Depending on the areas of the United States, American English changes considerably in both accent and vocabulary. The southern accent in particular has its own slangs and sayings that you won’t hear anywhere else. If you’re planning to visit the Southern United States and want to get yourself acclimated to the language and tone, then this guide will help you. Read on to learn examples of the Southern slang that will make you sound like a local!
Y’all is short for “you all” and is a hallmark of the southern accent. The way Americans say “you” in the plural is an indicator of where they are from. Northerners usually say “you guys” and Southerners use y’all.
Fit as a fiddle
It may seem stupid to compare someone who is fit to a fiddle, but it is a common saying.
This is basically a nice way of saying “Damn!”
Cut the lights on / off
For those grammar geeks, this phrase bothers them, as in standard English it would be “Turn the lights on / off.” After all, you can’t just take the scissors and cut the light to turn them on or off. Still, this phrase is used by many people in the South.
Bless your heart
Bless your heart is one of the most used phrases in the south. Equivalent to “poor thing.” It is used to show compassion.
You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar
This metaphor means that you can be liked by people by being kind and flattering to them instead of being confrontational.
Ma’am / Sir
You probably understand that ma’am (short for madam) and sir are polite ways of addressing adults. It’s not used much in the rest of the United States today, but Southerners still use it.
Mama, Daddy, Pappy, Grandpappy
Mama is another word for mom, and daddy and pappy are used instead of dad. Grandpappy is another way of saying grandpa. Mama, Pappy, and Grandpappy are often used in the south. All American children use the word daddy, but stop using it when they grow up. While Southerners keep calling their parents Mom and Dad no matter how old.
That’s the pits!
This phrase means bad luck. Commonly used when something unpleasant happens.
I’m fixin’ to..
Southerners use this phrase instead of I’m going to when they are about to do something.
It’s blowing up a storm
This means that the wind is very strong and that a storm is coming.
Over yonder is used instead of over there in Southern United States.
The spittin’ image of
The spittin’ image of someone means that someone is exactly like another person in appearance.
Pretty as a (Georgia) peach
This is a comparison used to tell someone that they are very handsome, like a nice compliment. You can include Georgia (a state famous for its delicious peaches) or you can just say pretty as a peach.
This is slang that means children.
Somethin’ awful is used to emphasize something you are saying.
This is a way of saying I think.
Once in a blue moon
This phrase is used to show that something doesn’t happen often and is a very rare occurrence.
Coke / Soda
There has always been a bit of a war between soda (used in the South and Northeast) and pop (used in the Midwest). Both refer to carbonated beverages (such as Coca-Cola or Sprite). In the south, it’s even more common to simply say Coke, even if you don’t want a Coca-Cola (the brand of drink). Coke is used to refer to all types of carbonated drinks.
Goin’ to hell in a handbasket
This saying is used when something is on the way to ending in disaster or going really badly.
Hush your mouth
Another way to tell someone to shut up.
Hold your horses
Hold your horses is a way of telling someone to be patient or to wait.
Just fine and dandy
This phrase means that everything is fine.
If you’re raising Cain, you’re getting in trouble. Cain is the first murderer to appear in the Bible.
Three sheets to the wind
This is a fun way to tell when someone is drunk.
Dag nabbit / Dagnabit
Another way to say damn / damn.
It means young ones and refers to children.
A southern way of saying hello.
A mind to
Southerners use mind to when they plan to do something.
Varmint is a southern way of saying vermin (parasites). This includes rats, cockroaches, flies, etc.
This slang means is not, am not, and are not.
Don’t let the screen door hit you on the way out
This phrase is used to show that you don’t care if someone leaves or you want them to leave right now. In the southern accent, it is a negative phrase that is used if you are upset or angry with your guest.
This jargon means himself.
This slang means let me.
She was madder than a wet hen
This saying shows that someone was very angry.
Ain’t worth a lick
Ain’t worth a lick means that someone or something is not worth it. In other words, they have no value.
Worn slap out
This phrase means that you are very tired.
This simply means great.
Beauty is only skin deep
This saying means that someone’s appearance has nothing to do with her personality. In other words, you can be beautiful on the outside, but a bad person.
Lost your marbles
If someone loses their marbles, they have lost their minds (they have gone crazy) or are out of their mind!
I don’t know what all
You can put this phrase at the end of any other phrase and it just means I don’t know what else.
Everybody uses ugly to say ugly. But Southerners also use it to say that someone is not being nice.
We could keep on going but these words and phrases should be enough to prepare you for the Southern United States slang!