18 Phrases You’ll Only Hear in the Deep South

Written By Jill Taylor

If there’s one thing the Deep South is known for, it’s all of their charming and unique sayings. Each phrase tells a story, bringing color to daily conversations in a way only southerners can. Here are 18 phrases you’ll only hear in the Deep South.

Bless Your Heart

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According to Southern Living, “bless your heart” is “a versatile Southern phrase with a thousand meanings—and just as many possible responses.” This phrase can show sympathy, affection, or even polite southern sarcasm, depending on how it’s used. It’s often said when someone does something a bit silly but with good intentions.

Fixin’ To

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When someone says they’re “fixin’ to” do something, it means they’re getting ready to do it soon. It’s more about planning than acting right away, and this delay can be annoying to some. The phrase is commonly used to casually signal that an activity or task is about to happen.


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This phrase is probably the most famous of all and it’s the classic southern way to say “you all.” It’s used to talk to two or more people and is a key part of southern speech. This word captures the warm, inclusive spirit of southern hospitality, making everyone feel at home and welcome.

Over Yonder

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If you’re new to the Deep South, you may find this phrase hard to adjust to. When giving directions, southerners might point “over yonder,” meaning over there, somewhere in the near distance. It’s a vague term but perfectly understood within the local context, often accompanied by a gesture pointing towards the intended direction.

Hush Your Mouth

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Don’t be insulted if someone says this deep southern phrase to you; “hush your mouth” is a way to tell someone to be quiet. It can be playful or serious, but is often used in a light-hearted, teasing way. This phrase reflects the southern tradition of being polite while asking someone to stop talking.

Hold Your Horses

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When someone says “Hold your horses,” it means to slow down or wait. It’s a way to ask for patience or to avoid rushing into things. It’s a friendly reminder to take things slowly and handle one thing at a time. It can give you time to take a step back and reflect on something.

Gimme Some Sugar

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We’ve all heard “Gimme some sugar” at some point in our lives; it’s a sweet phrase that means to give someone a kiss, usually on the cheek. It’s often used by grandparents or parents talking to their kids or grandkids. It highlights the loving and warm nature of southern relationships.

Mad as a Wet Hen

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When someone is really angry, a southerner might say they’re “mad as a wet hen.” This phrase refers to a soaked hen, which gets very irritable. It’s a vivid way to describe intense anger, using imagery that paints a clear picture of someone’s strong emotions.

Butter My Biscuit

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It’s common to hear the phrase “butter my biscuit” in the Deep South, which means a person is surprised or excited. It’s a fun way to show delight or amazement and is all about expressing joy in a charming, down-to-earth manner.


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When someone is acting “highfalutin,” they’re being overly fancy or putting on airs. It’s a fun way to say someone is being pretentious or snobby, thinking they’re more important than they are. This term humorously points out their exaggerated behavior, and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.


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This southern phrase describes something that is askew or not quite right. “Catawampus” is a whimsical term used to indicate that something is out of order or chaotic. The word itself sounds as playful as the situations it describes, adding a bit of fun to everyday language.

Full as a Tick

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After a big meal, you might hear someone from the Deep South say they’re “full as a tick.” This means they are very full, almost to the point of discomfort. The comparison to a tick, which swells when it feeds, humorously illustrates the feeling of being stuffed.

Knee-High to a Grasshopper

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To describe someone who is very young or short, southerners might say they are “knee-high to a grasshopper.” This phrase is often used in a nostalgic or affectionate way, reminiscing about someone’s childhood or small stature, and is an adorable way to comment on someone’s height.

Finer Than Frog Hair

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This is one phrase you may not have heard before. “Finer than frog hair” describes something extremely fine or delicate. Since frogs don’t actually have hair, this phrase humorously emphasizes the exceptional quality or fineness of an object or situation. It’s a playful exaggeration that southerners love to say.

Too Big for His Britches

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When someone is acting overly confident or arrogant, they might be told they are “too big for their britches.” This phrase serves as a caution against hubris, reminding individuals not to overestimate their importance or abilities. If someone says it to you, they want you to take a step back and reflect.

Can’t Never Could

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This saying encourages a can-do attitude, implying that if you believe you can’t do something, you never will. It’s a motivational phrase used to inspire determination and effort. The message is clear in stating that self-belief is key to overcoming obstacles.

Good Lord Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise

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Southerners will say this phrase as a form of good luck; it means that something will happen if all goes well and there are no unforeseen problems. It reflects the unpredictable nature of life and the importance of faith and hope. It’s a testament to the resilience and optimism of southern culture.

Like a Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

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When describing someone who is nervous or restless, this phrase paints a vivid picture of discomfort and agitation. It’s often used to convey a sense of unease or impatience. The comparison is both visual and evocative, capturing the essence of the feeling perfectly.

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