A green roadside sign announcing the South Carolina state line in Chesterfield county rises up from a grassy field before long, winding country roads in this color, close-up photo for 78 Southern Phrases to Blow Your Hair Back, Cocameca.com photo © Clint Patterson for Unsplash
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78 Southern Phrases That Will Blow Your Hair Back

Hey, y’all, are you ready for 78 Southern Phrases that will blow your hair back, that title being one of them and all? Then tuck on in for a treat as sweet as a ripe peach on a summer day as I bring you the phrases I grew up hearing that still make me laugh today.

Not many people know that I am 90% GRITS – a Girl Raised In The South for those not fluent in Southern slang – and only 90% because I was born up North and lived briefly in the Caribbean as a kid, thus I lost 10% to my credit.

This measly 10% doesn’t stop me from picking right up where I left off with my childhood friends when it comes to the holidays or reunions when we get together.

A bottle of Charleston bloody mary mix next to a bottle of Dixie vodka and a short glass with a red-colored åcocktail topped with pickles, tomatoes, and olives in this color, close-up photo for 78 Southern Phrases to Blow Your Hair Back, Cocameca.com photo © Canva
A spicy, tangy Southern Mary… in a borrowed glass

Our infamous hen parties are a symphony of Southern words that could charm the moss right off a magnolia tree. Truth be told, having these lifelong friends, most of whom still live on or around our beloved island near Charleston, South Carolina, is sweeter than a slice of pecan pie on a Sunday afternoon.

So, pull up a rocking chair, grab a glass of sweet tea, and dive into these 78 Southern phrases that’ll have you howling with laughter like a coondog under a full moon.

Ready? Well, come on, then, dang!

"Hey, y'all!" Kate Dana looks over her shoulder wearing a leopard print coat and dark blue jeans next to a terra-cotta colored house with purple and yellow flowers in windowboxes during a walk in Charleston, S.C, in this color, close-up photo for 78 Southern Phrases to Blow Your Hair Back, Cocameca.com photo © Kate Dana
“Hey Y’all!” It’s me, in my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina | photo © Lillie Marshall

Table of Contents

78 Southern Phrases That Will Blow Your Hair Back – Mostly Alphabetical

1. A Mess

While this typically means a disorganized situation or something dirty, a mess in the South is a whole lot of something. “Keep piling up my dinner plate! I want a mess of greens.” – see Pot Likker

2. All Y’all

A plural form of “y’all,” most often refers to a group of people together. “All y’all need to come to Meemaw and Peepaw’s cookout next weekend.”

"Y'all Have Fun Now, Ya Hear": A sandwich board with chalkboard front bears this friendly greeting, written by hand in white chalk in this color, close-up photo for 78 Southern Phrases to Blow Your Hair Back, Cocameca.com photo © Canva

3. Aren’t you Precious

A sarcastic remark implying someone is being naive or innocent. “Oh, you forgot your umbrella again? Aren’t you precious?”

4. As useless as a screen door on a submarine

Completely ineffective. “Peepaw’s old lawnmower is as useless as a screen door on a submarine.”

5. Bless Your Heart

A polite Southern way of expressing sympathy or understanding. “You tried to bake a pie but it came out burnt? Well, bless your heart.”

A heart cut out of a piece of watermelon being held 
by a hand in front of a swimming pool in this color photo for 78 Southern Phrases to Blow Your Hair Back, Cocameca.com photo ©Melton Kenta Kikuchi for Unsplash

6. Blowin Up A Storm

Refers to a situation or conversation becoming lively or intense. “Once Aunt Sally started talking politics, it was blowin’ up a storm at the family reunion.”

7. Blow Your Hair Back

To impress or astonish someone. “Her performance at the talent show will blow your hair back.”

8. Buggy

A wheeled basket for transporting groceries in a store; a grocery cart. “Then he put a case of Bud Light in my buggy like we were shopping together!”

"Buggy: Several metal shopping carts line up together in this color, close-up photo for 78 Southern Phrases to Blow Your Hair Back, Cocameca.com photo ©Pexels-Pixabay

9. Can’t Never Could

A phrase emphasizing the importance of confidence and determination. Also referred to as Cain’t Never Could. “You won’t get far with that attitude, missy! Remember, cain’t never could!”

10. Cattywampus

Askew or not lined up correctly. “The picture frame was all cattywampus on the wall.”

11. Close the door! You’re letting all the good air out!

A humorous way of asking someone to close the door and keep the air conditioning inside. “It’s 99 degrees out there! Close the door! You’re letting all the good air out.”

