Embracing The “Y’all”

texas state line

So, most of you know that I am a very proud native of Austin, Texas, aka the live music capital of the world, aka the city that has a place for nudie hippies called “hippie hollow”, aka the birthplace of awesome (meaning me). I love it here. I even love it when it feels like the heat is melting the skin off my body. I’ve heard some of you outsiders call it “summer” but we here in Texas call it “8-10 months out of the year.” There is one thing about being an Austinite I’ve struggled with though, and that’s our accents and colloquialisms.

You see, I don’t have a strong Texas accent. Well, I should say, I don’t have the accent most people assume Texans have. I don’t really know many Texans who do. Who told you guys we talked like that? Anyway, that’s beside the point. The point is, I don’t have a very strong accent (Unless I’m talking about football and then things get real country, oh or also when I’m trying to get non-Texans to do things for me, it works like 98% of the time). I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the world and every time I meet someone abroad and they ask where I’m from and I say Texas their response is invariably the same “You don’t sound like you’re from Texas.” And I never really understand that fully because I was born and raised in Texas so how is it I don’t sound like I’m from Texas? If anyone has a Texas sound, it should be me right? Anyway, I think a lot of why people don’t think I sound like I’m from Texas is because I try to use our slang sparingly. I learned really quickly that when you say “y’all” to people not from the South, they immediately assume your IQ is about 50 points lower than it really is. So, I stopped saying it. But lately I’ve been thinking “Screw that. “Y’all” is awesome. I don’t care if people think I’m dumb, I know I’m not dumb. Those stupidheads are the dumb ones.” Which is a very reasonable and well-thought out argument. So, I’m trying to embrace some of the colloquilisms I grew up with.

Hotter than hell on nickle day at the whore house: This is the perfect description of the heat in Texas, and maybe you haven’t heard, but it gets real freaking hot down here. Also, you can say this in front of your Grammy and she won’t be mad at you for saying “whore”.

Y’all: I already mentioned this one, but I boycotted it for so long, it bears repeating now that I’m embracing it. Short for “you all”, it is the perfect amalgamation of the two words. Also, if you use it at exactly the right moment- it will make your joke about 100X funnier. Its a magical word.

Lord willing and the creek dont rise: This is a great answer to just about any question. Nevermind that I don’t live near a creek, the sentiment is valid. Also, when its not a million degrees in Texas, we have a lot of flash floods, so the creek rising is no joke.

Bless your heart: This may sound nice, but don’t be fooled, its not. Its not nice at all. We only use this phrase when we have just cruelly insulted someone- that way, we feel less discourteous. For example, “She gained a lot of weight and looks like an elephant stuffed in a pink dress, bless her heart.” or “He is dumb as a rock, bless his heart.” That way, when you call someone fat or stupid, you’re also blessing their heart, so your cruelty is cancelled out by your courtesy. Its an excellent way to balance your karma.

But I will never ever say “howdy”, and if you say it to me like you think you’re speaking my language, I will probably curse the day you were born. I don’t know anyone who says “howdy” unless they are being ironic. And even in that case, I’m not really pro ironic howdies. Let’s just lay off the howdies ok?

Are there anyΒ colloquialismsΒ y’all like to use???

80 thoughts on “Embracing The “Y’all”

  1. I am also from Austin but I lived in Philadelphia for a little over a year. Someone actually knocked on my door once because their child had asked if he could go hear the new lady say “y’all” which I think can also be spelled “ya’ll” as in “ya all” instead of you all. My grandmother would drag it out like that so you couldn’t really tell whether it was one word or two. “Ya-all need to listen here or I’m fixin’ to get a switch.”

    Bless your heart is also a nice “Christian” way to say you’re so stupid. “You were talking on the phone and fell down the stairs? Well, bless your heart. I hope you’re alright.”

    Also,this Austin resident is a proud Longhorn fan. The only people I know that say “Howdy” are Aggies. They can have “Howdy”. I hope if I ever accidentally let a “howdy” slip someone will bless my heart.

    Really fun post!

    1. Haha! That kid had great taste in entertainment. And yes, it’s mostly Aggies I hear saying “Howdy” but when it comes to the Longhorn/Aggie feud, I remain neutral. Consider me Switzerland (also because I can make delicious chocolate).

  2. And here I thought that was just a New Orleans thing…..

    It could be worse–you could be my New Orleans native friends transplanted to Texas. Imagine THAT perceived accent…..

  3. Hey girl!

    I’ve been following your blog for a few weeks now and enjoy your spunkiness. Can’t remember how I discovered you, but here I am none-the-less. I grew up in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. but haven’t lived in the east for many years. Seattle is where I make my home now.

