Posted by: Jack Henry | March 2, 2021

Editor’s Corner: Southern Phrases

Recently, our coworker Sandra B. posted “Phrases Black Southerners Say” on the Mosaic Teams site. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and thought I’d look for some other Southern phrases I could share. It’s been four years since I shared lively Southern phrases with you, and it seems like a good time to look at more. I had to rely on Wander Wisdom for new material since I don’t have a Southern connection. I have cut out the items I did last time, and also the ones that are a bit “blue” for the office.


When a Southerner Gets Angry:

  • He’s got a burr in his saddle.
  • His knickers are in a knot.
  • She’s pitching a hissy fit.
  • She’s pitching a hissy fit with a tail on it.

Southern Sayings About Bad Character:

  • You’re lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut.
  • She’s meaner than a wet panther.
  • Worthless as gum on a boot heel!

When Southerners Are Busy:

  • I’m as busy as a one-legged cat in a sandbox.
  • Busier than a moth in a mitten!

Southern Expressions About Being Cheap:

  • He squeezes a quarter so tight the eagle screams.

Southern Phrases About Being Broke or Poor:

  • I’m so poor I can’t afford to pay attention.
  • He was so poor, he had a tumbleweed as a pet.
  • I couldn’t buy a hummingbird on a string for a nickel.

Irritation Brings Out Some Creative Southern Expressions:

  • That would make a bishop mad enough to kick in stained glass windows.
  • She could make a preacher cuss!
  • Who licked the red off your candy?
  • She could start an argument in an empty house.
  • He’s about as useless as a screen door on a submarine/a trapdoor on a canoe.

Colorful Southern Expressions About Liars:

  • You’re lyin’ like a no-legged dog!
  • If his lips’s movin’, he’s lyin’.

Southernisms About Stupidity:

  • If brains were leather, he wouldn’t have enough to saddle a junebug.
  • He’s so dumb, he could throw himself on the ground and miss.
  • When the Lord was handin’ out brains, that fool thought God said trains, and he passed ’cause he don’t like to travel.
  • His brain rattles around like a BB in a boxcar.
  • If his brains were dynamite, he couldn’t blow his nose.

When Something Smells Really Bad, a Southerner Says:

  • He smelled bad enough to gag a maggot.
  • Something smells bad enough to knock a dog off a gut wagon.

If You Hear These Southern Expressions, You Better Watch Out:

Either somebody’s in real trouble, or there’s a fight brewing if you hear…

  • I’m gonna jerk her bald!
  • Me-‘n-you are gonna mix.
  • You better give your heart to Jesus, ’cause your butt is mine.
  • I’ll slap you to sleep, then slap you for sleeping.

Ugly or Looking Bad?

  • He’s so ugly, he didn’t get hit with the ugly stick, he got whopped with the whole forest!
  • So ugly she’d make a freight train take a dirt road.
  • She’s so ugly I’d hire her to haunt a house!
  • He looks like ten miles of bad road.

Of the Wealthy:

  • He’s so rich he buys a new boat when he gets the other one wet.

A Hungry Southerner Says:

  • I could eat the north end of a south-bound polecat.
  • I’m so hungry I could eat the north end of a south-bound goat.

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

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