Weekly Planner: Record Family Expressions and Sayings

When you saw Aunt Muriel, you could be sure she’d greet you with a sunny smile and “Good mornin’”–whether it was morning, noon, or night. When someone fell or dropped something, Grandpa Pyburn would respond with “Oopala!” Aunt Chula called my sisters and me “Lil’ bit” and my grandparents always called us “Suzie Q.” When it was time to leave, we were “off to the races” and with my grandparents, most sentences ended with “. . . and all that.” Make a record of the expressions that are a part of your heritage. These tidbits will give younger family members a glimpse into the personalities of relatives they may not have had the opportunity to meet.

17 thoughts on “Weekly Planner: Record Family Expressions and Sayings

  1. My grandmother was raised in a log cabin in Kentucky. She had lots of expressions that I can remember. When we would visit she would greet us with,”Come on in, sit down on the floor and let your legs hang down.”

  2. Growing up, my family used a lot of Czech expressions, but when I married, my husband taught me several phrases he had learned in Southern Ohio/West Virginia, some repeatable, some not. My favorite was “slicker ‘n snot on a doorknob” used in answer to the question if something went well. I don’t think I could translate that into Czech.

  3. when closing a letter written to someone overseas or even
    back east we closed with “that’s -30- for now” I think it
    had to do with newspaper writers.

  4. My Dad was born in 1894 and had a lot of really archaic sayings but the one that all of us really liked the best was this one. We had a cousin that led a less than exemplary life and each time we asked where he was, Dad would always reply, “Probably out chasing rabbits and drinking branch water.” Which meant he was chasing women and out drinking.

  5. My wife and I began making notes about family sayings and phrases several years ago. We now have a rather good list of phrases and unusual words that I’m sure our children and grandchildren have never heard (and probably never will, except for reading our list). We noted which family each item came from and its meaning. We learned that, in several cases, our families used similar words or phrases, but with subtle differences. It is an interesting addition to family trivia.

  6. My parents (both born before 1910), when not able to remember the name of something, would refer to it as a “whatchamacallit”. Also, my father who was of German heritage, always referred to his wallet as his “pocketbook”.

  7. What a great idea. I’ve been noticing recently that my teenagers will hear me say something in conversation and ask what I mean by it. It makes me stop and think. Usually it’s a phrase one of my parents used. Sometimes it’s a phrase from my generation – I grew up in the 60s and 70s. I never stopped to think that today’s youth wouldn’t know what I’m talking about.

  8. My mother-in-law greeted everyone as they were walking in the door with the following phrase, “Well, get out and come in!” I never quite understood the greeting, as we were already in the door.

    On more than one occasion, my mother gave the sage advice, “If wishes were horses, beggars could ride!”

  9. About 25 years ago I had a friend, who was a professional calligrapher, print and illuminate my parents’ favorite sayings. He made 3 of my mother’s sayings and 3 of my fathers. I had them framed and gave them to my mother and my two sisters for Christmas presents. They all loved them and hung them in prominent locations in their respective homes. I ended up with my mother’s copies after she died, and they are included in my wall of family pictures.

  10. My wonderful late father in law used to make the grandkids laugh by singing the following little ditty….I had a little dog named Rover and when he died, he died all over. I used to chuckle when I heard my Welsh mother in law would talk on the telephone. She never said much, other than Ayuh. But the various inflections in that Ayuh could mean many things. Yes, really, hadn’t thought about that, or most anything. Try it.

  11. I have included family coments and sayings in our family history, as there were so many of such rich texture……

    My grandfather, a rather Victorian Indian Army Officer,
    from 4 marriages had one very beautiful daughter.
    Men fell in love with her, and wanted to marry her, and as was the custom would ask my grandfather for her hand in marriage.
    Grandfather would reply,
    “Can you keep my daughter in the manner to which she is accostomed? If you can not, go away!”

  12. When questioned about where some unknown place was located, my wife’s family members usually responded “It’s over by Funstons”. This mythical place was frequently greated with a smile and a head scratch.
    Several weeks ago while researching her family I found the answer! Her great-grandparents next door neighbors listed in the 1880 census were the Funston family! Strange how simple things develop a life of their own.

  13. We have a daughter named Susan Elizabeth. We nicked named her Suzzy since all her brothers and sisters had nick names ending in “y”. We frequently called her Suzzy Q. Her sister who was 2 years and 2 months older could not say Elizabeth so she called her Suzzy Lil Bits.

  14. When I would ask my Mother how I looked in something she would say “pretty is as pretty does.”

  15. Whenever my grandmother would get onto to my grandfather about something, once she was out of hearing range, he’d say “Where that little woman spits, grass won’t grow.” She dipped Rooster snuff and where she spit it out in the yard, there was no grass. I was real careful not to get crossways of her. They were married for sixty three years and had seven children.

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