Many mothers and grandmothers will not use swear words, or even say the word “swear” hence the term “swannie.” You’ll find the number of exclamations to be quite extraordinary. Some phrases are particular to states, counties, towns and even unique to families.
Here are the exclamations you are most likely to hear.
Ain’t that the berries!
Meaning: That is great!
Bless your pea picking little heart!
Rather than: Fragonard!
Rather than: Those jerks!
Doesn’t that just beat all you ever stepped in?
Rather than: What the whale?
Don’t rush on my account!
Meaning: Hurry up, dangit!
That takes the rag off the bush.
Note: This refers to the practice of leaving one’s clothes on a bush while skinny dipping. If someone else happened by, they might take your clothes, i.e. your ‘rags’ as a joke.
For lands sake!
Rather than: For Pete’s sake!
Gad night a livin’!
Rather than: Sockmonkey!
Gather at the River!
Rather than: Yikes!
Going to Hell in a handbasket!
Rather than: We’re doomed!
Good God almighty!
Rather than: Jeez of Nazareth!
Good heavenly days!
Rather than: Sweet Mother of the Lord!
Great day in the morning!
Rather than: Mother of Macaulay Culkin!
Hellfire and damnation!
Rather than: Mother Scratch!
Rather than: Holy balls!
Hissy fit with a tail on it.
Rather than: Watch out for that one!
I am losing my religion!
Rather than: Jiminy Christmas!
Rather than: Holy Mackerel!
Note: Many old folks would not say the word “swear.”
I’ll be dipped and rolled in cracker crumbs!
Rather than: Butt cakes!
I’ll dance at your wedding!
Note: Formerly meant “thank you,” often used sarcastically today
I’ll fly away, Ole Glory!
Rather than: Oh forget that!
If it ain’t bedbugs, it’s ants!
Rather than: When it rains it pours.
In all my born days!
Rather than: Oh no!
Katie, bar the door!
Rather than: Mother of Pearl!
Lord help me over the fence!
Rather than: Jesus H. Christ on a Popsicle stick!
Lord only knows – and he ain’t telling!
Rather than: Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
Lordy, Lordy, who shot Shorty?
Rather than: Great God almighty!
My stars and garters!
Rather than: My heart!
Quit hollering down the rain.
Rather than: Odds my bodkins!
Holler fire and save the matches!
Rather than: You’re a jerk!
Snap my garters!
Rather than: Well, box my peanuts!
Stop that carrying on!
Rather than: Quit that noise!
Swat my hind with a melon rind!
Rather than: Crapola!
Sweet fancy Moses on buttered toast!
Rather than: Crime in Italy!
That is just sorreee. (Sorry)
Rather than: Holy guacamole!
That sticks in my craw.
Rather than: Great Caesar’s Ghost!
That’s a fine how de’ ya’ do!
Rather than: Farfinpoopin!
Well color me stupid!
Rather than: Moron!
Well cut off my legs and call me shorty!
Rather than: Knock your socks off!
Well hush my mouth!
Rather than: Lo and behold!
Well I never!
Rather than: Jumpin’ Jahosafat!
Well knock me down and steal my teeth!
Rather than: Oh Heck! and Jesus Help Me Holy Ghost!
Well slap my head and call me silly!
Rather than: Heavens to Betsy!
Well thank you, Billy Sunday!
Note: William “Billy” Sunday (1862 –1935) was a professional baseball player in the 1880s, and became the most celebrated and influential American evangelist early 20th century.
Well, go to war Miss Mitchell!
Note: The author of “Gone with the Wind,” Margaret Mitchell.
What in tarnation!
Rather than: Horse Hockey!
You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.
Rather than: Tit for tat!
Tim Heaton is an Ole Miss Alumnus from Southaven, Mississippi who supports The Flagship in a variety of public relations efforts. He is a contributing writer to HottyToddy.com and actively volunteers his technical, database and social media expertise to several community service organizations in his current home in Morristown, New Jersey and in his home state of Mississippi. He has been awarded over a dozen US Patents in technology and is also a published author, chef and physical fitness enthusiast.