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513 voters

These Slang Terms From The Civil War-Era South Are Actually Pretty Funny

Updated June 26, 2017 3.2k votes 513 voters 21.1k views25 items

List RulesVote up the antebellum holler slang that makes you wish kissin' cousins were a thing again.

The regional dialect of the South is nothing if not unique, and much of it dates back to before the mid-19th century. Antebellum and Civil War conversations would have sounded foreign to modern observers. Even now, if you visit Appalachia or some parts of the Southern US, you may not be able to understand some of what is said if you didn't grow up hearing it.  

Here's a test: They're fixin' vittles for supper over yonder! What's your translation? If it wasn't "they're cooking dinner over there," then you need to brush up on your southern Appalachian slang. Many phrases are still used in the South today; others have fallen by the wayside but are just plain fun to say! Watch out though, pronunciation can be pretty tricky.  

Below are some phrases that will have you hankerin' to sing out some top rail and peart slang!

[Translation: Here are some phrases that will give you the desire to call out some top quality and fresh expressions!]

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    Clodhopper

    Later used to refer to a "bumpkin," the term previously meant anything from "blood clot" to "a really heavy shoe."

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    Biggest Toad In The Puddle

    Are you the "most important person in the group?"

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    Quick Step

    A euphemism for diarrhea. Also known as the Tennessee or Virginia Quick Step.

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    Not By A Full Jug

    Nope, "no way," "not by any means."

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    Arkansas Toothpick

    "A long knife," also known as a "Missouri Toothpick."

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    Jackanapes

    Beware these "scoundrels or impertinent rogues."

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    Honey-Fuggled

    Another way to express that you've been "hornswoggled" or "cheated."

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    Devil Is Beating Your Wife

    Here's a saying to use the next time "the sun is shining, yet it is raining."

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    Wallpapered

    "Drunk" but you could also be "tight," "corned," have "a brick in your hat," "be a bummer," or "stagger and walk the Virginia fence." 

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    Lucifers

    Matches, personified. 

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    All On One Stick

    Or a "combination" of many things. 

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    Mollygrubbing

    For next time you need to "rest, lay about, recline, relax, and dawdle."

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    Wake Snakes

    What you do when you "raise a serious ruckus."

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    Nuts For Us Boys

    When things are "easy for us!"

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    Larrapin'

    Use this next time someone makes you dinner to let them know that the food is "very good" or "really yummy."

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    Huckleberry Above A Persimmon

    When you're a cut above the rest, you can call yourself this fruity phrase. 

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    Beat The Dutch

    When you "beat everyone" or "beat the Devil."

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    Acknowledging The Corn

    By "corn," it means to admit the truth, to confess, to acknowledge one's own obvious lie or shortcoming.

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    Argie

    To "argue." 

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    To See The Elephant

    The elephant usually being "battle," you see action in some sort of fight or generally "see it all."

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    Inexpressibles

    When you're in mixed company, call your pants or trousers this generic term.

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    Come A Cropper

    It's best to avoid having "a serious setback or ruination."

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    Anti-Fogmatic

    Make sure the bartender hands you a whiskey or rum when you place this order.

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    Backing And Filling

    A steamboat can move "back and forth" but so can a mind when it "waffles and changes."

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    Spondulix

    "Money" – greenbacks works too – but make sure the the "codfish aristocracy," or businessman, pays you in cash, or "planks up."