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40 Southern phrases explained

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix th...

Y'all listen up, now

If you're a transplant from up north, you may find it difficult to understand the strange words and phrases uttered by your Southern neighbors. Fear not! We've got a guide to Southern vernacular written for you by a real Southerner.

The first thing you should know is that Southerners are prone to hyperbole. While this list covers some of the main phrases you'll hear, if it sounds like we might be exaggerating, we probably are, but it's just for effect. Warning: Sometimes Southerners can be crass.

1. Access road

Service road; the road that allows you entrance to the highway

2. Ain't got the good sense God gave a rock

Someone who lacks all common sense (may also use a goose or other animal instead of rock)

3. Bless your heart

A seemingly empathetic phrase usually uttered when the speaker believes the recipient to be sweet but misguided or stupid or, when they believe the recipient needs to grow up and deal with it; when said sarcastically, dumba**

4. (Too) big for your britches

To take yourself too seriously

5. Break bad

To raise hell, defy authority or generally go wild or break the law; when used before the preposition "on," to dominate or humiliate

6. Busy as a cat on a hot tin roof

Too busy attending to your own immediate needs to do anything else

7. Catawampus / caddywonked


8. Cain't never could

You never will if you don't try

9. (To) carry on

To continue on foolishly, usually referring to a tantrum or fit

10. Clicker

Remote control

Up next: More Southern phrases explained >>

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