5 Southernisms Every Non-Southerner Must Know by Kelsey Browning

Please welcome author Kelsey Browning to the blog today! She and Nancy Naigle coauthor The Granny Series and the second book in the series, Fit To Be Tied released on October 21, 2014. Kelsey is here today to tell to us about Southernisms.

Kelsey Browning - Headshot


I love, love, love my gals from Illinois—Amy Remus, Adrienne Giordano, Tracey Devlyn, and several others. And one of the reasons I love them so much is because they love my Texas accent and they let me teach them a new Southern phrase now and again.

One reason Nancy and I enjoy writing The Granny Series so much is because we get to let those Southern-gals phrases fly left and right. Our editor, Deb Nemeth, helps nurture and protect our “delicious humor and wonderful Southern expressions.”

Of the four main over-fifty female characters in our newest release in The Granny Series, Fit to Be Tied, three hail from Southern states. Lil from Georgia. Maggie from Virginia. And Abby Ruth from Texas. (Sheriff Teague Castro is also a Texas native.) So in order to enjoy these ladies to their fullest, non-Southerners might appreciate a brush-up on how to speak Southern. And, by the way, all definitions and curse worse henceforth should be attributed to me. Nancy is guilt-free.

Bless your heart. Yeah, this is a gimme, but if I didn’t include it, someone would call me on it.

Definition: Bless your heart is one of those multi-use Southern phases.

Used in a sentence: “Bless Tommy Ray’s little pea-picking heart.”

Translation: Tommy Ray’s done something ass-stupid again, and ain’t nobody gonna ever be able to beat the smart into that boy.

Used in a sentence upon news that a friend’s father has died: “Bless her heart.”

Translation: I’m feel so bad for Franny. But I wonder if there’ll be fried chicken after the funeral?

Fit to Be TiedDon’t have a pot to piss in. This is a favorite of mine. Just so visual.

Definition: It means the person is broke, desolate, and shit outta luck.

Used in a sentence: “That Glenda Ray, her daddy’s done left and now they don’t have a pot to piss in.”

Translation: Things in Glenda Ray’s house are gonna be tough for a while.

Shit outta luck. Also referred to as SOL.

Definition: In a bad spot, some times because of your own less-that-bright decision.

Used in a sentence: “You spent all your lunch money on video games? Well, son, you’re just SOL.”

Translation: You’d better steal some saltines out of the cabinet because I’m not giving you more lunch money this week.

Ugly. No, it’s not what you think (although there are plenty of backhanded insults for that).

Definition: This ugly means ill-behaved.

Used in a sentence: “Josey Ray, don’t you be ugly to your mama or else you won’t be going to the picture show.”

Translation: If you don’t stop sassing your mama, I will lock you in your room until you’re thirty.

Six ways to Sunday.

Definition: All different kinds of ways or in a particularly forceful manner.

Used in a sentence: “If you don’t put my Blue Bell Rocky Road ice cream back in the freezer this minute, I’m gonna knock you six ways to Sunday.”

Translation: The butt-whupping may be physical or verbal. Whatever I decide, it ain’t gonna be pretty.

If this small taste of Southernisms has whetted your appetite for more, be sure to check out In For a Penny and Fit to Be Tied in The Granny Series. You may see a few of these, some other favorites, and a few that Nan and I make up ourselves!

Now it’s your turn! What’s your favorite Southern phrases (And yes, we’re likely to snatch it up and put it in a book. ;-))

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17 Responses to 5 Southernisms Every Non-Southerner Must Know by Kelsey Browning

  1. Mary Hughes says:

    Warm welcome, Kelsey, and congratulations on your new release, Fit to be Tied!

    I love these Southernisms! What a delight for the ear and eye. This series sounds so good, I have to check it out. 🙂

    • Thanks so much, Mary! Nancy and I have such fun writing The Granny Series that we hope readers find it fun too. I’ll all for bringing more laughter into the world!


  2. Welcome, Kelsey, and congrats on your new book.

    As a Southerner, I thought this was a really cool post. One of my favorite sayings comes from my grandma: Hell’s bells and panther trails.

    And, yes, I’ve used it in a book. LOL.
    Jennifer Estep`s last blog was …Halloween book signing at Mountain Empire Comics …

  3. Edie Ramer says:

    Kelsey, welcome to MM, and I love your colorful sayings! I’ve heard the ‘ugly’ one before, but now I get it even more. I’m definitely going to check out this series. And congrats on the newest release!

    • Thanks bunches, Edie. You know, I didn’t realize for a long time that other people didn’t use the word “ugly” to mean behaving badly because it was so broadly used in my family. Guess that means we acted “ugly” a lot. 😉

      Thanks for having me here!
      Kelsey Browning`s last blog was …Release Day for Fit to Be Tied!

  4. Heh, those are awesome. I just put your books on my wishlist. They sound fun. =o)

  5. Hi Kelsey! Welcome and thanks for being here today! I loved reading this. Being that I’m from the west coast, you’ve definitely whet my appetite for more. There’s something about Southern sayings that just makes a person smile, no matter what. 🙂 Congratulations on your newest book and best wishes!
    Robin Bielman`s last blog was …Color Me Pink

    • Thanks, Robin. See…you know the difference between whet and whetted. As a Southerner, I like to make up words just for the heck of it. One of my faves was made up by my sister…”Tragesty.” That means it’s a combo of a tragedy and a travesty. And way worse than both!

      Kelsey Browning`s last blog was …Release Day for Fit to Be Tied!

  6. Amy R says:

    Thanks for stopping by today, Kelsey! Love your books and can’t wait to read these. SOL is one that is used often where I live. The rest are not really heard around the Midwest. I do like it when you say Y’all. 😉
    Amy R`s last blog was …Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: LIGHT HER FIRE by Samanthe Beck

  7. Maggie Wells says:

    Here’s my translation guide:
    Fixin’ to come = About to
    Might oughta = should
    Buggy = cart
    Sack = Bag
    Example – “You can tell by the way that buggy’s rollin’ across the parkin’ lot and the sacks are flyin’ everywhere that it’s fixin’ to come a storm. You might oughta roll your windows up.”

    Don’t forget one of the most all-purpose words in the Southern lexicon: Mess
    I cooked up a mess of okra.
    That girl is a hot mess.
    He’s such a mess I just wanna kiss all over him!

    As a native Illinoisan living in Arkansas, I knew I’d truly influenced my step-children’s lives when I caught my daughter her friends, “Y’all guys.”
    Maggie Wells`s last blog was …Weekend Writing Warrior – 10/19/14

    • OMG, Maggie – yes! Your comment made me laugh (and also made me crave a whole mess of okra!). I’m pretty sure everyone in my family has said those exact words at one time or another. “Might could” is one of my personal faves. And people don’t understand that it has its own meaning, separate from the individual meanings of “might” and “could.”

      Thanks for making me smile today!
      Kelsey Browning`s last blog was …Release Day for Fit to Be Tied!

  8. Misty Evans says:

    Yay, Kelsey’s in the house! Great to have you here.

    My mother was from Tennessee, so I’ve heard all of those. One of her favorites was “like Grant taking Richmond”. As in, “those holiday shoppers stormed that aisle like Grant taking Richmond!”

  9. Adrienne Giordano says:

    And don’t forget the one about the hose pipe! That was a classic. 🙂

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