Southern Source: William Faulkner

The American writer and Nobel Prize Laureate from Oxford, Mississippi, used a heap (a large number, a great deal) of Southern regional speech in his writings. Did you know DARE used Faulkner quotations in over 400 entries? Below is just a small sample. And, just for fun, we threw in one by his brother, John Faulkner, also an author, who is cited by DARE over 40 times. See if you can find which one is his!  (For help, go to the Digital DARE online bibliography.)

aggravoke v: [Blend of aggravate + provoke]

1967 Faulkner Wishing Tree 44 MS, Him and his army! I’ll war him, I will: he ain’t never seen no war like what I can aggravoke.

bobbasheely v: To saunter, sashay, move in a friendly fashion.

1962 Faulkner Reivers 177 MS, You and Sweet Thing bobbasheely on back to the hotel now, and me and Uncle Remus and Lord Fauntleroy will mosey along.

drummer n: One who solicits trade; a traveling salesman.

1942 Faulkner Go Down 96 MS, I want to know about that damn Saint Louis drummer.

gizzle n: The throat.

1946 Faulkner Sound & Fury (App.) 84 MS, “He cut up all Benjy’s dolls.” Caddy said. “I’ll slit his gizzle.”

hammer mill n: A feed mill utilizing small, rapidly revolving hammers.

1950 Faulkner Stories 47 MS, [He] slipped and caught his leg in the hammer mill this afternoon.

I be phr: I’ll be.

1930 Faulkner As I Lay Dying 65 MS, I be durn if it didn’t give me the creeps.

law v:  To obtain by legal action.

1957 Faulkner Town 243 MS, Sue me? . . If she was fixing to try to law something out of me about that fire, do you reckon she would a hunted me up and offered to pay me for it?

melt n: The spleen of an animal, esp when prepared as food.

1950 Faulkner Stories 372 MS, Then there was the tongue, paws and melt of a bear.

overhauls n pl: [Folk-etymology for overalls]

1940 Faulkner Hamlet 62 MS, The fellow had just begun to unbutton his over-halls.

pure adj:  Real, veritable, regular.

1941 Faulkner Men Working 24 MS, Ifen you don’t say something to him soon, he’ll have a pure fit.

quality n: The social or economic elite of a community; one of its members.

1957 Faulkner Town 245 MS, You talk about change to quality, what you gets back is a quarter or a half a dollar or sometimes even a whole dollar. It’s just trash that cant think no higher than a nickel or ten cents.

redbird n: A cardinal.

1929 (1951) Faulkner Sartoris 337 MS, They saw redbirds darting like arrows of scarlet flame.

sharecrop v: To work as a sharecropper to rent out (land) on shares.

1957 Faulkner Town 246 MS, For the same reason I would hunt up the best carpenter if I wanted to build a house, or the best farmer if I wanted to share-crop some land.

unlessen conj: Unless.

1962 Faulkner Reivers 120 MS, But unlessen I done got rusty on my trading and made a mistake I dont know about, he dont disbelieve it.

Virginia n: (Standard sense, various forms.)

1950 Faulkner Stories 753 MS [Black], Dey tole us back dar at Ferginny it was done wid.


Back to Word Lists