Texas Terminology and Colloquialisms Explained

“Never ask a woman if she is from Texas. If she is, she will tell you on her own. If she is not, there is no need to embarrass her.”

After reading a post on another blog, I discovered that many of the Texas colloquialism description pages online are far from up-to-date. Add to that, there are translations provided by people who are not even Texans; therefore, they are inaccurate as well as obsolete. Seriously, why would some Yankee think they can tell people what a Texan means when we are speaking in our local language?

As such, I decided it would behoove me to explain a few of our local colloquialisms, just in case anyone plans to travel to Texas in the near future. I have taken words from their lists and corrected them, as well as adding in a few that were missed on the lists I discovered online. I can vouch for these being correct as I have used each of them, or had them used in conversation with me over the last 50+ years of being a “Texas Girl”.

 

Afore – Truncated way of saying before.

Aggervated – Can mean anything from mildly annoyed to completely enraged and carrying a tire iron.

Ah – Flattening and shortening of the word I, as used when referring to oneself.

All swoll up – Multiple meanings from being very angry, emotionally hurt, physically injured or overly proud. The remainder of the sentence the phrase is used in is normally the only way to determine the intended usage at the time.

All choked up – Expresses a state of being so overcome with emotions such as sadness, pride, and happiness to the point of speechlessness.

All worked up – Expresses a state of extreme irritation, anger, or offense where violence may be imminent so be prepared to run when you actually see someone in this state.

Best – Truncated way of saying had better, as in “You best git up afore mom picks a switch!”

Blue Norther – A cold front or a serious storm that suddenly rolls in from the north dramatically dropping the temperatures from their normal levels by 10 degrees or more. Bear in mind, any temperature below 50 degrees is considered “freezing” in Texas.

Cattiwhompus – Something that is out of alignment, or does not work properly. May also be used to describe the unusual gait of a person who is extremely large. “Did you see her going cattiwhompus across that parking lot?”

Chester drawers – A piece of furniture I.e. chest of drawers, highboy, dresser used for storing clothing.

Clabber milk – Buttermilk

Come hell or high water – A statement used to describe a stubborn determination to accomplish something difficult. “Come hell or high water, I’m gonna get that cow in the gate!”

Conniption Fit – A temper tantrum or extreme state of upset usually involving the flailing of limbs or throwing things. For your own safety, avoid people in this state.

Coot – A slur meant to represent a man who is unlikeable or unworthy of spending time with, one who is very annoying.

Dad gum it, Dad blame it, Dag nab it – Socially acceptable replacement phrases for otherwise socially unacceptable expletives.

Dinner – Used to indicate a meal prepared for any reason other than breakfast.

Dun wore out – Someone or something that is exhausted and unable to move or perform. “I tilled my garden today and now I am dun wore out!”

Dunno – Truncated version of “I don’t know”.

Et up – May mean consumed, as in dinner, or voraciously bitten, as in mosquitoes attacking you while you are fishing at the lake.

Fess up – Admitting to doing something that you know you shouldn’t have.

Fit to be tied – Extremely upset. The implication is that the person is so upset that tying them down to prevent harm to others might be a good idea…

Fixin’s – All the food served at a meal excluding the entrée. Such as when someone says they are having a BBQ and fixin’s and you are invited, you may expect to find potato salad, corn on the cob, fresh snap beans, pea salad, deviled eggs, jalapeno cornbread, apple pies and homemade ice cream, etc.

Fixin’ ta – Preparing to do something

Frog-strangler – A hard rainstorm that comes on suddenly

Git – Can be used in place of get, or more often to replace the sentence of “Get away from me!” or “Get out of here!”, especially when you are under the age of 15, noisy and in proximity of elderly relatives.

Goin’ – Truncated way to say going.

Good Ol’ Boy – Can be used in affection or irritation. Used affectionately: A man who is a good-natured, upstanding, admirable citizen. Used in irritation: A man who may pretend to be a Good Ol’ Boy, but is actually a bigoted, curmudgeonly old coot.

Gonna or Gointa – Going to as in “Going to the store”.

Gully-washer – A huge downpour of rain usually causing localized flooding.

Hairyew – Truncated version of “How are you” used as a greeting.

Hissy fit – A temper tantrum or extreme state of upset usually involving the person having the fit saying things they will later regret and possibly hurling thing. Safer to avoid people who have hissy fits.

