A Body

Its got to where a bodys got to lock the door

"It's got to where a body can't even leave the house without locking the door behind him."


body noun Someone, a person (often with reference to oneself), a term in common use among older speakers observed by Joseph Hall in the 1930s. (Note: the combining form -body is more prevalent than -one to form indefinite pronouns, thus anybody, everybody, somebody).

1895 Edson and Fairchild Tenn Mts 370 A body can't git along here. 1924 Spring Lydia Whaley 2 To know when soap is finished you cool it 'till a body can keep a finger in it. 1937 Hall Coll. Upper Cosby Creek TN Fever weed breaks the fever on a body. (Veenie Ramsey) 1939 Hall Coll. One-armed Jim is right feeble. I reckon a body'll find him dead somewheres. 1940 Haun Hawk's Done 48 There wasn't anything a body could say to Barshia that would do him any good 1962 Dykeman Tall Woman 93 When I brush his hair just right, a body would hardly notice. 1969 GSMNP-25:1:30 A body thought about it back then. 1989 Smith Flyin' Bullets 40 "A body never knowed when they just might come in the middle of the night," Delia said, "and drag ye out of bed, and take ye out to kill ye, fer no reason a'tall." 1997 Montgomery Coll. Could a body buy that there dog? How can a body live on such piddlin's? (Brown)
[cf Scottish usage: "If a body meet a body coming through the Rye"; DARE esp Midland]

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


The usage of the word body described in the dictionary entry is still alive and well in my part of Appalachia. 


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June = The Month for Weddings

  Wedding customs from appalachia
June is one of the most popular months for weddings. Appalachia has many interesting customs and sayings surrounding matrimony one of which is a shivaree.

A shivaree is a loud greeting given to newlyweds on their wedding night and includes banging, hollering, and serenading. Putting the couple in a wheel barrel and pushing them around is sometimes part of the fun as well. Over the years many of the traditions have fallen by the way and I don't know anyone personally who still observes the custom.

Pap and Granny dated a short three months before they ran off and got married. Granny tells that she was all for getting married, but after it was over she was deathly afraid to go home and face her mother.

When they told her mother, Gazzie, she warned Pap to be good to her daughter or else! He followed through on his promise to treat her right all the years they were married.

The Deer Hunter and I dated for four years before we took the plunge. We tease about how if feels like we've been married 40 years. It's actually been closer to 25. Our wedding was small and inexpensive. All these years later my favorite part of the wedding was using his grandparents rings as our wedding bands. 

A few other Appalachian customs or sayings concerning weddings:

  • If someone sweeps under your feet you'll never marry-I heard this one my whole life.
  • The couple jumps the broom after the service to signify crossing over from single life to married life.
  • The word courtin was used to describe a couple who were serious in their relationship and most likely headed for matrimony. When I was a teenager someone was always asking me if I was courtin yet.
  • This last one is for all you quilters. When young ladies gathered to put the finishing touches on a new quilt they each held a piece of the quilt and someone threw a cat onto the quilt. Whoever the cat jumped off closest to was the next girl to be married. 

Drop back by in a few days and I'll share what the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English has to say about shivarees and if you'll hop over and visit Beth at Tennessee Mountain Stories you can read a great post about weddings in Appalachia. 


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing at Unicoi State Park this Saturday June 17 at 8:00 p.m. 

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Terriblest and other est words in Appalachia

Adding est to words in appalachia

Tipper - sitting in one of her favorite places, the front porch

Adding est to give emphasis to words is beyond common in Appalachia...even when it's grammatically incorrect. Here's what the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English has to say about it:

-est suffix
1 added to words of two or more syllables, esp -ing participles. 


I was reminded of adding est to words a few weeks ago when I said "I'll try to take a picture of all of you, but the girls say I'm the terriblest at taking cell phone photos."

Here's a few other examples for you.

huntingest: Old Blue was the huntingest dog you ever seen. He didn't even care if anyone followed him to the tree when he treed. He was all about the chase.

beatingest: I wouldn't stop down there if I was you. He's the beatingest man in this settlement. Why before you know it he'll steal your britches.

cheatingest: It was all part of a joke, but now you've got the name of being the cheatingest man in Clay County and I don't know what you're going to do about it.

firstest: The firstest beans that come in are always the best of the year.

bestest: Papaw Tony is the bestest at making pickled beans and corn of anybody I know.

importantest: Once she became the head of the place she started thinking she was the importanest person in this part of the state. I hate to break it to her but I know where she was raised up and she ain't no better than I am.

aggravatingest: You just got to love him you can't help it, but he can be the aggravatingest person you ever met.

fightingest: That boy was the fightingest boy in school. That's all he wanted to do was fight. One time he even tried to fight the janitor.

thinkingest: Pap was the thinkingest person I've ever known.

workingest: Pap was also the most workingest person I've ever know.

singingest: I'm glad I live with two of the singingest girls around.