    The only colloquialism I can think of (there are probably others) that I’m known to use is the phrase “you bet.”. I believe this is common usage originating in, and heard most often in Utah where I lived for four years when in college. Just another way of saying yes or showing agreement.

    As for the Lone-Star state, where I once lived for a short time while in basic training in the Air Force, and where I’ve had the privilege to venture through from time to time … It is by-far my all-time favorite state. Gotta love those Texans with their southern drawl, those southern Belles and independent nature among the many things that set them apart. It does got mighty hot down there though.

    Don’t mess with Texas!!

    I’m passing this entry on to a few of my Texas friends. Expect a couple hundred hits!

    1. Well, bless your heart! (In a good and not back-handed way) πŸ™‚

      Thanks for reading!!! I like “you bet” I might need to incorporate that a little more, just to spice things up a bit. And thanks for loving Texas- I love it too, even when it does get hotter than hell on nickle day at the whore house.

  4. Oh and I’m planing on using the β€œDon’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining!” and “Bless your heart” on a every day basis.

  5. I am sharing all this info on fb πŸ™‚

    I’m romanian born and I live in Spain, but i speak english with american accent (i was thought by teachers from louisiana) True story!

    My spanish friends have no idea what I’m sharing there all like What does that mean hahaha!!

    Yes only god knows the mixture of accents i’ve got going on…

    I did enjoy this post a lot. It reminded me of my crazy southern teacher Stefany xDD

  6. ninjafromspace says:

    ‘Howdy!’ from up here in Saskatchewan, Canada πŸ˜‰ Hahahaa, just kidding – we don’t say howdy.

  7. snowsong says:

    Here in New Hampshire, we use “wicked”, such as, “It’s wicked hot in Texas, but everyone I know from there thinks it’s the best place ever.” It doesn’t sound particularly intelligent, but I’m a teacher and I still use it occasionally because I like NH flavor. We also say “you guys” instead of “y’all”, which most of my southern friends do not enjoy at all.

    1. I don’t mind “you guys” at all. In fact, I use it a lot although not as much as y’all. I love when people say ” wicked” – I’m trying to use it more. I have load of English friends who say it quite a bit as well.

  8. Howdy. I’m from Wyoming. We say howdy there. LOL

    How ’bout, “Obvious as balls on a tall dog?” Or maybe “It’s so dry, the trees are bribing the dogs.” Dog colloquisms today. Great post.

  9. being born and raised in jersey city, new jersey, i’ve come to love the sound of the south. so different from my home planet. i loved this piece, and i especially love the use of y’all. you neglected to mention the plural of y’all, which is
    all y’all. i simply love that.

    yes, “down the shore” refers to jersey shore only, (anywhere else is “the beach”). and the people there when i grew up would have beaten the crap out of the cast of the current show. those people are horrible. i can’t, and don’t watch.

    i use, “i’m thinking” a lot, as in “i’m thinking this comment is running long”, and i stole a phrase from neil simon and often say things like “whew, it’s hot out there. it’s AFRICA hot”. can’t help it. i just love language, especially the idioms.

  10. Elena says:

    Hey y’all! I have to say that i LOVE this post, because I’m from a country far far away, and I’m learning so much with this! So thanks y’all!

    I could tell a lot of phrases we use here in Brazil, but I would need your patience and a dictionary, cause even here we have problems with slangs…

  11. I’m a true Southerner, too, and find y’all to be a wonderful word! While you may not have the accent, I do. Mine has changed over the years and it seems to vary with the people I speak with. If I am talking to someone who has a very twangy accent I will somehow end up talking just like them. But then I can also pick up other accents as well. It’s not intentional. Sorry…rambling. I’ve been up way too long! I agree with part of your bless your heart, but it can really mean bless their heart. But it is also a cutting remark as well. And I have said “Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise” on more than one occasion. Do y’all say after a large meal that you’re fuller than a tick? That’s something my Daddy used to say all the time. I say that one to this day. πŸ™‚

      1. I don’t think I have ever used this one but a friend said one time that he was colder than a well digger’s ass. One that I say a lot is that people are dumber than a box of rocks. I’m not really sure how dumb a box of rocks are, but when I say it about these people I mean they are REALLY dumb. I also say they wouldn’t know their ass from a hole in the ground, which I don’t get either but it sure sounds funny.

  12. Courtney says:

    A couple of my favorites…that I’ve actually never said other than when quoting my wonderfully Southern grandfather: “busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kickin’ contest” and “sweatin’ like a whore in church.”

