This List of Southern Expressions Will Have You Grinnin’ Like a Possum Eatin’ a Sweet Tater

These Southern

  1. If she had an idea, it would die of loneliness. 
thinkingskeleton
Photo by Matthew Schwartz on Unsplash

I take it that the idea would just be rattling around in an otherwise empty cranium, without any companions.

2. It is as useless as a screen door in a submarine.

insideofasubmarine
Photo by Heng Films on Unsplash

Now, that’s pretty useless … in fact, a bit worse than merely useless.

3. Grinnin’ like a possum eatin’ a sweet tater

grinningwoman
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Now, that’s a sight I’ve never seen, but this pumpkin-eating porcupine below is mighty pleased … so, I suppose it’s similar.

4. Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit! (To show surprise)

stackofbiscuits
Photo by Jodie Morgan on Unsplash

Do I have to? And are you quite sure you want me to do that?

5. He’s so skinny, if he stood sideways and stuck his tongue out, he’d look like a zipper.

zipper
Photo by Tomas Sobek on Unsplash

This one is so much more fun than “thin as a rail” or “thin as a toothpick.” When photographing your thin friend, ask him to pose as a zipper.

6. I’m prouder of that than a pup with his first flea.

runningpuppy
Photo by Joe Caione on Unsplash

Pedigree, dog show awards, obedience school certificates, maybe even heroism … all reasons for a pup to be proud, but, apparently, all it takes is a flea.

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

Striped_Skunk_Big_Bend_NP
Diotime1 (Diotime) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
I admit that I would have to be pretty famished for that to sound like a good snack.

8. Scarcer than deviled eggs after a church picnic.

Thanksgiving 2009 at Isabella and Cris
Michele Ursino [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Those are pretty scarce after a church picnic … and after a family gathering too. (My sister-in-law makes great ones.)

9. He was so tall he could hunt geese with a rake.

hunters
Photo by Rhett Noonan on Unsplash

A guy’s got to be pretty tall to sweep a goose out of the sky with a rake. If the goose happens to be on the ground; however, hunting with a rake is not quite as impressive.

10. Slicker than snot on a goat’s glass eye

Mountain_goat_Stuffed_specimen
Momotarou2012 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
Okay, I understand that the glass eye belongs to a taxidermied goat like the one above from the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo. My next question is, “How often does a goat’s glass eye get snot on it?” Maybe, we shouldn’t overthink that one.

11. So deep in jail he’ll have to be fed beans with a slingshot

jail
Photo by Carles Rabada on Unsplash

I imagine the person with slingshot would have to have very good aim.

12. There’s a stump in a Louisiana swamp with a higher IQ. 

swamp
Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

This one goes a bit further than expressions like “dumb as a box of rocks.” The person in question is not as dumb as a stump, but the stump is actually a bit more intelligent.

13. He has the personality of a dishrag.

dishrags
Photo by Brian Patrick Tagalog on Unsplash

 

I’ve never met a particularly sanguine dishrag, have you? Note to self: don’t give a Southerner a reason to insult me.

14. We’re closer than two roaches on a bacon bit.

bacon

Well, that’s just gross, so enjoy this photo of frying bacon, which is not at all gross. Also, I’d rather not be compared to a roach even as a token of friendship, thank you.

15. This is more fun than a sackful of kittens.

kittens
Photo by Jari Hytonen on Unsplash

I’m not sure I like the idea of a sackful of kittens, but a basketful is sure fun.

Do you like unique and quirky expressions?

Andy Westin, the narrator of my Jack Donegal Mysteries, has a few of his own.

Here’s what some reviewers have said —

“Action Men with Silly Putty: A Jack Donegal Mystery is fun, engaging and delightfully entertaining, you won’t want to put it down! Susan Joy Clark pens a mystery full of comedic escapades. The bungling Mr. Magoo combines with the eccentricity of Columbo in the main character of Jack Donegal. Clark’s narrative is witty, comical and adventuresome. The writing style is artfully imaginative, using amusing and uncanny descriptions. The point of view is written from the perspective of the side-kick, which is rare, but really works! The antics of the characters keep the action moving quickly.” — Cheryl E. Rodriguez

“Andy is the consummate narrator who, while being completely authentic and original in his own right, agreeably reminded me at times of Nero Wolfe’s able and wisecracking sidekick, Archie Goodwin. Clark’s story is breezy, fun and fast-paced, and her plot is inspired. Jack and Andy are two of the most intriguing private eyes I’ve come across in quite some time, and I can’t wait until their creator conjures up another irresistible conundrum for them to play with. Action Men with Silly Putty: A Jack Donegal Mystery, Book 1, is most highly recommended.” — Jack Magnus

