See how you scored in the answers below.
The “t” ending in kilt first appeared in Middle English: kelit, kelyt, kylt, kilt. The ending was first documented in a 13th century work called The Gest Hystoriale of the Destruction of Troy. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, this version of the word “killed” is used today as a humorous “Irishism.” However, “kilt” is still spoken today in Appalachia and throughout the South. The word was first documented in this region in 1890 within Dialect Notes from Kentucky.
- Nigh on
The word “nigh” began in the Germanic language. The addition of “on” or “at” possibly originated from Russia or Germany. “Nigh on,” “nigh at,” or “nigh about” is also used in Appalachia. The latter of the three was first documented in William Lithgow’s The Totall Discourse of the Rare Adventures & Painefull Peregrinations of Long Nineteene Yeares Travayles (1632). “Nigh on” was first noted in Horse-shoe Robinson: A Tale of the Tory Ascendancy (1835) by John P. Kennedy.
The long a sound for “zank” is used here strictly for phonetics. The word is “zink” in the Dictionary of American Regional English. The word is somewhat rare in Appalachia, likely said by the older generation. Interestingly, Nancy Russell states in her Columbia Daily Tribune article entitled “Antique Sinks Haven’t Dried up” that many kitchen sinks were actually once wooden and “lined with zinc to keep the wood from rotting. Zinc was the perfect choice because it doesn’t rust.” Zinc sinks are still made today. Perhaps the word “zink/ zank” originated from these sinks. After all, the word for the metal, zinc, likely originated from the German word “zink.”
- Play Perty
“Play pretty” is a term used mostly in Appalachia, the South, and some of the midwest. The term was first recorded in about 1905.
The word “powerful” is traditionally defined as “having great power, prestige, or influence.” For our region, the word also means “very large, great, extraordinary.”(DARE) An example: That boxer was a pareful big man. The pronunciation that drops the “w” sound is prevalent in Appalachia, the South, and some of the nation’s Midland areas.
This pronunciation with the “z” caboose is found mostly in Appalachia and the South. The word “taste” comes from Middle English, first seen around 1290 inside The South English Legendary:
þat finguer he wole hit tasti ȝif it is a-riȝt i-wrouȝt. — emphasis added
- Holt/ Aholt
b. Grab tightly
The Oxford English Dictionary describes “holt” as an “unexplained phonetic variant of HOLD n1.” The word was documented as early as the 1370s in England’s Political, Religious, and Love Poems. The past tense is “helt.” The word is mainly heard in New England, Appalachia, and the South.
(Option (a) is also correct, but defined differently for this post.) The word “arn” is the phonic version of the Middle English ouren, also ourun, ourn, and our’n, likely originating from England. The word was first written in Wycliffe’s Bible in 1382: “Ourn is þe water.” (Gen. 26:20) (OED) In the United States, the word was first printed in 1795, and continues to be heard in Appalachia, the South, and New England.
The word “skint” is a variant of “skinned.” The pronunciation may originate from the Old High German scintan or Middle High German schinten. Several dictionaries in the late 1800s attribute the pronunciation to African American origins.
The word “chancy” seems to have begun in mid-1800s England, because it appears in the era’s literature. The United States first records “chancy” in the Dialect Notes of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in 1903.
The word apparently began from the Old English word fitt, with a context suggesting “conflict,” and may have transformed into the word fit as early as the 1500s. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the following definition: “Conflict, struggle. Only in Old English, rare.” In America, “fit” for “fought” is often spoken in Appalachia and in the South.
a. Hiding place
d. Holiday (religious)
The greeting “hidey” supposedly originated in New Zealand and Australia, and is probably a variant of the word “howdy.” The word is prevalent in the mid-South and Texas.
Also thow. The 1700s Irish English word is drowe. In the U.S., “thoe” (or “thow”) seems to have originated in the 1800s, and is prevalent in Appalachia and the South. The past tense is “thew” or “thowed.”
c. Soft Drink
This word is one of those odd modifications, most likely originating in Appalachia, that is yet to be pinpointed. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word Ohio comes from the Seneca Iroquois ohi:yo´. Another pronunciation for the Buckeye state in Appalachia is “O-hi-uh.”
a. Large amount
The word may have come from the Irish word slua(gh). A Celtic variant is sloug, but means “help, service.” (Etymology) “Slew” was first seen in print in D. P. Thompson’s 1839 book, Green Mountain Boys. Harper’s Magazine spelled the word differently in their May 1858 edition: “By gracious! three thousand dollars is a ‘tarnal slue of money.”
Some variants suggest an English origin. In the 1800s, the Sussex word was tarble and the northern English word was terble. Further, in the 1900s, the Dorset word was tur’ble. In the United States, the word turrabel was written in Virginia’s 1775 Wilderness Road.
The word was first printed in 1724 in Bonny Bessie inside Tea-table Miscellany. The word seems to be regional to the mountains and the South in the U.S.
- Pole Cat/ polecat
a. Telephone lineman
The word seems to be from the Middle English word polkat. The OED breaks down the two words, saying the first word, “pole,” does not derive from the literal word “pole.” Instead, the part may originate from Old French’s poule or polle or, perhaps, the Middle French word (also) poule, meaning “hen,” referring to the animal’s “supposed appetite for chickens.” The word Polcat first appeared in the 1300s. In the United States, polecat was noted in William Strachey’s 1612 book The Historie of Travaile into Virginia Britannia.
From the Chief Editor, Delonda Anderson:
I could find no source that verifies this as a word. My paternal grandfather used the word. I would write this off as a mispronunciation, except my maternal grandmother pronounced it the same way. The word may be confined to the smaller community where they lived.
The word may derive from the word pizon in 1800s Oxfordshire and Devon in England. In the U.S., the word pyz’n appears in 1833 in The Down-Easters by John Neal. Further, the word seems to be prevalent on the eastern side of the U.S.
The following sources were used:
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED)
The Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE)
The Online Etymology Dictionary (ETYMOLOGY)
The Free Dictionary