Blog Post

Every southern phrase you’ll ever need

Most times when I write a column about being from the south or crazy things we southerners do, I find myself searching the internet for some good ol’ southern phrases that can add a punch to my writing. Hopefully something not too cliché.

Sometimes I come up with my own, such as one that came after some tawdry bidness in 2017: “I’m sweatin’ like an Alabama governor in church.”

But sometimes I get stuck and I use old phrases to help create new ones. After many searches, I finally decided to make my own list so I’ll have a reference point. Feel free to submit your own to add to the list by commenting below or emailing Let’s start with some general phrases, then move to sayings for ailments, weather, anger and more.

Exclamations and General Phrases

Click here and here to read the origins of some of these phrases I wrote for

  • Well, slap my head and call me silly.
  • That really dills my pickle.
  • That jars my preserves.
  • That really creams my corn.


  • I’m gonna jerk her bald.
  • You better give your heart to Jesus, ’cause your butt is mine.
  • I’m gonna tan your hide.
  • As easy as sliding off a greasy log backward. (very easy)
  • Barking up the wrong tree. (you are wrong)
  • Fish or cut bait. (work or make way for those who will)
  • Don’t fly off the handle (get angry; lash out).
  • Grandma goes to bed with the chickens.
  • Let’s go whole hog (go all out).
  • He’s as happy as a dead pig in the sunshine (unconcerned).
  • In a coon’s age (a long time).
  • Scarce as hen’s teeth.
  • He’s too big for his britches.
  • Well, hush my mouth.
  • He’s got a burr in his saddle.
  • Her knickers are in a knot.
  • She’s having a hissy fit.
  • She has a hissy fit with a tail on it.
  • She had a conniption.
  • Mama’ll have a duck fit.
  • You’re lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut.


  • That dog won’t hunt.
  • He didn’t take a cotton to the pastor.
  • Cain’t never could.
  • It’s all cattywampus (crooked, irregular)
  • Well, I swan/swanny.
  • She’s maddern’ a wet hen.
  • I’ve been running all over hell’s half acre (busy).
  • He makes my butt itch.
  • She could make a preacher cuss.
  • Don’t pee down my back and tell me it’s raining.
  • If his lips is movin’, he’s lyin’.
  • I’m full as a tick.
  • They live down yonder.
  • Bless your pea-pickin’ heart!


(Some of the phrases above came from real life and some from or


Click here to see my post on

  • He’s just eat up with poison ivy/other ailment.
  • I’d have to feel better to die.
  • She’s wore slap out.


  • Grandma’s feeling poorly.
  • She’s down with the bursitis/other ailment.
  • He’s running off (has diarrhea).
  • Grandpa’s stove up (suffering discomfort from injury, illness, exercise or overwork).


Click here to see my post on

  • It’s hotter’n Satan’s house cat.
  • Hot as all get-out.
  • The devil is beating his wife (a rain shower when the sun is shining)
  • I’m burning slap up.
  • It’s comin’ up a storm/comin’ up a cloud.
  • It’s hotter’n the devil’s armpits.


  • So cold I saw a politician with his hands in his own pockets.
  • So humid it’s like getting punched in the face with a sauna.
  • It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.
  • It come up a gully washer (heavy rain).
  • It come up a bad cloud (storm).
  • It’s so dry the trees are bribing the dogs.
  • It’s colder than a well digger’s butt in January.
  • It rained like a cow pissin’ on a flat rock.
  • It’s hotter than blue blazes.


  • He squeezes a quarter so tight the eagle screams.
  • He’s so cheap he wouldn’t give a nickel to see Jesus ridin’ a bicycle.
  • Poor as a church mouse.
  • He doesn’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of.
  • We’re sittin’ in high cotton (comfortable; well-off, as in from a good harvest)


(Some of the phrases in the section above came from real life but most came from


Click here to see a post I did for It’s a Southern Thing.

  • Those pants were so tight I could see his religion.
  • Pull down that skirt! We can see clear to the promised land!
  • He fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.
  • So ugly she’d make a freight train take a dirt road.
  • So ugly he’d scare a buzzard off a gut pile.
  • He looks like ten miles of bad road.
  • If he were an inch taller, he’d be round.



  • If that boy had an idea, it would die of loneliness.
  • The porch light’s on, but nobody’s home.
  • He’s only got one oar in the water.
  • He’s so dumb, he could throw himself on the ground and miss.
  • He hasn’t got the sense God gave a goose.
  • His brain rattles around like a BB in a boxcar.
  • If his brains were dynamite, he couldn’t blow his nose.


(Most of the phrases in this section came from



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