55 Southern Phrases To Entertain All Y’all ‘Til the Cows Come Home

January 16, 2024
8 mins read

Whether you’re here to get a kick out of phrases you already know and love or you’re a newbie to the Southern drawl, we’re here to give you a good laugh! While many people go their entire lives without hearing some of these endearing sayings (bless their hearts!), there’s a whole culture full of people who say them every day. One of the more alluring aspects of a true Southern phrase is just how nostalgic it feels and draws you back in time to when things seemed just a bit simpler. 

So, kick up your heels, grab your favorite ice cold beverage and get ready to enjoy the 55 best Southern sayings! These are sure to be a hit at the next party you attend or dinner you go to, and will definitely have you and your friends bustin’ a gut laughing! 

Related: 105 Southern Boy Names (With Their Meanings) For Your Genteel Little Gentleman

55 Southern Sayings and Phrases

1. “He could eat corn through a picket fence.” 

Imagine how that would look… It means that whoever they’re talking about has some pretty gapped teeth! 


2. “Y’all” 

The quintessential Southern phrase, “y’all” is literally “you” and “all” squished together. Not to be confused with a group larger than two people, which is “all y’all.” Sometimes a Southerner will even make a whole sentence out of it! “You all would have” becomes “y’alld’ve”. You really can’t go wrong using “y’all.”

3. “I reckon” 

This means pretty much the same thing as “I suppose.” 

4. “We’re living in high cotton!”  

As a high commodity crop in the south, cotton represents wealth. Therefore, if you’re living in high cotton, you’re considered wealthy.

5. “Fixin’ to” 

When someone says they’re “fixin’ to” do something, it means they’re about to go do that thing. 

Related: Here’s the Skinny on 25 Iconic Baby Boomer Slang Terms

6. “Cattywampus” 

When something is slightly askew or going in the wrong direction.

7. “She’s as pretty as a peach.” 

Peaches are often associated with sweetness and beauty, so saying someone is as pretty as a peach is a pretty high compliment in the South! There’s nothing quite like a Southern peach. 

8. “He was as drunk as Cooter Brown!” 

It’s said that during the time of the Civil War, Cooter Brown lived near the Mason-Dixon line. Having family on both sides and not wanting to be drafted, he decided to get drunk—and stay drunk—instead! 

9. “Coke” 

Not just used when referring to Coca-Cola, “coke” can mean any carbonated soda in the South. If you go to a restaurant and ask for a coke, be ready for them to ask you which kind. 


10. “Quit bein’ ugly.” 

When someone is speaking rudely you’ll often hear a Southern mama tell them to “quit bein’ ugly.”

11. “Highfalutin” 

If someone describes you as “highfalutin,” they think you’re pompous or pretentious—AKA someone who thinks they have more class than they actually do. 

12. “He’s too big for his britches.” 

When someone is obviously full of themselves, they’re just too big for their britches (pants). 

13. “Over yonder” 

Instead of saying “over there,” in the South, they say “over yonder.” 

14. “There’s not a pot too crooked that a lid won’t fit.” 

Southern positivity at its finest! This saying means that there’s someone out there for everyone. 

15. “I’m so full, I’m about to pop.” 

Imagine that you’ve just had a full Southern meal of chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and green beans, and finished it off with pecan pie. You’d feel like you were about to pop too! 

Related: 105 of the Best Two-Word Phrases for a Quick, Heartfelt Message

16. “You look rode hard and put up wet.”

When a horse is ridden for a long time, they begin to sweat. Before being put into their stalls for the night they’re usually cleaned up and dried off. When someone says, “You look rode hard and put up wet,” it means you look unwell or uncared for. 

17. “If I had my druthers” 

“If I had my druthers” is another way of saying, “If I had it my way.”

18. “It’s blowin’ up a storm.” 

When the skies get cloudy and the wind picks up, you’ll usually hear a Southerner say, “It’s blowin’ up a storm.” Given the flat land that you can see for miles, a storm heading your way is fairly visible in the Southern sky. 


19. “That doesn’t make a hill of beans.” 

One bean isn’t worth a whole lot of money, and a hill of beans wouldn’t be worth a whole lot more. This is used to say that something is essentially worthless. 

20. “Plumb” 

If someone says they’re “plumb tired” or “plumb excited,” it means that they’re extremely tired, or absolutely excited. Plumb is another way of saying “completely.” 

21. “We’re so poor, we can’t afford to pay attention.” 

Paying attention doesn’t cost a dime, so if they’re so poor they can’t even pay attention then they must be pretty bad off! 

22. “Can’t never could.”

This is a reminder that if you say you can’t, you never would have been able to. Think positively and you’ll be able to achieve your heart’s desire! 

23. “He was as busy as a cat on a hot tin roof.” 

It gets hotter in the South than anyone would care to admit, and a tin roof just amplifies that heat even more. Imagine a poor cat stuck on a tin roof under the beating sun. They’d be working pretty hard to find their way off! 

Related: 50 Gen Z Slang Words You Need To Know To Keep From Becoming ‘Cheugy’

24. “Hush your mouth!” 

Similar to “quit bein’ ugly,” this is a somewhat nicer way to tell someone to stop talking.

