plants. Also calledJunebeetles.

Laying Out [All Night]

Function: Verbal phrase

Staying out all night, often drinking or doing something illicit.Example: "I was laying out at the bar last night, so I have a hangover."

Lazy Man's Load

Function: Colloquialism

A lazy man's load is an unmanageably large load carried to avoid making more than one trip. This colloquial phrase is often used to indicate that someone is too lazy to think properly.Example: "Sam took a lazy man's load of groceries out of the car and ended up spilling them all over the sidewalk."


Function: Colloquialism

Very quick.

Like To

Function: Adverbial phrase

Almost.Example: "I like to pee my pants when that car hit me."


Function: Adverb

Almost.Example: "Inearaboutran over that squirrel in the road."

No 'Count

Function: Contraction

Of no account; good for nothing.


Function: Verb

To nurse.Example: "Shenussedthe sick dog to bring it back to health."

Okie or Sooner

Function: Noun

A resident or native of Oklahoma.


Pronunciation: 'or-n&-rE, 'är-; 'orn-rE, 'ärn-

Function: Adjective

Inflected Form(s): or·neri·er; -est

Etymology: alteration of ordinary

Date: 1816

Having an irritable disposition.

Out of Kilter

Function: Colloquialism

Not right. Out of sorts.Example: "John was out of kilter for a while when he was relocated toNew York."

Pack or Tote

Function: Verb

To carry.


Function: Adjective

Concerned over or attentive to details: Meticulous.


Function: Noun

Relatives, kinfolk.Example: "Shelly went to see her people on vacation."


Function: Adjective

Small or inferior.Example: "His work only gave him a piddlin' 1 percent raise.Function: Adverb

Poorly.Example: "She felt piddlin', so she didn't go to school."

Function: Verb

To waste time.Example: "He spent all his time piddlin' and never got anything done."


Function: Noun

A meat pie made froma possum.


Function: Adjective



Function: Noun

A doll.


Function: Verb

Etymology: Middle English rekenen, from Old English -recenian (as in gerecenian to narrate, akin to Old English reccan

Date: 13th century

  • CountExample: "To reckon the days till Christmas."
  • To regard or think of as—Consider
  • Think, supposeExample: "I reckon I've outlived my time—Ellen Glasgow."

Redneck Caviar

Function: Noun

Potted meat.


Function: Adjective

Very.Example: "You're right near the street you want to be on."


Function: Transitive verb

Inflected Form(s): riled; ril·ing

Etymology: var. of roil

Date: 1825

To make agitated and angry; Upset.


Function: Verb

A form of rather.

Scarce as Hen's Teeth

Function: Colloquialism

Rare or scarce.

Sho 'Nuff

Function: Contraction

Sure enough.


Function: Noun

A movie.


Function: Verb

To remove the outer covering of a nut, corn, or shellfish.


Function: Verb

Run, scatter.

Slap Your Pappy

Function: Colloquialism

To pat your stomach.

Snug as a Bug

Function: Colloquialism

Comfortable, cozy.


Function: Noun

Etymology: alteration of darnation, a euphemism for damnation

Date: 1790

Used to indicate surprise, shock, displeasure, or censure.

Tarred and Feathered

This refers to the practice of tarring and feathering people who committed small crimes such as distilling in colonial America (and in England). Today, it is often used to denote great surprise.Example: "I'll be tarred and feathered, that dog just flew!"

That Dog Won't Hunt

Function: Colloquialism

The idea or argument won't work.

Tore Up

Function: Adjectival phrase

  1. Broken.
  2. Upset.Example: "He was tore about wrecking his new Corvette."


Pronunciation: 'tOt

Function: Transitive verb

Inflected Form(s): tot·ed; tot·ing

Etymology: perhaps from an English-based creole; akin to Gullah & Krio tot to carry

Date: 1677

To carry by hand; bear on the person.


Function: Noun

A long line on which short lines are attached, each with a hook, for catching catfish. Sometimes mispronounced as trout line.


Function: Verb

Etymology: perhaps akin to British dialect tumpoke to fall head over heels

Date: 1967

To tip or turn over, especially accidentally.


