We’re constantly hearing about saving eagles or giant pandas from extinction, but we rarely hear about words.
Electric Literature reported on a campaign launched to help preserve a strange, yet wildly entertaining list of “endangered” regional American words and phrases.
After all, we can’t lose our sonsy supple-sawneys!
The list of words and phrases was compiled by the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE). DARE has been working on this project since 1965, when they conducted nearly 3,000 face-to-face interviews with individuals across the U.S. to map all the variations of dialect across the states, according to the Guardian.
After carefully selecting the words they believe are “on the cusp of extinction,” DARE partnered with podcasting platform Acast. The plan: The hosts of the programs on Acast’s network will use the words during their shows, influence their millions of listeners, and bring said words back into vocabularies around the nation.
Thomas Daly’s history podcast “American Biography” is one of the first to take on the endeavor, so listen carefully and “be on one’s beanwater.”
Without further ado, here are the 50 endangered words and phrases:
Barn burner: a wooden match that can be struck on any surface. Chiefly Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Maryland.
Bat hide: a dollar bill. Chiefly southwest.
Be on one’s beanwater: to be in high spirits, feel frisky. Chiefly New England.
Bonnyclabber: thick, sour milk. Chiefly north Atlantic.
Counterpin: a bedspread. Chiefly south and south midland.
Croker sack: a burlap bag. Chiefly Gulf states, south Atlantic.
Cuddy: a small room, closet, or cupboard.
Cup towel: a dish towel. Chiefly Texas, inland south region.
Daddock: rotten wood, a rotten log. Chiefly New England.
Dish wiper: a dish towel. Chiefly New England.
Dozy: of wood, decaying. Chiefly north-east, especially Maine.
Dropped egg: a poached egg. Chiefly New England.
Ear screw: an earring. Chiefly Gulf States, lower Mississippi Valley.
Emptins: homemade yeast used as starter in bread. Chiefly New England, upstate New York.
Farmer match: a wooden match than can be struck on any surface. Chiefly upper Midwest, Great Lakes region, New York, West Virginia.
Fleech: to coax, wheedle, flatter. South Atlantic.
Fogo: An offensive smell. Chiefly New England.
Frog strangler: a heavy rain. Chiefly south, south midland.
Goose drownder: a heavy rain. Chiefly midland.
I vum: I swear, I declare. Chiefly New England.
Larbo: a type of candy made of maple syrup on snow. New Hampshire.
Last button on Gabe’s coat: the last bit of food. Chiefly south, south midland.
Leader: a downspout or roof gutter. Chiefly New York, New Jersey.
Nasty-neat: overly tidy. Scattered usage, but especially northeast.
Parrot-toed: pigeon-toed. Chiefly mid-Atlantic, south Atlantic.
Pin-toed: pigeon-toed. Especially Delaware, Maryland, Virginia.
Popskull: cheap or illegal whiskey. Chiefly southern Appalachians.
Pot cheese: cottage cheese. Chiefly New York, New Jersey, northern Pennsylvania, Connecticut.
Racket store: a variety store. Particularly Texas.
Sewing needle: a dragonfly. Especially Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Massachusetts.
Shat: a pine needle. Chiefly Delaware, Maryland, Virginia.
Shivering owl: a screech owl. Chiefly south Atlantic, Gulf states.
Skillpot: a turtle. Chiefly District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia.
Sonsy: cute, charming, lively. Scattered.
Spill: a pine needle. Chiefly Maine.
Spin street yarn: to gossip. Especially New England.
Spouty: of ground: soggy, spongy. Scattered.
Suppawn: corn meal mush. Chiefly New York.
Supple-sawney: a homemade jointed doll that can be made to “dance”. Scattered.
Tacker: a child, especially a little boy. Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania.
Tag: a pine needle. Chiefly Virginia.
To bag school: to play hooky. Chiefly Pennsylvania, New Jersey.
Tow sack: a burlap bag. Chiefly south, south midland, Texas, Oklahoma.
Trash mover: a heavy rain. Chiefly mid-Atlantic, south Atlantic, lower Mississippi Valley.
Tumbleset: a somersault. Chiefly south-east, Gulf states; also north-east.
Wamus: a men’s work jacket. Chiefly north-central, Pennsylvania.
Whistle pig: a groundhog, also known as woodchuck. Chiefly Appalachians.
Winkle-hawk: a three-cornered tear in cloth. Chiefly Hudson Valley, New York.
Work brittle: eager to work. Chiefly midland, especially Indiana.
Zephyr: a light scarf. Scattered.