How to Speak Texan

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TexasTexans may tend to talk a little slow, but don’t let that fool you. The Texan culture relishes wit, wisdom and storytelling. And since I routinely communicate with folks all over the world I figured it would be appropriate to publish a little “Texan to English” translation guide to ensure people always know what I’m gettin on about.

So, in case you’d like to learn how to talk like a Texan, or if you just need to occasionally translate something you heard me say in passing, here is a lexicon of phrases and colloquialisms from Texas.

Definitions

  • Aggravated – Used to describe everything from mild annoyance to dangerous, murderous rage.
  • Conniption – A fit, getting all worked up over something. Example: That child was having a conniption! Someone needed to tan his hide.
  • Looker – An attractive person. Example: “Wow! She’s a looker!”
  • Over Yonder – Over there.
  • Sorry – An adjective meaning worthless, loser, or useless. Enhanced inflection makes it more emphatic. Example: “When I get my hands on that sorry, good-for-nothing punk…”
  • Grub – Food. A meal.
  • Fixins – An entire meal, excluding the main dish. Example: “I’ll have a hamburger with all the fixins.”
  • Directly – In a little while. Example: “Well run down to the ice cream store, directly. For now – finish your supper.”
  • Idiot Box – Television
  • Dinner – Often times refers to lunch, or the meal in the middle of the day. Sometimes may refer to the evening meal.
  • Supper – Almost always refers to the evening meal, but sometimes may mean lunch.
  • Howdy – Although it sounds like “how are you”, howdy is more of a salutation like hello, bonjour, guten Tag, etc.
  • Fess up – To confess or admit to something.
  • Fit to be Tied – very upset.
  • Fixin’ to – Preparing to do something. Example: “I’m fixin to go to the store. Do you need anything?”
  • Hissy Fit – Same as a conniption.
  • Lit Out – Took off, started out, or absconded across some terrain. “He lit out of here as soon as the cops showed up.”

Phrases

  • All Choked Up – Overcome with emotion (other than aggravation). A person is “all choked up” when they are deeply moved by sadness or by the thoughtfulness of others.
  • All Worked Up – A state of aggravation, anxiety, or agitation. Example: “There is no need to get yourself all worked up over a little accident.”
  • Come Hell or High Water – Determination to do something. Example: I’m going to catch that criminal come hell or high water!
  • Tan Your Hide – To give someone a spanking or beating. Example: That child was having a conniption! Someone needed to tan his hide.
  • One-legged Man at a Butt-kicking Contest – Not equipped for the task at hand.
  • Long-tailed Cat in a Room Full of Rocking Chairs – Nervous.
  • A Gnat in a Hail Storm – Not much chance at survival.
  • Rode Hard and Put Up Wet – A tired individual who looks somewhat the worse for wear. Refers back to horses that were not taken care of well.
  • Beat You Like a Rented Mule – Obviously you don’t want this to happen.
  • Whole Nuther Thing – Something else entirely. Usually used to denote another story there isn’t time to relate. Example: I was down at the grocery store when I ran into my neighbor. He’s got this annoying dog, but that’s a whole nuther thing…”
  • Plum Wore Out – Fatigued, exhausted; also sometimes used for “worn out” machinery, etc. Example: “After a long hard day I’m plum wore out.”
  • All Hat and No Cattle – All show and no go… all talk and no action.
  • This Ain’t My First Rodeo – I wasn’t born yesterday. I’ve been around a while. Experienced.
  • If it was a snake it’d have jumped up and bit ya – An item “hidden” in plain sight.
  • 6 of One, Half Dozen of the Other – Makes no difference. Six eggs is the same as a half dozen. It’s all the same to me.

If you aren’t the brightest bulb in the drawer you might get called:

  • Dumber than dirt
  • Dumb as a box of rocks
  • Dumb as a box of hammers
  • Not the sharpest tool in the shed

If you can’t be trusted you might be:

  • Crooked as a dog’s hind leg
  • Crooked as a barrel of snakes

If you’re attractive you might be:

  • Cute as a possum.

Practice

Last night I was fixin some grub. It was gettin late and I was already plum wore out, but I had promised to grill up some steaks for supper so, come hell or high water, I was gonna get it done.

As I was preppin the meat I turned on the idiot box. It was playin’ some talk show and there was a woman having a conniption because her boyfriend was trying to get her to fess up that she was carrying some other man’s baby. This woman was fit to be tied and started tanning the boyfriend’s hide when the host stepped in and tried to tell her there was no need to get all worked up.

Well, that threw her into a real hissy fit and then they had about as much chance as a knat in a hailstorm of calming her down.

Directly, they brought out the results of one of those paternity tests and that woman looked as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. And with good reason because it turned out that baby belonged to some other guy.

At this point she got all choked up and the boyfriend was aggrivated and started threatening to beat her like a rented mule before he finally he lit out. By the time it was all over she looked like she’d been rode hard and put up wet.