    Also, at my Mawmaw and Pawpaw’s house (side note: we Arkansans are serious about what we call our grandparents – is that a Southern thing? maybe a post on that would be fun?), ham/bacon and eggs are commonly referred to as “hog hiney and hen bearin’s”.

    I’ve also recently embraced y’all, and I’ve found it quite freeing – resenting it took too much energy.

  13. Two days ago I was talking to my son (12) in the car about I don’t remember what and I ended with “Go figure.” As it came out of my mouth I actually thought to myself, “I need to Google that term. What exactly does it mean and where did it come from?” when Noah responded, “I have no idea what that means. I will be doing my research this afternoon.

  14. Growing up in rural Texas, my mom’s favorite threat when I was misbehaving was, “Keep that up, sister, and you’ll soon be singing the ‘I’m Up Shit Creek Without a Paddle’ Blues”!

  15. I’m Canadian and we are all about saying “eh” all the time! It has so many uses…
    You can change any sentence or a word into a question: “it’s pretty damn cold, eh?” Or “Nice day, eh?”

    You can politely see if someone agrees with you, “that was an awesome hockey game, eh?” If you ever find yourself in a situation where you weren’t paying attention to someone speak, you just look at them and say with a slight intonation of the voice “eh?” and they’ll repeat themselves, or , using your regular voice you can say “eh.” as though you agree with what they said. πŸ™‚

      1. You better not hurt yourself GOtC.. the ‘eh’ is not for the weak πŸ˜‰

        lol… kidding of course πŸ˜‰ I find that I don’t say ‘eh’ like eastern Canucks do. But occassionally it creeps in where one would say ‘hey’ at the end of a question (like – there, that’s not so bad ‘eh?)

  16. I live about 50 miles outside of DC, so we are big time commuters here. One of the things we say is “up the road”. Anywhere north of Fredericksburg, up to DC, is “up the road”.

    We also say, “colder than a witches tit”, though sometimes I hear “teat”, which sounds somehow more graphic, like the witch has a massive cow teat hanging off her chest.

    We also say “down to the country” when we’re talking about driving into one of the surrounding counties. As in, “I’m going down to the country to my uncle’s place.” I don’t know if that’s just my family, though.

    1. Love it! I almost always say “down there” no matter what direction I’m traveling. I don’t know why, but I do know I’m bad with directions so maybe that has something to do with it.

  17. I dislike y’all. But I work with a bunch of people from all over the world, and y’all is catchy… but sounds very funny from non-US south people. Just sayin’.

    Which comes to us up here… I don’t know what all are the sayings, but “just sayin”, “true story” and “no joke” are pretty comon. I see you use them too, so that must be a given with smartness.

    I say ‘Hi-ya’ instead of hello. I say ‘pram’ instead of stroller, and I say g’night instead of good night. I think that is because I was raised by people who were taught british colloquialisms.

    Added to my list of personal colloquialisms, I say “grr bunnies” when something is frustrating, ‘Yarr’ for yes, ‘Hinky’ for when something is stange, and I have a tendancy to type out omgosh so people understand I don’t say ‘oh my god’ (seriously, like never do i say that. Just principle, not offence.)

    so. colloquialisms are cool by me πŸ™‚

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone not from the South say y’all in a way that wasn’t meant to be insulting. I bet that would be a neat experience though. πŸ™‚ Oh man, I am totally guilty of the “just sayin” “true story” and “no joke” phrases. I love them! Maybe too much…..

      Your “grr bunnies” totally reminds me of my “brrrr rabbit” which is what I say when it gets cold. πŸ™‚

  18. As someone born and raised in North Carolina, I definitely get my fair share of strange looks from Northerners over unusual turns of phrase. Y’all in any context is certainly one of the phrases that’ll do it, but I like some of the more colorful ones. For instance, to this day, I can’t understand how something can be as wild as a june bug on a string. I’m sure a june bug would be pissed off if it suddenly found itself on a string, but why would somebody do that to begin with? Likewise, how can something be tighter’n a frog’s ass? Do frogs have unusually well-developed buttocks? I don’t know; I’ve never checked.

    I don’t understand the origins of many Southern phrases, but I am no less guilty of using them–they are so wonderfully delicious, slipping off the tongue like delightful, poetical biscuits. What Northerners should understand is that “Southern talk” isn’t about impressing upon others how intelligent you are. It’s about using common experience to tap into a deep wellspring of human feeling. After all, why would you tell a man not to lie to you when you can say, “Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining!” Or, if your kid sets a new track meet record for his/her school: “That was faster’n green grass through a goose.”

