Volume I, No. 3, Spring 1974
A rich part of the Ozark heritage is the colorful, humorous and imaginative figures of speech which are basically rural and nature oriented. The similes and metaphors that make up the older and newly coined sayings sprinkled throughout the speech are vivid and descriptive. A phrase like, "He looks like he's been chewin' tobaccy and spittin' agin the wind," certainly gives a more accurate picture than, "He's a mess."
Below are some of the old Ozark sayings that we have heard locally. Some will surely bring a flavor or smell to your mind as you read them.
The squeaky hinge gets the oil.
Busier than a one-armed paper hanger.
So weak he couldn't whip his way out of a paper bag.
Every tub must stand on its own bottom.
He'd complain even if you hanged him with a brand new rope.
Poor people have poor ways.
He's got the world by the tail with a downhill pull.
Your eyes are too big for your stomach.
Slow as the seven year itch, seven years behind scratching.
Slick as snot on a door knob.
Still wet behind the ears.
There never was a lane so long that it doesn't have a turning.
Kitchen so small you can't cuss a cat.
without gettin' hair in your mouth.
Ain't fittin' to associate with the hogs.
As low as a snake's belly in a wagon rut.
Didn't know me from Adam's off ox.
Don't start choppin' till you've treed the 'coon.
Full as a tick.
Big enough to go bear huntin' with a switch.
Happy as a hog in a wallow.
Eats high on the hog.
Nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockin' chairs.
When it comes to eating chicken, I'm the tall hog at the trough.
Slick as a wax snake on a marble floor.
That hen was so tough you couldn't stick a fork in her gravy.
If he ever became a bigger liar, he'd have to put on weight.
Duller than a widder-woman's ax.
Redder than a turkey's rump in poke berry time.
He could talk your arm off, then curse you for being crippled.
Walks like an old hen with an egg broken inside her.
Cold as a well digger's hind end.
You don't need that anymore than a tom cat needs a marriage license.
If nothing breaks or comes untwisted, we'll have more on Ozark speech in coming issues.
Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.