If you go to the south, you’ll hear surprising Southern expressions. Whether you’re looking for a humorous way to express joy, anger, disbelief, or annoyance, there are southern expressions to fix you right up. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the favorite Southern sayings, as well as what they mean and where they came from.
When a Southerner Gets Angry:
He’s got a burr in his saddle.
His knickers are in a knot.
She’s pitching a hissy fit.
She’s pitching a hissy fit with a tail on it. (When she’s more pissed off.)
It’s hotter than two rabbits screwin’ in a wool sock!
It’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a pool table.
Colder than a banker’s heart on foreclosure day at the widows’ and orphans’ home.
It’s been hotter’n a goat’s butt in a pepper patch.
It’s cold enough to freeze the tit off a frog.
It is hotter than a jalapeño’s coochie.
All-Purpose Southern Expressions We Couldn’t Do Without:
Bless your pea-pickin’ little heart!
Kiss my go-to-hell.
I wouldn’t walk across the street to piss on him if he was on fire.
If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay under the porch.
Why so sad? Did Chevrolet stop makin’ trucks?
Deep in the South where sushi is still called bait.
He’s about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.
That sticks in your throat like a hair in a biscuit.
You’re so fulla s**t your eyes are brown.
He was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a roomful of rocking chairs.
He couldn’t carry a tune if he had a bucket with a lid on it.
Some Southern Expression in a Sentence
A little powder, a little paint, makes a girl look what she ain’t!
Meaning: Watch out for high maintenance later on.
A person to go to the well with.
“The trite saying that honesty is the best policy has met with the just criticism that honesty is not policy. The real honest man is honest from conviction of what is right, not from policy.” – Robert E. Lee
Big hat, no cattle.
Meaning: Full of big talk, and lacking action or substance, but pretentious all the same.
Call him an idiot and you’ll insult all the idiots in the world.
Note: 2 percent of the world’s population has an IQ under 70. I think I’ve worked for all of them.
Couldn’t find his own ass with both hands stuck in his back pockets.
“Never ascribe to malice that which can adequately be explained by incompetence.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
Couldn’t punch his way out of a wet paper bag.
“If at first you don’t succeed, you may be at your level of incompetence already.” – Dr. Laurence J. Peter
Drove her ducks to a poor puddle.
“Nobody ever did, or ever will, escape the consequences of his choices.” – Alfred A. Montapert
Everything she’s got is out on the showroom floor.
Meaning: She is wearing a revealing outfit.
Fish stinks from the head down.
Meaning: Organizations reflect their leaders. ”This proverb is of ancient origin, Greek and Chinese cultures lay claim to it.”
He got weaned from sucking eggs.
Meaning: To learn the hard way.
He’ll stand the hedge and take up the gap.
The term is from the Civil War and referees to “set piece: method of fighting – i.e. not using cover.
More Southern Expressions
He’s so low down he could crawl under a snake’s belly.
“He was distinguished for ignorance; for he had only one idea and that was wrong.” – Benjamin Disraeli
His family tree ain’t got branches.
Rather than: Ever since I saw you in your family tree I’ve wanted to cut it down.
He’s so honest you could shoot craps with him over the phone.
“I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” – George Washington
He was so deep in jail he’ll have to be fed beans with a slingshot!
Note: It might be a good thing to leave him back there. Other foods that have “flatulence factors” are cabbage, eggs and beer.
He’d complain if you hung him with a new rope.
Fact: Execution by hanging is generally performed with a rope that has been prepared by boiling and drying under tension. New rope tends to coil, which causes it to act like a spring as it supports the weight of the body during hanging. This is at best undignified, and at worst likely to interfere with the effectiveness of the procedure.
He’d gripe with a ham under each arm.
Note: The only similarity between southern country ham and the stuff in the deli case is that they both require pig sacrifice. To southerners and pork devotees, country ham is exquisite dry- cured rosy-hued perfection itself.
He’d put a rattlesnake in your pocket and ask you for a light.
“Those are my principles If you don’t like them I have others.” – Groucho Marx
Some Offensive Southern Expressions
He’s the cream of the crap, and the crap of the cream.
Meaning: He is a real jerk.
He’s a hard dog to keep under the porch.
Note: Made famous by the song, “Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog.”
He’s gone back on his raisin’.
Meaning: That he has turned his back on his heritage or good upbringing.
Her hair looks like it caught on fire and somebody put it out with a brick.
“My photographs don’t do me justice they just look like me.” – Phyllis Diller
Her jeans are so tight, you can see Washington grinning on the quarter in her pocket.
“Blue jeans are the most beautiful things since the gondola.” – Diana Vreeland
His pants were so tight that if he farted, he’d blow his boots off.
Note: A man is most likely to be flatulent first thing in the morning, AKA “morning thunder”.
I hate her stomach for carrying her guts.
“She’s afraid that if she leaves, she’ll become the life of the party.” – Grouch Marx
I wouldn’t pee in her ear if her brain was on fire.
