Folks from the south are known for their unending supply of warmth and hospitality. But they also have a long list of
charming southern phrases. This, of course, includes the popular use of the handy word "ya'll," as well as other phrases we should consider using, no matter where we're from.
The thing is, while southern phrases, such as the well-known "bless your heart," may
seem sweet to non-southern ears, many do come with a touch of grit. "These charming phrases are softeners like butter near a hot stove," Virginia "Gina" Vinson, MA, a learning specialist and academic advisor at Beacon College, tells Bustle. "They are whipped out often in the south to blunt direct orders or unpleasant requests."
And this has a lot to do with the south's
focus on good manners. "My mother always said manners make this crazy world livable," Vinson says. "So the south developed these pleasing ways to get business done."
Other phrases simply stem from observations and daily southern life, such as the hilarious "I'm finer than frog hair split four ways," or "It's blowin' up a storm." If you'd like to make your life more charming by
using more southern phrases — and really, who wouldn't? — then read on for some of the best, according to experts.
To start off with one of the most popular phrases, let's focus on "ya'll," which not only has a delightful southern ring to it, but is also incredibly useful.
"Compared to other Latin-based languages, English is officially devoid of a second person plural like the 'vous' in French or “ustedes” in Spanish," Ashe Woodward, English for Work instructor and founder of
Yolopalooza, tells Bustle. "Y’all clarifies whether we mean 'you' or both of 'you' and we should all adopt this for the sake of clarity."
And, perhaps most importantly, for that touch of southern charm.
"'Bless your heart' is a genuine expression of fondness," Samantha Ouimette, a media relations associate with Bay Alarm Medical, a company that recently researched
southern linguistics, tells Bustle.
But she says it can also be used before an insult, too, in a biting way, or to soften the blow. You might use it when someone does you a favor ("Oh, bless your heart!") or when they're annoying you or being otherwise disappointing.
Either way, it's oh-so-very southern.
"The word 'supper' has been used in the south for centuries to denote an informal evening meal, as opposed to a more formal 'dinner,'" Carla McDonald, founder and editor in chief of
, tells Bustle. And it really does have a certain old time-y charm we all may want to adopt. The Salonniere
"I love the word because it embodies the very best of southern hospitality — warmth, friendliness, and comfort," McDonald says. "And who doesn’t need more of that, regardless of where one lives?"
If someone is "fixin' to" do something, it means they're getting ready to do it, and it will get done. But according to
Southern Living, it probably means they're going to take their sweet time doing so, too.
"It Doesn't Amount To A Hill Of Beans"
To say something doesn't amount to a "hill of beans," is to say
it isn't worth very much. It is subjective, though, so while something may not be worth a hill of beans to you, it may be important to somebody else. (Not that you care, though.)
If you're from a northern state, you probably refer to these as "shopping carts." But for an extra southern twist, why not start calling them buggies?
Most popular in the deep south, near Mississippi and Alabama, "it would be used so sweetly as in, 'Please grab me that buggy, darling. I’m going to only be a few minutes,'" Vinson says, as you go strolling into a grocery store.
Speaking of darling, this word can be tacked onto pretty much any sentence. "In the south, everyone/everything is a potential darling," Vinson says. You can refer to friends or your partner as "darling," or even a dog that you pass on the street. Everything's a darling when you're in the south.
"Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder"
Town & Country, this is one southern phrase many well-meaning southerners dish out whenever someone's having relationship issues. By giving each other some space, they say, it could make your partner realize how much they miss you.
"They're Having A Hissy Fit"
If someone is having a "hissy fit," then they are
losing their temper, complaining, or even having a bit of a meltdown. But this phrase is so much more fun.
"I'm Finer Than Frog Hair Split Four Ways"
Instead of simply saying you're doing well, you could say "I'm finer than frog hair split four ways." According to Business Insider, the joke is that frogs don't have hair, so the irony is meant to highlight just
how dandy you feel.
"It's Blowin' Up A Storm"
While you could say "it looks like it's going to rain," why not say "
it's blowin' up a storm" instead? This phrase refers to the way the sky darkens and the wind picks up right before it rains, and could be a charming way to forecast the weather to your friends.
"What's That Got To Do With The Price Of Tea In China?"
Country Living, this is something a southerner might say to someone who's being nonsensical. Basically, it's another way of saying, "What's that got to do with the current conversation?"
"If I Had My Druthers..."
This is another way of saying "If I had my way." According to
Southern Living, the phrase has even been celebrated in the southern-inspired musical Li'l Abner with the lyrics, “If I had my druthers, I'd druther have my druthers than anything else I know.” These southern phrases are just about as charming as can be, as well as incredibly useful. So useful, in fact, that you might want to pick a few of them up, no matter where you're from.