what's that? well, bless your heart

The meanings behind those "sweet" southern sayings

Peach cobbler, pecan pie, honey butter biscuits, and sweet tea; everything is sweeter in the South. Things are slower and people talk sweeter. Or do they? In the South what sounds like a compliment may actually be an insult. Let’s take a look at some of these sayings so you know whether or not to be offended.

“Bless your heart.”

This is probably the most-used expression. When you’ve said something offensive about someone, you bless their heart. “Her hair looks like a bird’s nest in a tornado! Bless her heart.” “He could eat corn through a picket fence. Bless his heart.” (This means his buck teeth are being called out.)

“Well, isn’t that nice?”

This phrase is used as a response to something you aren’t interested in hearing about and an excellent way to end one topic and move to the next. For instance, after you ask someone how they are and you get a long-winded answer, “Well, isn’t that nice” nips this conversation in the bud.

“I’ll pray for you.”

When a Southerner doesn’t think there is a solution to your problem or thinks you’ve done something bad, they will pray for you. “Your mother-in-law is coming for a week? I’ll pray for you.”

“Thanks for sharing.”

This saying is similar to “Well, isn’t that nice?” It’s a polite way to exit a conversation. It’s especially appropriate with young kids who tell you about every bodily function they have. “Thanks for sharing.”

“Oh, I couldn’t pull that off, but look at you!”

This expression is basically saying “You look ridiculous” or “I would never get caught dead in that get-up.” This is NOT complimenting the outfit, the hairstyle, or whatever new look you’ve put together.

“Well, aren’t you a peach?

Usually this comment is said to someone who has just ticked you off. “Peach” is just a substitute for a curse word that would normally get your mouth washed out with soap. It’s usually uttered after having a bad customer-service experience.

“God love ‘em.”

Very similar to “Bless your heart” but used for someone who really doesn’t know any better, like a child or a politician. “I heard Mr. Jones is running for school board – God love ‘em!”

Hopefully now you are a bit more fluent in Southern speak; if not, well, “Bless your heart.”