Howdy, y’all—put on your sitting britches and let’s chaw the rag, as this episode of Talk Like a Texan is all about our state’s uniquely pithy and colorful sayings.
Texas is known for homegrown barbs (“Ugly as homemade sin”), compliments (“She’s so brave, she’d charge hell with a bucket of ice water”), and general words of advice (“Don’t taunt the alligator until you’ve crossed the creek”).
While many of these sayings go back to the cowboy days, and were widely disseminated by Westerns on the silver screen and on TV, perhaps the most famous latter-day practitioner has been former CBS News anchorman turned social media commentator Dan Rather. The Wharton-born, Houston-bred newsman’s very name has become a category of modern American usage. Ratherisms are salt-of-the-earth similes, mellifluous metaphors, and, occasionally, simply odd turns of phrase. Many of them have wide usage between the Red and the Rio Grande, but many others are Rather’s very own.
Here are a few examples from his coverage of that taut Election Night of 2000:
“If a frog had side pockets, he’d carry a handgun.”
“This race is as tight as the rusted lug nuts on a ’55 Ford.”
“Now Florida, that race, the heat from it is hot enough to peel house paint.”
All of which make sense, at least to Texans. In our latest episode, we’ll focus on the thousands of these sayings easier to dissect than a chloroformed bullfrog at Aggie vet school.
And who better to chew on this leg bone with than Panhandle native Anne Dingus, former Texas Monthly senior editor and author of the book More Texas Sayings Than You Can Shake a Stick At. Trust us, this Rice grad is smart as a hooty owl—so quit burnin’ daylight and get to downloadin’.