Dictionary of Southern Appalachian English

Edited by Michael B. Montgomery, Jennifer K. N. Heinmiller

Foreword by Joan Houston Hall

Dictionary of Southern Appalachian English

1296 pp., 8.5 x 11, 12 halftones, 8 tables, notes, bibl

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6254-1
    Published: June 2021
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-6255-8
    Published: June 2021
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6119-1
    Published: June 2021

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Awards & distinctions

Honorable Mention, 2022 Dartmouth Medal, American Library Association

The Dictionary of Southern Appalachian English is a revised and expanded edition of the Weatherford Award–winning Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English, published in 2005 and known in Appalachian studies circles as the most comprehensive reference work dedicated to Appalachian vernacular and linguistic practice. Editors Michael B. Montgomery and Jennifer K. N. Heinmiller document the variety of English used in parts of eight states, ranging from West Virginia to Georgia—an expansion of the first edition’s geography, which was limited primarily to North Carolina and Tennessee—and include over 10,000 entries drawn from over 2,200 sources. The entries include approximately 35,000 citations to provide the reader with historical context, meaning, and usage. Around 1,600 of those examples are from letters written by Civil War soldiers and their family members, and another 4,000 are taken from regional oral history recordings. Decades in the making, the Dictionary of Southern Appalachian English surpasses the original by thousands of entries. There is no work of this magnitude available that so completely illustrates the rich language of the Smoky Mountains and Southern Appalachia.

About the Authors

Michael B. Montgomery (1950–2019) was Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English and Linguistics at the University of South Carolina.
For more information about Michael B. Montgomery, visit the Author Page.

Jennifer K. N. Heinmiller is a data annotator, translator, and editor in Asheville, North Carolina.
For more information about Jennifer K. N. Heinmiller, visit the Author Page.


“…as near a comprehensive dictionary of southern folk idioms and phrases as possible…a realistic example of the speaking habits and style of the people of the eastern mountains in America. It’s rich and fascinating…”--“Doc” Kirby, WTBF-FM

“Much more than a dictionary, Montgomery and Heinmiller's volume illuminates many aspects of Appalachian life and society. Its voluminous, informative, and often-lengthy quotations present the entries in their linguistic and historical context. Those working in Appalachian studies will find it an important source.”--CHOICE

Dictionary of Southern Appalachian English is a landmark contribution to the lexicographical and linguistic study and the description of Southern Appalachian English. This is a one-of-a-kind dictionary in terms of regional lexicography. A welcome and much-needed update to a classic.”—Walt Wolfram, author of Talkin’ Tarheel

"What a joy it is to discover a single resource that packages so much about such a broad and diverse region. The new Dictionary of Southern Appalachian English offers scholars boundless opportunities to study Appalachia through the evolution of its language, and it offers curiosity seekers boundless opportunities to re-see a region through the purest form of its cultural expression."—Wiley Cash, author of When Ghosts Come Home

"In this meticulously researched expansion of Michael Montgomery and Joseph Hall’s 2004 Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English, Montgomery and Jennifer K. N. Heinmiller invite readers on an epic journey through a vernacular specific to the Mountain South. Drawing from a myriad of sources that range from Civil War letters to literary texts and difficult-to-find diary entries housed only in local archives, this encyclopedic volume will delight those seeking explanations for some of the region’s most defining linguistic markers. Montgomery and Heinmiller provide a lasting analysis and tribute to the voices of the past and present. In doing so, they avoid the trite clichés that plague descriptions of the region, instead relying on careful, thorough research to present the fascinating history of regional speech patterns that linger today."—Erica Abrams Locklear, UNC Asheville

Dictionary of Southern Appalachian English" is an extremely rich resource that elucidates both the language and the traditional culture of this iconic region. Illustrative citations—from lively, tender, or nostalgic reminiscences, to quotidian or official accounts—illuminate the lives of people in a unique landscape over more than three centuries of history."—Joan Houston Hall, chief editor emerita, Dictionary of American Regional English.