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Dixie Dude Ranch: Our Cowboy GuideWelcome to Texas! We have visitors in town right now from Germany, England, and Italy and just about everybody they have met here so far has welcomed them with a friendly Welcome to Texas, y’all! Once again I am reminded that Texans really are a very friendly bunch – andย of courseย Texans first and Americans second. I am really grateful that my adopted home for the past seven years has made my friends and family feel so welcome here! By the way, this friendliness should get its own post in my Only in Texas series ๐Ÿ˜‰

Between getting my sister addicted to Sonic Cherry Limeades, touring West Texas,ย eating way too many burgers, steaks, and Tex-Mex, we’ve alsoย discussed how to talk like a Texan. Want to learn how to speak Texan yourself? Here’s a little introduction for you.

  • Howdy = hello. This comes more natural for some people than others. Most people “in the city” really only use it when they want to sound Texan on purpose. If you hear it, it will probably be in combination with another very popular Texas expression (y’all), as in Howdy y’all!
  • (All) y’all = you. This is by far the most common! If you want to use “you” to adress more than one person, you need to add at least one, preferably two “all”, as is (all) y’all. Say you want to find out about this evening’s plan. Turn to the group of people you are talking to and you could say something like So, what are all y’all doin’ tonight?
  • Coke = any kind of soda. This one is less intuitive, or at least it is to me. I’ve actually ordered a coke before and was asked what kind I wanted. I was a little perplexed because I assumed “coke” = “Coca Cola”. Apparently, that doesn’t have to be the case. So, if you have people over and they askย Do you have any cokes? they probably want to know if you have any sodas and what kind.
  • I’m fixin’ to do something = I intend/am getting readyย to do something. This one is almost as common as y’all. At first, I didn’t really get it. Like, what do you have to fix? But you hear it often enough around here, so I’ve gotten used to it. Of course “fixing” can be used as “I’m fixing myself a salad”, but when used in combination with another verb, it means that you’re getting ready to do something. An example? Somebody calls you to ask if you’re on your way. You could answer No, but I’m fixin’ to leave now. Makes sense?

Chicken Fried Steak Festival: Horses

I’ll throw one of the more commonย Texasย idioms in here for free.ย These idioms willย get their ownย post one day ๐Ÿ™‚ So, do you really wanna talk like a Texan? Then try throwing This ain’t my first rodeo!* at your conversation buddy next time they try to explain something to you that you already know. Say, you’re having a BBQ and somebody keeps trying to explain to you how to grill your steak. This would be a great opportunity to turn around and say This ain’t my first rodeo, buddy! Depending on how seriousย you can manage to get that oneย out, you might get a few laughs or they’ll just quietly wonder where you learned you to speak Texanย ๐Ÿ™‚

Want more conversational Texas expressions? Check out the first post I wrote about how I learned to blend in here: Do You Speak Texan?

So, my Texan friends, did I forget anything? Got anything wrong? Chime in with comments below!

*Thanks to Austin, our BBQ buddy, for reminding me of this fun expression. I hadn’t heard it in a while ๐Ÿ™‚


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  • Shanna says:

    Don’t forget gonna = going to (sort of like fixing to). I’m gonna go to the store later. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Ana says:

    I love the plural and possessive forms of y’all: y’alls (or is it y’all’s?)
    Ana recently posted..Only in Paris- Texas

    • Sabrina says:

      Yes!! ๐Ÿ™‚ I think it’s “y’all’s” in the possessive, as in “Is that y’all’s car?”

    • Actually, “y’all” is singular. For the plural you must say “all y’all.” lol

    • The Boot Gawdess of Austin says:

      Y’all IS a plural form (of you). So there is no plural form of y’all. The reason we have formed the it in the first place is that the English Language had you plural form of You that was different that the single form, which in many cases, causes confusion. Many people choose to add the word, “all” to the you to indicate they were communicating the plural form. In time, it became a contraction. No other state came up with an idea. So they just laugh at the solution that Texans come up with instead of using their energy to come up with something better. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Ana says:

    BTW, Have you heard this one: that dog won’t hunt? I think it means something going to fail.
    Ana recently posted..Only in Paris- Texas

    • Sabrina says:

      Never heard it ๐Ÿ™‚ But it does sound like something you could come across here ๐Ÿ™‚

    • mebair says:

      I’ve totally heard this!

