The Best of RSM: Southern Cussemisms

First of all, apologies for the lack of posts over the last two days. It’s been a busy time for all of our contributors. I’d like to say the distractions involved defending a young lady’s honor, a four-barrel carburetor or a quality batch of home brew, but that just isn’t the case. (However, it did involve Elvis and lawn maintenance. Does that count?)

In keeping with our theme for the week, let’s talk a little bit about Southern cussing. More specifically, let’s talk about the Southern substitutes for cuss words, “cussemisms” if you will.

It’s difficult to say why cultures deem certain words as vulgar. Perhaps it’s due to classism, and those words originating in the slang of lower classes were seen as unfit for civilized discourse.  Others may be seen as especially defamatory, blasphemous or just plain crude. For whatever reason, it seems most civilized cultures have their own variety of “ugly words.”

Never fear. Wherever there is a societal mandate against certain words, there will always be some clever wordsmiths to concoct socially acceptable substitutes. Here are a few Southern favorites:

Lord Have Mercyinterjection:

“Lord have mercy! You should’ve seen all the rednecks buying Busch and cheese balls at the Walmarts!”

Goodness graciousinterjection:

“Goodness gracious, you look like you’ve seen a haint or a booger.”

Anyone who has ever been to Sunday School (or been raised by someone who has) knows that swearing and oaths are big no-nos. Even use of the word “swear” could be frowned upon. After all, we can’t have people walking around saying “I swear” as a simple figure of speech. Next thing you know they’ll be crafting a golden calf and calling it a logo for a steak shop. It’s a slippery slope, my friends. So good Southerners don’t swear, they…

Swannyeuphemism 1. To swear 2. To declare or state unequivocally, often preceding a statement of hyperbole:

“I swanny, that boy’s got a bigger appetite than Junior Samples.”

Apologies to anyone actually named Manetti for the following misappropriation of your surname…

Gee Manettiinterjection 1. A substitute expression for “Jesus Christ,” to prevent “taking the Lord’s name in vain:”

“Gee Manetti, Maw-Maw! Paw-Paw’s drunker than Cooter Brown!”

We would also like to apologize to any real Cooter Browns out there. We are sure you are nothing less than the model of temperance. We would also like to apologize that you were stuck with the name Cooter.

This is a short list, of course. What are some of your favorite Southern Cussemisms?

6 Responses to “The Best of RSM: Southern Cussemisms”

  1. ‘Dag nab’ was often used by my Granddad . In fact it sometimes extended to “Dag nab old Mizz Mitchell’ We aren’t sure who old Mizz Mitchell was or why it involved being dagged nabbed, but there you are.

    And of course, the favorite of my nephew – a long drawn out, at least 3 syllables –‘Dang!’


  2. I seem to remember “LAWS!” being something said by older and more rural southerners. I believe it’s a version of “Lord All Mighty!”

    Also, I don’t think this fits exactly, but the GREAT Gene Stallings would frequently exclaim “God-A’mighty KNOWWSS!” during practice while at UA. That always made me laugh pretty hard.

  3. Shoot fire and save the matches! (that’s the PG version. 😉 )

  4. “Dad burn” was a common one around my parts. Useful in many situations, e.g. ” I went out to bush hog old Johnson’s meadow, but the dad burn tractor woodunt (would’nt) start!

  5. Here are some from WV:

    “Horse feathers!” = a more polite form of BS
    “Dad burn it!” or “Dad blame it!” = a more polite form of GD-it (also “dad gum”)
    “Lord ‘a mercy!” = “Lord, have mercy!”
    “Heck far!” = hellfire
    “Shoot far!” = another way to say hellfire without the “hell”

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