Function: Adjective



Function: Noun

Etymology: alteration of vermin

Date: 1539

An animal considered a pest; specifically, one classed as vermin and unprotected by game law.

Walking on a Slant

Function: Colloquialism


War Between the States; War for Southern Independence; War of Northern Aggression

Function: Noun

The Civil War.


Variant(s): also wash·e·te·ria /wä-sh&-'tir-E-&, wo-

Function: Noun

Etymology: wash + -ateria or -eteria (as in cafeteria)

Date: 1937

Chiefly Southern: A self-service laundry.

Whup or Whoop

Pronunciation: 'hüp, 'hup, 'hwüp, 'hwup, 'wüp, 'wup

Function: Verb

The variant of "to whip." To hit or spank.


Pronunciation: 'yol

Function: Contraction

Ye all or you all.

Yaller Dog

Function: Colloquialism

A coward.


Function: Noun

Someone from the North.


Function: Contraction

Ye ones.Example: "Yeens better go before you're late."


Function: adverb

Etymology: Middle English, from yond + -er (as in hither)

Date: 14th century

At or in that indicated more or less distant place usually within sight.

Your Druthers Is My Ruthers

Function: Colloquialism

"Your preferences are mine," "We agree."


What is Southern slang for yes? ›

This is not just a southern phrase, but yes ma'am or yes sir is the only way to answer a yes question in the South, and the same would apply if the answer is no.

What is the Southern way of saying shut up? ›

"Hush up" is the Southern way of saying "shut up."

Southerners love to make things sound nicer than they are, so "hush up" is a way to tell someone to "shut up" without sounding too harsh.

What are the top 10 slang words? ›

Top 10 American Slang Words in 2023
  • Boujee. Adjective - Rich, luxurious, special, fancy. ...
  • Bussin' Adjective - Amazing, really good. ...
  • Drip. Adjective - Stylish, sophisticated clothes or appearance. ...
  • Extra. Adjective - Dramatic, attention-grabbing, too much. ...
  • Rent-free. ...
  • Salty. ...
  • Shook. ...
  • Vibe check.

What does MLF mean slang? ›

vulgar, slang. a sexually attractive middle-aged woman. Word origin. C21: from (taboo) m(om) I('d) l(ike to) f(uck) MAMMALS.

What do Southerners call their mom? ›

During childhood, Southerners, especially those over 65, were more likely than Northerners to call their mothers "Momma," according to an Atlanta Journal Constitution Southern Focus Poll.

What is Southern slang for you all? ›

But the best-known word in the Southern vernacular is probably our most-loved pronoun: y'all. A contraction of "you" and "all" is what forms "y'all" when addressing or referencing two or more people.

What do Southerners say when its cold? ›

Colder than a well-digger's nappy: 35-25 degrees.

Any colder than that and the contents of the nappy freeze and remain at 32.

What does yes mush mean? ›

'Mush' is a slang term which is often used to refer to a friend or an acquaintance. Its usage is particularly common in the north of England, with 'yes mush' a familiar greeting in Bradford. The word has its origins in an old Romany Gypsy dialect, which is still spoken by some travellers to this day.

What does Aye Wey? ›

1. ( colloquial) (used to express surprise or amazement) (Mexico) Woah! ( colloquial) ¡Ay, güey!

What does catawampus mean? ›

Adjective. catawampus (comparative more catawampus, superlative most catawampus) (US) Out of alignment, in disarray or disorder: crooked, askew.

What are weird things Southerners say? ›

Common Southern Words and Phrases
  • ain't got no - don't have any (I ain't got no money 'til payday).
  • buggy - shopping cart (Bring in a buggy from the parking lot.)
  • darn tootin' - for sure, certainly, sure is (Will I take the job? ...
  • down to the - going somewhere, regardless of direction (I'm going down to the church.)

How do Southerners greet each other? ›

Greeting each other in the South has its own particular charm. One usually sees a genuine smile that is seen in the eyes as well. Men usually shake hands and women hug each other. The reason for shaking hands originated to show that you did not have a weapon in your hand.

