Southern slang that should be approved as AP style

If the sudden switch to ‘%’ instead of ‘percent’ has rocked you down to your giblets, this post is for you—even for those residing up yonder.


Y’all better hold on to yer britches.

The Associated Press recently announced a slew of new changes, so now seems like an opportune time to offer a few more to our genteel Grammar Gatekeeper.

Why not? It’s worth a shot, and I do declare that Southern words and phrases should move to the front of the approval line—if for no other reason than that they are fun to say and hear.

Grab a basket of hush puppies, refresh your sweet tea or other libation that’s been soaked in a bourbon barrel, and let’s review the merits of fine Southern expressions that deserve validation.

[Editor’s note: Reading the following examples aloud in a drawl thick as molasses in January is not compulsory, but it dad-gum oughta be.]

I’s—It’s a more efficient version of “I was.”

We’ve embraced similar contractions, such as “I’d,” so why not?

“I’s gonna head into town, but my dang tractor broke.”

Yer—Saying “you are” sounds weird and takes way too much time to annunciate. Writing “you’re” looks funny. “Yer” sounds right, looks right, and doesn’t it just feelright?

“If you yell ‘Roll Tide’ in my face one more time, yer gonna git it.”

(For more on “gonna” and “git,” jes’ read on a spell.)

GonnaGonna has landed a rightful spot in the dictionary, apparently, but there’s still a stigma attached to this perfectly fine word. Let’s make it official and get it into the Stylebook, AP.

“I’m gonna mow the grass; just let me finish my Miller High Life, honey.”

Git—This is the super-utility player of Southern diction. Depending on the context in which it’s uttered—and how fired up Grandmammy is—it can mean “Go away,” “Get,” “Let’s go,” or “Move along before I git my 12-gauge.”

“Come on, Maw, let’s git before traffic starts pilin’ up.”

Y’ant to? (or y’anna?)—I bet swapping “Do you want to” with snappy alternatives “y’ant to” or “y’anna” could save up to three months’ worth of speaking time over the course of a lifespan. That’s a lot of extra hours on the lake.

“Y’anna come over for supper?”

Kiss my grits—This delightful expression, coined by Alabama native Polly Holliday in the sitcom “Alice,” is a kinder, gentler way to tell someone to shove it.

“You don’t like it? Well, you can kiss my grits.”

Britches— Can we just agree that pants should always be called britches? Please, and thank you.

“Son, did you seriously put a crawfish in brother’s britches again?”

Do hwhat?— This was my grandaddy’s go-to response when someone asked a question while the Braves were on. It’s a nicer, more concise way to say, “Sorry, I wasn’t listening. What would you like me to do?

“Do hwhat now? Oh, yep, I’ll go get that possum.” 

Turnt— This is much more exciting than “turned,” don’t you think? The Brits have made “burnt” a thing, so I think we can proceed with sanctioning the use of “turnt.”

“Sorry, officer. I didn’t realize that my custom trolling motor with a Hemi was turnt to full speed.”

Y’all— Obviously.

“Y’all hush, please. The game’s on”

Taters— P’taters is also acceptable, but only if you have time for an additional syllable. Also synonymous with “home run.”

“Hoo-boy, Willie walloped a big ol’ tater last inning.”

Highfalutin—There’s fancy, there’s pretentious—and then there’s highfalutin. If you call someone the h-word, be prepared to engage in fisticuffs.

Look at this highfalutin fella in the Cadillac!”

If the silent “gh” is too fancy, hifalutin will do.  Webster’s says so.

Ramblin—This underused term can be used to tease someone who talks too much, and it’s a vivid way to describe wandering or moseying about. It’s a word that connotes a freewheeling, adventurous spirit, as perfectly captured by these Georgia boys (and by the greatest fight song in all the land).

“Honey, I’ve been ramblin long enough. I’m ready to come home.”

Breadbasket—Use this term interchangeably with “abdomen,” but especially in the context of hilarious minor injuries.

“Phew, Tater got me right in the breadbasket again!”

I demand satisfaction!—What else are you supposed to say to someone who insults your honor or besmirches your family name? Just be mindful of who you glove-slap and challenge to a duel. You might end up on the wrong end of pistols at dawn.

“You, sir, are a scoundrel and a rogue! I demand satisfaction!”

(Image via)


2 Responses to “Southern slang that should be approved as AP style”

    Tayler Bass says:

    Hi Robby! I am a student at Indiana State University and I just have a question. If you could pick only one southern phrase to make it into the AP style, what would it be? Thank you for your time.

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