Texas Culture 101: Slang and Phrases
Traveling to Texas can be complex. The highways are insane, the weather is crazy, and it may seem like the locals speak a totally different language.
If you're visiting the Lonestar state or maybe just moved here, you may find yourself struggling to follow along in daily conversation. Whether it's the Southern drawl or the hard-to-follow jargon, these exclusive insider tips should help you out.
Y'all: Debatably the most important and frequently used Texan word, y'all translates to "you all", which in the north is more commonly referenced as "you guys." Here in Texas, we just make it easier and shorten it up. We like to drop y'all just about every time we're referencing more than 1 person.
Ain't: The word ain't is a contraction for am not, are not, and is not. Growing up here in the South, many teachers' favorite line was, "Ain't, ain't a word!" Well, according to Merriam-Webster, it is now.
Fixin': Super embarrassing, but for the majority of my life I didn't know fixin' doesn't mean the same thing outside of Texas. Fixin' means "about to" or "getting ready to."
IE: I'm fixin' to go down to Walmart.
Corn-fed: This roughly translates to being maybe a little overweight, but definitely healthy! AKA: you're eating good and it shows!
Lit: This term usually means you're in a hurry, not the same as the urban term meaning pumped up.
IE: That rabbit lit out the field so fast after seeing that coyote.
Skeeters: A Texan's word for mosquitos!
Coke: Coke is our general word for soda. It doesn't mean we specifically want a Coca-cola.
Cattywampus: not centered or straight.
Conniption: To get upset and raise a ruckus!
Tarnation: Used as a euphemism for “damnation”. "What in tarnation?"
Whup: To hit or slap.
Golly: This word usually is used to express astonishment or surprise.
Raising Cane: Being rambunctious or loud.
Pitch a hissy fit: This phrase refers to throwing a tantrum.
How 'Bout Them Cowboys: The ultimate Dallas Cowboys phrase. Whether they're losing or winning, you'll hear someone ask "how 'bout them Cowboys?"
You Can’t Beat That with a Stick: This phrase is used when there's something so good that you can't pass it up.
That dog don't hunt: This phrase basically equates to the meaning of worthless.
Bowed up: This usually means someone is very upset and ready to fight.
Right quick: Quickly, fast, right away.
Friendly as fire ants: That person or animal is not nice. Actually, they're very unfriendly and you probably shouldn't mess with them!
We’ve howdy-ed but we ain’t shook: You've seen another person around, but you've never been formally introduced.
Shake and howdy: To formally meet a person and get to know them.
A Few Pickles Short of a Barrel: This is used in reference to someone who may not be very smart or doesn't seem all there.
Pick Your Switch: This comes from a phrase that plenty of parents used on their kids before whipping them with a tree branch they made the poor kid go out and rip off a tree themselves. Nowadays it can mean that you have to pick your punishment.
Over Yonder: This roughly translates to "over there", but yonder is a bit further than "there" if you understand me.
Bless your heart: This could be a way of giving you something nice to hear before hitting you with a sly insult. It's also a sly insult on its own.
All hat, no cattle: This phrase means that someone is all talk, with nothing to back it up.
Clear as mud: When something is super confusing, a person will ask if it's clear as mud. Basically, mud isn't clear, and neither is whatever that person just told you.
Come hell or high water: No matter what comes your way, whatever you're working on is getting done.
If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute!: The weather in Texas is constantly changing. Wait around and you'll see for yourself.
Ain’t my first rodeo: AKA, "I've done this before" or "don't worry, I have it covered.
Knee High to a Grasshopper: This doesn't refer to your height, but rather your age.