How do you swear in Southern? ›

The Darn/Dangs:
  1. “ Dang it”
  2. “ Damage”
  3. “ Dad Blast It”
  4. “ Dagnabbit”
  5. “ Dadgummit” (A Southern favorite) The 4-letter “S word” substitutes:
  6. “ Crap”
  7. “ Crapola”
  8. “ Crud”

What does 321 mean in texting? ›

The number 321 can be interpreted to mean “new beginnings.” This is a perfect time to start fresh, and your angels are there to support you every step of the way! If you keep seeing 321, it's a sign that your angels are trying to communicate with you.

What is a cool slang word? ›

21 Slang Words That Should Still Be Cool To Use In 2022
  • On Fleek.
  • Buggin'
  • Trippin'
  • Illin'
  • Word.
  • Poppin'
  • Bomb.
  • Flava.
Mar 28, 2022

What does LMC mean in slang? ›

(Internet slang) Initialism of let me see. (travel, dated) Initialism of let message (to) call (back).

What does BBG mean M? ›

better be going—a neutral, polite way to end a conversation that might otherwise continue.

What does TMB mean in slang? ›

Text me back

This acronym most frequently appears in text messages, but may also be seen in emails and online chat, when a person wants you to answer their message via text instead of another medium. TMB is related to CMB (call me back), MMB (message me back), and WMB (write me back).

What do Southerners call kids? ›

In the South, it is common to refer to children as Sister or Sissy, and Brother or Bubba. These are used as substitutes for given names, as in, "Tell Brother to come in for supper." Grandfathers also seem to have the duty of giving nicknames to their grandsons.

How do you compliment a Southern woman? ›

Have You Heard These Southern Compliments?
  1. She's as pretty as a peach.
  2. They're as pretty as a pitcher. ( ...
  3. He's a tall drink of iced tea.
  4. They're as happy as clams at high tide.
  5. She's as smart as all get out.
  6. They're finer than frogs' hair split four ways.
  7. She's got gumption.
  8. They're sweeter than cherry pie.
Apr 17, 2018

What do Southern kids call their grandparents? ›

Southerners are more likely to use Papaw or Pawpaw and those in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware tend to go for Pop or Pop Pop. Other favorites include Abuelo or Abuelito, Gramps, Grampy, Poppy, and Grandad.

What is Southern slang for toilet? ›

Powder room, commode

A less genteel Southern-ism for the bathroom is “commode.” While more widely it's used to refer to a ship's bathroom, in the South, it's just any toilet, land-bound or not.

What does dead pig in the sunshine mean? ›

Happy as a dead pig in the sunshine”

As a dead pig's body lies out in the sunshine, see, its lips begin to pull back from its teeth, creating the illusion of a wide grin. The expression describes a similarly oblivious (though quite alive) person who smiles away when in reality things aren't going so hot.

What is Southern slang for drunk? ›


This term is chiefly used in the South and South Midland.

Why do Southerners talk slow? ›

The Southern American English drawl, or "Southern drawl," involves vowel diphthongization of the front pure vowels, or the "prolongation of the most heavily stressed syllables, with the corresponding weakening of the less stressed ones, so that there is an illusion of slowness even though the tempo may be fast."

What did the North call Southerners? ›

The Northerners were called “Yankees” and the Southerners, “Rebels.” Sometimes these nicknames were shortened even further to “Yanks” and “Rebs.” At the beginning of the war, each soldier wore whatever uniform he had from his state's militia, so soldiers were wearing uniforms that didn't match.

Are Southerners polite? ›

Unlike much of the United States, the South has a culture of honor. While this makes Southerners more polite, it's also something of a double-edged sword. Good hospitality and manners are well-known stereotypes of the American South.

What does mish mush mean? ›

(ˈmɪʃˌmæʃ ) noun. a confused collection or mixture; hotchpotch.

What is mush faking? ›

Mushfake is a term Gee uses from prison culture, meaning “ to make do”.

What does shut your mush mean? ›

Mush. Slang for your mouth, i.e. shut your mush.

