Marty and I were making the bed the other day. Some people say that people who make their bed right when they get up are more likely to be successful. I don’t know about that but in the middle of making it here comes, completely out of nowhere, a word from my childhood on the Iowa farm. I said “Oh, the sheets are all whopperjawed. Let me fix ‘em right.”
That got me obsessing about all the weird words from my childhood. It all began with my German gramma who would exclaim “immer etwas!” (always something!) every once in a while when things were getting out of control. Here are a few words that I could remember.
Hornswoggle — bamboozle, as in “I think we was hornswoggled by the Fuller Brush man.”
Cattywampus or catty-corner, or kitty-corner — opposite each other on a diagonal. Research has revealed that this is the mispronunciation of the French word “quatre” (caught-tra) to indicate the four dots on a dice that suggests two diagonal lines. As in, “Jack’s grocery is catty corner to the bank.”
Bumfuzzle — confuse; perplex; fluster, as in "Billy Joe can bumfuzzle anyone."
Clod-hoppers — large, heavy shoes worn by farmers
Dern tootin’ — an expression of agreement, as in, Sam and Opie are at the café counter. To the cook Sam says “Louella, you make the finest biscuits this side of the Mississippi.” Opie agrees, “Dern tootin’!”
Fixin’ to — getting ready to, as in, “I’m fixin’ to go to the Fairway meat counter. Y’all need anything?”
Granny-slappin’ good — very good, usually delicious, as in “Her apple pie is granny-slappin’ good!”
Gussied up — cleaned up and dressed very nicely, as in “Yore all gussied up. Where ya goin’?”
Hankerin’ — a craving for, as in “I have a hankerin’ for chicken fried steak.”
Hit with the ugly stick, drive a fly off a gut wagon, fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down — what you say if someone is unattractive to you.
Druthers — preference, as in “What’s yer druthers?”
Knee-high to a grasshopper — very small, as in, “The last time I saw you, you was knee-high to a grasshopper!”
Lick — no amount at all, as in “Billy Joe didn’t have a lick of sense.”
Mash — to press, as in “Mash that green button and turn on the TV.”
On-ry — difficult to deal with, as in “My horse gets on-ry sometimes.”
Piddlin’ — a small amount, as in “He jist has a piddlin’ amount of intelligence.”
Reckon — suppose, guess, as in, “I reckon we’ll see you at church.”
Language — to swear, as in “there ain’t no need for language.”
Skedaddle — to leave in a hurry, as in “Let’s skedaddle.”
Stove-up — broken/destroyed, as in, “I’m all stove up from workin’ in the field.”
Tore up — broken/destroyed, as in, “That orange flower smell ‘bout tore me up.”
Usedta could — used to be able to, as in, “I can’t touch my toes any more, but I usedta could.”
“Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!” — an expression of surprise or disbelief
Pie hole — mouth, as in “Shut yer pie hole!”
Whopperjawed — out of place/crooked, “The sheets is all whopperjawed. Lemme fix ‘em”
What are your unique country sayings?
Photo by Getty Images/jandrielombard