A Southern Belle’s Favorite Words

March 26, 2014


Favorite Words

There’s definitely an art to living in the South. Moss dripping from ancient trees and bright white cotton fields being ruffled by the breeze paint a fetching picture. So why shouldn’t our vocabulary be just as artistically resplendent?

Last week, I had lunch with three precious friends on the outdoor patio at Wintzell’s, and I declare, all these words were used at least once!  It was a bonafide delightful soiree’!

Penelope Jane (the one with the flawless complexion, deranged cad of an ex-husband and dashing new beau) corrected me on “Kinsfolk.” People around here usually leave off the “s” in the middle of the word and just say, “Kinfolk.” Both are correct, but what do you think?

Which word do you use the most? Do you live outside the south and have a favorite “flowerdy” expression?  Don’t you just love words? (I should have added “flowerdy” to the list. I use it all the time to describe a certain dress.)
No matter where you call home, what are some of your favorite words?

  • Well, bless my soul, I think I’m in the right place…..I’m grinning like a mule eating briars! I do believe though, one of the words you listed is spelled ‘peckish’, and I often feel that way ; ) I am very much a Southern girl, Alabama born and bred but I didn’t understand some of the words my even more redneck husband used…..but I learned. Just like I learned to make tomato gravy like his Mama did. I’d never even heard of it!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Now you need to read my story about how I learned to make tomato gravy! Small world!

  • Somehow I missed this post, Leslie Anne. Because Jenna mentioned it I had to find it because it sounded intriguing.

    I am a southern girl for sure because I use most of the words you mentioned all the time. So cute. Now, I need to find the other post about Mama.

    By the way, I was on an airplane recently and an girl from another country was reading an american cookbook. She had the word, “grits” underlined with a question mark. Wish I could remember the other word with the question mark. I smiled to myself thinking I would have more than two words underlined with question marks in her language.

  • Nabs was short for Nabisco. People in MS still call them that!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      So glad to learn the truth to this matter!

  • Love every one! Thanks for posting this. I teach French…and as part of our discussions I tell my students that languages have regionalisms

  • How about “larrapin”? I always say it when I eat something delicious! It’s really a southern adjective!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      I don’t think I know that one!

  • Leslie Ann,
    This is a great list, but I’m not really sure which one I use the most. maybe it’s “honey”.

  • Anonymous says:

    Nabs? Nabisco?

    But then, I’m only a transplanted Yankee….

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Ahhhh. . . you may be on to something oh, wise transplant! We’ll let you stay!

  • i think darlin’ is the word i use most often…especially when talking to my granddaughter taylor. i wish we had been able to sit on the outside patio when we were at wintzells back in february…just too cold!

    how about this one: toodles poodles?

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Now, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard “toodles poodles” before, but I like it!

  • Very funny and very true — saving your list. It would be so hard to live anywhere else, wouldn’t it? (I know, I have tried.) In Denver they ended every sentence with “real quick” — which I could never quite get the hang of. In Mississippi, they called the little cheese crackers in packets of 6, “Nabs”. (Although that one is kind of cute.) I see a few on your list that my mother used to use a lot, like gumption. Some Southerners leave that “s” off biscuit, as in “Mama made biscuit this mawnin’.” I agree about the “s” in kinfolk — doesn’t belong. Some just say “Kin.” My son was explaining to his Chinese bride-to-be over Christmas about the meaning of “I’m fixin’ to…. ” Before they left, she had bought a book somewhere about Southern idioms, and I caught her reading it a few times. I am sure she is not sure what to make of us at all! Or, a’tall, as my parents would have said.

    • Leslie Anne says:

      I think I remember one of my Grandmothers using “Nabs” for those little crackers. I wonder if it was ever a brand name they were using?

      • Short for Nabisco crackers!

  • Of course I use all these words Leslie Anne. One I use often is “darling”. When my grandson was born I always greeted him with hi darling or bye bye darling. As he grew and began talking, we were saying our goodbyes and the little ten month old said to me, “bye darling”! Southern to the bone………….

    • Leslie Anne says:

      I use “darlin” a lot with my children too. What a sweet story about your little one!

  • A lovely list! I love words and have gone so far as to purchase an additional resource to the standard dictionary & thesauras; it’s called “The Thinker’s Thesaurus” and contains unfrequently used alternatives to common words or phrases.
    I’m always amazed and intrigued when reading a Jane Austen novel at the complexity of grammer used in everyday conversation. I often equate it to the flowery phraseology of some of my favorite Southern authors.
    I’m at a bit of a loss for my favorite word – though I do tend to use ‘lovely’ quite a bit. This stems from an effort I started a few years back to stop saying ‘that’s nice’ – an over used word even in the 18th century.
    Happy Spring,

    • Leslie Anne says:

      “lovely” is a wonderful word. I like words until they become over used, but thank goodness “lovely” isn’t one of those words. I don’t like “utilized” because 95% of the time, the word “use” could be substituted just fine. Everyone thinks if they stretch it to “utilize” they sound better. I think they just sound puffed up. Isn’t that a “lovely” thought?

  • Happy to see “pocketbook” made the list! One word that I use a lot (and didn’t realize till my Yankee office mate pointed it out — then started using it, too) is “Mercy” as in “Mercy, look at that handsome man!” or “Mercy, gotta run, time just got away!”

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Absolutely! I’m always saying, “Mercy daisy!”

  • Leslie Anne… I really miss living in Texas for many reasons. One of them is the southern expressions like: bless your heart, and don’t you worry that pretty little head of yours… They don’t have cute little expressions in Boston except “You want lobstah or chowdah?” Have a great day!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      But I love lobstah and chowdah! I have a photo somewhere that I took while visiting Martha’s Vineyard. A house was under construction, and the front tag on the truck said, “Roofah.” We loved it up there, but couldn’t understand a word they were saying!

      • And the answer to the lobster chowder question should be…..Well are’t you precious, of course I’d just love some…but just a bit…and could you freshen my sweet tea while we wait…you’re such a doll to ask…Now I’ll just bet your Granny could eat you up with a spoon…run along now darling…don’t want anyone to think that you’re being too sweet on me…does your cook use a bit of the sherry in the chowder…or is that a a “family secret”…hmmmmh….that’s just wonderful….but don’t tell my mama I said that….if you do I’ll swear you are lying like a rug in the back hall.

        • Leslie Anne says:

          You did that very well, Steve.

  • Being a southern gal myself, I love seeing all of these delightful words in a bonafide list! 🙂 I declare, Honey, you’re just a little sugar! 🙂 Last week we took a trip in our little RV and we passed through Alabama on our way to Florida by way of the coastal route. I saw a sign for Fairhope and I was waving and yelling so loud! Did you hear me? 🙂
    Be a sweetie,

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Oh yes, I heard you! My comments on this new site are taking some “getting used to.” I attempted to answer you last week, but I guess it didn’t work. Hope you enjoyed your time on the Gulf Coast, and next time, stop for a visit!

    • Nancy Maners says:

      Shelia, I was in Fairhope last week in my RV. You should have stopped off at least for a glass of iced tea and some chicken salad!

      I think here in Alabama it’s “kinfolk.” If you add the “s” you are either not from around here, or trying to show off. Just saying.

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