Howdy – Local way of greeting someone, truncated way of saying “How do you do?”

Iffin – A lengthy way to say “if” as in “Iffin yore goin’ to tha store with me, you best git yore shoes on!”

John Brown it – Socially acceptable replacement phrase for otherwise socially unacceptable expletive.

Knocked for a Loop – Struck so hard purposefully or accidentally that you are confused, unable to focus. May also be a “virtual” state wherein you receive news so shocking that you become befuddled.

Liketa – Used in place of “almost” as in “I liketa had a heart attack when the kids sneaked up on me”.

Looker – A complimentary way of referring to a person whom you find physically attractive.

Muley – Excessively stubborn person or creature, who refuses to think things through before acting on them.

Ol’ – Old, ancient usually referring to an item but sometimes a person as in “That ol’ woman”

Ol’ cuss – An older person who is generally irritable or annoying but still somewhat likeable.

Parshil to – Fond of someone of something, or prefer something such as “I am parshil to home grown peaches”.

Pick a switch – Refers to the action of going out into the yard to take a small flexible branch usually no longer than 18” to 24” and about the width of your little finger from a tree so a parent or elder can beat you with it. (Author’s note: Never, absolutely NEVER pick a peach tree switch! Those suckers are excessively flexible and wrap all the way around! Also, do not come back with a switch smaller than 18” as it pisses off your elder and they beat you twice as long when you bring back the second, proper length switch, for making them wait.)

Pole-axed – Literally: Struck so hard purposefully or accidentally that you are confused, unable to focus. Figuratively: Given news that is so shocking that you become confused or unable to focus.

Rarin’ to go – Is used to describe that someone is very excited and ready to go somewhere or do something, as in “The kids are rarin’ to go to the Texas State Fair”

Renched – To twist vigorously as in “I renched my ankle climbing a fence to get away from that muley heifer!”

Ridin’ high – Doing extremely well for yourself, or being very proud of something you have done.

Sheeut – A profanity used as an expression of either aggravation or amazement. The more extended the “e” sound the more emphasis expressed.

Shoot – A socially acceptable replacement phrase for a socially unacceptable expletive.

Sorry or sorry-looking – A pitiful excuse for something or something excessively ugly such as, “That is one sorry car” or “That is one sorry-looking rooster”.

Supper – The last full meal of the day served in the evenings before bedtime.

Sure’nuff – Used as a question to replace saying “Is that correct?” or in place of the word absolutely as in “He sure’nuff tol’ that ol’ boy off!”

Sweet milk – May be used for either milk straight from the cow or store bought Vitamin D milk as long as it is whole fat and not reduced fat in any way

Swimmin’ Hole – A pond or very small lake less than an acre in surface, usually on private property belonging to your family or a family member, where all the cousins gather to go swimmin’ in the summertime.

Tawk – This is the act of speaking or talking to someone.

Tha – This is a replacement for the article “The”.

Tol’ – Told or spoken.

Tol’ him off – May be used with any pronoun. It is describing the act of someone berating another person or group of people strongly or extensively.

Tump – To tip or knock something over in order to spill or dump out contents, as in “Tump that red wagon”. It was something we always had to do to drain the rainwater before playing with it.

Usta – In place of “used to” as in, “I usta ride a bike to school”

Warsh – Wash as in taking a shower or bath, washing clothes, dishes, or a car.

Weelbar – A wheelbarrow or wheeled cart used for transporting things from point-to-point.

Winder – The window in a house or car.

Y’all – A word used as in “Y’all be safe on the drive home” can refer to a single person or multiple people.

Yankee vs. Damn Yankee – A person not born in Texas is a Yankee though not inherently considered a bad person, more often someone to be pitied for not being born in Texas. Whereas, a person not born in Texas, but who moves to Texas for an extended period and does not bother to acclimate to the expected norms of behavior, courtesy, sociability, hospitality, etc. is a Damn Yankee.

Yore – Used in place of both you’re and your, as in “Yore (youo’re) gonna git yore (your) britches blistered when yore (your) daddy comes home”.

While this is not an extensive list of Texas colloquialisms, it is a good start. I know that several of these are used all over the Deep Southern states, but as explained; I, also, know-for-a-fact that they are all still used here in Texas, especially in the small towns (like the one I grew up in) to this day.

Iffin I’m a-lyin’ I’m a-dyin’!

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