“Action Men with Silly Putty is a bizarre, hilarious and memorable read that should not be missed! When I read the description of Action Men with Silly Putty, I was hooked right away thanks to the bizarre but funny nature of it. I love stories with a twist, and I love even more when they combine action with humor, whenever I read books like this I imagine it as a funny detective drama on tv and Action Men with Silly Putty could undoubtedly be this! When I began to read Action Men with Silly Putty, I knew straight away that the story would deliver and fulfill my expectations and know that I have finished the book I can write that it did!” — Red Headed Book Lover Blog

See it on Amazon.

 

The Day I Met Yogi Berra, Plus 10 Yogi Berrisms

Blue Wood

Yogi_Berra_1956
By Unknown author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
A few years ago, I ran into Yogi Berra in an unlikely place … in a line at my pharmacy. I’m a New Jerseyan, and I knew he lived somewhere locally. I didn’t realize just how local he was. He lived at that time in a town neighboring mine, Montclair, where Montclair State University has a stadium and museum named for him.

Yogi_Berra_Museum_and_Learning_Center_Entrance
Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center, By ikon.5 Architects [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
When I first saw Mr. Berra in the pharmacy line, I wasn’t quite sure it was him, but I certainly thought it was a man who resembled him. I kept looking at him and wondering. At the time, I was seeing Mr. Berra in a few TV commercials for Entenmann’s cookies — “The box is always open until it’s closed” — and for a local car dealership. I thought perhaps I was mistaken, and this gentleman in the line just happened to have similar physical characteristics and also just happened to be wearing a Yankee baseball cap. The pharmacists behind the counter sure seemed excited to see him and were giving him the VIP treatment, bumping him to the front of the line. I knew for sure I had correctly identified him when I saw his prescription bag, and the name label, “Berra, Lawrence P.”

For a moment or two, I wondered if I should try and get an autograph for my oldest brother who is a big Yankee fan, but then I was too shy and didn’t want Mr. Berra to feel pestered. I expect though, that if I had pestered him, he would have reacted graciously.

It’s an interesting memory of running into a famous person in an unlikely place.

Here is a list of 10 unusual confused sayings — Yogi Berrisms — attributed to the player.

  1. When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
forkintheroad
Photo by Jens Leslie on Unsplash

Robert Frost wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less travelled by.” Yogi says to just take it, both roads apparently … unless he means that if you happen to see a piece of tined silverware in the middle of the road, you should pick it up and take it home.

2. A nickel isn’t worth a dime today.

piggybank
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

This might make a little more sense if it was, “A nickel isn’t worth a penny today,” or even, “A nickel isn’t worth a nickel today.” A nickel was never worth a dime, and if it was, that sure would be handy.

3. “You should always go to other people’s funerals; otherwise, they won’t come to yours.” 

funeralchairs
Photo by Cinematic Imagery on Unsplash

Hhmmm… If people, whose funerals I have attended in the past, come to mine, I suppose I won’t know it, but a few other people might be freaked out.

4. “The future ain’t what it used to be.” 

futuristicbuildings
Photo by Yolanda Sun on Unsplash

I can think of a sense in which this is true. The idea of what the future will look like has changed from past times. Back in the ’80s, I watched a movie, made in the ’60s, supposedly set in a far future time. The only problem was, this fictional future involved already outdated technology, giant clunky early computers.

5. “You got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”

hitchhiker
Photo by Atlas Green on Unsplash

So, it’s possible that I may never arrive at some mysterious, unknown location and end up in an entirely different unknown location instead? Gotcha.

6. “He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious.”

froginpond
Photo by Grace Evans on Unsplash

I think the word you are searching for, Mr. Berra, is ambidextrous. I do know some guys who are amphibious … Kermit the Frog, Mr. Toad, Michigan J. Frog, Crazy Frog …

7. “Even Napoleon had his Watergate.”

Napoleonthrone
Photo by William Krause on Unsplash

I think we are confusing our politicians here.

 

8. “Baseball is 90 percent mental, and the other half is physical.”

baseballsinhand
Photo by Jose Morales on Unsplash

I was an English major, not a math major, but I still think those are some interesting numbers.

9. “You better cut the pizza in four pieces, because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.”

Tomatomushroompizza
Photo by Ronaldo de Oliveira on Unsplash

So, you’re saying that if I cut the pizza in fewer pieces, I’m eating less? This is good to know.

