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15 Expressions You’ll Only Understand if You’re From Tennessee




Welcome to our exploration of the distinctive linguistic landscape of Tennessee! From the rolling hills of Appalachia to the vibrant streets of Nashville, Tennessee boasts a rich tapestry of expressions unique to the Volunteer State. Join us as we delve into 15 phrases that capture the essence of Tennessee’s culture, history, and Southern charm.

“Bless your heart”

A Southern expression often used in Tennessee as a polite way to express sympathy, understanding, or even veiled criticism, depending on the context.

“Rocky Top”

Referring to the unofficial anthem of Tennessee, “Rocky Top” is a beloved bluegrass song celebrating the natural beauty and spirit of the state, often heard at University of Tennessee sporting events and cultural gatherings.

“Tennessee two-step”

A colloquial term for the style of country dancing popular in Tennessee, characterized by quick footwork and lively movements, often performed to traditional country music tunes.

“Volunteer State”

Tennessee’s official nickname, earned during the War of 1812 when volunteer soldiers from the state played a significant role in the Battle of New Orleans, reflecting Tennessee’s proud heritage of volunteerism and patriotism.

“Granny White Pike”

A road name commonly found in Tennessee, named after Mary Elizabeth “Granny” White, a prominent figure in Nashville’s early history known for her kindness and hospitality.

“Tennessee walking horse”

A breed of horse known for its unique four-beat “running walk” gait, which provides a smooth and comfortable ride, originating in Tennessee and often associated with the state’s equestrian culture.

“East Tennessee moonshine”

Refers to the tradition of producing homemade distilled spirits in the mountainous regions of East Tennessee, a practice with deep historical roots and cultural significance in the state.

“Nashville hot chicken”

A spicy fried chicken dish that originated in Nashville, featuring a crispy coating seasoned with a fiery blend of cayenne pepper and other spices, representing Tennessee’s contribution to Southern cuisine.

“Memphis blues”

A style of blues music characterized by its soulful vocals, expressive guitar riffs, and melancholic lyrics, originating in Memphis and embodying the city’s rich musical heritage.

“Tennessee whiskey”

A type of whiskey made in Tennessee, distinguished by its unique production process, which includes charcoal filtering known as the Lincoln County Process, resulting in a smooth and mellow flavor profile.

“Vol Navy”

Refers to a flotilla of boats and vessels that gather on the Tennessee River near Neyland Stadium in Knoxville during University of Tennessee football games, creating a festive atmosphere and unique tailgating experience.

“Appalachian drawl”

A distinctive Southern accent commonly heard in Tennessee, characterized by its slow, melodic cadence and vowel pronunciations, influenced by the Appalachian dialect prevalent in the state’s mountainous regions.

“Grand Ole Opry”

A renowned country music radio broadcast and live performance venue in Nashville, Tennessee, showcasing the genre’s biggest stars and preserving its rich musical heritage since 1925.

“Grits and gravy”

A classic Southern dish consisting of creamy, savory grits topped with rich, flavorful gravy, representing Tennessee’s love for hearty and comforting cuisine rooted in Southern tradition.

“Jack Daniel’s country”

Refers to Lynchburg, Tennessee, the hometown of Jack Daniel’s Distillery, where the famous Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey is produced, symbolizing the state’s proud legacy of whiskey-making and distilling craftsmanship.

Currently residing in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and Pomeranian, Mochi. Leo is a lover of all things travel related outside and inside the United States. Leo has been to every continent and continues to push to reach his goals of visiting every country someday. Learn more about Leo on MuckRack.

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