I'm sure I left out some est examples. Help me out and leave a comment with any that come to mind.


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing Saturday June 3, 2017 @ 1:30 p.m. Art, River & Music Festival - Murphy NC and on Saturday  June 10, 2017 @ 8:00 p.m. Vogel State Park - Blarisville GA.

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Old timey kraut

A noun Sauerkraut, widely made in the mountains, stored in barrels and kept for winter consumption. The food is the most significant German contribution to mountain cuisine, and the term is one of the very few from German in the mountain vocabulary.
1913 Kephart Our Sthn High 289-90 In the vocabulary of the mountaineers I have detected only three words of directly foreign origin. Doney is one. Another is kraut, which is the sole contribution to highland speech of those numerous Germans (mostly Pennsylvania Dutch) who joined the first settlers in this region, and whose descendants, under wondrously anglicized names, form to-day a considerable element of the highland population [note: sashiate is the third word, according to Kephart]. 1939 Walker Mtneer Looks 3 The German word kraut survived, for the obvious reason that there was no equivalent in the technical vocabulary of the Scotch-Irish housewife. 1960 Mason Memoir 15 The barrels were utilized as containers for the storage of such mountain comodities [sic] as saur kraut, pickled beans, bleached apples, and pumpkin butter. 1962 Hall Coll. Newport TN A pregnant woman will spoil kraut or [the] mash for a run of liquor...A woman, when her menstrual period is on, when she makes kraut, it'll rot. (Burl McGaha) GSMNP-80:15 We would put a cloth over the kraut now and pickled beans, and we'd put this big plank and then we'd hunt and get us a big heavy rock, wash hit off right clean and put it on the plank and that would mash it down in below kraut, and that's how we would have it, you know, the kraut and pickled beans, [and] you know that kraut was so good we would just go get us a handful, squeeze the juice out and just eat a handful. 1977 Madden and Jones Mt Home 27 Pickled beans and kraut were kept in large stone crocks in the spring-house. 
*B verb To make sauerkraut of.
1917 Kephart Word-list 413 I don't do like old Mis' Posey, kraut my cabbage whole. 

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


More than a few interesting tid-bits in the definition for kraut from the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English.

I wonder if Kephart's statement about the three words is true? And I wonder what in the heck sashiate means?

I've always heard a woman who is menstruating can't help put up kraut or pickled beans and corn, but never heard about it effecting liquor. And I've never heard anything of the sort said about a pregnant woman.

Papaw Tony said his mother would make several crocks of kraut each year. She would can the kraut as a crock made, but she left the last run of the year and they would eat that crock before using the canned kraut. Papaw's mother krauted the core of the cabbage to. Similar to the person in the definition, Papaw would sneak and stick his dirty little hand down in the crock and dig around until he found a core to eat. 

I can't imagine krauting a whole cabbage-I wonder if it would work?

I'll leave you with a few kraut posts from the archives of the Blind Pig and The Acorn



  • The Pressley Girls will be playing Saturday May 27 at 7:00 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater in Bryson City NC. The cost of admission is 10 dollars and all money raised will be used for maintenance of the Lauada Cemetery.
  • The Pressley Girls will also be performing Sunday May 28 at TBA in Blairsville GA at the Spring Arts and Crafts Festival. 


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Mountain Ivy = Mountain Laurel = Rhododendron

Mountain ivy in western north carolina

ivy noun
(also ivy bush, ivy tree) The mountain laurel tree (Kalmia latifolia). Same as calico bush, mountain ivy.
1883 Zeigler and Grosscup Heart of Alleghanies 196 The arborescent kalmia and rhododendron, which grow along almost every mountain stream, have a practical use. The ivy and laurel, as they are locally called attain, in some of the fertile coves, a diameter of three inches, and the roots are even larger. 1928 Galyon Plant Naturalist 7 Mountain laurel, known to the mountaineer as "ivy," reaches its maximum development in the Smokies. It is not unusual to find arborescent laurels one foot or more in diameter and many feet high. 1982 Stupka Wildflowers 80 Usually the attractive pink or white-saucered flowers are so abundant that the mountain laurel in full bloom is one of our most spectacular plants. It flowers in May and June, the later blossoms ordinarily occurring on plants growing in the higher altitudes. "Ivy" and "calico-bush" are among its other names. 1997-2001 Montgomery Coll. ivy bush (Cardwell); ivy tree (Brown).