    • JT Morris says:

      Yeah, this is very common for people in sales…i.e. “Take a look at this deal and see if it makes sense…” Response: “That dog’ll hunt.” Yes, there’s a deal here.

      Several more colorful Texas sales-speak:

      “Lipstick on the pig” — Fixing something up…ugly house (pig) with a new paint job (lipstick).

      “Snake in the grass” — Inconspicuous conniving person

      “Ground floor tenant in a 2-story outhouse” — About to get pooped on

      “Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered” — Pushing for profit is beneficial, but greed is detrimental

      “Arguing with swine about how his breath smells like crap” — Arguing with someone that can’t be convinced due to personal attachment to the debate.

    • David says:

      The version of this saying that I’ve heard is “This old dog won’t hunt”, which means something like “I don’t believe you”. Heard it from my dad’s cousin Leroy from Oklahoma.

  • Katherina says:

    Thanks for sharing! I love learning new expressions… and usually learn them quite quickly (I’ve got a whole “series” about all what I’ve learned at work so far…). I loved the last one – this ain’t my first rodeo! ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Katherina recently posted..Thereโ€™s Something I Am Dying to Tell You

    • Sabrina says:

      Thanks! That’s my favorite too ๐Ÿ™‚ And you can always combine it with another one, like: This ain’t my first rodeo, y’all! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I don’t think my family has anything to do with Texas, but my grandpa always used to say “howdy.” Sometimes I do too just because just because it makes me think of him. I wonder if it’s commonly said elsewhere in the States as well, or if Gramps just liked saying it for fun. Hmm.

    • Sabrina says:

      That’s sweet! Maybe it is a Southern thing in general and not just a Texas thing?

    • gio says:

      It is always used in Texas,not new.Howdy or how ya’ll doin’/how y’ll doin’.Used if they’re more than one or even for a single person if he is older as a respect.Like in French “tu and vous” is used.For a much younger person than yourself or when addressing more people together.In the old West it is disrespect to call your grandpa or a lady “you” so y’ll is used.You’re not gonna say how do u do like in England nor how u doin’ like a Yankee new Yorker if u need my service.

  • Love these! They never get old. ๐Ÿ™‚ And yes, for any of you non-Texans reading this, they are all real. Especially the Coke one. Drives my Canadian husband crazy. And BTW, I am addicted to Sonic Diet Cherry Limeades too. Soooo good!
    TexaGermaNadian recently posted..Not gonna to lie- its my favorite store

    • Sabrina says:

      Thanks! I’m glad I got it right ๐Ÿ™‚ I looooove the Diet Lime Limeades and just had weened myself off before my sister came to visit. Now, I am hooked again and I wouldn’t be surprised if she starts lobbying for Sonic to open up stores in Europe ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Jan says:

    Hi! I love your posts on speaking Texan–I think you nailed us ๐Ÿ™‚
    Jan recently posted..Auf Wiedersehen

    • Sabrina says:

      Thank Jan ๐Ÿ™‚ I just hopped over to your blog and wanted to wish you all the best on your move, but Blogger wouldn’t let me comment for some reason. I wish you a great start in Deutschland!!

