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66 Southern Expressions for Gossiping


My neighborhood’s real ­estate agent and self­-appointed moralist was known as for her unsolicited opinions of other’s private lives. When asked why this was her business, she would inevitably refer to my neighborhood as her “farm.” The community was offended by this busybody, but feared being the focus of her attention, so we all tried to ignore her.

One day the real ­estate agent set her spyglass on me. She reported to my neighbors that my Hummer parked in front of a strip club. Her comments got back to my wife.

For the rest of the week, I parked my car in front of her house overnight. I heard she had no problem selling her house.

Gossip is unavoidable I’m afraid. We all do it, here’s how to comment Southern style.

A little powder, a little paint, makes a girl look what she ain’t!

Meaning: Watch out for high maintenance later on.

A person to go to the well with.

“The trite saying that honesty is the best policy has met with the just criticism that honesty is not policy. The real honest man is honest from conviction of what is right, not from policy.” – Robert E. Lee

Big hat, no cattle.

Meaning: Full of big talk, and lacking action or substance, but pretentious all the same.

Call him an idiot and you’ll insult all the idiots in the world.

Note: 2 percent of the world’s population has an IQ under 70. I think I’ve worked for all of them.

Couldn’t find his own ass with both hands stuck in his back pockets.

“Never ascribe to malice that which can adequately be explained by incompetence.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

Couldn’t punch his way out of a wet paper bag.

“If at first you don’t succeed, you may be at your level of incompetence already.” – Dr. Laurence J. Peter

Drove her ducks to a poor puddle.

“Nobody ever did, or ever will, escape the consequences of his choices.” – Alfred A. Montapert

Everything she’s got is out on the showroom floor.

Meaning: She is wearing a revealing outfit.

Fish stinks from the head down.

Meaning: Organizations reflect their leaders. ”This proverb is of ancient origin, Greek and Chinese cultures lay claim to it.”

He got weaned from sucking eggs.

Meaning: To learn the hard way.

He’ll stand the hedge and take up the gap.

The term is from the Civil War and referees to “set piece: method of fighting – i.e. not using cover.

He’s so low down he could crawl under a snake’s belly.

“He was distinguished for ignorance; for he had only one idea and that was wrong.” – Benjamin Disraeli

His family tree ain’t got branches.

Rather than: Ever since I saw you in your family tree I’ve wanted to cut it down.

He’s so honest you could shoot craps with him over the phone.

“I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” – George Washington

He was so deep in jail he’ll have to be fed beans with a sling­shot!

Note: It might be a good thing to leave him back there. Other foods that have “flatulence factors” are cabbage, eggs and beer.

He’d complain if you hung him with a new rope.

Fact: Execution by hanging is generally performed with a rope that has been prepared by boiling and drying under tension. New rope tends to coil, which causes it to act like a spring as it supports the weight of the body during hanging. This is at best undignified, and at worst likely to interfere with the effectiveness of the procedure.

He’d gripe with a ham under each arm.

Note: The only similarity between southern country ham and the stuff in the deli case is that they both require pig sacrifice. To southerners and pork devotees, country ham is exquisite dry-
cured rosy-­hued perfection itself.

He’d put a rattlesnake in your pocket and ask you for a light.

“Those are my principles If you don’t like them I have others.” – Groucho Marx

He’s the cream of the crap, and the crap of the cream.

Meaning: He is a real jerk.

He’s a hard dog to keep under the porch.

Note: Made famous by the song, “Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog.”

He’s gone back on his raisin’.

Meaning: That he has turned his back on his heritage or good upbringing.

Her hair looks like it caught on fire and somebody put it out with a brick.

“My photographs don’t do me justice ­ they just look like me.” – Phyllis Diller

Her jeans are so tight, you can see Washington grinning on the quarter in her pocket.

“Blue jeans are the most beautiful things since the gondola.” – Diana Vreeland

His pants were so tight that if he farted, he’d blow his boots off.

Note: A man is most likely to be flatulent first thing in the morning, AKA “morning thunder”.

I hate her stomach for carrying her guts.

“She’s afraid that if she leaves, she’ll become the life of the party.” – Grouch Marx

I wouldn’t pee in her ear if her brain was on fire.

Fact: Two to three drops of urine will cure an ear ache.

If she had one more wrinkle, she could screw her hat on.

Note: An old superstition says never lay your hat on a bed ­ it means someone will die.

It must be jelly because jam don’t shake like that.

“Here’s to our wives and girlfriends may they never meet!” – Groucho Marx

I can tell you a thing or two ’bout a thing or two.

Meaning: “I’ve got some juicy stuff for you to hear.”

