TSG’s Guide to Talking Right

This page is dedicated to teaching everyone how to speak correctly. Each week at least one new Southern phrase and/or word will be added to the page, along with a definition and appropriate usage. If you ain’t from around the South, or for some reason have never learnt to speak proper English, this page will help you in more ways than you’d care to imagine.


Friday, June 27: DADGUMMIT (also pronounced, dead-gum-mit; with thanks to Eric G.)

Adj. – From Old Polite Southern English, “dag-nab-bit“; used to express great concern or surprise, Dadgummit, Earl, I told you to keep an eye out fer the po-lice.”; can also be used as a curse or perjorative, I’m ’bout t’ knock yo’ dadgum head through that there wall.”; also can be used to describe a father jerry-rigging a broken or busted item with either duct tape, glue, or caulk. “Mama ast how deaddy fixt th’ lamp, an’ I tole her, ‘Dadgummit.'”


Friday, July 4: BUMFUZZLED

Verb – from Scottish, “arse-fuzzled”; confounded, confused, and outright snookered. I was plumb bumfuzzled as t’ how Jimmy Earl got them there rabbits outta that hat.”; cheated, swindled, or otherwise played for a fool, “He laid down ’em cards, and I sware, afore I could get ’em counted, he’d done said he had 21. I ain’t too bright, but a 2 and a 1 don’t make 21, do it?”; mildly surprised or astounded, “I was shore ’nuff bumfuzzled when her deaddy pulled up in his po-lice car.”


 Friday, July 11: DOES A FAT BABY POOT?

Colloquialism – from the American South; commonly used as a replacement for the word “Yes” as an affirmative answer to an inquiry or request. “Earl, can you make sure that the Jenkins account is updated and prepared for tomorrow’s meeting?” “Does a fat baby poot?” “I like your moxie, young man!”; frequently used as a dismissive response to a question with an obvious answer. You reckon that Britney Spears is crazy as a craphouse rat?” “Does a fat baby poot?”; in a pinch, can be utilized as a Zen koan. What is the sound of one hand clapping?” “Does a fat baby poot?”

Other phrases that can be substituted or used interchangably in the same contexts: Does a cat got a climbing gear?; Is the Pope Catholic?; Does a wild bear [poop] in the woods?; Does a duck have lips? (note the intentional irony here – ducks almost certainly do not have lips, so the question acts as a negative response or as a satirical entendre intended to confuse the questioner); Does a dog sniff butt?; Is water wet?; Does Jesse Jackson lack a mental filter?; Does a Baptist dance?


Friday, July 18: HUMDINGER 

Noun – from Latin, “hummus dingus”; an amazing event or turn of events. “That was a humdinger of a speech, Jesse.”; an unbelievable happening. “That was a humdinger of a fart, Bubba Joe.”; a fantastic idea, thought, writing, or action. “That there’s a humdinger, Jimmie Fae – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a tattoo of Charlton Heston on that part of a woman before.”

Friday, July 25: GOOBER

Noun – from Old French, “guber” meaning one who is slightly awkward and obnoxious. This term has developed several applications in its Southern form, most notably when talking about the peanut, also known as “goober peas.” “Hey Willy, toss me another one of ’em goobers.” Also a term of derision, used to describe those who are not fashion forward or hip. “OMG, Traci – could those Alpha Chi Deltas be bigger goobers? I mean, seriously, who wears heels with jean shorts? Gag me.” In recent years it has also be adapted to describe the male, ahem, “member” particularly when trying to teach a small child what to call that specific piece of anatomy. “Good Lord, Junior, will you quit playing with your goober!”

Friday, August 8: RECKON

Noun – from Saxon English, “rekon” meaning butt-lucky guess. The term is mostly commonly used as a Southern verb, meaning uninformed guess from the colo-rectal region, or deep, contemplative thinking. “Well, I reckon he shoulda knowed better’n to fart into the furnace. Only way to git rid’a that smell is cut off yer nose.” RECKON differs from THANKIN’ in that to reckon is to ponder both the spiritual and natural side of an issue. “I reckon ‘at boy’s ’bout half-queer, way I see it.” THANKIN’ is simple observance of perceived fact, as in “I thank the she’s ugly ’nuff to scare a dawg off a meat wagon.”