  • Love this list of Texan-isms! And they’re so true too. I’m going to try to remember the rodeo saying and use it! I do use “that dog don’t hunt” and must have learnt (!) it from my momma who is from Oklahoma ๐Ÿ™‚
    Debbie Beardsley recently posted..Burgundy France โ€“ Land of Plenty

    • Sabrina says:

      I know, right? I’m still trying to find a way to use the rodeo saying at work sometime to see people’s reaction ๐Ÿ™‚ So, “that dog won’t hunt” is also used in Oklahoma, hm? I wonder if they imported it from Texas or the other way around…

  • Jan says:

    Thanks, Sabrina! I still have some time before I go…I’m on my way now to get some Mexican food ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Tijmen says:

    Hearing someone say this with a Texan accent would definitely make me smile “This ain’t my first rodeo, buddy!” For me, a guy from Europe, the southern accent sounds so funny.
    Tijmen recently posted..Photo Essay- New Zealand

    • Sabrina says:

      I’ve sort of gotten used to it ๐Ÿ™‚ But it still makes me smile sometimes – especially when these kind of expressions come from older people or people a little outside the cities since they tend to have a stronger accent.

  • jade says:

    Funny! Growing up in the South, all of these are pretty familiar to me. I love, love, love- This ain’t my first rodeo… which i try and use whenever I can!

    • Sabrina says:

      Let me know how it goes! Do people look at you surprised when you hit them with a “This ain’t my first rodeo”? ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Laurel says:

    I love Texas hospitality. I hadn’t heard the one about the rodeo before, but I like it – very Texan and I love hearing “y’all” in the Texan drawl.
    Laurel recently posted..Hohenzollern Castle โ€“ One of Germanyโ€™s Top Visited Castles

    • Sabrina says:

      I do too! And the fact that they made my family and friends feel so welcome here, really meant a lot.The Texan drawl… I know! Hard to imitate ๐Ÿ™‚ Maybe you’re born with it.

  • R. Sherman says:

    A number of those phrases are ubiquitous across the South. I grew up in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri and heard/used most of them. The key thing is breaking out the diphthongs and, heaven help us, triphthongs on the vowels. ๐Ÿ™‚
    R. Sherman recently posted..Its Just Another Day On The Calendar

    • Sabrina says:

      Yep, that’s when the Southern drawl really shows ๐Ÿ™‚ So, all of these are all across the South? How fun! I bet they pronounce them slightly differently in every state.

  • Sophie says:

    Very funny post ๐Ÿ™‚ How did you end up in Texas? I used to live up the street – in Oklahoma – for 5 years(ages ago). And they use the same expressions up there on the other side of the Red River. Another one is “pop” – I suppose from soda pop – only they shorten it to pop rather than soda. Oh, and “sit” – everything is always sittin’ somewhere… the cup is sittin’ on the table, the flowers are sittin’ in the window sill… – oh and of course, we’re not foreigners, but furriners. That said, I do agree, Texans (and Okies) are very friendly.

    • Sabrina says:

      Hey Sophie! Glad you found me ๐Ÿ™‚ I came here as an exchange student, met my boyfriend (from Rome out of all places), came back for grad school, and stayed on for a job. It’s crazy how time flies by! It’s been seven years and I am still here! I had no idea they used the same expressions in Oklahoma!! Haha, they use the “sittin'” here as well – for everything! Too funny! And I love your spelling of the furriners ๐Ÿ™‚

  • candace says:

    I was wondering if there is a phrase that texans would yell about texas. As in showing pride for either living or having been born in Texas. Maybe like Texas forever or something. anyone know what i mean?

    • Sabrina says:

      I hadn’t heard of anything like that, so I am glad that Aubrey already confirmed that below. I have heard the “born and bred” before ๐Ÿ™‚ People here seem to identify with the local football teams a lot, so if you hear things – even when travelling in other cities/states – it’s usually about that. For example, if you’re from Lubbock where the university team are the Red Raiders, and run into somebody in Houston that’s also from Lubbock you might get a “Go Raiders!”. But that’s not really related to the state per se I guess…

    • JT Morris says:

      Born and bred…yeah…and in sales many customers will ask where you’re from, and a proud “Dallas, born and bred” is my response…Texans like dealing with Texans.

