carrion n Usu |ˈkæriən, ˈkɛriən|; also |ˈkærɪn, -ən| and, esp S Midl, |kjɑrən, kjɑ(ɚ)n| Pronc-spp caian, cairn, car(r)en, carrin, carron, carrun, carr’n, karn, kyarn, cyarn, kyahn [Two-syllable proncs of the carron type occur from ME onwards and are widespread in Brit dial; most of the other var types seem to be further developments from that type. See Pronc Intro 3.I.1.b, 3.I.16]]
Std Senses, var forms. For further exx see carrion crow n 1 Note: Forms of the kyarn type appear in recent usage mostly in set comparative phrr, and it is clear that many users are vague about the literal meaning of the word.
1838 Collegian (Univ. of VA) 178, And he . . . / Had sworn to make her tribe a feast, / For carri’n bird, and howling beast. 1843 Hall New Purchase 1.260 IN, Had I not been present, he would have abused his unlucky horse in very irreverent terms, calling him as it was:—“A most powerful rottin darn’d old carrin.” 1857 Holland Bay-path 209 MA, Look a’ here, . . the school’s out and the ma’am’s drownded, and now, you old carri’n, I aint goin to stan’ any more of your sass. 1876 St. Louis Dispatch (MO) 8 Mar /5 swGA, Talk about movin’! The shadder on a buzzard a drappin’ to kyarn hain’t nowher! 1884 Baldwin Yankee School-Teacher 37 wNY, Tell her Northern folks don’t eat carrun! 1887 Robinson Uncle Lisha’s Shop 144 VT, By seein’ or smellin’ a crow ’ll find carri’n milds off. 1889 Current Lit. 2.35 KY [Black], Run de ’coon up de tree, staid yere erw’ile, an’ den went off down yander in de bone-yard ter eat some kyarn—some o’ de flesh o’ er dead hoss. 1890 DN 1.73 Cape Cod MA, Carri’n [kærɪn]: carrion. 1893 Shands MS Speech 26, Cyarn [kjan]. Negro for carrion. 1899 (1912) Green VA Folk-Speech 106, Caren. . . Carrion. Carren. 1908 DN 3.328 eAL, wGA, Kyarn . . Carion [sic]. A negroism. 1916 DN 4.296 sAppalachians, “Palatal influence.” . . carrion. . . cy-arn. 1917 DN 4.410 wNC, Cyarn. . . Carrion. 1923 Tensas Gaz. (St. Joseph LA) 2 Nov 1/4, The following species of destructive birds may be killed at any time: . . black vulture (carron crow). 1933 Miller Lamb in His Bosom 43 GA, Stunk like carr’n. 1942 Hall Smoky Mt. Speech 94, Carrion as [kjɑɚn] now seems to be obsolescent. . . The prevailing pronunciation is said to be [ˈkærən]. 1947 (1964) Randolph Ozark Superstitions 246, Carr’n crow. 1965–69 DARE (Qu. Q13) Inf MS60, Caian crow; (Qu. R13) Inf MA42, [ˈkærən] flies. 1967 in 1968 Haun Hawk’s Done Gone 301 KY, He stunk like kyarn. 1969 DARE FW Addit seGA, Carrion [kjɑrən] crow. 1974 Stuart News (FL) 5 Mar /3,The Crackers used to call them “Cairn Crows.” 1992 Kingsport Times–News (TN) 9 Feb sec A 11/5, Dad was always saying that something was “bitter as k’yarn.” . . Dad would sometimes refer contemptuously to “k’yarn crows,” so I wondered whether “k’yarn” might be crow meat.. . . Dad grew up in the mountains of Western North Carolina around the turn of the century. 2004 DARE File eTX [Black], In my childhood in East Texas, a word that sounded like “kyahn” was used by my parents and grandparents with a meaning something like “an otherwise-unidentified substance with a disgusting odor,” since it occurred only in sentences like “That smells/stinks like/as bad as kyahn.” 2014 in 2022 DARE File—Internet, My Mother and Grandmother, Aunts, etc. (AL/E.TN) always used this word! When I asked what it was, I was told ‘carrion’. Mom’s most common usage was, “Why, she’s as lazy as cyarn.” 2021 in 2022 DARE File—Internet, I have heard the word Cyarn for the better part of my life– usually from Appalachian folks older than myself. If the word was derived from Carrion, the meaning has migrated from mere smell and the understudy [sic] of rotting carcasses, for I have heard it used as: (1) Stinks like Cyarn (2) Lazier than Cyarn (3) Filthier than Cyarn (4) Ain’t worth Cyarn.