Some of these quotes may be disputed or slightly changed from the original, and this perfectly explains the last Yogi Berrism.

10. “I never said most of the things I said.”

1953_Bowman_Yogi_Berra
By Bowman Gum (Heritage Auctions) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I get you, Mr. Berra. I get you. 

 

 

 

“You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” and 14 Other Confused Expressions

Blue Wood

An eggcorn is a word or phrase that is misheard or misinterpreted. In eggcorns, words might be replaced with sound-alike words that may take on a different meaning. The word eggcorn itself comes from the mishearing of acorn.

When I was a college student, I heard some fellow students talking about guys “scamming” girls from the mezzanine in the cafeteria. They didn’t mean that the guys were trying to pull off cons. They meant they were scanning the crowd for female persons of interest.

I tend to think that the phrase “crank call” is also an eggcorn for “prank call.” “Crank call” is used to mean “prank call,” but it makes less sense. In the days of rotary phones, you might be said to be cranking something but not any more than you would for an ordinary call. Crank calls also are not instigated necessarily by old cranky people. They are pranks.

Here are some other common eggcorns.

  1. If you think …, you have another thing coming.
Guythinking
Photo by Jake Young on Unsplash

I heard this expression wrong myself for years. I may have heard it wrong, but it’s also possible people around me were saying the expression wrong. When I first saw the expression, “you have another think coming,” written out, I thought, “That makes a lot more sense.”

You can understand how it’s possible to hear it wrong, especially as “think” isn’t exactly grammatical in the phrase.

2. Pass mustard

yellowmustard
Photo by Pedro Ribeiro on Unsplash

If you want to put a condiment on your hot dog and say, “Please, pass the mustard,” that would be correct, but, if you say, “The soldier passed mustard,” that would be wrong.

“Pass musters” goes back to the 1570s and was used for soldiers passing review. Dictionary.com defines “muster” as “an assembling of troops or persons for formal inspection or other purposes.” Today, the phrase might be used for someone passing approval in other contexts.

3. All intensive purposes

intensivecare
Photo by Ali Yayha on Unsplash

This phrase is heard instead of “all intents and purposes.” Are some purposes particularly intensive? A person can be in an Intensive Care unit of a hospital, and I suppose doctors and nurses may have “intensive purposes” when saving a patient’s life. Intensive means “relating to or characterized by intensity.”

The correct phrase, “for all intents and purposes” has its roots in 16th century English law. It is used to mean “virtually” or “for all practical purposes.”

4. It’s a doggy dog world.

dogsandwalker
Photo by Matt Nelson on Unsplash

To me, as a dog lover, “It’s a doggy dog world,” sounds like a very positive expression like “Life is a bowl of cherries.” This is an eggcorn. The original expression, “It’s a dog-eat-dog world” is much more negative, suggesting a survival of the fittest situation. There are other negative expressions concerning dogs such as “working like a dog,” so perhaps, “It’s a doggy dog world” could also sound negative in certain contexts. I used the eggcorn as a blog category, because, for cheerful posts about our canine friends, the eggcorn sounds much more positive.

5. pre-Madonna

Madonnawannabe
Photo by Finding Dan/Dan Grimwis on Unsplash

The phrase “prima donna” is borrowed from Italian and literally means “first lady.” In opera, a prima donna is the leading lady of the opera. In modern times, it’s come to take on other meanings referring to a female singer, not necessarily in opera. It can also refer to the demanding and narcissistic behaviors of a “prima donna.”

It’s funny how the other expression was misheard. Madonna is certainly a well-known female singer. To me, pre-Madonna seems to make more sense as the name of a musical period than the name of a personality. We have a postmodern period after all. We’ve had quite a few musical periods that are all pre-Madonna.

6. Nip it in the butt

catbutt
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

The original phrase is “nip it in the bud.” To nip something in the bud is to end it before it has a chance to grow. “Nip it in the butt” makes a certain kind of sense but is not really the same in meaning. Well, it’s possible for butts to be nipped. Cartoons have told us this for years. The cat butt above looks like a nice target some dogs may want to nip.

7. Out of bounce

soccerball
Photo by Wuilmar Matias-Morales

This is an interesting one. A ball can go “out of bounds” in a game, and I suppose that, often, when the ball goes out of bounds, it is also out of bounce at some point.