12. Coke

A common term for any type of soda or carbonated soft drink in the South. “Y’all want a Coke? What kind?”

Coke: meaning a soda of any kind. Several bottled sodas with colorful labels are lined up together in this color, close-up photo for 78 Southern Phrases to Blow Your Hair Back, Cocameca.com photo ©Michael Morse for Pexels

13. Colder than a Witch’s Titty in a Brass Bra

Explicit speak for extremely cold, typically not said in front of the children. “Better bundle up, it’s colder than a witch’s titty in a brass bra out there.”

14. Conniption

A fit of rage or hysterics. “When she saw her blonde hair with brown lowlights, she had a conniption.”

15. Cookout

A gathering or party where food, typically grilled or barbecued, is cooked and eaten outdoors. “We’re having a cookout this weekend to celebrate the end of summer.”

"Cookout": Several meats and vegetables on kabobs on a hot charcoal grill lined up together in this color, close-up photo for 78 Southern Phrases to Blow Your Hair Back, Cocameca.com photo ©Canva

16. Doohickey

A placeholder term for an object whose name is unknown or forgotten. “Hand me that doohickey over there, will ya?”

17. For crying out loud

An exclamation of frustration or annoyance. “Oh, for crying out loud, can’t you see I’m trying to concentrate here?”

18. Fixin’ To

Getting ready to do something. “I’m fixin’ to head out to the store. Need anything?”

19. Funny As All Get Out

Extremely funny; hilarious. “That joke you told about the frog’s butt was funny as all get out.”

20. Gimme Some Sugar

A request for a hug or kiss. “Come here and gimme some sugar, darlin’.”

"Give me some sugar": two blonde children in ocre-colored soft clothing kiss gently on a sofa in this color, close-up photo for 78 Southern Phrases to Blow Your Hair Back, Cocameca.com photo ©Shevtsa for Pexels

21. Gumption

Courage, initiative, and resourcefulness; hutzpah. “You’ve got a lot of gumption to start your own business.”

22. Hankering

A strong desire or craving. “I’ve had a hankering for hot chicken all day.”

23. Fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down

A humorous insult implying someone is unattractive. “Poor Chase, I feel bad for him. He looks like he fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.”

24. He’s a snake in the grass

Refers to someone deceitful or untrustworthy. “Watch out for him, he’s a snake in the grass.”

"Snake in the grass": A patterned snake slithers in tall, green grass in this color, close-up photo for 78 Southern Phrases to Blow Your Hair Back, Cocameca.com photo ©Canva

25. As confused as a fart in a fan factory

Utterly confused. “When it comes to math, I’m as confused as a fart in a fan factory.”

26. He’s about as useful as a steering wheel on a mule

Completely useless. “Trying to teach him to cook is like giving a steering wheel to a mule.” See – screen door on a submarine

He's about as useful as a steering wheel on a mule: Two mules stand in a field in this color, close-up photo for 78 Southern Phrases to Blow Your Hair Back, Cocameca.com photo ©Kate Dana

27. Hell’s Bells

An expression of surprise or frustration. “Hell’s bells, I forgot to turn off the stove!”

28. Highfalutin

Pompous or pretentious. “Brenda’s been acting all highfalutin since she got that job at the mayor’s office.”

29. Hissy Fit

An exaggerated display of anger or frustration. “She threw a hissy fit when she found out Dillard’s was closed.”

30. Hold Your Horses

A request for someone to be patient or calm down. “Hold your horses, we’ll get there when we get there.”

"Hold your Horses": a brown horse rests his head on another blonde horse in a field in this color, close-up photo for 78 Southern Phrases to Blow Your Hair Back, Cocameca.com photo ©D Gibson for Pexels.

31. Hot as Hades

Extremely hot. “Lawd, this weather is hot as Hades today.”

32. Hotter Than Blazes/ Hot as Blazes

Extremely hot weather. “Y’all, stay inside! It’s hotter than blazes out there today.” – See Hot as Hades

33. Hush Your Mouth

A firm request for someone to be quiet. “Hush your mouth and let me finish my story.”

"Hush, now": A child with big blue eyes and curly brown hair holds her hands over her mouth in surprise in this color, close-up photo for 78 Southern Phrases to Blow Your Hair Back, Cocameca.com photo © Jelleke-Vanooteghem for Unsplash

34. I Reckon

I suppose or I think. “I reckon it’s about time to head on home.”

35. I Tell You What

An expression used to emphasize a statement or opinion. “I tell you what, that Lowcountry boil was the best I’ve ever had.”

