Trucklers Windjamming on the Hustings

It was Mark Twain that said “a southerner speaks music,” and I agree. A lot of the old Southern writers used a lot of dialect and idioms in their writing. This was awkward at times, but in other cases really brought the writing to life. Zora Neale Hurston is well known for her use of vernacular. She was a folklorist and enlivened her writing with so many great metaphors and figures of speech.

It reminds me of my grandmother from northeast Alabama who always had a reference to a goose or turtle or pole cat that seemed fit right in to what she was talking about.

Along that line, I read a lot of old Georgia and Tennessee newspapers and old legal cases and I’ve tried to keep track of some of my favorite novel uses of words:


Spittoons were so common they had many synonyms and were known as cuspidors, salivarettes and expectorates

A divine – preacher

Thimblerigging – slight of hand game of chance, a con

Gewgaw – a shiny, worthless thing

Husting - a campaign event or assembly

Truckler – a servile agent

Windjamming - wasting speech

Refawm – a mocking reference to reform

Filch - to steal

Throwin de bones - gambling (conjuring luck)

Pard - associate

Skinner – a gambler

Charnel house - place of death and destruction

Turned turtle - turned over, capsized, or flip-flopped

Working to slow music - easy work

Avoirdupois - weight, heaviness

It was impolite to refer to a woman’s leg and more proper to say limb

Calaboosed - jailed

Barratry - ambulance chasing