8. To hell in a handbag

openpurse
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

This is an interesting one. The first phrase is “to hell in a handbasket.” One variation makes just as much sense as the other. There is nothing in the Bible to suggest that either a handbasket or a handbag are a special conveyance to hell. It is nicely alliterated. World Wide Words writes, “Some writers have read into this version that it refers to execution by the guillotine, in which the image — as in the terror associated with the French Revolution — is of the executed person’s head dropping into a basket.”

The phrase today isn’t always used to describe a person’s spiritual plight but a way of stating that society or the situation is deteriorating, as in, “Everything’s going to hell in a handbasket.”

9. Ice tea

icedtea
Photo by baby qb on Unsplash

Although this one is not as amusing as some of the others listed, it is one that I hear. The final D in “iced” must not be too audible. “Iced” makes more sense as an adjective than “ice.”

10. Old timers disease

oldtimer
Photo by Alex Harvey on Unsplash

Well, it is the old timers who are prone to dementia, but the real name for the illness is Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s disease is named for Dr. Alois Alzheimer who made discoveries about the disease in 1906. The “Alz” in Alzheimer does mean “old” in German language, but Alzheimer is not synonymous with old timer. The name Alzheimer comes from the place name “Alzheim” which means “old hamlet.”

11. Scandally clad

SaloonGirl
Photo by Zillah215 on Flickr

Very interesting. The real phrase is “scantily clad” as in, uh, not wearing much. Of course, “scantily clad” can sometimes be tied with scandal. Saloon girls of the Old West were considered to be scandalous and could also be somewhat scantily clad, especially for the time. Now, it’s possible to be much more scantily clad without seeming scandalous to most. Just think of the difference between now and then and what is acceptable for beachwear!

12. Take it for granite

granitecounters
Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

To take something for granted is to fail to appreciate that thing. Granite is a type of stone. I’m not sure how you can take something for granite.

“Are those counters stone?”

“No, they’re formica.”

“Oh, I took it for granite.”

Oh dear. That was a “Dad joke,” wasn’t it? Sorry, not sorry.

13. Takes two to tangle

Tango
Photo by Christian Newman on Unsplash

It definitely takes a partner to tango, but technically, you need another item or thing to tangle too. Tango dancers also seem to get themselves in a tangle. Even so, the real phrase is “It takes two to tango.”

14. Very close veins

veins
Photo by Rob Swatski on Unsplash

This is heard in place of varicose veins. Is it possible for veins to be very close? I suppose.

15. World Wind Tour

sailorgirl
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

I understand what a whirlwind tour is and also a world tour, but what is a world wind tour? Perhaps, it is circumnavigating the globe on a sailboat.

 

 

 

 

 

15 British and American English Vocabulary Differences (Plus 5 Spelling Differences)

Blue Wood

  1. Hood vs. Bonnet
hoodorbonnet
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

In the U.S., the part of the car that you lift to look at the engine is the hood while, in the U.K., it’s called a bonnet. Both terms make a similar type of sense. In other meanings, both a hood and a bonnet are items worn on the head. The hood or bonnet part of the car similarly seems to be at the head end of the vehicle.

2. Trunk vs. Boot

trunkorboot
Photo by Hector Bermudez on Unsplash

That storage compartment at the opposite end, the place where you put your luggage or your shopping bags, is a trunk in the U.S. and a boot in the U.K. Boot seems to go with bonnet, more so than hood with trunk. After all, a bonnet goes on the head, and a boot goes on the opposite end of the body, plus it has that nice alliteration and all of that. The term trunk seems to be a reference to its purpose for storage, just like there are other sorts of storage trunks.

3. Truck vs. Lorry

truckorlorry
Photo by Louis Magnotti on Unsplash

The American term truck probably comes from the word truckle wheel, while the British term lorry seems to derive from “lurry,” a Northern dialect word for hauling or pulling.

4. Biscuit or … 

oldtruckwithbiscuitsandgravysign
Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash

In America, biscuits are small breads raised with baking soda or baking powder. In the American South, you can find these smothered in sausage gravy. They are definitely a savory and not a sweet food item.

In the U.K., a biscuit is a sweet item to dunk in your tea … a cookie, in other words.

Biscuit. 

teapotandbiscuits
Photo by Ranit Chakroborty on Unsplash

5. Napkin vs. Serviette

bluetablescape
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

The origin of the word “napkin” goes back to Middle English and the word for tablecloth. The British borrow the word, serviette, from the French. This brings us to number six in our list.

6. Diaper vs. Nappy

babyinpinkdiaper
Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

Napkin can have an entirely different meaning in British English. This sort of napkin (nappy) is definitely not the sort you want to use to wipe your mouth. In America, it’s called a diaper, and if you were to give a child a nappy, you’d probably just put them in bed.

