Tickled and Other Words Midwesterners Don’t Say

I recently spent a lovely evening looking at art with fellow Southern refugee, CLW. When we are together there is no absolutely no dead air and the conversation moves quickly from one topic to the next. Like, it will make your head spin quickly. But neither of us really notice, we just roll with the laughter. As we chatted a few classic Southern words crossed my friend’s lips. Words that I never hear anymore, because Midwesterners just don’t talk like Southerners. Here are a few that I miss . . .

No one in the Midwest is “tickled.” Well, they might be but instead they would say happy, amused, pleased, or excited. In the South we are tickled if we get a sweet gift or a nice compliment. Or as you might recall from the epic Southern tear=jerker, Steel Magnolias, if you are Southern you might find yourself “tickled pink.”

Also, no one here gets any “sugar.” You know, come on over here and so I can “give you some sugar.” Sugar as in affection – hugs, kisses, love. It is sweet! Literally and figuratively.

I have not seen anyone in FW that would admit that they were “fit to be tied.” If you are angry then you are if you are fit to be tied.

When someone stays out late having a “big time” my Daddy would say that they “laid out.” If Daddy says you laid out last night then he also thinks you were drunk.

Piddly. No one says piddly in the Midwest. It means little, insignificant, or inferior. Like she came over here on that piddly ole bicycle or your raise might have been piddly. Piddly always reminds me of kindly . . . that box is kindly small for your present.

If you don’t know the name of something or someone it is a thingamajig, whatchamacallitwhatshisname, whatshername, or a hootenanny. Of course, you can also lay out and have a big time at a hootenanny.

Now, I don’t recommend or advise that you call people names but some women are huzzies. my Mommy on occasion calls The Queen a “huzzy” when she is being difficult. It means a female of ill repute, if you will. People don’t say that here.

If you are poor in the Midwest, you are just poor. In the South “you don’t have a pot to pee in.” We like graphic images.

In the South after dinner, you might “be about to pop” or be “full as a tick.” Here you just had too much to eat, booorring.

If you are talking ugly about someone in the South you are probably “bad-mouthing” them.

Where I am from “cain’t never could do nothing.” In the Midwest you do hear an “ain’t” here or there but folks here have not graduated to “cain’t,” as in cannot, yet. We like to compound our negatives, proper English be damned.

What’s really sad is that no one here knows what it means if you are gonna “run down to the Pig.” Ahh, I miss the Piggly Wiggly. “The Pig,” as it was affectionately referred to, is the first grocery store I remember. Later it changed to the Food City, but it took years for Mommy to stop calling it The Pig.

Southern talk never gets old and it always sounds sweet even when it is not. That is why when I chance to spend time with my fellow Southern expatriates arises I jump on it like a duck on a junebug!

Here’s a little country from one of my favorite Southern women (introduced by my favorite muppet) . . .



7 thoughts on “Tickled and Other Words Midwesterners Don’t Say

  1. I had to laugh reading this, I have heard all of these out of my family. two others from my southern roots are “dead as a door nail” and “I am so thirsty I could spit cotton”.
    You can’t talk about Piggy Wiggly without mentioning the “buggy” and a “poke” otherwise known to us as a cart and a grocery sack. Thanks for making me smile today!

    • Thanks, my friend! I am glad you got a laugh out of it because I giggled while writing it. If you have a minute you can find buggy and a few other good ones in my previous posts on the subject – click on “South” under on my category cloud on the right side of the blog. I am still amazed when people here look completely bewildered when I say buggy rather than shopping cart!

  2. Both my parents were from the mountains of North Carolina, and there is still a bit of hillbilly in me. We moved to New York from Virginia when my father worked on the St. Lawrence Seaway. My mother suffered culture shock. They didn’t sell cornmeal in the groceries, and did not speak the way we were accustomed to hearing. My mother would say “mash the button,” and she would be corrected, “We mash potatoes, not buttons. We press buttons.” My mother said, “Are you done?” And she would be scolded, “What do I look like, a piece of meat? Food is done, people are finished.” The biggest sin of all was to use y’all instead of youse. Some Northerners apparently liked to hear the Southern drawl and would ask my mother to talk Southern for them, but many were rude and disrespectful, equating being Southern with being stupid.

    I was tickled by your post and thanks for the trip down memory lane to 55 years ago when I was a five-year-old boy in upstate New York.


    Larry A. Pace, Ph.D.

    Author • Educator • Consultant

    102 San Mateo Dr.

    Anderson, SC 29625

    Phone: 864-367-0208

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    E-mail: larry@twopaces.com

  3. I heard most of these growing up in the Midwest, but I suppose since my Granny (great grandmother) and my grandfather moved here from Alabama (as I mentioned on Friday) it would make sense that I would have heard them.

  4. I just found this today & boy, does it take me back. Now & then, I even surprise my 85 year old neighbor with some of my sayin’s (I drop g’s all over the place). Light a shuck was one I grew up with,,meaning” go ahead and go if you’re going”. Some folks are “all talk and no action”. Her britches are so tight, you could crack a flea on her butt. I am American by birth, Southern by the Grace of God. I am proud of being Southern every day of my life, as my New York City ex-daughter-in-law used to tell me. I told my son not to cross the Mason-Dixon line looking for a wife!

  5. In the South, we are: Never hungry, we are starvin’ to death; Never thirsty, we are perishing to death; Never cold, we are freezin’ to death; Never hot, we are slap burnin’ up! Never tired, our tail feathers are draggin’. A woman who is sleeping with your husband is not fit to wash your step-ins. I am full of these things, but my eyes are blue!!!

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