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  • Writer's pictureRobyn Shelbourne

Southern Sayings



I grew up in Kentucky backwoods and farmland. There are certain words and phrases you just "know" when you're from the South. As a kid, I always thought Southern sayings were silly. I thought it made people sound uneducated, and maybe they were. So, I didn't use the words and phrases. Now, I find it charming. It reminds me of a simpler time and feels like home.

My novel, Lady Riot, is set in the 1950s and 60s South. Through research, I found a Southern Grandma Sayings Website with all the sayings from my childhood. I know most of them by heart, but there were a couple I had never heard.

My mom said this one more times than I could count: "You'll gather more flies with honey than with vinegar." I was a mean and sassy child, so I didn't gather many flies. And this one: "Beggars can't be choosers." I was a picky eater and always hungry. I'm still a chooser.

My husband uses this phrase weekly when trying to get our children to do simple tasks: "It was like herding cats." He changes the "cats" to "kittens."

One that I use in philosophy, not in saying, is: "The early bird catches the worm." I have always woken up early to start my day. The next goes along with that one: "Early to bed, early to rise, makes you healthy, wealthy, and wise." Though, I heard it, "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."

Click the Southern Grandma Sayings Link above to see how many you know.


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