7. Sweater vs. Jumper

Scandinavianknitjumperorsweater
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I’m not sure which of these terms is more sensible. Do you jump in a jumper or sweat in a sweater? It’s actually quite possible you might sweat in a sweater, but it doesn’t seem polite to mention it.

8. Eggplant vs. Aubergine

eggplantoraubergine
Photo by Charles Deluvio PHCA on Unsplash

Again, the British borrowed a term from their French neighbors. In America, aubergine is just a color term. The word eggplant comes from the white variety of the vegetable that is more egg-shaped.

9. Zucchini vs. Courgette

 

zucchiniorcourgette
Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

The British borrow a word from the French once more, and the Americans from the Italians.

10. Elevator vs. Lift

elevatororlift
Photo by Michael Paz on Unsplash

A lift lifts, and an elevator elevates. It all makes perfect sense.

11. Apartment vs. Flat

apartmentorflat
Photo by Vadim Sherbakov on Unsplash

The term flat might be derived from the Scottish word “flet” for a story or level of a building. In U.S. cities like San Francisco or New York, the word flat might be used for an apartment all on one floor. For the most part, the word apartment is preferred in the U.S.

12. Soccer vs. Football

soccerorfootball
Photo by Al Aquino on Unsplash

In America, football refers to an entirely different sport than soccer, one that involves a pigskin, touch downs and goalposts. For the U.K. (and basically the rest of the world) what Americans call soccer is football. This name is very sensible since the sport is primarily played with kicks and footwork. This foot action doesn’t actually seem that central to American football.

Interestingly, the word soccer does have British origins and is derived from “association football,” distinguishing it from rugby. Over time, the two nations developed different term preferences.

13. Flashlight vs. Torch 

flashlightortorch
Photo by Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash

A flashlight may not look like the sort of flaming torch carried by Olympians, but the term “torch” does seem to suit it. It serves a similar purpose as the old style torch but has a different source of light and power. A flashlight is also a light that is flashed into dark nooks and crannies, so the American term seems equally sensible.

14. Cell Phone vs. Mobile

cellphoneormobilephone
Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

I’m sure both Americans and Brits know both terms for the small portable phones. Americans know cell phones are mobile, and Brits know that mobile phones are cellular. Somehow, we have come to prefer or habitually use different terminology.

15. Stove vs. Cooker

stoveorcooker
Photo by Jen Johnson on Unsplash

The term “cooker” may seem strange to Americans, but the purpose of a cooker is pretty self-explanatory. A cooker cooks. A toaster toasts. A blender blends. Maybe all kitchen items should have these sorts of names. Knives can be cutters, and spoons can be scoopers. What would forks be? Stabbers? Maybe, I need to rethink this. Stove, by the way, comes from the Old English stofa or stofu, a heated room for bathing.

5 British and American English Spelling Differences

  1. Gray vs. Grey
EarlGreytea
Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash

The color of elephants and Eeyore is spelled gray in the U.S. and grey in the U.K. Occasionally, I’ve seen a confused American spell the color as “grey.” I suppose it can happen as people on both sides of the pond read publications from the other side. If you are ever confused about which is which, think about Earl Grey tea. What can be more British than tea named after an earl?

2. Judgment vs. Judgement

judgmentorjudgement
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Americans spell judgment without the E, but Brits us the E. Embarrassingly, Planet Fitness, an American gym, had a recent ad campaign about it being a “no judgement” zone.

3. Jewelry vs. Jewellery

jewelryorjewellery
Photo by Tiko Giorgadze on Unsplash

So, Perry Mason or Nero Wolfe would stop a jewelry thief, where Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot would stop a jewellery thief.

4. Tire vs. Tyre

tirevstyre
Photo by Peter John Manlapig on Unsplash

Those round rubber wheel covers are tires in the U.S. and tyres in the U.K. Still, a Brit may still tire and need a nap or maybe a kip.

5. Aluminum vs. Aluminium

aluminumoraluminium
Photo by Frame Harirak on Unsplash

This last one is not only a spelling difference but a pronunciation difference as well. Brits have a whole extra syllable in this word. It started with Sir Humphry Davis who named the element … several times, changing it from alumium to aluminum and then settling on aluminium in 1812. His British colleagues liked the classical sound of aluminium and its similarity to other elements ending in -ium. By 1828, the American Webster’s Dictionary still only had the “aluminum” spelling, which influenced how it was spelled in other American publications.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of the language differences, so there may be a follow-up post in the future.