Travelling to one of the many unique states in the Southern United States? You’re in for quite a culturally enriching experience. From some of the best Southern food and creative eats to the numerous sights to see, there’s a lot to in the Southern United States.
And, you’ll be pleased to find that the locals are just about as friendly as they come. In fact, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Texas all made the top five spots on our list of the 50 Friendliest States in the US.
And, while that makes travelling through this region of the country easier, you’ll still want to arm yourself with a few Southern slang words just to make sure you fit in. Throwing around a few “yee haws” and “y’alls” just ain’t gonna cut it in this part of the USA. Check out the ten Southern slang words you can learn to sound like a local during your next visit.
Southern Slang Words
We’ll start you off with somethin’ simple. This one’s famous, y’all. But, few visitors know how to use it correctly. Y’all is the Southern contraction of you all, and it’s meant to be used for when you’re addressing more than one person. If you’re talking to a large group of people, you can emphasise it by saying all y’all.
2. Down Yonder
You won’t hear this one as much in the larger metropolitan Southern cities like Dallas and Nashville, but it’s pretty popular once you get outside any city limit. When it comes to Southern slang, this is one you’ll want to learn fast. Down yonder means “over there,” basically. “Where is the nearest gas station?” “It’s just down yonder about five miles up the highway.”
3. Bless Your Heart
There’s a reason Southern states are known for being so friendly. People here are as sweet as pecan pie, which is why they’ll usually exclaim “Oh, bless your heart” when something bad happens. However, this one can also be used sarcastically, too.
4. Kiss My Go To Hell
As mentioned, y’all, Southern folk are mighty nice. That’s why you’ll find that Southern slang is full of a bunch of unique phrases to get around using swear words. Check out our Texas slang list for some examples. But, here, you’ll find that kiss my go to hell simply means, well, kiss my ass. It sounds nicer though, doesn’t it?
5. Pitch a Hissy Fit
Texas slang, Tennessee slang, it’s all Southern slang when it comes to the term pitch a hissy fit. To pitch a hissy fit means to throw a tantrum. While it’s often used for children, adults can also pitch hissy fits. If you really want to learn Texas slang and impress the locals, then next time someone’s throwing a fit, exclaim “Wow, she’s throwing a meaner tantrum than a two-dollar rattlesnake.”
6. Madder Than a Wet Hen
If you didn’t grow up in the South then it’s easy to see why you wouldn’t understand this Southern slang term. However, if you’ve ever crossed a hen then you’ll know just how moody they can be at times. If someone’s madder than a wet hen then it means they’re mad…like, really mad.
Just by looking at this word it really makes no sense at all. However, if you’ve got a hankerin’ for something (yes, drop the “g” at the end as is the way for most Southern words) then it means you’re craving it. While it’s usually referring to a craving for some type of comfort food, it can really mean anything. “Man, I’ve got a hankerin’ for biscuits and gravy.”
8. Might Could
Seeing as Southerners like to shorten words, it’s funny that this phrase is actually way longer than it needs to be. The phrase might could is one instance where they take a phrase and draw it out. It’s literally just another way to say could but with an additional word in there. Instead of saying “I could do that for you,” they’ve got to say “I might could do that for you.”
9. What in the Sam Hill
Legend has it that there once was an American man named Sam Hill that swore so much his name became a euphemism for cuss words. There was a famous man named Sam Hill, but it’s unclear whether or not he had a penchant for curse words. Despite whether or not that’s true, the Southern slang phrase what in the Sam Hill is simply used as a way to say “what the hell.”
10. Well I’ll Be
This Southern slang phrase sounds as if someone’s not yet finished their sentence. You’ll be what?! However, that’s it. Well I’ll be is just another way to express shock or surprise. You might also hear it used as “well I’ll be damned.” However, either way is fine. It sounds especially sweet when spoken out of the mouth of an older Southern lady, but really anybody can use it.