Granny’s Guide to Southern Sayings


 You know what caught me totally off guard recently? When a few friends who are not Nashville natives informed me that sausage balls are a southern thing. Apparently California and Indiana are not aware of what they’re missing.  

The newer Tennesseans were also quick to tell us they didn’t know we really do call shopping carts “buggies” around here. Y’all, my son doesn’t even know what a shopping cart is. They have always been buggies to him. Even my two-year-old starts yelling, “I want to ride in the buggy” as soon as he sees the Kroger sign.

It’s easy to take southern culture for granted when you grew up immersed in it. In early 2018, after the loss of my sweet Granny, I found myself really thinking about all of these southern sayings that are a regular part of my vernacular. I heard nearly all of them regularly from my grandparents. True, I could change them to more commonly used terms, but:  I think some southern sayings have really thoughtful or practical meanings when you break them down. I don’t really want to use their common counterparts. I’d rather say what I mean the first time around.

Here are a few examples:

‘Preciate Ya!

I recently encountered a few situations where I needed to rely on the kindness of strangers to expedite some paperwork.  Through this process, I re-discovered the power of a southern-ism I’ve heard all of my life – the drawl and cadence of a gracious “I appreciate you”. 

Typically if someone does me a favor or a kindness, I respond, “Thank you so much.  I really appreciate it.”   This translates into me appreciating the end result of the person’s action.  I appreciate the favor.  When I change that language to “I appreciate YOU’, it takes on a whole new meaning.  I don’t just appreciate the task that you did or the result that you got me, but I appreciate your individual thoughtfulness, kindness, skill set or compassion.   If you’d like to see the power of this small change firsthand, go ahead and try it out!  In my experience, it brings a truly genuine smile or maybe even a kind word in return. 

Don’t Act Ugly.

My granny used this phrase for the first time when my son was a baby.  She was jokingly referring to him crying every time she tried to hold him, but it made me smile because I hadn’t heard it since I was a small child.  I now find myself using it on a near daily basis.

It’s probably a little more common to say something like, ‘Be nice to others” or “Don’t be mean.”  And those things are really accurate.  But I enjoy the use of the word “ugly” because it affirms that “ugly” in our house isn’t a set of uncontrollable genetic physical attributes.  It’s an attitude of disrespect, entitlement or rudeness.

It’ll All Come Out in the Wash.

It’s just another way of saying, “it’s all going to be okay”, but once again I’m partial to it for the deeper inferred meaning.  Sometimes “it’ll all work out” or such platitudes seem to indicate things will just magically come together.  And sometimes circumstances really are out of your control.  But other times, everything will be okay once you work at it a bit.  “It’ll all come out in the wash” because you’re going to soak it and scrub it and get it done.  You aren’t giving in or acting as a bystander in your own life.  You’re actively working to solve problems. 

Over Yonder.

It’s just practical.  I have no idea what direction something is.  Probably, I can tell you if there’s a McDonald’s on the corner where you need to turn. I can definitely gesture with my hand and tell you “They went over yonder ‘round the bend to check out the old barn. It belongs to so-and-so up by the dollar store, but they’re kin to your cousins on your mama’s side so they don’t mind a bit. Y’all can go up there to, but it’s fixin’ to storm something fierce so hurry back before supper.” (JK.  I’ve never said that sentence in my life, but I’ve heard ones like them said about 600 million times, and they are all kind of charming.)

So, dear sweet non-native Nashvillians, give these phrases a try! You’ll fit right in. And you might even find a phrase that describes your intended meaning in an even better way!


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