Twanglish Lesson: Mash

Today’s Twanglish Lesson reveals the darker, more destructive side of the Southern soul. We do it to potatoes. We do it to palmetto bugs. Some cruel souls do it to lightnin’ bugs to steal their glow. We do it to sugar cane, blackberries and just about anything else from which we want to extract juice. Sure, their may be other, more nuanced ways to achieve the same ends, but none are as satisfying as a good mashing.

Mashverb 1. To flatten 2. To pulverize through pressure, often using an implement:

Can you mash them taters with that wood mallet yonder? I reckon it’s clean enough.

However, there’s another definition of the word that is uniquely Southern. We’re not sure if it derives from some deep-seated disdain for technology or simply a desire to do everything with vigor, but here, we never simply “press” anything.

Mashverb 3. To press firmly, even violently, perhaps with the palm of the hand:

In picture making, the director will holler at the feller running the camera, “Alright, y’all shut up! Mash the button!”

It may sound crude and blunt to the unaccustomed Yankee ear, but this definition of “mash” is one of the most effective tools in the Southern linguistic toolbox. Let’s say you’re like so many other Southerners who’ve lost their accent – or never even found it. And let’s say you want to let someone know you’re from the South without resorting to clichés like “y’all” or “fixin” – terms any outsider could misappropriate. For the ultimate secret handshake of the Southern lexicon, we recommend you talk about mashing a button. Any doubt of your Southerness will fade away.

There is, of course, a fourth definition of mash that is part and parcel of the Appalachian experience, but we’ll refrain from going into that one … Just in case any revenuers are lurking about.

6 Responses to “Twanglish Lesson: Mash”

  1. Don’t forget “mash up”, as in, “I was drivin down the interstate, and there was a big mash up that was backin up traffic.”

  2. Laughing the whole time I read this. And you’re so right. It IS a secret southern handshake.

    • Glad you enjoyed it! We like to hear that we’ve made someone laugh, cry or possibly wet their pants. (All three is the trifecta.) Needless to say we were quick to mash the button to approve your comment. Hope you’ll stick around.

  3. Russ from Hoover, AL Reply January 5, 2016 at 10:29 am

    First time to see this site. I don’t know if you have discussed this one so check it out. Jeet yet? Definition: Have you eaten?

  4. Just discovering this…so awesome!!! My husband makes fun of me whenever I talk about mashing buttons. Now he believes me when I say it’s a southern thang!!!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Visual Twanglish Lesson: Do Not Mash on Peaches | Real Southern Men - May 15, 2012

    […] at a roadside peach stand in Clanton, Alabama. We’ve talked about the Twanglish term “mash” before; here we see it in action! Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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