“My goodness gracious, good Lord almighty, that man was one fry short of a Happy Meal and was acting like a cat on a hot tin roof! But do you blame ‘em? Did you hear what his wife — who is too big for her britches! — was complainin’ about? After she sat for a good long spell, she went to go fix her face in the bathroom and came out acting like her you-know-what don’t stink! I reckon there is some trouble in paradise. Don’t ya' think?"
Hey, did you have any idea what that means? If yes, congratulations — you're Southern!
And if not, you might need a primer before traveling to the Southern states and finding yourself in bewildered conversation in the deep country with a local. Here's our handy guide to deciphering just what those funny, endearing, and sometimes kind of ridiculous Southern phrases actually mean.
1. Good Lord almighty!
Southerners use this to respond to something outrageous, outlandish, or surprising. Like, when your best friend’s ex-boyfriend’s new wife is pregnant with triplets and you tell her about it. While other sayings — like saying"Jesus!" — might be what Southerners call "taking the Lord’s name in vain," this one is okay to use and usually doesn’t need to be reprimanded with prayer.
2. Like a cat on a hot tin roof!
If you grew up in the South and had to sit through Sunday service until you were sent to the children’s playroom, or made to sit still while your sister performed her school play, your mom might have told you that you were acting "like a cat on a hot tin roof." This one means how it sounds: Envision a kitty trying to walk on top of a house in 80-degree heat: She'd be jumpy and fidgety.
3. One fry short of a Happy Meal.
Though there are more McDonald’s per square foot in the South than any other region of the United States, this saying doesn’t refer to the hamburger chain. Instead, this is a Southerner’s way of telling you that you’re just about crazy. Bless your heart.
4. Sit a spell.
If you walk into an old country store with an Coke counter (that’s pop, for all of you Northerners), the sweet Southern lady who owns the place (passed down from her granddaddy, mind you) — might tell you to "sit a spell" inside from all that heat. Listen to her, and follow instructions: Relax for a while.
5. Got a hankerin'.
When you ask your Southern friends what they’re in the mood for today — sushi? American? Mexican? — they might begin to respond with, "I got a hankerin’ for…” This is their way of saying "they’re in the mood for" or they’re craving’ a certain food or cuisine.
6. Didn’t get a lick of work done.
Down South when you spend the day dilly-dallying (otherwise known as procrastinating), you might meet your friends at the honky tonk (that’s a bar, y’all) for a cold beer and confess that you didn’t get a "lick" of work done. Usually, "lick" is referencing to "nothing" in whatever way a Southerner may use it: "He didn’t have a lick of hair," or "I didn’t have a lick of lunch, I’m starved!"
7. I reckon...
When Southerners use this phrase, they’re really meaning "I guess" or "I suppose" when they’re answering your question or changing the subject. They might say, “I reckon I better get on home, need to be back in time for supper."
8. Fix our face.
If your Southern besties are all going to the bathroom together to get ready for a night out on the town — or just to go out to eat, or to the grocery store, or really anywhere — they might say, "We’re fixin’ our face." This means they’re simply touchin’ up their make-up.
9. Gimme some sugar.
If you have a Southern grandmother or you’ve ever met one, you know for certain exactly what this means: Give her a kiss!
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