Now if you ask me, it’s sad because she was cute as a possum but crooked as a dog’s hind leg. Anyway, the whole bunch of em were dumb as a box of hammers.

10 Texas Sayings

  1. There’s two theories to arguin’ with a woman. Neither one works.
  2. It’s so hot, the trees are bribing the dogs.
  3. Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier’n puttin’ it back in.
  4. If you’re ridin’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there.
  5. If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around.
  6. Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.
  7. If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.
  8. Don’t squat with your spurs on.
  9. It don’t take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep
  10. Always drink upstream from the herd.
  11. Never miss a good chance to shut up.

Ok. There’s always one more in Texas. :-) If you’ve got more, feel free to add them below!

Finally, you never have to ask a man if he’s from Texas. If he is, he’ll tell you on his own. If he ain’t, well, there’s no need to embarrass him.

Article Written by
John P.

John P. is CEO of Livid Lobster and co-host of Geek Beat TV. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Comments

  1. Adams says:

    Howdy,
    I spent some times in Texas , Arlington , dallas and visited Alamo .
    Texas is the only place accessed to my deep heart . It has a wonderfull sweet heart people . I like Texas style , culture and Maverick very very much .

    Also I am trying to learn Texas accent .

    Thanks for the info

  2. Marie says:

    I’m from west Texas and I do have a little bit of a twang in there. Well according to my girlfriend I have a big one, but shes from Mass…you know Pahk the cah in Havahd yahd? I keep telling her we took all the R’s from them.

  3. Nolan says:

    I live in Beaumont now. Grew up in North Texas (Dallas, Denton, Shermon, Whitesboro, etc). Went to high school in the great city of Kountze (pop: 2100). The only thing I would add to your list is that Texans never use the “g” in “ing” it is always just “in.” Like, “I’m fixin to go the store, but I’m walkin insteada drivin so I can save some gas.”
    Also, we do not use “ed” in discription. It is not barbed wire, powdered donut, or sweetened iced tea. It’s bobwyre, powderdonut, and Tea.

    • Randi says:

      That’s so true, I’m from Texas i’m young and i grew up in the country. Everything i say or do is country and i got made fun about. I didn’t care much though. I spend the rest of my time takin care of my chickens and the rest of my farm and nobody would ever keep me from that! :) I’m from San Angelo

  4. Courtni says:

    Im from Arlington like alot of you. And I like looking at what northerns think I talk like.
    Honestly, I talk alot like everyone else in the USA. I say y’all but as a form of you all. It’s just more natural that way. Its not cause im stupid or undereducated. Piece of advice, never insult Texas to a Texan. We have a lot of pride and dont mind beatin ya. As we always say Dont Mess With Texas!! I’m from the metroplex of Texas, but my mom is from East Texas. I have heard a few of these sayings. My dad will still refer to a heavy rain as a turd floater, and my mom always calls lunch dinner. I say conniption all the time as well as aggravated, all worked up, worn out, dadgumit, doggoneit, darn, hold your horses, and a whole lot more. But the most sayings come from my great great grandmother, we called her Mubbie. I don’t really know why I did this I guess Ive just been wanting to.

    • Pam says:

      I’m a Texas transplant in Oklahoma. I am so homesick now… These are the ones I recall:
      –Give us a holler sometime.
      –That boy’s ate up with a dumbass.
      –Don’t be fibbin’
      –You lie like a rug.
      –and finally, if your “teet was caught in a wringer”, you were pretty mad.

      *Don’t forget about the one and two finger waves you get while driving down old farm roads…

  5. Kirk says:

    If you can decipher this, you’re on your way to speakin’ Texan.
    1st feller: “C M ducks?”
    2nd feller: “M R not ducks.”
    1st feller: “O S A R. C M wings?”
    2nd feller: “L I B! M R ducks.”

  6. Candace J. says:

    I’m from Texas myself, and I would like to point out one important thing about talking like a Texan. All Texans say git, not get ever. All across the state it’s git. Another addition is ya’ll come back. The phrase is used to mean you’re welcome to come back another time.
    Also a few phrase shown that are said differently:
    If it was a snake, it would’ve bit ya. (What you were looking for was close by or in plain sight.)
    Six one way, half a dozen the other. (It’s the same either way. Often used in discussions about which way to go or what to do.)
    Most of these phrases are said, though. There are only few I don’t recognize myself.

  7. Kate says:

    As a Texan transplanted to the UK, I have enjoyed reading these. I teach applied linguistics at the University of Oxford, and I say to my students, “Of course, British English is rather impoverished: it doesn’t have a second person plural (“y’all”); and it only has two terms for how close something is, unlike my dialect, which has three (“here”, “there” and, farther than “there”, “yonder”)”. It makes them think about language snobbery! (Note that I’m cheating just a bit, because there are some British dialects that have second person plurals like “youse”, but those aren’t usually as well developed as “y’all” – they don’t have possessive forms (“y’all’s car”), for example.
    Anyway, thanks for this blog!

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