American Southerners say the Darnedest Things: 10 phrases to know before your trip down South

phrases southerners say

 American Southerners say the Darnedest Things:

Planning a trip to the American South? It is a different world down here. Life moves at a slower pace, sunsets are enjoyed with a cup of coffee from a porch swing, and simplicity is a way of life. American Southerners say the Darnedest Things and I am guilty of it too. Here are some common phrases you may hear (and what they mean) upon your next Southern getaway. There are many phrases Southerners say, but I will teach you the common 10.

10 Phrases Southerners Say:

1.YA’LL-Let’s start with the most common phrase Southerner’s say. Ya’ll or you all refers to a group of 2 or more people. “Ya’ll wanna catch a movie?”

2. FIXIN’ “I’m fixin’ to go to the store.” Nope, we aren’t repairing anything. It means we are about to do something, but that takes too long to say.

3.FIGURED-  Pronounced Figgered. “I figured you would do that.” This basically means, I knew or assumed something. You might find us figuring something over a beer, like the economy or our next trip.

4.BLESS YOUR HEART This is the second most common phrases southerners say. “Well, Bless your heart.” This has two meanings. The first and most common, is a term of endearment. If someone has been sick or going through a rough patch, “bless your heart” shows sympathy. However, if we don’t like you for whatever reason, we will be blessing your heart up and down and around town. This type of derogation remark is used in place of your favorite swear words. After all, a good southern bell never uses profanity…OOPS!

Yes, we are having dinner in the bed of a truck, barefoot

5.BUGGY- You are probably asking yourself, “what is she saying?”. A buggy is simply a shopping cart that you would use at a grocery store. The term probably stems from the horse and buggy days. The buggies would carry your grocery order home for you.

6.AIN’T- This word is now in the dictionary, I kid you not. We southerners love this term. It means, I am not going to do that. Who has the time to say all that? I mean, we have sweet tea and fried chicken to make before our husbands get home. SO JUST KIDDING! We all don’t sit around drinking tea and eating fried chicken, and I sure as hell don’t wait for the hubs to get home, I have a career too!

7.WERE YOU RAISED IN A BARN? – I don’t personally use this one but my dad and grandparents have said this to me too many times as a kid. It is a classic. If you leave the door open or forget to close it behind you, you may be told this phrase. The weather is usually mild enough for farmers to keep their barn doors open year-round. Hence, if you were raised in a barn you wouldn’t be used to closing doors behind you. Southerners are also known for their neighborliness. It is not uncommon to leave your door unlocked, on a lazy summer day, for your relatives to drop by as they want. Not recommended!

8.CAN’T NEVER COULD Can’t pronounced CAIN’T, here. Basically, people who always say they can’t do something never will achieve their dreams. A reminder to stay positive and persevere. I rather like this one.

9.CAR NOTE I have had coworkers from the North East and Midwest whom had no idea what I was saying when I said, “I have to pay my car note this month”. A car note is your car payment. Whether you have a truck, Jeep, Honda accord, minivan, or tractor, it is always referred to as a car note.

10.CAN’T CARRY A TUNE IN A BUCKET- “Whoa, that girl can’t carry a tune in a bucket”. This means you cannot sing. Like, the echo from inside the bucket cannot even help you, bless your heart.

Other Posts You might enjoy about the South:

  1. Explore Mobile, Alabama like a local
  2. Charming college days: Explore Tuscaloosa, AL like a student

  3. A beginner’s guide to Myrtle Beach, SC in 1 week

  4. Fairhope, Alabama: Art & Antiques Haven

  5. Pensacola, FL: Downtown and the Beach-A place where paradise is unveiled

Southern Myths Debunked:

  • On another note, just because we call you honey, sweetie, or sweetheart does NOT mean we are flirting with you. We are just sweet as honey. LOL
  • Southerners never meet a stranger, we are incapable. We speak to EVERYONE. If you’re visiting the South, speak back, we only want to know your life story and how your day is going! haha Really, we just want to extend some good ‘ole southern hospitality to you and make you feel welcomed. We want you to enjoy our piece of Heaven on Earth as much as we do.
  • Not all Southerners voted for Trump and we sure as hell don’t want that damn wall.
  • We don’t call every soda, Coke. We call it what it is: Pepsi, Sprite, Coke, Diet coke, etc.
  • We are not all high school dropouts. Most of us have college degrees and some even have graduate degrees, like myself. While the older generation may not have finished high school, that is no longer the norm.
  • Most Southern women are putting their careers first, these days. We aren’t getting married at 18 and popping out 5 kids by the age of 22. For those who choose to do so, more power to them, it is their choice after all.
  • College football is the heartbeat of the South. While we watch Pro ball, we can give a rat’s ass about it. ROLL TIDE!!
  • Lastly, grits should NOT have sugar added to them. They are meant to be savory, add butter and salt!

I hope this was an enjoyable read about how American Southerners say the Darnedest Things. I also hope it provided you with insight of my homeland and common phrases southerners say. I am proud to be a Southerner and would love to have you down for a visit anytime! “Ya’ll come back now you hear!” (JK, We don’t actually say that). If it is your first time to the USA, check out this wanderer’s post about things you should know before you travel here!

Like, Share, Comment, and Follow us!

Be Well and Travel Often!


American Southerners say the darnedest things

*This is not a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.

Need money to travel?


Join our newsletter to get our FREE AIRBNB CODE and Travel On!