36. Fly off the handle

On the verge of losing one’s temper. “If he doesn’t stop teasing me, I will fly off the handle. It will not be pretty”

A Pinterest graphic announcing the title of the blog post with URL to Cocameca.com features a close-up photo of a smiling burro in a barn for 78 Southern Phrases to Blow Your Hair Back, Cocameca.com photo © Canva

37. I’m as busy as a one-legged cat in a sandbox

Very busy. “Sorry, I can’t chat right now, I’m as busy as a one-legged cat in a sandbox.”

38. I’m so full, I’m about to pop

Very full from eating. “I ate an entire bag of boiled peanuts. I’m so full I’m about to pop.”

39. If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay under the porch

If you can’t keep up with the demands or expectations, don’t try. “If you can’t handle the pressure, then give your notice! If you can’t run with the big dogs stay under the porch.”

"If you can't run with the big dogs, stay under the porch": A white dog with dark eyes looks out from a wooden porch in this color, close-up photo for 78 Southern Phrases to Blow Your Hair Back, Cocameca.com photo © Kelly for Pexels

40. It’ll All Come Out in the Wash

Everything will be okay in the end. “Don’t worry about the hidden tax; it’ll all come out in the wash.”

41. It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity

An expression used to explain uncomfortable weather conditions. “I know it’s only 80 degrees, but it feels so much hotter! Ya’ll, it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.”

42. Lawd Have Mercy

An expression of surprise or shock. “Lawd have mercy, did you see what she was wearing?”

43. Let Me Let You Go

A polite way to end a conversation, most often said on a phone call. “OK, it’s been great catching up, but let me let you go.”

"Let me let you go": Two phones, a vintage pink handset with coiled cable and a modern, handheld cellular model, are side by side in this color, close-up photo for 78 Southern Phrases to Blow Your Hair Back, Cocameca.com photo © Canva

44. Lowcountry boil

A mix of shrimp, crab, sausage, corn, and potatoes, boiled together in a flavorful broth, popular on New Year’s Day. “Y’all come over around noon tomorrow, John’s making a Lowcountry boil.”

"Lowcountry Boil": A large pot of crawfish, shrimp, sausage, potatoes, corn on the cob and crab are featured in this color, close-up photo for 78 Southern Phrases to Blow Your Hair Back, Cocameca.com photo © Kelly for PexelsSunira Moses for Unsplash

45. Meemaw

A Southern term for grandmother, often used affectionately by grandchildren. “Meemaw makes the best pecan pie.”

46. Might Could

Might be able to. “I might could come over later if I finish my homework.”

47. Ooooh Doggie

An expression of excitement or surprise, sometimes credited to Jed Clampett of the popular television show The Beverly Hillbillies. “Ooooh doggie, that’s one big fish you caught!”

48. Over Yonder

In that direction, but not specifically indicated. “The grocery store is over yonder, past the gas station.”

49. Panties in a Wad

Upset or angry. “Don’t get your panties in a wad; I was just kidding about your overbite.”

"Don't get your panties in a wad": A person wearing pink underpants laying on their stomach with their legs up casually behind them in a non-erotic tone in this color, close-up photo for 78 Southern Phrases to Blow Your Hair Back, Cocameca.com photo © Boom for Pexels

50. Peepaw

A Southern term for grandfather, often used affectionately by grandchildren. “Peepaw loves to tell stories about his time in the Army.”

51. Polish a Turd

Attempting to improve something inherently flawed. “Trying to fix that old car is like trying to polish a turd; it’s just not worth it.”

52. Pot Likker

The flavorful liquid leftover from cooking greens, often collards or turnip greens. “Peepaw says the best part of Sunday dinner is the pot likker; he uses his cornbread to soak up every last drop.”

53. Preachin’ To The Choir

Trying to convince someone of something they already believe. “You’re preachin’ to the choir; I already know she did it.”

"You're preaching to the Choir": Several dark-haired singers in church robes sing into microphones inside a church in this color, close-up photo for 78 Southern Phrases to Blow Your Hair Back, Cocameca.com photo © Canva

54. Put Lipstick on a Pig

Trying to make something unattractive appear more appealing. “No matter how much filler you put on it, you can’t put lipstick on a pig; that car is still a wreck.”

55. Quit Being Ugly

Stop being rude or unpleasant. “Now quit being ugly and give your cousin a hug.”

56. Reckon

Think or suppose. “I reckon it’s about time to head home.”

57. Rode hard and put up wet

Originally used to describe horses, this is now used to describe someone or something that looks worn out or exhausted. “After working all day in the sun, he looked like he’d been rode hard and put up wet.”

