CISL has written several articles on California slang and the California accent, American English vs. British English, and Northern California vs. Southern California slang . . . but we have never looked at one of the most well-known dialects in the U.S.: the South! Today we are looking at some Southern slang that is also used in many other parts of the U.S. How many of these words do you know?

Common Southern Slang for ESL Learners

A redneck

Redneck is a general term for a person who works outside (and gets a red neck from being in the sun all day). Nowadays, this is a term that is used for anyone who lives in the country, and it is embraced by many people as a way of describing people from outside of cities.

Comedians have been using this term for years, and although it might sound like a derogatory term, many people actually embrace the title “redneck” and associate it with the Southern lifestyle.

Example: They love country music and big trucks. They are definitely rednecks.



Britches are pants! That’s right: pants.

Example: You have a hole in your britches.


Too big for your britches

To think very highly of yourself is to be too big for your britches.

Example: She moved to the city and now she’s too big for her britches.


Fixin’ to

Getting ready to do something.

Example: I’m fixin’ to go to the store. Do you want anything?


To have a hankering for something

To have a strong desire (a craving) for something

Example: I have a hankering for some pie.




Example: I will do anything for you. You’re kin!




Example: I reckon that they’re coming home in two days.





Example: Today’s younguns are always using their iPhones.

These Southern words have made their way into the vocabulary of many people from around the United States. In fact, you might hear your teacher or host family (jokingly) using these words! Ask your American friend to give you their best Southern accent and have a laugh when they try to mimic the famous accent of Southerners.

All of this talk about the South makes us hungry! You don’t have to travel all the way to the American South for delicious Southern food: we have delicious restaurants right here in SD and SF! Here are a few of our recommendations.

The best BBQ in SD and SF

If you are studying English in San Diego, you must try Phil’s! Phil’s is a restaurant that is loved by many San Diegans. It serves classic American barbecue (try the ribs! They’re delicious!) and the prices are affordable.

When you think BBQ, think “ribs.” Warning: you WILL get hungry! Photo from Phil’s.

If you are studying English at CISL San Francisco, check out Southpaw BBQ in The Mission. Delicious $1 ribs every Sunday? What a delicious deal! Southpaw also brews their own alcohol and liquors, so it is a great place to taste locally-produced beverages.

Their hickory smoked honey chicken is delicious! Photo from Southpaw.
Ribs for $1? We might be here every Sunday! Photo from Southpaw.

What’s your favorite restaurant in SD or SF? Tell us on Facebook! We love to see your pics and hear your recommendations!