Texas Lingo: How Many of These Words Do You Know?



By: Monica Lee

6 Min Quiz

Image: Image by Erik Pronske Photography / Moment / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Ah'itie folks, we reckon it's 'bout time y'all learn a thang or two about talkin' Texan. And it's jus' not a few purtee words, it's whole durn phrases ya need ta know. Like, "it's gettin' hotter than a two-dollar pistol in Texas." Or, "so crooked that if he swallowed a nail he’d spit up a corkscrew." Yessiree, the slang is fun, colorful and, yes, even wise. Like "never sign nothin' by neon." Or, "If you cut your own firewood, it’ll warm you twice." So pay attention. The words here come from a state known fir likin' ev'thang bag (big). So this here ain't no piddlee'o quiz. Got yer' 35 questions that will help you start understandin' Texas-speak in no time. 

So you're prob'ly itchin' to learn now. But don’t get your panties in a wad, just take the quiz. And once you git'er done, you'll be flappin' them jaws in no time. Saying "y'all", "thang" and "jeetjet" for "Did you eat yet?" Then you can "hallelujah the county" and "paint the town AND the front porch" because of yer high score. Maybe you won't know how to talk like a real Texan, but understandin' them is half the battle. Git goin', take the quiz now. 

What does "raising cane" mean?

Because Cain was the first murderer in the Bible, having killed his brother Abel, people use the expression "raising Cain" to describe acts of violence or mischievous acts. However, today it has a more rambunctious meaning (and a different spelling) like having a wild time.


"Doesn’t have a pot to piss in." What does that mean?

This means that someone is so destitute that they have to go to the bathroom in the street. They don't even have a pot to piss in.


Still don't have a drink? Now, "Don't pitch a hissy fit." What does that mean?

"Don't have a tantrum "is another way to describe the meaning of "Don't have a hissy fit." Even if you're madder than a two-dollar rattlesnake, calm down.


What does it mean if you're "a few pickles short of a barrel"?

Use this expression to describe someone who's kind of dumb. Another way to stay the same thing is "not the sharpest crayon in the box".


"Piddlee'o" means what when you're talking to a Texan?

Piddlee'o is a small thing or a small amount, as in "Ain't you just a piddlee'o thang." Thang = Thing.


"She could start a fight in an empty house." What trait is described in this phrase?

This phrase means the person is quick to argue. Here's another phrase that means the same thing; "He’d argue with a wooden Indian".


In Texas, what does it mean if you're in "tall cotton"?

To be in "tall cotton" means to be living at the peak of your life, or living the high life, or similar to "salad days".


What kind of person are you describing when you say, "He can strut sitting down."

It means the person is boastful. Here are some other ways to describe the same attribute. "She’s all gurgle and no guts."


What does "sho'nuff" mean?

This expression can be used to express an obvious agreement like, “Hot today, ain’t it?” “Sho’nuff.” Or it can be used to emphasize a description of something such as, “El Paso is sho’nuff far from here.”


"He’s on a first-name basis with the bottom of the deck." What kind of trait does this phrase describe?

It means the person is dishonest. Here are some other ways to describe the same trait. "There are a lot of nooses in his family tree." And, "slicker than a slop jar."


If someone says "dad gum it", what does it mean?

Texans have polite manners and will use this phrase instead of a swear word. Aw shucks, ain't that sweet?


What does "ain’t my first rodeo" mean?

If someone says to you "This ain’t my first rodeo", it means that it isn't his or her first time doing it. He or she has experienced doing the activity in the past.


"I reckon the team is going to lose this game." What does "I reckon" mean?

"I reckon" means that I think something is going to happen, or I believe something to be true. If the team is losing by 40 points, you might reckon that the team is not going to win.


"So dry I'm spitting cotton." What does that mean?

Texas gets hot and dry, and if you're out in the fields you might work up a thirst that is so powerful it feels like you're spitting cotton. Get yourself a drink and then get back to work.


