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Don Burleson Blog 








Old Southern sayings

Slang Tips by Donald Burleson


- Do you know the origin of some of these old sayings?

- Do you know some new country sayings?

If so, please send me an e-mail at


The south is full of quaint sayings, and I'm starting this list to document some of the more interesting old proverbs and colorful sayings.  Some are just cute, but some old saying offer profound wisdom into the fundamentals of human nature:

  • He has enough money to burn a wet mule. (origin 1800's).  Somebody with a lot of disposable income.

  • The wood on that tree is doted. (pronounced "dote-ed")  A rural expression for half-rotted wood.

  • That is to much pumpkin for a nickel. Meaning it's more trouble then it's worth.

  • I took a preachers seat  (or "he took a preachers seat") - when someone fell flat on their butt, either on the ground or in the creek or wherever!  Origin unknown.

  • If ifs' and buts' were candy and nuts, everyday would be Christmas - A fellow with too many excuses.  Related to "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride"

  • Forty going north - To do something with great gusto and enthusiasm.   - Origin is 19th century, but unknown source.

  • Root hog or die - This means that we all must work hard to survive - Origin 19th century but unknown.

  • Mommas baby - Daddy's, maybe  - In genealogy, tracking bloodlines through the father is certain to go wrong.

  • He looks like he's been rode hard and put up wet - Referring to a horse that has foundered by not being properly cooled-off after riding, a lame person.

  • Useless as teats on a boar pig - A reference to a bad worker.

  • Even a blind hog finds a nut every now and then - similar to the Yankee saying "even a stopped click is right twice a day".

  • That dog will hunt - A method that will be successful.

  • Never take a wooden nickel - A type of "goodbye", reminding people to be careful with Yankees.

  • Nobody will ever notice it on a galloping horse - Don't be too self-conscious about your appearance.

  • He's as poor as Job's turkey - Origin unknown.

  • You can't make a silk purse out of a sows ear - You cannot change the fundamental nature of things, so matter how hard you try.

  • He's two bricks short of a load - Someone with a mental deficiency, dropped on their head as a baby.

  • Marry in haste, repent in leisure - From William Congreve in his comedy of manners The Old Batchelour, 1693:  "Thus grief still treads upon the heels of pleasure: Married in haste, we may repent at leisure."

  • He ain't got a pot to pee in - To be very poor.

  • Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil - Stop lying

  • Don't nothing hurt a duck but his bib - Origin unknown.

  • You can't hold water - You can't can't keep a secret

  • I'm going to talk to a man about a cow - When you got business to take care of.

  • She looks like she's been beaten with a bag of nickels - Similar to "she was beaten by the ugly stick".

  • A hard head makes a soft behind -Being stubborn can result in punishment.

  • A guilty dog barks the loudest - A dishonest man will be the first to tell you how honest he is.

  • If wishes were horses, beggars would ride - Poor folks dream, rich folks do.

  • If I put his brain in a nat's butt, it would fly backwards - A really stupid person.

  • Wish in one hand and spit in the other and see which one fills up first -

  • I would not trust him in a sh**house with a muzzle - Someone that you cannot trust.

  • If you can't race it or take it to bed, you don't need it

  • You plant a tater, you get a tater

  • You can't unsay a cruel word

  • Don't sell your mule to buy a plow

  • That's how the cow ate the cabbage

  • She has a butt like a forty dollar mule

  • He couldn't hit the broad side of a barn

  • She's about as useful as buttons on a dishrag

  • He runs just like a candle

  • She slapped him like a red-headed stepchild

  • He's all over it like files on sh*t

  • He was the turd in the punchbowl

  • You can catch more files with honey than with vinegar

  • Built like a brick sh**house

  • He's steal the bridle off a nightmare

  • Dumber than a road lizard

  • He's nuttier than a squirrel turd

  • Good fences make good neighbors

  • She could eat an apple through a picket fence

  • He's tougher than a two dollar steak

  • He's as mad as a wet hen

  • Sober as a judge

  • I wouldn't give him the sweat off my balls

  • That's as scarce as hen's teeth

  • That ain't worth the powder to blow it to hell

  • That's finer than frog's hair

  • "He's got molasses in his britches" - means you're lazy




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