Southern Sayings Decoded: Ten Popular Kentucky Phrases and What They Really Mean
Colloquialism (col·lo·qui·al·ism) is a noun described as:
“a word or phrase that is not formal or literary, typically one used in ordinary or familiar conversation.” Usually referring to a saying that is popularized locally and based on the culture of a particular area.
Even though Kentucky is technically in the middle portion of the United States, it is Southern in so many ways. From butter-based home cooking to farm living, the twang is in our blood. Right down to the creative phrases we use on a daily basis which seem like a foreign language to anyone visiting from up North.
The following popularly used sayings may mean exactly what you think, while others require translation.
1. “Bless Your Heart”
I think by now, we all know this can have two meanings.
1. It can be sincere in regards to someone who has been through a rough time or if someone has done something nice for you.
2. You are a moron.
2. "Lord Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise"
We will be there as long as there aren't any unforeseen circumstances!
3. "Let me let you go"
This is reserved for when you need to politely remove yourself from a situation. Whether it be a phone call that has lingered on too long or if you run into someone at the grocery. I am doing YOU the favor by letting you go when in reality, I want to get away ASAP.
4. "Hold Your Horses"
My mama used to always say this when I would get impatient and try to hurry something. It refers back to horse and buggy days when you'd need to wait for something to pass and literally had to hold your horses. Patience is a virtue!
5. "Too Big for his britches"
Oh, he thinks he is really something! Spoiler alert: He probably isn't!
6. "Don’t be Ugly"
This does not mean ugly in the physical sense. This saying is referring to a person's inner beauty. Growing up, anytime I would be catty about someone or step out of character, my mama would remind me not to act ugly!
7. "Til the cows come home"
Cows are not particularly fast animals, and their nature is to move at their own pace. This phrase would be a response to a question regarding how long something will take.
Q: "How long will y'all be working on the yard?"
A: "It's so grown up, we'll be cleaning this mess til the cows come home!"
8. The porch light’s on but nobodies home
I feel like Southerners are top-notch at insulting someone in a funny way that makes it somehow less offensive. This commentary means that a person seems to have some sense, however, they do not.
9. We’re about to have a Come to Jesus meeting
The context for this would be when someone comes to the realization they need some Jesus in their lives. It is usually also in reference to a meeting where someone confronts another person because of wrongdoing and strongly helps the wrongdoer to change their ways! Oftentimes the one hosting this "meeting" is at their wit's end! Another fun quip about being at the end of your rope.
10. Your daddy wasn’t a glassmaker
This last cute saying means "What are you doing? Get out of the way. I can't see through you!" Say someone is standing right in front of the TV and you're trying to see the end of a ballgame. You would use this to encourage them to move their behind!
There are SO MANY more hilarious Southern phrases that could require explanation to anyone not from the area. What would you add to the list? Tell us on our Facebook poll or submit your saying on the WBKR App!