Family Stories, United States Genealogy

Sayings of My People

I have a book that was written by my cousin Frances White and arranged by her daughter Jo Ann Congdon called Small Drops of Rain. In this book Frances recalls her life and memories of “…life during the early 1900’s on a poor Oklahoma Farm.” I have read this book a couple of times and even used some of chapters as blog posts. This week as I was looking through it again I came across the last page where Jo Ann says “My mother used many unique expression and repeated many odd sayings.” Then she listed each saying, and what they mean. The are too funny not to share.

  1. By Jangoes—same as By Gosh
  2. Blatherskite—–a blowhard, a pompous person, an unscrupulous person
  3. Up a stump—a perplexing situation, at wits end, a dilemma
  4. Up the Salt Creek—-a precarious position, in danger
  5. Shank’s Mare—-a foot, walking
  6. Devilling—Teasing or needling someone
  7. Pulling a leg—-Deceiving someone, fooling someone, a hoax
  8. Blow the whistle—to tattle or tell on someone
  9. Blabber Mouth—a gossip
  10. Shoot the Breeze—To visit casually, small talk
  11. Chew the Rag—about the same
  12. Chew the Fat—about the same
  13. Put on the Dog—to try to impress someone with your own importance
  14. Tighter than Dick’s Hatband—stingy or something tight
  15. Throw the Bull by the Tail—I wouldn’t trust him any further than I could throw a bull
  16. Skin—to cheat or take advantage
  17. More crooked than a barrel of snakes—said of a theif or a liar
  18. I doggies—same as by golly
  19. Gully washer—a very hard rain
  20. Sawing logs—snoring loudly
  21. What the sam hill?—What’s going on?
  22. Ding Fawd—A watcha may callit
  23. Cabbage on to it—to take; especially selfishly
  24. Cap the Climax—extraordinarily exciting, or over and abbe the ordinary
  25. Tearing up Jake—doing damage
  26. Bless your little body bones—terms of endearment to a child
  27. Run through a smartweed patch—someone who is condescending
  28. Tenkettle Tea—Sweetened hot water
  29. I haven’t seen hide nor hair of—when someone is looking for something or someone
  30. Laddie Buck—a guilty person
  31. Ornery rake—something or someone bad
  32. Work like a towhead—to work very hard
  33. Till the last dog is dead—To last until all is over
  34. Ornery as gar’s broth—a mean person
  35. That drotted thing—something aggravating
  36. Tear of a strip—to be angry and rant and rave
  37. Some Pumpkins—one who is egotistical, thinks they are better than someone else
  38. Conniption fit—about the same as tear off a strip(#36)
  39. Since Heck was a pup—something or someone not seen for a long time
  40. By hook or crook—by any means possible
  41. As mad as Tucker when his Daddy left him to all the corn plow—someone who is very angry.

I have heard of some of the sayings before so not all of them were new to me but many in the list I had never heard before. I would love to hear my ancestors visit with their neighbors and family to hear how they would use this expressions.

8 thoughts on “Sayings of My People”

  1. I love this! I often think about expressions that have been passed down in my family and wonder how far back they started. There are terms of endearment that my maternal grandmother used, my mother still uses, and now I use (honey bunny, precious, etc.) and I wonder whether my great grandmother spoke to her children the same way. Or farther back? I’m sure there must be some linguistics study about this kind of thing, but wouldn’t it be cool to be able to trace in our own families? A new subcategory of genealogy–linguistic genetics?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. These are great, and give me an idea that I should do my own list of family expressions at some point. One of my favorites comes from my grandmother: “We’re off like a herd of turtles.” It would be fun to list all the ones I can remember.


  3. How cool! Some I’ve heard, others are new to me.
    One saying handed down in our family…. if I was looking for something, say my shoe, I’d ask Mom and she would say “It’s up in Nellie’s room behind the clock!”. Of course I said the same thing to my kids.
    Years later we were talking about it and I said I envisioned Nellie’s room upstairs, in the attic maybe, and my shoe was behind her clock, which must have been big to be hiding all my things! My kids all said they took it that the item was in Nellie’s room, which was behind the clock (we had a big old clock in our dining room). And who the heck is Nellie anyways??


  4. Love this. And it’s great you’ve written them here. Otherwise who will remember them? My one kid used to ask about ‘the man with the dog’. My dad when he didn’t want to answer all our questions about where he was going (and why we couldn’t go too) would answer that ‘he was going to see a man about a dog’, Maybe his dad said that! Drat! I never asked him. We never did get a dog (but my kids did).

    Liked by 1 person

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