      And a true Texan can tell the difference between east Texas (Dallas, Houston) accents and west Texas (Midland-Odessa, Amarillo) accents…someone without the ear can tell if someone is from east Texas if they call a creek a “crick”

      • Sabrina says:

        …and I didn’t know that accents were that different within Texas either! I guess it makes sense since it’s a huge state. I’ll listen for the “crick” next time I head east ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Rose of San Anton says:

        So, funny. While in Vermont I heard some fellow Texans talking. I knew immediately that they were from East Texas.

  • Aubrey says:

    Candace, I am a native Texan, and to answer your question, no. There is not really a particular phrase we use to express our pride of our state. But, as for me, on those rare occasions when I’m asked if I’m from Texas, I’ll often respond with “Born and bred!” as a proud affirmation.

    Sabrina, the part about Coke is so funny! I’ve had this conversation a few times, and our way of referring to soda really doesn’t make sense. For instance, I could open the refrigerator and say to a visiting friend, “Do you wanna Coke?” and they would respond “Sure, what do you have?” In this case, it’s exactly as you said, “coke” refers to any type of soda. On the other hand, if I wanted a Coca-Cola at a restaurant, I would tell the waiter I want a “Coke” and no further explanation is needed. I would never ask for a “Coca-Cola” here at home; it actually makes me chuckle to think about doing so.

    • Sabrina says:

      That’s because you know what you’re doing ๐Ÿ™‚ In retrospect I have to smile about many things I said when I first moved here and I thought I understood the words, but totally didn’t get the meaning ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Robert says:

    In addition to “fixin’ to” (preparing to), there’s “just fixin’ to” which means I’m gonna be doin’ it r’at now (immediately).

  • Jessica says:

    Sabrina, I am so enjoying your experience of Texas as an outsider. As a native Texan, I love to see what others think of what we consider to be our “own little country.” It’s funny how regularly I say the things that you listed here and although I know they are “Texan,”they just seem like a part of language to me. Heck, I even have a T-shirt that says Not My First Rodeo. I say that all the time. Off to read some more and so glad to have met you.
    Jessica recently posted..Hall of State and Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum

    • Sabrina says:

      Thanks!! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m so glad you found your way over here. Seriously loved the Cowboy Jesus on your blog! Too funny! It’s one of these quirky things that I couldn’t imagine seeing anywhere else. You have a T-shirt with Not My First Rodeo” on it?? That’s awesome. I think I need to get one for Marco. He’d love that.

  • Sharon says:

    Hi, Sabrina,
    Lived in Texas most of my life – work for Siemens and have lots of delegates and visitors – so enjoy seeing us through their eyes (it’s enlightening and amusing…). One expression that I didn’t see included is “all hat and no cattle” – simply means all talk and no substance…
    Best wishes!

    • Sabrina says:

      Oh, that’s a good one! I’ve never heard it, but it fits so well ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for sharing! I agree with you. It’s always fun to see yourself through the eyes of another culture. There are quite a few American bloggers in Germany and I love reading about their impressions about what I thought everybody did, but turns out is very German ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Andrea says:

    My father in law always says “out yonder” which is pronounced “ouchyonder” which means way over there. My husband uses the all hat and no cattle often; it’s not a nice thing to sy about someone though do be careful when you use it! I love this post. I think I’m going to compile all my husbands sayings for my blog as a language primer for travellers to texas! Lol!
    Andrea recently posted..No Touch Monkey! A giveaway!!

    • Sabrina says:

      Out Yonder? I have to remember that. And all hats and no cattle is a bad thing? Thanks for the heads up! It sounded kind of innocent and funny to me. Yes, write a post about your husbands sayings. I’m sure there are so many more I have never heard of. I’ve been thinking I need to do an update to this post including all the information in the comments alone ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Leigh says:

    When I think of Texan the first thing that comes to mind is “I’ll tell ya what””. To me that’s how every Texan starts a sentence. A fun post!
    Leigh recently posted..Photo Essay of Puglia, Italy

  • Jesse says:

    Well y’all are coming up with some good stuff but are missing the best quotes that we say here on the east part of Texas (we don’t say state) for example:
    -” A closed mouth gathers no foot.”
    -” You donโ€™t have to explain what you donโ€™t say.”
    – “Every fish ever caught had his mouth open.”