Powered by ConvertKit

About Author

Maegan and Michael are Adventurous Southerners who share their world journey and approach to living the travel lifestyle. You can expect humor and lighthearted banter blended with REAL travel stories and tips. Maegan is a registered dietitian, while Michael has an excerise science background, but both are outdoor lovers, and revel in the beauty of cultures unlike their own. Now, Maegan and Michael are working towards expat life through remote work. Join the adventure. Do you love to travel? Does your full time job or career prevent you from living the life you dream of? This is the duo to follow. Feel free to contact us if you have questions.


  1. Gabby says:

    I love this! I’m from California and love learning about different slang in other parts of the country! I especially love the “bless your heart” thing… one of my English friends taught it to me, apparently in the UK they just saw “aw, bless!” and now I say that about pretty much everyone! haha, great post!
    Gabby recently posted…April Blog Round Up : How I nearly doubled my blog traffic!My Profile

    1. Maegan says:

      Haha that’s funny! We visited Portland, OR this March and I began saying stoked everywhere I went bahaha Thanks for reading!

  2. Christina says:

    Haha, I loved this! I studied with a girl from the South last year, and she basically used to say all of the above! Always fun to listen to her xx

    1. Maegan says:

      That;s awesome! Yes, I say ya’ll, figured, and fixin ALL THE TIME! Thanks for reading!

  3. Hahaha. This post had me cracking up. I would have had no idea what a car note was. And I love the raised in a barn thing. So different from NY where no one wants to talk to you. Lol.

    1. Maegan says:

      haha I know, in NYC keep your eyes averted and keep walking. In the south, everyone will know your life story by the end of the night!

  4. I loved this post and was amazed at how many expressions we also use in the UK! “Born in a barn” (close enough), “bless your heart” (or “bless”, as Gabby so rightly says!), even “can’t carry a tune in a bucket”. We say “buggy”, but it’s a child’s stroller rather than a supermarket cart (that’s a “trolley”). But they all sound so much nicer with a southern US accent!! Thanks for an enjoyable read… 😊
    Jill at Reading the Book recently posted…Snowshoeing in the Tatras: Poland’s winter wonderlandMy Profile

    1. Maegan says:

      Oh these are great! Haha we should fit right in when we visit the UK next year!

  5. C-Ludik says:

    “I reckon” someone once said that when you visit the South, you need a translator. It’s true, we do have a mouthful of sayings that only Southerners understand 🙂 Ha, ha, if you’re hearing “bless your heart” in the South, it probably has an edge to it. It’s almost always accompanied by a good-natured, perhaps slightly exasperated, shake of the head !

    1. Maegan says:

      Absolutely! Man, how could I forget reckon! Thanks for reading!@

  6. Lauren says:

    Bless your heart is one of my favorite phrases 🙂 Say it with a smile, while you know the truth meaning…
    Lauren recently posted…How AT&T GoPhone Was Made for TravelersMy Profile

    1. Maegan says:

      Yes ma’am! haha thanks for reading!

  7. Penny says:

    This is such a fun post. I haven’t been to USA yet but my husband has spent a year living in Texas. He adores the country. I think he is going to drag me there some day just to show me why.
    Penny recently posted…Comment on FROM BROMO TO IJEN: The Journey Begins! by PennyMy Profile

    1. Maegan says:

      haha well Texas is a different world in and of itself! The USA has a lot of various things to offer!

  8. MICHAEL says:

    I love this. It is like me reminiscing the love story movies I have watched with southern settings while reading your blog. 🙂 It is very beautiful.

    1. Maegan says:

      Oh gosh, thank you!

  9. Wow, this so lovely to read and interesting. I barely read an article like this that is quite entertaining on the side and it gives me an idea about Southerners. I truly love all those words and and their usage and meaning. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    1. Maegan says:

      Glad to be a little different! Cheers!

  10. Indrani says:

    Ha ha loved this post. Very interesting to know these little quirky notes. 🙂
    I have to try using some of them. 🙂

    1. Maegan says:

      You def should add them to your vocab!

  11. Marge says:

    I am familiar with most of these terms but mostly because I read books a lot and I watch american shows and movies a lot. I didn’t know until now though that these are common in the Southern part. It’s interesting to know that you use the term “buggy” for a shopping cart. I didn’t know that.

    1. Maegan says:

      I debated adding buggy, but thought, “no ones really calls it that elsewhere.”

  12. This is such a lovely post. Loved reading. There are so many different cultures and traditions in different countries. The fact that we travel & get to see these makes it interesting. Loved this “On another note, just because we call you honey, sweetie, or sweetheart does NOT mean we are flirting with you. We are just sweet as honey. LOL” 🙂

    1. Maegan says:

      Haha I call everyone sweetie!

  13. Bob R says:

    Delighted to read you didn’t vote for Trump. 🙂 Fun post.

    1. Maegan says:

      Haha I couldn’t bring myself to vote for a cheetoh.

  14. Myrthe says:

    This article really put a smile on my face! The phrases are good to know for when I’m backpacking trough America next year.
    I like the fact you had dinner in the back of a pick-up, love the idea! 🙂

    1. Maegan says:

      Aww I’m so glad to hear it! Yes, the hubs was quite creative when we were dating!

  15. neha says:

    It’s always great to know some local slangs and phrases before you head anywhere. Thanks for compiling this list. I am sure it will be very useful for me when I head here

  16. […] blame them, I would ask the same question only a few years back. Shall I start learning how to speak like a Southerner now? Shall I say “y’all” even though it feels strange on my tongue?  But […]

  17. […] American Southerners say the Darnedest Things: 10 phrases to know before your trip down South […]

  18. […] American Southerners say the Darnedest Things: 10 phrases to know before your trip down South […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

Build a Better Travel Blog