laurel noun Cf rhododendron. 
A variant form larel.
1939 Hall Notebook 13:1 White Oak NC larel (Fay Leatherwood)
B (also laurel bush) The mountain term for evergreen rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum and Rhododendron catawbiense), which grows profusely at elevations below 5,000 feet and covers extensive tracts in thicket. Also used in compounds (as flat laurel, laurel bed, laurel patch, laurel slick, laurel thicket, mountain laurel) and in place names.
1890 Carpenter Thunderhead Peak 142-43 There for the first time we saw the tangle of rhododendron which is called "laurel," and forms a dense thicket along all the mountain streams. 1937 Hall Coll. Cosby Creek TN We have white laurels and red laurels here in the mountains. (James Benson) 1939 Hall Coll. Deep Creek NC They fought right down to the foot of the ridge into the flat laurel and commenced barkin'. I though [the bear] was treed. (Mark Cathey) 1974 Underwood Madison County 9 Roderick Shelton and his descendants peopled the area now known as Shelton Laurel. 

~Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

Ivy blooms in the mountains

I have one more quote for you.

Dykeman The Tall Woman Pg 304 I've always thought the ivy was about the prettiest thing growing here, the way it clings to the mountains, the way it comes in the cutover places and covers up the scars with blooms in spring. 

As I look at the ridge above our house I so agree - the Ivy is about the prettiest thing growing here.


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing Saturday May 20, 2017 @ 2:00 p.m  at the Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center - Robbinsville NC and Sunday May 21, 2017 @ 11:00 a.m. at Mount Moriah Baptist Church - Murphy NC. Their summer is schedule is filling up-to see a complete list of performance dates go here

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Appalachian Vocabulary Test 100

Old words used in the mountains of appalachia

The Deer Hunter and Pap talking over the garden - 2012

It's time for this month's Appalachian Vocabulary Test. I'm sharing a few videos to let you hear some of the words. To start the videos click on them and then to stop them click on them again.


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1. Keen: to wail; sharp or high voice; sharp piercing eyes. "He has a keen voice. When he gets excited his voice just gets higher and higher!"


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2. Knob: a high point on a mountain ridge. "He said he jumped the biggest bear you ever saw up on Mary Mason Knob. I didn't even know there were any bear around here, but that's what he said."

3. Knotty head: small fresh water fish; same as a hornyhead. "Back in the day when I worked at Lake Logan in Haywood County a knotty head jumped into one of the row boats. It was making such a racket that the other girls and I were afraid to go see what it was."


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4. Kernel: a swelled lump underneath the skin. "I'm taking Tommy to the doctor first chance I get. He's got a kernel the size of your thumb under his arm. Hal says it ain't nothing but I'm worried about it."


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5. Kerslunge: splash; plunge. "She was going across the foot-log in them slick shoes and kerslunge! She went right off in the deepest side of the creek. I know it embarrassed her to death."

 My thoughts on this month's words:

  • Keen: I can just hear Pap describing somebody's high keen voice. I've also heard the word used to describe somebody's eyes, but probably the most common usage I've heard is a keen hickry.
  • Knob: This one seems so common that I can't believe it is used mostly in Appalachia, but it was in the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English so maybe it is?
  • Knotty head: hornyhead is much more common in my area.
  • Kernel: I've heard Pap and Granny use kernel to describe a growth that comes up under the skin, but not really anyone else.
  • Kerslunge: Pap is the only person I've ever heard use kerslunge, but what a word! It sounds like what it means. I was tickled pink to see it in the dictionary.

Did you notice this is my 100th Appalachian Vocabulary Test? Wow I can hardly believe it. I only share one a month, so that's quite a few years worth. Seems like I ought to do something special for number 100 so I think I will!

Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a copy of Southern Mountain Speech by Cratis D. Williams. *Giveaway ends Sunday May 21.

Hope you'll leave me a comment and tell me how you did on the test!


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing Saturday May 20, 2017 @ 2:00 p.m  at the Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center - Robbinsville NC and Sunday May 21, 2017 @ 11:00 a.m. at Mount Moriah Baptist Church - Murphy NC. Their summer is schedule is filling up-to see a complete list of performance dates go here

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The Mountain Ivy is Blooming

Mountain ivy

Over the past week, the Ivy around my house has started to bloom. If Ivy makes you think of the green vine that often overtakes everything in it's path then you may be wondering why in the world I think mine is blooming. 

I'm talking about the bush like tree you see in the photo above.  All my life I've heard it called Ivy. Sometimes Mountain Ivy but mostly just Ivy. The correct name for it is Mountain Laurel.

Mountain laurel in appalachia

But this is what we call Mountain Laurel or in most cases just Laurel. Can you see the difference from the first photo? Notice the leaves are longer, thinner, and a brighter green. The blooms are different too. The real name for this one is Rhododendron.