25. “Yes ma’am” or “Yessir” 

While these are just good manners, you hear them said more often in the South than you do anywhere else.

26. “God willing and the creek don’t rise.” 

Normally, this is a follow-up after a request for someone to attend something. If nothing out of their control causes them deterrence, they’ll be there. So, if God’s willing and the creek don’t rise (bad weather doesn’t wash away the bridges, etc.), then they’ll make it! 

27. “Well, I declare!” 

You should be able to deduce what’s being “declared” from the rest of the conversation. Whether they’re declaring excitement, disagreement or surprise, they’re doing so loud and proud—the Southern way! 


28. “He thinks the sun comes up just to hear him crow.” 

It’s an old wives’ tale that the rooster’s crow brings the sun up. A person who thinks that the sun comes up just to hear him crow is conceited enough to believe it. 

29. “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

No matter how hard you try, you just can’t make something pretty out of something ugly. 

30. “It’s raining cats and dogs!” 

This means that it’s a downpour—not that kittens and puppies are literally falling from the sky. 

Related: 8 Phrases That Are Simple, Effective Ways To ‘Check In’ With Your Partner

31. “Full as a tick.” 

Another way to describe how you might feel after a big dinner. 

32. “Gimme some sugar.” 

No, your neighbor is not asking to borrow actual sugar. In the South, “Gimme some sugar” translates to “Give me a kiss.”

33. “You’re about as worthless as gum on a boot heel!” 

Honestly, who wants gum on their shoe? It’s just plain worthless! 

34. “I’m about to fly off the handle!” 

This means that someone is so angry that they’re about to lose control. It’s thought that this saying comes from a loose axe head that flew off the handle when swung.

35. “Sho nuff!” 

Meaning “sure enough!”


36. “‘Til the cows come home.” 

Cows tend to take their sweet time, so if someone says an event is going to take “’til the cows come home,” it means it could be all day (or at least a very long time). 

37. “Close the door! You’re letting all the good air out.” 

Air conditioning is something taken very seriously in the South, and if you leave the door open for too long, you’re surely going to hear about it! 

38. “Well that’s the pot calling the kettle black.” 

When one person accuses another of a fault that the first person is also guilty of, that’s the pot calling the kettle black. 

Related: 45 Common New York Slang Words Every ‘Kid’ Should Know

39. “Aren’t you precious.” 

Unless directed at an adorable child, if a Southerner says, “Aren’t you precious,” they’re likely full of sarcasm and insulting you. 

40. “Worn slap out” 

Similar to “plumb,” when someone is “worn slap out,” it means they’re utterly exhausted! 

41. “She was madder than a wet hen.”

Hens tend to get rather broody when sitting on eggs. To get them out of that funk, farmers would often dunk the hens in water. We think that would make them pretty mad indeed. 

42. “You’re barking up the wrong tree.” 

When you’re very much in the wrong, you might hear this phrase. Another way this can be used is if someone is telling you to back off.

43. “Don’t throw a hissy fit.” 

A “hissy fit” is essentially a temper tantrum. If you hear, “Don’t throw a hissy fit,” it likely means someone thinks you’re overreacting. 

44. “She could start an argument in an empty house.” 

She’s just so apt to argue that she could start one with herself! 


45. “Hold your horses.” 

This means to stop what you’re doing, or to calm down.

Related: 7 Phrases That Work Better Than the Silent Treatment, According to Experts

46. “Doohickey” 

When a Southerner can’t think of a particular name for something, it suddenly becomes a “doohickey.” 

47. “He’s silly as all get out.” 

“All get out” means to the utmost degree. So if someone is “as silly as all get out,” he’s as silly as can be! 

48. “Who licked the red off your candy?” 

This is a rather fun way to ask what’s got a person so upset. 


49. “That dog won’t hunt.” 

This means that something or an idea won’t work out. If you hear this phrase from a Southern mother in response to an excuse you were trying to use, you know she’s onto you.

50. “My eyeballs are floating!” 

When you want to express just how badly you need the restroom, but you don’t want to say it, use this phrase instead! 

Related: 35 Funny Names for the Toilet—Including the Loo, Dunny & Bog

51. “I been running all over hell’s half acre.” 

When your day has ended up with you going to many more places than you originally wanted or planned, you could say that you’ve been running all over hell’s half acre. (Fun fact: “Hell’s Half Acre” is what Fort Worth used to be called in the Wild West.) 

52. “He’s about as useless as a screen door on a submarine.” 

What good would a screen door do on a submarine? 

53. “He was grinnin’ like a possum eating a sweet tater!” 

A possum’s normal diet consists of things like bugs and roadkill, so we’re sure they’d be smiling from ear to ear if they were to be dining on a sweet potato! 

54. “The porch light’s on, but no one’s home.” 

This phrase is normally used to describe a person who appears to be able to perceive and understand things, but actually can’t. 


55. “Bless your heart.” 

While this can be used as a sincere expression of sympathy, it can also be an insult. A Southerner who says, “Oh, bless your heart,” might think you don’t know any better. Think of it as, “Oh, bless your heart, you’re just so wrong.” 

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