Fact: Two to three drops of urine will cure an ear ache.
If she had one more wrinkle, she could screw her hat on.
Note: An old superstition says never lay your hat on a bed it means someone will die.
It must be jelly because jam don’t shake like that.
“Here’s to our wives and girlfriends may they never meet!” – Groucho Marx
I can tell you a thing or two ’bout a thing or two.
Meaning: “I’ve got some juicy stuff for you to hear.”
I don’t think he has enough chlorine in his gene pool.
Rather than: He was the poster child for birth control.
Some Exaggerated Southern Expressions
I wouldn’t walk across the street to pee on him if he was on fire.
Note: One can put out a fire by urinating, but it depends on the size of the fire, and size of the hose.
Jesus loves him, but that’s about it.
Rather than: Time wounds all heels.
Just between you, me, and the fence post.
“Anyone who says he can see through women is missing a lot.” – Groucho Marx
Just wear beige and keep quiet.
Note: If all mothers-in-laws followed this advice there would be no need for mother-in-law jokes.
Lives like a fighting cock.
Meaning: He lives like there is no tomorrow.
Looks like two Buicks fighting for a parking place.
Note: Like middle aged woman in tight yoga pants at the yogurt bar.
No weevils in his wheat.
Meaning: A very honest person. “Honor lies in honest toil.”- Grover Cleveland
She always looks like she stepped out of a band box.
Note: The “Band Box” was a euphemistic slang expression for a notorious brothel frequented by Union soldiers on the grounds of the current IRS building in Washington, D.C.
She could depress the devil.
“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening but this wasn’t it.” – Grouch Marx
She could make a preacher cuss.
Meaning: Someone who might also argue with a stop sign.
She looks like death sitting on tombstones hatching haints.
Note: “Haints” are a Southern expression for ghosts.
She wouldn’t go to a funeral unless it was hers.
Rather than: Everyone has an ego, mine is just bigger…and better.
She’s a caution.
“A woman scorned is a woman who quickly learns her way around a courtroom.” – Colette Mann
Other Southern Expressionsand Quotes
She’s an iron hand in a velvet glove.
“Put your iron hand in a velvet glove.” – Napoléon Bonaparte
She’s got more nerve than Carter’s got Liver Pills.
Note: Carter’s Little Liver Pills were formulated as a patent medicine by Samuel J. Carter of Erie, Pennsylvania in 1868. The active ingredient is bisacodyl. The FDA forced “Liver” to be dropped in the name in 1959.
She’s so stuck up, she’d drown in a rainstorm.
“I’m not conceited. Conceit is a fault and I have no faults.” – David Lee Roth
She’s so sweet; sugar wouldn’t melt in her mouth.
“She looked as though butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth – or anywhere else.” – Elsa Lanchester
She’s wilder than a fifth ace.
“Women should be obscene and not heard.” – Groucho Marx
She’s as welcome as a skunk at a lawn party.
“If a woman likes another woman, she’s cordial; if she doesn’t like her, she’s very cordial.” – Irvin Cobb
She’s been storked.
Meaning: Storked = Pregnant. “To me life is tough enough without having someone kick you from the inside.” – Rita Rudner
She’s dancing in the hog trough.
“It takes a woman twenty years to make a man of her son, and another woman twenty minutes to make a fool of him.” – Helen Rowland
She’s sitting below the salt.
“Politics doesn’t make strange bedfellows, marriage does.” – Groucho Marx
Sorry as a two dollar watch.
Note: EBay has around 100K watches for $2.99 or less.
Straight as a string.
“Tricks and treachery are the practice of fools, that don’t have brains enough to be honest.” – Benjamin Franklin
Still wet behind your ears.
Note: “Wet behind the ears,” meaning inexperienced or naive. Behind the ears is the last part of a foal or calf to dry out after birth.
Southern Expressions & Quotes
That woman learned how to whisper in a saw mill.
“Old maids sweeten their tea with scandal.” – Josh Billings
The higher the hair, the closer to God.
“People always ask me how long it takes to do my hair. I don’t know, I’m never there.” – Dolly Parton
There might be all kinds, but I’m not sure it takes all kinds.
Meaning: I am not going to tolerate that person
They are as welcome as an outhouse breeze.
Rather than: The welcome mat said, “Oh no, not you again.”
Southern Expressions: They ate supper before they said grace.
Rather than: Sex is not the answer. Sex is the question. “Yes” is the answer.
They never could set horses.
Meaning: They could never get along.
Wasn’t nothin’ between him and the Lord but a smile.
“If I held you any tighter, I’d be on the other side of you.” – Groucho Marx
You can bet the farm on it.
”No such thing as a man willing to be honest that would be like a blind man willing to see.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
You can hang your hat on it.
“Dare to be honest and fear no labor.” – Robert Burns
You can take that to the bank.
“Honest conviction is my courage; the Constitution is my guide.” – Andrew Johnson