Georgia peaches. Sweet as maple syrup on a pancake Sunday. Kind as those cherry pies sold by the county line. You’ve heard it all before: Southern folk are kind folk… or at least they have a way of convincing you that they are. But if you’re traveling South of Washington D.C. or past that Mason-Dixon divide, it might be a good idea to educate yourself on some common Southern sayings that seem pretty darn’ nice… but well, aren’t.
It’s not that Southerners are trying to be rude (cross their hearts and hope to die!), it’s just that typically, they aren’t raised to be as abrasive or direct as their Northern counterparts. Instead, covering up what they think with something seemingly (deceptively!) thoughtful is their usual go-to. After all, if you can’t say something nice, you shouldn’t say anything at all, and lord knows they can’t keep their mouths shut.
If a Southerner says one of these phrases to you when you visit their neck of the woods, bite your tongue. They’re just tryin’ to pay their respects without steppin’ on toes, y’all.
1. “Bless your heart.”
If you’re talking about something that’s gone terribly wrong in your travel plans or going on-and-on about a story that they find offensive (or well, boring) — they might say, "Bless your heart.” They’re not actually asking for redemption for your soul here, but rather, dismissing you. And if they’re starting to gossip about someone else with you, before they get to the part where they openly pass judgement, they might say this phrase as a way of letting you know how they really feel.
2. “Well, look at that!” or “Well, isn’t that nice!”
Sometimes there’s nothin’ they got to say in response to a complaint, a story, or a brag. Southerners might have perfectly manicured lawns to keep up with the neighbors next door or a coveted biscuit recipe that always sells out at the church bake sale, but when it comes to things that don’t interest them much, they end the conversation “Well isn’t that nice!” before moving on to the next juicy story of the week.
3. “I’ll pray for you.”
Though church attendance in the South is arguably higher than other parts of the country, prayers aren’t always as sincere as they come across. When a Southerner doesn’t think there’s a solution to your problem, thinks you did something unforgivably bad — or quite frankly, doesn’t feel bad for you at all — they’ll make sure to let you know that they’ll keep you in their prayers. (And they might pray for you, but likely in forgiveness for judging you.)
4. “Thanks for sharing.”
This is a Southerner’s best attempt at cutting to the chase and telling you exactly how they feel. If you tell them an elaborate story where they really don’t approve of your actions or agree with your viewpoints, they won’t engage in any type of conversation (confrontation isn’t the Southern thing, y’all), and instead, they’ll just put an end to the convo, stat.
5. “Oh I couldn’t pull that off, but look at you!”
This is code for: “Oh, my goodness gracious, lord god almighty, did you see what she’s wearing? I just can’t believe she would go out into public like that. And it didn’t even match! Did she put on any makeup before meeting us? I’m just stunned. But, bless her heart. I think she just broke up with her boyfriend.”
6. “Well, aren’t you a peach!”
This one can be tricky, because at times, it could be taken as a compliment and actually meant as one. But if you’re having a difficult conversation with a moody Southerner at a restaurant, hotel, or supermarket and they call you a peach, they’re really calling you a curse word… with a big, ol’ smile as big as the Mississippi. Don’t be fooled!
7. “Y’all ain’t from around here, now are ya?”
When you’re traveling, you’ll likely get this one a lot, followed by a long-winded explanation of everything you need to know about the town, county, and state. You’ll get the latest news on the locals, along with very strong opinions on just about everything. They won’t actually judge you to your face that you’re not a Southerner… but they’ll definitely talk about you when you hitch up your car and get outta town.
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