32 American Southern Colloquialisms

Colloquialisms, slang or idioms are nonstandard words and phrases, which are used in informal conversation and are often specific to a small area or region of a country. While these words and phrases are not generally accepted in academic or business settings they are used in every day conversations, therefore learning them is important for a serious student or traveler, and many are humorous in their own right, especially the ones that originated in the old south. Now get ready for some fun and good belly shakers (laughs), followed by their translations where needed.

  1. If you don’t stop that crying, I’ll give you something to cry about! (Usually followed by a spanking, which increased the crying)
  2. If a bull frog had wings he wouldn’t bump his ass when he jumped! (A response to using ifto an excessive degree.)
  3. Your ass is grass and I’m the lawnmower!  (You are going to get a good spanking from your parents or beating from another kid.)
  4. Close that “NEWmonia” hole. (Close the window, used especially in cold weather.)
  5. Don’t you make eyes at me boy. (Mom’s response when we rolled our eyes sarcastically after being corrected.)
  6. She has forty eleven kids. (She has more kids than I can count.)
  7. The price is a dollar, three ninety eight. (I have no idea what the price is.)
  8. He is so clumsy he would trip over a cordless phone.
  9. She is so clumsy she can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.
  10. He’s dumber than a pet rock.
  11. She can’t carry a tune in a hand basket. (She can’t sing!)
  12. He’s as handy as a back pocket on a shirt. (He is worthless.)
  13. He’s busier than a one legged man at a butt kicking contest.
  14. Higher than a Georgia pine tree. (Very drunk.)
  15. We better get on the stick. (We better get started.)
  16. He / she was beat with an ugly stick. (Very ugly man / woman.)
  17. That house is just down the road a piece. (The house is down the road a short distance, but a piece can be anywhere from a few feet to several miles.)
  18. That wall is catawampus. (That wall is crooked or out of line.)
  19. She’s older than dirt. (She’s very old.)
  20. Give me some sugar. (Give me a kiss.)
  21. He’d complain if you hung him with a new rope. (A person who is never satisfied.)
  22. He’s happier than a dog with a belly full of piss and a mile of fire hydrants. (He’s very happy.)
  23. He can break rocks with a rubber hammer. (He is very mean / tough.)
  24. Fish or cut bait. (Either do it or shut up.)
  25. He’s an egg sucking dawg. (He’s a low life [ Malaco ].)
  26. You ain’t whistling Dixie. (You are speaking the truth.)
  27. If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride. (Don’t wish your life away.)
  28. If that don’t beat all. (Something very amazing or unusual.)
  29. We were like two peas in a pod. (We were very close, or always together.)
  30. Happier than a tick in deep fur. (Very happy and secure.)
  31. Colder than a well diggers butt. (Very cold indeed.)
  32. Do you want me to open a can of whup-ass? (Do you want me to beat you?)

And the one I most hated to hear was, “Boy go cut me a switch.” (A switch is a small, long, limber branch – weeping willows make the best / worst – with the leaves removed and used to spank a child’s bare bottom.)

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Sobre o Autor: Bill Slayman tem 66 anos é americano e mora em Pensacola, Florida, USA. Ele atuou no exército americano e hoje está aposentado. Suas paixões são: andar de Harley Davidson, motocicletas, fotografia e qualquer coisa brasileira. Bill é um dos maiores colaboradores do EE.

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19 comentários

  • 30/06/11  
    João Victor diz: 1

    LOL @ #8 and #9!!!

    • 30/06/11  
      w.slayman diz:

      I am glad you enjoyed the post.

  • 30/06/11  
    Egle diz: 2

    I always enjoy reading about slangs and idioms. Sometimes, more than proverbs, some slangs make me understand better the American culture and increase my knowledge about you there. I love to learn even I guess I won’t try to use these expressions while still learning.
    So, the South has more than Arizona Tea!!

    • 30/06/11  
      w.slayman diz:

      In the movie Smoky and the Bandit, Burt Reynolds (the Bandit) said ” How stupid you sound depends on where in this country (USA) you are standing when you say something.” In other words each area of the USA has it’s own colloquialisms and if you use one from the South in California you could seem pretty stupid.

  • 30/06/11  
    Aline diz: 3

    some of them are really funny! “give me some sugar” is so sweet! lol

    • 30/06/11  
      w.slayman diz:

      I am glad that you are still on EE, and you liked some of the phrases.

  • 30/06/11  
    monica diz: 4

    Sensacional esse post!

    • 30/06/11  
      w.slayman diz:

      Thank you but you are too kind.

  • 30/06/11  
    João B. L. Ghizoni diz: 5

    Bill, what a long list of expressions! Thanks!

    • 30/06/11  
      w.slayman diz:

      It was fun compiling this list, and rewarding reading the replies. Thank you.

  • 30/06/11  
    Frederico diz: 6

    Frase 1 – If you don’t stop that crying, I’ll give you something to cry about!

    Minha mãe me dizia:
    “Se você não parar de chorar, eu vou te dar um motivo de verdade para chorar! …” :-)

    Frase 19 – She’s older than dirt. (She’s very old.)

    Um amigo diz “ela é mais velha do que a posição de cagar.”

    Frase 22 – He’s happier than a dog with a belly full of piss and a mile of fire hydrants.

    Eu a traduziria como “mais feliz do que pinto no lixo”.

  • 30/06/11  
    Maria de Naaré Góes Cravo diz: 7

    Very good

    • 30/06/11  
      w.slayman diz:

      I am glad you enjoyed the phrases. Just be carefull of when and where you use them. ;)
      See my reply to Egle at comment #2 above.

  • 01/07/11  
    Iracema Improta diz: 8

    Thank you Bill, I laughed a lot!
    Frederico ri com seu post tbm.

    • 04/07/11  
      w.slayman diz:

      Thank you for reading, and having a few good laughs.


    • 07/08/11  
      Frederico diz:


      também acho engraçado esses ditos populares.

  • 01/07/11  
    Gil diz: 9

    Vão todas para meu caderno de expressões.