In the South, saying "hello" isn’t just one word. The Southern greeting is unique and, like many other Southern customs, means to make you feel at home. Southern hospitality isn’t a myth, and you'll experience the warmth for yourself when you encounter your first enthusiastic, “Hey, y’all!”
If you're visiting the South, a simple salutation usually won’t suffice. Make sure to ask about the family, especially any older relatives. Other rules of good manners go beyond words. Courtesy, friendliness, and respect are paramount to the Southern greeting. Even if you really don’t like the other person, just say, “Bless your heart” with a smile and move on.
When it’s time to depart, real Southern creativity kicks in. Here, it’s never just a simple "goodbye" or "see you later."
Even if you can fake a Southern drawl, these imaginatively descriptive farewells require an attitude born and bred in the South. Each of these forms of saying goodbye means something a little different, starting with a goodbye to a dear friend or family member, on down to shooing your least favorite person out the door.
- "Holler if you need me."
- "Y’all come back now, y’hear?"
- "Church is out."
- "Let’s blow this pop stand."
- "That’s all she wrote."
- "Don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya."
Other Southern Sayings
Any true conversationalist knows there's much more than the hellos and goodbyes. Here are few more sayings to use in polite conversation — and a few situations that are less than polite.
- "Bless your heart" — Perhaps the most famous of double-edged swords, if someone says, “bless your heart,” they may genuinely mean it. Or they may be expressing their dislike or disdain for you in the sweetest way possible.
- "I have a hankerin’" — If you’ve got a hankerin’ for a biscuit or a glass of sweet tea’, you’re craving it.
- "Might could" — It’s not exactly grammatically correct, but it means that you could possibly do something.
- "Fixin’ to" — Just like “might could,” it’s not proper English, but it means you’re about to do something.
- "Take your sweet time" — It’s not an invitation to take longer. Much like “bless your heart,” this is another way of saying there are a bunch of people waiting for you and you should hurry up.