Dogwood Winter
Pap And The Big Rock

Say What?

Tore Up Jack

Every once in a while-an old saying bubbles up from my consciousness and flows straight out of my mouth. It leaves me wondering why I said it-where I heard it-and who was the first person to say it.

One day last week, I was describing a tornado that hit near Atlanta one time-I said "it tore up Jack". As soon as I spoke the words-I thought how long has it been since I heard someone say that-and why did it float to the top of my mind and come out? Tore up Jack-means total destruction. Leaves you wondering just who Jack was?

A few others that come to mind:

Folk School Cloggers

If you want to dance you'll have to pay the fiddler: I mean really-did some parent say "there'll be no dancing at this house unless you pay a fiddler to make music first!"


Save your breath to blow your coffee: You just know some little old lady came up with this one to hush her complaining husband.


If you don't stop crying I'll give you something to cry about: Easy-a frustrated parent of a whiny child.

For the love of pete

For the love of Pete: Just who was Pete-and who was in worse shape-Pete who needed love or Jack who was tore up?

Would gag a maggot: For anyone who has seen a maggot-this one is pretty much self explanatory.

Run like the Dickens

Run like the Dickens: Was the Dickens a whole family of fast runners?


I'll jerk a knot in your tail: This one is usually said to an unruly child-but how many children have tails?

Trust her as far as you can throw her 

I wouldn't trust her as far as I could throw her: It'd be hard to throw most folks-so does that mean you shouldn't trust any of them?

I could go on and on with the old sayings and the pondering on who started them and exactly what they mean. Most of the sayings have withstood the passage of time, staying in the mainstream lexicon. Others fall away due to changes in the social or commercial aspects of daily life. One that comes to mind from my childhood "what ever flicks your Bic" My girls don't even know what a bic is or why you'd flick it.

Hope you'll leave me a comment about the sayings I shared-and please take a moment to share the ones you're familiar with.


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My Dad used to say "That's enough to make you hit your Dad" and "that's an oh s@#t if I ever saw one"
My mom would tell us "I'll snatch you bald headed." when we misbehaved. One I love is "she looks like she's been rode hard and put away wet".

seeing the above note about purt near reminds me of a Sunday afternoon on the river bank. Someone noticed a turtle that had been "squashed" - the remark was made that it was dead. A woman wandered over to take a better looks and she exclaimed; "No, look, he's just purt near, he ain't plumb!"

"Run like the Dickens" is a euphemism for "Run like the Devil." "Devil" used to be considered a cussword, plus there was a superstition that naming the Devil aloud would cause him to come around and mess with you.

My Great Uncle used to say " now if that wouldn't cob whack you" when he heard something that surprised him, or something he didn't agree with.

"Why don't you wish in one hand and sh*t in the other, and see which one fills up first".....(that was often said in response to someone saying "I wish...")

My sister used to say. " You don't have a hound in this hunt" meaning it is none of your business.
Cleggett Illinois

Great use of photos to illustrate.

Well, one of my favorites to my boys is, "I'm gonna tan your hide." Or, "You better watch out or someone might stomp a mudhole in your backside." My mom would say, "I'm gonna either put the fear of God in ye, or beat the hell out of ye."

How about,"If ya'll want to stay the night, we'll make a baptist pallet, or hang you on a nail";"He's as drunk as Cooter Brown" - or, "three sheets to the wind"?

I always heard "gag a maggot off a gut wagon" and that boy is "meaner than a striped (stipeit) snake!" Speaking of stripe, when I knew I was in big trouble.... "you are gonna get a stripeing little girl!" that meant go get a switch off the willow and it would really leave red stripes on the back of your legs! Also, among many more, "quicker than you can say jack Robinson or quicker than you can say lickedy split!"

It's colder than a well diggers ass...Something from eastern Kentucky...Pikeville

What about when your peckish? It means when you are just a little hungry & might peck at some food as though you are a chicken.

Also, "purt near"? Meaning "almost".

Lastly, any reference to "Ole Scratch" meant the Devil.

Love your blog. My dad who's still with us always had a couple of good ones.

When he was frustrated with us he would tell us to straighten up or "I'll stomp a mudhole in your butt and drag you through it".

When it was nearing time for bed and wanted me to brush my teeth he would tell me to go "scratch your snags with your snag-scratcher."

Great stuff, Tipper. I enjoyed the post and the comments. One of my favorites is "He's (she's) smarter than a tree full of owls;" and another that always brings a cringe from me & the grandkids when my husband Buck uses it: "I haven't had this much fun since the hogs bit my sister."

Those were great, Tipper... and I'm like you- they just pop out of my mouth sometimes before I even think about it.

Once when I was small, I was acting up a bit while my Mom was getting ready to go to the grocery store, and she told me, "If you don't straighten up, I'll keep you home 'til the moss grows on your butt." Years later I used to give her a hard time about saying that one! (She denied she even said it!)

I think "I'll jerk a knot in your tail" has to be one of my favorites. We picked this one up in TN but use it all the time now. It seems like there were more sayings in TN than WV...or at least they were very different. Still, I love it!

You can have it if you want but it aint no count.

Loved this post!!

I heard a number of these growing up; "Gag a maggot" was my favorite, though. Another favorite: "If brains was dynamite, he couldn't blow his nose."

Tipper: Do you have a book to find some of these or do you have one great memory. Do they say " If you don't remember we'll have to call tipper".