I don’t think he has enough chlorine in his gene pool.

Rather than: He was the poster child for birth control.

I wouldn’t walk across the street to pee on him if he was on fire.

Note: One can put out a fire by urinating, but it depends on the size of the fire, and size of the hose.

Jesus loves him, but that’s about it.

Rather than: Time wounds all heels.

Just between you, me, and the fence post.

“Anyone who says he can see through women is missing a lot.” – Groucho Marx

Just wear beige and keep quiet.

Note: If all mother­s-in-­laws followed this advice there would be no need for mother-­in-­law jokes.

Lives like a fighting cock.

Meaning: He lives like there is no tomorrow.

Looks like two Buicks fighting for a parking place.

Note: Like middle aged woman in tight yoga pants at the yogurt bar.

No weevils in his wheat.

Meaning: A very honest person. “Honor lies in honest toil.”- Grover Cleveland

She always looks like she stepped out of a band box.

Note: The “Band Box” was a euphemistic slang expression for a notorious brothel frequented by Union soldiers on the grounds of the current IRS building in Washington, D.C.

She could depress the devil.

“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening but this wasn’t it.” – Grouch Marx

She could make a preacher cuss.

Meaning: Someone who might also argue with a stop sign.

She looks like death sitting on tombstones hatching haints.

Note: “Haints” are a Southern expression for ghosts.

She wouldn’t go to a funeral unless it was hers.

Rather than: Everyone has an ego, mine is just bigger…and better.

She’s a caution.

“A woman scorned is a woman who quickly learns her way around a courtroom.” – Colette Mann

She’s an iron hand in a velvet glove.

“Put your iron hand in a velvet glove.” – Napoléon Bonaparte

She’s got more nerve than Carter’s got Liver Pills.

Note: Carter’s Little Liver Pills were formulated as a patent medicine by Samuel J. Carter of Erie, Pennsylvania in 1868. The active ingredient is bisacodyl. The FDA forced “Liver” to be dropped in the name in 1959.

She’s so stuck up, she’d drown in a rainstorm.

“I’m not conceited. Conceit is a fault and I have no faults.” – David Lee Roth

She’s so sweet; sugar wouldn’t melt in her mouth.

“She looked as though butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth – or anywhere else.” – Elsa Lanchester

She’s wilder than a fifth ace.

“Women should be obscene and not heard.” – Groucho Marx

She’s as welcome as a skunk at a lawn party.

“If a woman likes another woman, she’s cordial; if she doesn’t like her, she’s very cordial.” – Irvin Cobb

She’s been storked.

Meaning: Storked = Pregnant. “To me life is tough enough without having someone kick you from the inside.” – Rita Rudner

She’s dancing in the hog trough.

“It takes a woman twenty years to make a man of her son, and another woman twenty minutes to make a fool of him.” – Helen Rowland

She’s sitting below the salt.

“Politics doesn’t make strange bedfellows, marriage does.” – Groucho Marx

Sorry as a two dollar watch.

Note: EBay has around 100K watches for $2.99 or less.

Straight as a string.

“Tricks and treachery are the practice of fools, that don’t have brains enough to be honest.” – Benjamin Franklin

Still wet behind your ears.

Note: “Wet behind the ears,” meaning inexperienced or naive. Behind the ears is the last part of a foal or calf to dry out after birth.

That woman learned how to whisper in a saw mill.

“Old maids sweeten their tea with scandal.” – Josh Billings

The higher the hair, the closer to God.

“People always ask me how long it takes to do my hair. I don’t know, I’m never there.” – Dolly Parton

There might be all kinds, but I’m not sure it takes all kinds.

Meaning: I am not going to tolerate that person

They are as welcome as an outhouse breeze.

Rather than: The welcome mat said, “Oh no, not you again.”

They ate supper before they said grace.

Rather than: Sex is not the answer. Sex is the question. “Yes” is the answer.

They never could set horses.

Meaning: They could never get along.

Wasn’t nothin’ between him and the Lord but a smile.

“If I held you any tighter, I’d be on the other side of you.” – Groucho Marx

You can bet the farm on it.

”No such thing as a man willing to be honest ­ that would be like a blind man willing to see.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

You can hang your hat on it.

“Dare to be honest and fear no labor.” – Robert Burns

You can take that to the bank.

“Honest conviction is my courage; the Constitution is my guide.” – Andrew Johnson

You can’t hold water.

Meaning: You can’t keep a secret.


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.

Follow HottyToddy.com on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat @hottytoddynews. Like its Facebook page: If You Love Oxford and Ole Miss…

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