Friday, August 15: FLITTER

Noun – from the Greek, “phliteos.” Because the word’s meaning was a concept rather than a one-to-one correlative, the word was simply transliterated and became the English word, “flitter.” Initially the meaning was to produce waste, to take something good and turn it into a useless item. Naturally, in the South it became associated with excrement, and is still used in that context today. “Dadgum, momma, did you see the pile of flitter that Junior’s new dog left on the carpet?” Polite Southerners of use the term in place of the word “she-yit” as swear words, though often used, are generally not accepted in the company of others. “Oh flitter, you scared the flitter out of me! Eat flitter and die!”

Friday August 22: SUMGUN

Noun – from the garbled English, “son of a gun” meaning heinous pain in the rear. Often used as a description of another person who is of questionable character and quite annoying. “That sumgun shore did a number on my paint job. I cain’t believe he painted Dale’s moustache blonde!” Also used in situations as a declarative statement, usually when circumstances seem dire or upsetting. “I walked in the front door of the trailer, and noticed that the TV was gone and that somebody’d taken the beer out of the fridge. I jest stood there, staring at my empty fridge, and all I could say was sumgun. I tell you though, if I find the sumgun who stole my beer…”

Friday, September 5: HOW ‘BOUT

Verb – shortened form of the proposition, “How about?” meaning to consider, contemplate or otherwise think  awhile onthe subject connected. Most frequently used in the state of Georgia, particularly the areas near Athens. Rose to levels of common usage from 1980-1982. “How ’bout them Dawgs! Did you see that freshman run over that Tennessee safety?” Also used in non-sports related ways, particularly philosophical debates or personal invitations. “How ’bout you bend over, pucker up, and put it where the sun don’t shine!” Also used as a pick-up line. “How ’bout you and me go behind the truck stop and tongue wrestle?”

Friday, September 12: HURRICANADER

Noun – combination of the words “hurricane” and “tornado,” meaning a severe windstorm that brings with it lightning, torrential rain, heavy winds, occasional hail and sometimes even a funnel cloud that touches down to wreak havoc. “That there hurricander shore did mess up my trailer sumthin bad. It took me durn near four days to track down my nekkid girl mud flaps.” Can also be used adjectivally to describe any physical situation of sever disrepair. “Dadgum, if ‘at sumgun ain’t the dirtiest pig… it looks like a hurricander done tore through here.” Should not be used when forecasting televised weather. “If you notice the front moving through here, we’re developing the sort of weather system that might unleash a hurricander. Back to you, Tipsi.” 


11 Responses to “TSG’s Guide to Talking Right”

  1. Eric June 26, 2008 at 5:15 pm #

    It is important to note that, while spelled ‘dadgummit’, the correct pronunciation is, in fact, ‘dead-gum-it’. See Daddy=deaddy.

  2. Laura July 11, 2008 at 2:17 pm #

    I personally prefer, “Is a frog’s butt watertight?” I’ve recently heard a good one to answer the question, “How hot was it?”. I’ll have to share it with you sometime.

  3. Jan July 12, 2008 at 1:25 am #

    I never thought of bumfuzzled as being a southern word. I always lumped it in there with flabbergasted. Is that a southernism too?

    Another good one is Flummoxed. (or is that Flummuxed?)

    Has anyone noticed that “Ya’ll” is becoming universal since the internet got popular? I even see and hear Brits using it.

  4. Laura "the voice" Spivey July 29, 2008 at 4:27 pm #

    As a gosh darn southern English teacher – I am fixin to write down the name of this here website, so as to not let any of my them there students use it as a site reference. (“reference” pronounced using all 11 syllables!) I can honestly betcha that this here blog has me busting a gut laughing so dadgum hard. Anyhoo – I hope you hava helluva day. Dadgum yure FUUUNNY!

  5. Alex August 12, 2008 at 9:42 pm #

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

  6. R. Bradford February 17, 2009 at 8:24 am #

    There is a whole lot more to speaking southern the way it outta be spoke. Pick up the book. Its written by a man named Nick Powers.

  7. gypsyjonga August 28, 2009 at 4:46 pm #

    Unrelated, but I didn’t know where else to put it.,…seen this?


  8. Autumn September 15, 2009 at 4:53 pm #

    Fine as Frog hair – That girl oooooh wweeeeeee, that girl was fine as frog hair.


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