    So I say: use Southern phrases and be proud of it. And if people continue giving you weird looks for Southern colloquialisms, just look and them and say, “Shit fire! If you don’t knock that shit off, I’m gonna whup your ass faster’n a bell clapper in a goose’s ass!”

    1. I don’t even think it would be possible to tie a string around a june bug. I mean, who has reflexes that fast? And can I just say, I read your comment like 5 times because it was so well written. “Poetical biscuits” made my day. πŸ™‚

  19. Instead of “curs[ing] the day you were born,” you’d actually bless that person’s heart, yes? Have I got that right?

    I’m from Northern Virginia – yes, we generally make that distinction from the rest of VA πŸ˜‰ – and some of us say y’all, even though some of us will also tell you we’re not from the South. Identity confusion, much?

  20. I am a small town Texan, so the Texas sound is more prevalent here.

    I don’t say “howdy” but I do say “hidy”. I also use “ain’t,” but only as a contraction of am and not. Basically I only say “I ain’t…” I do say “fixin’ to” and use coke for all soda. I call people darlin’ sometimes. I don’t use y’all though. I also harken back to the 80s and say “rad” or “radical” and sometimes “gnarly”. Is “crap on a crap cracker” a Texas thing? I use it a lot, like: “Crap on a crap cracker it is hot!” Or “Christ on crutches.”

    My speech teacher in high school taught me that Texans sound like idiots and we need to get rid of the accent. I worked for years to get rid of it in fear of sounding like an idiot, but like you I don’t really care anymore. So I am starting to get back on the ball of “sounding” like a Texan.

    Instead of saying what the hell sometimes I use “what the Hoth?” But that is less Texas and more Star Wars. I also heard it on Futurama once.

    1. Your speech teacher sounds like a douchebag. I have to say I’ve never heard “hidy” or “crap on a crap cracker”. Perhaps it’s a small town thing. I’m not really worried at this point about whether or not I sound like a Texan. I am a born and bred Texan and that’s all that matters in the end. πŸ˜‰

  21. Hollla from one Texas girl to another!!
    I say ya’ll a lot! I am orignially from central Texas where the accent is thick! In Dallas too!
    My aunt that live there… I can’t understand anything they say!!
    I love being a Texas girl!!!

  22. you seem to have attracted an inordinate number of us Jersey-ites to your domain. That’s a good thing.

    Me? I’m fine as frog’s hair.

  23. People from Wichita say “howdy” and mean it. They also say y’all and all ya’ll. I know. I lived there for 4 miserable years. Well, it is possible they were just saying it to put me on, but now I’ve picked up the habit so if that was the case they have won; bastards, bless their hearts. In any event, I’m never going back, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.

    Now, where I’m really from (because Wichita was an error in judgement we should block from memory and never speak of again) we have sayings for how cold it is, such as “it’s a brass monkey alert,” or “it’s colder than a Norwegian well-digger’s ass hole,” or “cold as a witch’s tit.” There is a level of coldness that these various phrases imply, but once it’s been colder than 20 below Fahrenheit for 7 consecutive days and only gets colder, most people don’t bother with even commenting on the cold anymore. Now, on the other hand, when it hits 80, we whine, turn on the AC and borrow such colorful Texas euphemisms as it’s hotter than hell on nickle day at the whore house.

    1. Bless their hearts indeed. Although, being from Texas, I don’t see anything wrong with “y’all”. I love all your cold weather sayings! Alas, I don’t really have any reason to use them here, unless it dips below 80 in which case it would be “cold as a witches tit”. πŸ™‚

  24. “Bless your heart” or what I most often use, “Bless her heart” is my favorite thing about living in the south. I think it could be the worst insult of all hidden in a prayer for the dim witted fool.
    Glad to hear you are embracing the ya’ll. I grew up in Miami, FL but live in Louisville, KY now and all my friends from home make fun of me when I say it but it’s just because they don’t understand how awesome it is. Bless their hearts.

  25. I went to Texas A&M, and although its embedded in the tradition and you’re almost required to say it to everyone you meet walking across campus – I never got comfortable with “Howdy”. Always felt odd saying it and shortly began falling back to “Hey…”, with a head nod instead.

    I’m from North Texas, which used to be Cotton Country before root rot forced the farmers to switch to other crops. I grew up saying “Shittin’ in High Cotton”, which means doing really well. If you were happy with your situation at a particular moment you’d say, “I’m Shittin’ in high cotton.”

    Not the best folksie term in mixed company, I know. You never pronounce it “Shitting”, by the way. It has to be “Shittin'”. Including the full “-ing” is a sure sign of a northern interloper trying to pose their way in.

