How to speak South Carolinian: ‘Livin’ high on the hog’ and other southernisms

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(AP Photo/Courtesy of the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles)

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — If you’re not from South Carolina and have visited the area, you’ve probably heard a few strange phrases and had your heart blessed a couple times.

To keep you from scratching your head any longer, here’s 23 southernisms and what they mean:

1. Two hoots and a holler 

A unit of measurement. Meaning a location that’s within shouting distance. You go as far as you can hear two hoots and then a holler. 

2. Cutting off the lights

“Cut off the lights” or “cut off the t.v.” It means to turn something off.

3. Don’t be ugly

Doesn’t mean physical unattractiveness. It means the attitude you have or the way you act is unkind or nasty. 

4. Bless your heart

This is not a compliment. It’s the seemingly polite way to say someone is stupid. It’s also sometimes used as “Bless them” when talking about someone behind their back or gossiping.

5. Sweetie and Darlin’

No they’re not flirting with you. Sweetie and Darlin’ are what everyone is called. It’s your name now, so you may as well get used to it.

6. Carrying someone

If someone says they are going to “Carry Jacob to the store,” it does not mean they are going to physically throw Jacob over their shoulder and march on down to the store. It means they are going to drive their vehicle to the store and Jacob is going to ride with them. 

7. Y’all

You all. It’s just a mashing of the words “you” and “all”. Y’all means two or more people. All Y’all means a large group of people. And the possessive of Y’all is Y’all’ll, which is “Y’all will” smooshed together. 

8. Cutting a switch

This is when a child is being punished and is told to go out and break off a branch without any twigs on it to be used to spank them. 

9. Mash 

If someone asks you to mash something, they aren’t wanting you to pull out your kitchen equipment. They want you to push it. For example, “Can you mash that button over there?”

10. Tea

This is sweet tea. If you are not from the area you have to specify if you want your tea unsweetened, otherwise you will have a glass of mostly sugar with a little bit of tea. 

11. Mud boggin’/ mudding

This is a pastime or sport where you take your truck, jeep, or four-wheeler out to a muddy area and drive it through patches of mud. 

12. Baha-ing 

When you drive your vehicle, off-roading, jumping various potholes, hills or other obstacles.

13. Finer than a frog hair split four ways

“I’m feeling finer than a frog hair split four ways.” It means you’re feeling really good… I mean have you ever seen a frog hair? Let alone one that is split four ways? That’s really fine. 

14. Livin’ high on the hog

This means you’re living the good life. You’re doing well for yourself and living a luxurious lifestyle.

15. Buggy

No, this isn’t a car, horse and carriage or a baby stroller. It’s a shopping cart. 

16. Madder than a wet hen 

When you’re feeling especially full of rage you are “madder than a wet hen.” This one comes from when a hen won’t lay more eggs or let a farmer take her existing eggs. To shake the hen out of her mood sometimes a farmer will throw a bucket of water on her.. making her very mad. 

17. High cotton

This means you’re doing well for yourself. You’re wealthy. If you’re having a particularly bad day, you can also say you’re feeling low cotton. 

18. Like a cat on a hot tin roof

This means you are super nervous or anxious. It can also mean you’re on edge or jumpy.

19. Fuller than a tick on the back of a hound dog on the fourth of July

You might hear this one after a cookout or Thanksgiving dinner. It means you are extremely full from food or drink. 

20. A bushel and peck

This is used to describe a large amount. It’s often used in the phrase “I love you a bushel and a peck,” which means I love you a lot. 

21. Fixin’ to

This doesn’t mean you are actually fixing anything. It’s like saying “I’m about to…”

22. Fair to middlin’

It means something is not especially good. If you say the food was fair to middlin’, it means it was just eh. 

23. Over Yonder

Over that way, but it could be anything from just in view to a two hour drive. Be prepared for a bit of a hike. 

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