58. Running like a chicken with its head cut off

Acting frenzied or panicked. “When the fire alarm went off, everyone was running around like chickens with their heads cut off.”

59. She’s lost as last year’s Easter egg

Completely clueless or confused. “When it comes to directions, she’s as lost as last year’s Easter egg.”

"She's as lost as last year's Easter eggs": A sign announcing an Egg Hunt with a bunny popping up from a blue egg in this color, close-up photo for 78 Southern Phrases to Blow Your Hair Back, Cocameca.com photo © Canva

60. Shut the Front Door

An expression of surprise or disbelief. “You won the lottery? Shut the front door!”

61. Swamp Butt

When excessive hot and humid weather creates a trail of sweat running from your lower back down the crack in your behind. “After hiking by Lake Moultrie all day, I had a serious case of swamp butt.”

62. Tarnation

A mild, expletive expressing surprise or frustration. “What in tarnation are you doing driving my tractor?!”

63. Teeter – Teetering – grocery shopping at Harris Teeter

Grocery shopping, specifically at Harris Teeter supermarkets. “I’m headed to Teeter; need anything?”

64. The devil is beating his wife

Refers to rain falling or a rainshower while the sun is shining. “Look outside, it’s raining but the sun’s out! The devil must be beating his wife.”

65. The Pig – Piggly Wiggly

A supermarket chain in the South. “Y’all need anything? I’m fixin’ to go to The Pig.”

66. The Porch Light’s On But No One’s Home

Used to describe someone who appears to be mentally absent or vacant. “He’s staring into space again; the porch light’s on but no one’s home.”

67. Three Sheets To The Wind

Very drunk. “Did y’all see Spencer at Darlene’s party? He was three sheets to the wind.”

68. Til The Cows Come Home

For a very long time. “You can argue with him til the cows come home, but he won’t change his mind.”

"Til the cows come home": Cocameca founder Kate Dana, wearing a red jacket, with blonde hair, stands, petting a large, black and white cow in a green pasture in this color, close-up photo for 78 Southern Phrases to Blow Your Hair Back, Cocameca.com photo © Kate Dana

69. Too Big For Your Britches

Acting arrogantly or beyond one’s capabilities. “Don’t get too big for your britches just because you got a promotion.” – See Hifalutyn, Brenda

70. Tore Up

In a state of disrepair or chaos; also means very drunk. “After the storm, the yard was tore up with branches everywhere.” or “Beau drank so much Fireball last night, he was tore up!”

71. Truth Be Told

To be honest, often boldly said, depending on the subject matter. “Truth be told, I never really liked Steel Magnolias.”

72. We’re so poor, we can’t afford to pay attention

Used humorously to describe financial hardship. “We’re so broke, we can’t afford to pay attention.”

73. The pot calling the kettle black

Accusing someone of a fault that one has oneself. “You say I’m always late? Well, that’s the pot calling the kettle black.”

74. Why for?

Another way of asking, “How come?” “Y’all ain’t going to church, why for? Y’all too good for God now?”

75. Y’all

A contraction of “you all,” perhaps the most common of all declarations amid Southern dialects. “Don’t be a stranger! Y’all come back, ya hear?” – See All Y’all

76. Yes ma’am or Yessir

A polite way of acknowledging someone, often if they are older than you. “Yes ma’am, I can refold the fitted sheets.” or “Yessir, I can get that snake out from under your golf bag.”

77. You Can’t Make A Silk Purse Out Of A Sow’s Ear

You can’t turn something of poor quality into something valuable. “No matter how much you try, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

"You can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear": An adorable, pink pig sits in a barn, facing the camera, with its large, soft ears standing up in this color, close-up photo for 78 Southern Phrases to Blow Your Hair Back, Cocameca.com photo © Canva

78. You’re barking up the wrong tree

Pursuing a mistaken or misguided course of action. “If you think I’m the one who took your keys, you’re barking up the wrong tree.”

Wrap up

So, there you have it! 78 Southern phrases that will blow your hair back. Did they, or did they just tucker you out a smattering?

Whatever happens, when you read them, these Southern phrases are sure to enhance your vocabulary. They’re a favored part of my formative years and the best thing to remember when you visit Charleston for a spell or hop on over for a hot minute in the ATL.

I see you eyeballing those low-priced flights into CLT – the airport famous for its rocking chairs – now that you’re in the know with these 78 Southern phrases. Take what you’ve learned and go forth wisely. You heard me! Go on now, git!

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