What does "fixin’ tuh" mean?

"Fixin' tuh" means you're going to do it, as in, you're fixated on doing the activity. “Are you going to make dinner?” “Fixin’ tuh.”


If you describe people as "They wouldn’t bite a biscuit" what are you saying?

This phrase describes someone who's so afraid of everything that they wouldn't do something as simple as biting into a delicious buttermilk biscuit. They are afraid of their own shadow, is another way to put it.


"Busy as a one-legged man at an butt-kicking contest." What does this mean?

It means you're so busy that you don't have time to eat, sleep or take a break of any kind, because of everything you have to do.


"Git along little doggie!" What are the cowboys referring to?

A dogie is a calf (young cow) that has no mother. "Git along little doggie" is a phrase used by cowboys while herding cattle. It means "c'mon or move with us."


If you're "chawing the rag," what are you doing?

What's the scoop? What's the gossip? Go on and "chaw the rag" and tell all to your friends about it. This meaning takes into account the attitude that you have all the time in the world to talk.


You have to remember the Wild West to understand this one. What does it mean to be"brave enough to eat in a boomtown cafe"?

Boomtowns would set up and be gone within the week. Because of that, their restaurants were lax on everything from service to the actual food. You have to have a brave stomach to venture into one of those cafes.


What does it mean if someone has a "hitch in his gitalong?"

It would nice if this phrase described something good, but it is describing someone who has a permanent or temporary limp.


If someone refers to you as "like a drum with a hole in it" what does that mean?

A drum with a hole in it is useless. And If someone has said this about you, they think you're not worth trying to fix.


If someone says something is "hot as a two-dollar pistol" what does it mean?

A cheap gun is usually a black market item, meaning that it's "hot." So if something is even "hotter" than that, be careful when the law comes 'round.


"No hill for a stepper." What the heck does that mean?

To get somewhere, you need to take the first step. And with motivation, there's no problem that can't be resolved by someone who sets their mind to accomplishing their goals.


"Come hell or high water." What does that make you think of?

"Come hell or high water" means that you've made a promise and you'll keep it no matter what stands in your way.


What exactly is a "var'mit" from a Texan point of view?

Varmint is any small animal, particularly one that is being hunted, as in "Me and Riley went var'mit huntin' this mornin'."


Although you'll hear this in Texas, it's also heard in other places in the U.S. What's a "kicker?"

The "kicker" is the deciding or most motivating factor in an argument. As in, "...and here's the kicker..."


Oh my, you're "calling for Earl". What does that mean?

You might hurl your insides out after you had too many cold ones. Your friends will describe it as "calling for Earl".


"All git-out" means what?

The utmost conceivable degree of something or the highest compliment. As in, "This pie is as good as all git-out."


"If I say a hen dips snuff, you can look under her wing for the can." What the heck is the trait this phrase is describing?

This colorful Texan phrase means you are honest. Another phrase that means the same thing is, "You can bet the farm on it".


What does it mean to say someone is "knee high to a grasshopper"?

This is an age, and not a height reference. Most people were "knee high to a grasshopper" when they were two or three years old. Before then they were "down to an ant's ankle."


What does "all hat and no cattle" mean?

If you're talking to someone and they aren't making a good argument, or any sense at all, you would say that person is "all hat and no cattle". Or they have no idea what they're talking about.


What does "get on at" mean?

"Get on at" means to gain employment, as in, "Jessie's gonna' try to get on at the Bonanza Cattle Ranch as a farm hand next week."


You have to live in Texas to get this. What does "two different buckets of possums" mean?

Possums are problems. And a bucket of possums are bigger problems. But this saying refers to "buckets" as being very different. You would use this saying when you talk about having a drought and a broken TV.


Do you have the Texas accent down pat yet? While you're working on it, what does "git r done" mean?

Although it sounds like someone is telling you to get something done, it's actually an acknowledgement of a job well done, or well on its way to being finished.


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