Hillbilly Language Lessons

Scarify: verb. To drain blood by making cuts or scratches, a treatment designed to relieve ailments. Example: If you wrastled with a three-day headache, you best get you a razor and scarify that thang.

Other: When a baby has the bold hives, its fingernails turn black. What you did was turn the baby on its stomach and scarify it in the area back of the heart. Then you took a cow’s horn and put it in the cuts and sucked the blood out.. Then you put the blood in a spoon, add breast milk to it and fed it to the baby. (Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English).

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  • Another one I’ve never heard! These are too funny! I hope I get to hear someone actually use this one day when I’m out yonder coverin’ a story!

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Gary: You need to add some that you are hearing. Wish I’d written down all of Gordon’s sayings.

  • SCARIFY: vt [MF scarifier, fr. LL scarificare, alter. of L scarifare, fr. Gk skariphasthai, to scratch an outline, to sketch–more at scribe] 1: to make scratches or small cuts in (as the skin, as preparing for a vaccination) 2: to lacerate the feelings of: FLAY 3: to break up and loosen the surface of (as a field or a road) 4: to cut or soften the wall of (a hard seed) to hasten germination.

    Glad the hill folk have maintained the usage of this good old word with very long blood lines. Caterpillar Tractor Co. has long manufactured a vicious looking chisel-type implement called a SCARIFIER to be pulled by a large bulldozer and used for the purpose of breaking up old road beds, tree roots and very hard packed earth.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Roger: You’d think I would know all about that Catepiller Tractor but this is the first I heard tell of it. Thanks for sharing. Now I’m gonna be on the hunt for one.

  • Steve Taylor

    Scarify is one of those things you do when you are feeling “sorry in the world.” The hope is that once the root doctor has scarified you, you “bes” (pr bees) better … from the swamplands.