Is Que Onda rude? ›

Que onda in Spanish is a way friends and family welcome each other in an informal situation. Remember, if you're using que onda as a greeting, it should be with someone you already know or in a casual scenario. Que onda is not acceptable in formal or elegant situations.

Whats No Mames wey mean? ›

No mames is sometimes extended to no mames güey (no-mah-mess-goo-ee) and no mames wey (no-mah-mess-way), which both roughly mean “No way, dude!” Wey and güey are both Spanish slang words meaning “dude” or “guy,” though wey can also connote “idiot.”

What does Orale Vato mean? ›

It can be used as a form of greeting like 'What's up. ' Mexican Americans often use the phrase 'órale vato,' which means 'what's up, man. ' The word 'vato' is northern Mexican slang words for man.

What is a Snollygoster? ›

snollygoster (plural snollygosters) (slang, obsolete) A shrewd person not guided by principles, especially a politician. quotations ▼

What does farouche girl mean? ›

farouche. / French (faruʃ) / adjective. sullen or shy. socially inept.

What is poppycock in slang? ›

: empty talk or writing : nonsense.

What is Southern charm phrase? ›

What some deem as charming is just the natural Southern way of being kind, witty, and considerate to everyone we encounter, whether it be at the post office, grocery store, or at church. Having grace under pressure and making others feel welcome and comfortable is also part of the Southern charm.

What are some cool slang words? ›

21 Slang Words That Should Still Be Cool To Use In 2022
  • On Fleek.
  • Buggin'
  • Trippin'
  • Illin'
  • Word.
  • Poppin'
  • Bomb.
  • Flava.
Mar 28, 2022

What are some Texas slang words? ›

Texas Slang/Sayings by a Local Texan
  • So the most common Texan vocabulary word is "y'all." ...
  • The second most popular phrase is "ain't." ...
  • The third most popular phrase is Howdy. ...
  • The fourth most popular phrase is "Honey Bunches" or "Honey." ...
  • The fifth phrase y'all need to be familiar with is "Neighbor."
Feb 10, 2021

How do you compliment a Southern man? ›

If you use any one of these quintessentially southern compliments, you'll be sure to bring a smile to a southerner's face.
  1. “What good manners you have!” ...
  2. “I love your rooster decor.” ...
  3. “This is the best biscuit I have ever tasted.” ...
  4. “This would win first place at the county fair!” ...
  5. “What a beautiful garden you have!”
Jan 3, 2017

What are the latest slang? ›

The Newest Teen Slang Trends of 2021
  • Salty. What do pretzels, the ocean and your teen have in common? ...
  • Periodt. Think of this as the teen's version of her parent's "Because I said so," as in, no further questions, end of discussion. ...
  • Highkey. ...
  • Spill the tea. ...
  • Netflix and Chill. ...
  • Turnt. ...
  • Diamond Hands.
Dec 1, 2022

What does Pappy mean slang? ›

nounWord forms: plural -pies. US an informal word for father.

What words do Texans say weird? ›

"Burn-knee" not "born" or "burn" "Guad-uh-loop-ay" not "Guada-loopy" "Bear" like the animal, not "Bex-are" "B-yewt" not like your backside.

What do Texans call people? ›

People who live in Texas are called Texans and Texians.

What are Texas men called? ›

Texians were Anglo-American residents of Mexican Texas and, later, the Republic of Texas. Today, the term is used to identify early settlers of Texas, especially those who supported the Texas Revolution. Mexican settlers of that era are referred to as Tejanos, and residents of modern Texas are known as Texans.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Barbera Armstrong

Last Updated: 12/10/2023

Views: 6313

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (79 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Barbera Armstrong

Birthday: 1992-09-12

Address: Suite 993 99852 Daugherty Causeway, Ritchiehaven, VT 49630

Phone: +5026838435397

Job: National Engineer

Hobby: Listening to music, Board games, Photography, Ice skating, LARPing, Kite flying, Rugby

Introduction: My name is Barbera Armstrong, I am a lovely, delightful, cooperative, funny, enchanting, vivacious, tender person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.