    They all mean keep your mouth shut or be quiet.

    Others are “They ate supper before they said grace” guess what that means
    The most annoying one is “Do wut now?”

    • Sabrina says:

      I’ve never been to east Texas! Only head South and towards the middle. I have to make it a trip one of these days. What are the best locations? Also… I like the fish saying ๐Ÿ™‚ However, I have no idea what “They ate supper before they said grace” means… Give me a hint!

  • Dallas says:

    I always have and always will live in Texas. I live In Round Rock, Texas. ROUND ROCK DOUGHNUTS ARE THE BEST IN THE WORLD!!!!they are MUUUUCH better than Dunkin’s or any others. too bad they are always crowded…
    I would say pretty much everyone in Texas uses y’all. IDK why but Austin (the capital, VERY close to Round rock, my dad says there is lots to dot here(i’m 16)) is called the music capitol of the world…

    • Sabrina says:

      Gotta stop by Round ROck for some doughnuts then ๐Ÿ™‚ We head to Austin quite a bit for little trips and I love that city!

  • Dallas says:

    also H-E-B its a really good Grocery store. Original Cola (H-E-B brand) is much better than Coca-Cola IMO.

  • Sarah Haynes says:

    Here are some for y’all. Starting with my personal favorite from my dearly departed mother-in-law,used when in a state of disbelief, “Well, butter my backside and call me a biscuit!” We also have a saying for when we refer to ourselves as young’ens, or just little one’s in general, “Knee high to a jack rabbit”. Also, aight was left out… short for all right, form of conformation. I’m am Texan by birth and even more so by heart, we aren’t a lazy bunch, just a bunch of hard workers with a lot to say and not enough time to say it, hence the missing letters in our vocabulary.

    • john burns says:

      Have just used your mother-in-law’s ‘butter my backside…’ quote in a book I’m writing. It’s a laugh-out-loud idiom. Any good ones for idiots/crooks etc would be gratefully appreciated.

  • W. Wren says:

    Texans use the word ‘Mamm’ a lot,its used out of respect for women.

  • stanley says:

    Theres another thing cowboys use . toodle oo means good bye

  • MasterJ says:

    Great blog. I am from Texas and I have heard from my uncles, “sodawater” for soda. Weird, but true. One of the best things in Texas is Texas BBQ. No better place to get the best BBQ, like Texas. Also, did you know that Jesus is from Texas… lol
    He’s also a Spurs fan.
    MasterJ recently posted..Them Germans… and Delicious Texas Food

  • kerrey says:

    I love “he’s/she’s as dumb as a stump”

  • john burns says:

    I’m presently writing a book set in Texas – where I have holidayed twice. I’m desperately seeking lots of Texan idioms. What terms are there for an idiot for instance? For someone trying to fool you etc. All suggestions welcome. Thank you in advance – John

  • Ty says:

    A favorite of mine is “Sometimes you just gotta l
    et the pony run”

  • KOConnell says:

    Another saying in Texas is”let sleeping dogs lay”. In other words if it ain’t broke don’t fix it or just leave or let the situation be.

  • Josie Gwen Williams says:

    I like to say, its under the belt, nothing can be done about it. I also say yonder. I was born & raised in Texas. Its not just what you say but how you say it. I say howdy a lot. On hunting I leave the t off. I pronounce it hunning.

  • William A Boykin says:

    Love this blog, ainโ€™t nothin like the United States of Texas southern drawl. My Father born and raised in Flo, He used phrases like crick (creek), taters (potatoes), git (get) and as for soda, he called it sodi water. For meals, it was always breakfast, dinner and supper. He passed many years ago, but to this day I still use some of them and some of his more colorful Southern sayings.

    • Sabrina says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad the post reminded you of your dad. And yay for taters! We use that too even though we left Texas a few years ago ๐Ÿ™‚

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