    1. One of my best friends (who went to A&M) was just telling me about the “howdy” thing the other day. I had no clue! Which is weird considering how many of my friends went there. I guess it’s just something you use around campus….

      I’ve heard shittin in high cotton before but I hadn’t thought about it in ages. Please expect me to be using it on a daily basis from now on. πŸ™‚

      1. Yep, as said best friend, I maintain that “Howdy” is only acceptable when you’re at A&M or are in a room full of other Aggies. It’s like a magic word to us – nothing shuts up a herd of chattering alums faster than a nice, loud “Howdy.” It may be a bit country, but it’s better than Ye Old Kindergarten Bunny Ears trick.

  26. Craig says:

    My favorites from when I lived in Wyoming was, “I don’t know much about that, but I’ll tell you what…” and “rode hard and put away wet” referring to being exhausted and beat up. Then, an old-timer I worked with in Oregon said this when talking about how dark it was in a cave he went into a long time ago… it was, “blacker than a sack of a**holes.” I still laugh at that one. Lastly, there is the classic Mainer, “hard sayin’, not knowin’.”

  27. Oh, man, I love this. I’ve heard that “bless your heart” is really just for karma balancing, but the other 2 expressions were completely new to me! So funny. We don’t get these kinds of illustrative gems on the East coast.

    I’m from New Jersey, born and raised (no accent either! …I swear!), and I’ve completely given up the fight and now say, “Going down the shore” instead of, “Going to the beach.”

    By the way, you don’t write like you’re from Texas. ;o)

      1. Great question! It usually is reserved for trips to the Jersey shore, otherwise, people tend to specify.

        “Blacker than a sack of a**holes” might be one of the best things I’ve ever heard. I’m so jealous of everyone else’s colorful sayings that my fist pumps are lacking their usual fervor.

  28. aquavista says:

    Not one I use myself, but close to where I live (Nottingham, UK), the locals use the word “duck” rather a lot. It is used as a term of endearment in the main, and usually follows the word “me” (as in “my” if you are with me here). When used in its simplest form (like say in a shop after you buy something, where the person serving would simply say “thanks me duck” after you pay for your goods) it is fairly nice and easy to understand, even for tourists/’outsiders’. When however it gets considerably overused, sometimes three or four times in the same sentence (“you know what duck, I’m going down the shops me duck, and I’ll get you a nice cake when I’m there me duck, all right duck?”) it can become quite overbearing!!

    Oh and another Southern (US) colloquialism I like to hear is ‘fixin’, as in “I’m fixin’ to get ready to go out” – love it πŸ™‚

    1. Oh my gosh! I would love to be called “duck” that’s precious! And you totally caught me- I try not to say it but I definitely let a “fixin to” slip out every once in a while. πŸ™‚

  29. I live in New Jersey. When I go places, nobody thinks I sound like I’m from here either. In reality I just sound generically “east coast” but the perception people have of that Jersey City Italian “thing” is hard to shake. It’s unfortunate that reality TV has picked out the pockets of places where people have “that accent” (or even people with accents influenced by LonG island, NY) to represent the whole state. (Sigh)

    I can’t think of any colloquialisms we have (no, we don’t really say “fogidaboudit”) but I’ll try to pay attention today and get back to you.

    Oh. And y’all is lovely. Y’all should use it more often.

    1. Thank you! I’m definitely pro y’all. πŸ™‚ And yes, I think we could probably blame reality TV for most the misconceptions out there regarding different regions. For some reason, they always put the most ignorant amongst us on television.

      1. OK, gojulesgo is right, we do say “down the shore” when we mean “to the beach.” Interesting that I didn’t think of that, bc I actually had a friend of mine yesterday tell me how he’s going to rent a house down the shore next year, and I double-checked with him whether he meant the JERSEY SHORE (since that is what I have been trained to think you mean when you say it that way, and that’s not what he had mentioned considering previously). No, he just meant on A shore (at the beach, to normal people), so I had to remind him that we’re the only freaks who say it that way. (Meaning freaks in the nicest way possible, of course, bless our hearts.)

        I grew up north of Boston (which is “on the noth showah” – even though there is not, in fact, a shore in question) and BOY HOWDY (I say “boy howdy” apparently, apropos of nothing and nowhere I’ve lived) does the Boston area have an accent. Most people don’t sound like the Kennedies, really, nor like Cliff Claven (oh my God, are you old enough to know that reference?) but definitely an accent of that kind of flavor. I lost it over time but there are exceptions. The one word that the accent still really sticks for me is “bother” (sounds kinda like “bawtha”) as in: “Look, just don’t bawtha me about still having an accent.” πŸ™‚

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