 To make things even more confusing Ivy and Laurel often grown side by side. 

Blooming Ivy Bush or Blooming Ivy Tree


In places Ivy and Mountain Laurel grow so dense and thick that they are called "hells". I've read accounts which claim the first men who surveyed the lines between NC and TN encountered Ivy and Laurel Hells so thick that they placed boards on top of them and walked across instead of attempting to go through them. Sounds like a tall tale, but who knows maybe it's true.

Mountain Laurel and Mountain Ivy

Tipper - Just after we moved into the house Pap built
One of the best play houses I had as a kid was right in the middle of a giant old Laurel that had Ivy growing around it's edges. The Ivy and Laurel were already there just waiting for Pap to build a house and for a little skinny girl to take over their branches and dark leafy floors.

Blind Pig reader, Bob Dalsemer, once shared a quote about Ivy from renowned ballad collector Cecil Sharp with me:

"... it is quite in accordance with the habit of the mountaineer to call things by their wrong names, e.g. Laurel for Rhododendron; Ivy for Laurel; Vine for Ivy; Biscuit for Scone, etc." 

For me-Mountain Laurels will always be Ivy and Rhododendrons will always be Laurels even if the names aren't right.

Drop back by in a few days and I'll share the dialect documentation from the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English about Ivy and Laurel.


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Jacob's Onions

Best way to eat green onions

Jacob’s onion noun A green onion.
1975 Purkey Madison Co 53-54 A variety of vegetables grew in long neat rows; tender green onions (called Jacob’s onions), peas, beets, carrots, radishes, lettuce, beans, parsnips, tomatoes, cucumbers, and sweet and Irish potatoes. Ibid. 106 I will never forget the endless bundles of crisp sping onions with their long white heads and slender green blades, which my mother prepared for market. Mama called them “Jacob’s Onions.” I don’t’ know why unless it was because they were so prolific.

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


I have never heard green onions called Jacob's Onions have you?


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Blackberry Winter

Blackberry winter

1962 Dykeman Tall Woman 14 And after the cold spell, when dogwoods bloomed, there would be whippoorwill winter and blackberry winter. "Dogwood winter" happens in April, but it is soon followed by another spell of cold called "blackberry winter," which occurs in May when blackberry briars put out their delicate flowers.


Blackberry winter is in full session in southern Appalachia. After a few weeks of 80 degree weather its been chilly this week with temps in the low 40s. In addition, a cold wind has been howling across the ridges and down through the hollers leaving fallen trees in some areas and leaves and branches littering the ground everywhere you look. 

From the time I was a little girl I knew about Blackberry Winter and Dogwood Winter too. I said I knew about them, I didn't say I always believed in them.

Of course when I was really young I never gave either any thought other than wishing they'd go away so summer, shorts, and swimming could arrive. 

During my late teenage years I was doubtful as to the truth of either of the spring winters. I suppose I thought of them as some quaint thing Granny had come up with to try and be colorful.

Once I was a mother putting my own hands into the good earth each spring as I tried to feed my family good wholesome things and save money at the same time, I began to pay much closer attention to the mountain holler I lived in. And what do you know, Granny and all those other folks who talked about Blackberry and Dogwood winter were right. It never fails, each spring when the Dogwood trees bloom there is a cold snap of weather that lasts a few days and every year when the Blackberry briars put out their white tease of sweetness to come there is a spell of cold weather that makes you wonder if spring of the year is really here.


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Appalachian Vocabulary Test 99

Mountain talk

It's time for this month's Appalachian Vocabulary Test. I'm sharing a few videos to let you hear some of the words. To start the videos click on them and then to stop them click on them again. 

1. Jack up: to scold, find fault with, bear down on. "He kept tracking dirt in after I asked him not to a hundred times so I had to jack up on him.


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2. Jaggedy: having a ragged, frayed, or sharp edge. "Be careful, the edge of that broken jar is all jaggedy."


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3. Jaw: a person's cheek. "She was the cutest little girl you ever seen! She had those jaws that just made you want to squeeze them."

4. Jawed: to talk idly and at length. "I told him he wouldn't be so tired if he didn't set up half the night jawing with them down at the store."


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5. Job: to stab, strike, or thrust. "When the girls were little I was forever warning them not to run with sticks. I was afraid they'd job their eye out."

I'm familiar with all of this month's words, although I hear jack up used in a slightly more aggressive way like: "I'm going to have to go down there and jack him up if he don't keep his long pointy nose outta my business." 

I've also heard of jacking someone's jaw which means a fist will connect in a fierce manner with another's face. 

Hope you'll leave me a comment and tell me how you did on the test!


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be performing Sunday April 30, 2017 @ 11:00 a.m. Hayesville Church of the Nazarene - Hayesville NC

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