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What Every Texan Should Know About . . .

No. 1 Talking Like a Texan

Essential vocabulary (and a little Spanglish, por supuesto).

Illustration by Abi Daniel

Blue norther

A term specific to Texas to describe a cold front that blasts in from the north.


Out of line, or not quite right.

Fixin’ ta

When someone informs you that he’s “fixin’ ta [insert action here],” he means he’s getting ready to do that thing.

Gully washer

A really heavy, really short storm.

Hi sign

A one-finger wave (the index, not that one in the middle) made when drivers pass one another on country roads. This gesture, which is generally made without ever lifting the hand from the wheel, is a courtesy of the road.


An exclamation that has many meanings, including “Heck, yes!” or “Okay!” Some people also use it as a way to say “Come on!” or “Hurry up.”

Over yonder, or down yonder

Over there.


Slang for “Move over” or “Scooch over.”

Tump over

To knock something over.

Used to could

This highly ungrammatical phrase is a way to say you used to be able to do something (e.g., “I used to could two-step, but now my knees are all cattywampus”).


This second-person pronoun—a contraction of “you” and “all”—is used when talking to two or more people. Sprinkle this word liberally throughout all y’all’s conversations.

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