Tipper, I've heard all those sayings many times. One of my personal favorites is "busier than a one-armed paper hanger with the itch" and one I can't write here, 'cause it "just ain't fittin'".

Tipper -
"Tore up Jack" - I haven't heard that one in a coon's age!

"Gag a maggot" reminded me of one my granddaddy used to say - "that boy's ugly enough to knock a dog off a gut wagon."

Of course, Grandmother said it a little differently. She'd say that someone was "so homely only his mama could stand him... and she was half blind!"

Another one - "going to town" on something was to be really enthusiastic about it. A good musician would "go to town" on his banjo, for instance. Or, I've often seen my brother "goin' to town" on a watermelon - i.e., eating it enthusiastically.

Your Jack is way different than ours, around these parts if you said "Jack" that would mean "nothing". Like "he doesn't know Jack" or "Her flirtin' doesn't mean Jack." Or "that didn't do Jack for me."

The Bic thing cracked me up. I didn't think anyone remembered the Bic. I love randomly saying "This bar maybe dark but with a flick of my Bic I can see you're a hick." My girls just look all weird and bugged because they have no frame of reference for it.

Fun post. Thanks Tipper.

If you find out how money burns a hole in your pocket so you have to spend it let me know . . .

I would love to know if anyone has ever heard this...."as long as Pat stayed in the army". As in: if someone got a job or started something new or referring to some kind of endeavor, the comment would be made, "He'll/that'll last about as long as Pat stayed in the army." My mother still says it and the only time I've ever heard/saw it was in one of Homer Hickam's books quoting his mother.

I sure enjoyed the reasoning behind these. Makes you go hummmmmm . . .
Thanks for sharing.

That storm sure tore up jack... I mean you couldn't save squat!

That ought to float your boat.

Smart as a screen door in a submarine.

I know a lot of them and have used most of them after I got 'growed'.


I have heard all of those sayings and here are a couple more.

He's a ring-tail-tooter. - meaning he is a mischevious child

Don't be cuttin' your biscuits at me, I ain't got no butter for you. - This is my brother in law's favorite saying when someone is looking at him expecting something.

You could ride to town on that knife. - meaning that it one dull knife.

Fun post!


I had never heard the saying, "Tore up Jack," but most of the other ones are very familiar.

Grandma used to say, "It hurt like the Dickens." We knew what she meant. Dad would tell us, "Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry for." I've said that to my daughter and my grandsons.

Thanks for the walk down Memory Lane. When I say these things the grandsons tell me I talk "old-fashioned" and that "nobody talks like that anymore." LOL

Enjoy your Sunday. It's cool here.

I think Jack was Jack Robinson.

I was curious but when I looked up 'Jack' I found all sorts of things refering to things "male" and masculine. A Jack-of-all-trades, jack rabbit, Jack Frost are all males. Other things seemed to indicate some kind of action or quickness or otherwise like a projection like a jack post or jack rafter. A jack-in-the-box pops out quickly and scares some, just like the tornado does.

But there is a phrase I've heard about something happening 'before you can say Jack Robinson." Jack Robinson being a character who leaves almost a quick as he arrives so that you hardly know he was there.

I've heard this expression, or overheard it actually, when a mama was telling a daughter that a boy was not a good choice because "gettin' up with him would be over before you could say Jack Robinson." I hope she wasn't talking about me!!

"Gettin' up with" is another phrase I've heard more often. When you 'get up with' some body you meet them in some kind of setting. Maybe it is a one time happening or maybe like that girl, you could 'get up' with some body and plan to stay that way for a long time. Not with Jack though!

And in that case her mom could have used a phrase I've known from my childhood; 'stick like gumbo.' Gumbo, other than the food reference, is soil that is unusually sticky when it gets wet. So the term is mostly used in reference to the sticky mud.

So that mom might have said something like, "Honey gettin' up with him would be over before you could say Jack Robinson. You need to find yourself somebody that'll stick with you like gumbo."

Or maybe she could have added a little more. "Honey gettin' up with him would be over before you could say Jack Robinson. You need to find yourself somebody that'll stick with you like gumbo, like the love of Pete."

Oh well, I also remember a girlfriend from way back when who had quite a quick wit about her. One time when she kissed me my hat fell off. When we stopped she looked at me and said, "Look, I flipped your lid!"

So when I was teaching in the classroom and the guys still had their hats on I would say, "Flip your lids fellows." And it is so funny because when the guys would look at me like they didn't know what I was saying to them, it was always a girl who had to tell them to take their hat off.

Have a great Sunday everyone, but if your old like me keep you lids on to keep the sun off your head.

Coach Daley

I have heard and used most of them, but I don't use the one with Jack's name because that is my son's name, lol. How about "I'm so hungry my belly n backbone are bumpin". "That kid is so rough he could tear up a cannonball". "That road is rougher n a cob. "He's busier than a centepede at a toe countin contest". "That's slicker n snot on a glass doorknob". I better stop now or I might take all the comment space. Terry

Gag a maggot? That's a good one.

I'm not familiar with the one about Jack. I've heard the rest and used them, but not in " a right smart while." Have a blessed Sunday.

Sorry I haven't commented in a long while. It's been crazy around here! I had a good laugh at these sayings, but one of my favorite is one my father in law says and I do not get it at all, but it cracks me up none the less. If something is surprising to him he will say, "Well, if that don't hairlip the governor." What does that mean?? LOL, thought you would get a good laugh out of that one. Best wishes!

I haven't heard of some of these. I love hearing them from you though!

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