10 Things Only People From Texas Say (Slideshow)
September 9, 2016
How many of these Texas terms do you know?
“All Hat, No Cattle” / “Big Hat, No Cattle”
A traditional Texas putdown, “all hat, no cattle” (or, alternately, “big hat, no cattle”) refers to someone who is all talk with no action, power, or substance behind his/her words. Former Texas Gov. Ann Richards famously used this phrase to describe President George W. Bush.
You’ve probably heard “everything’s bigger in Texas,” but have you heard the phrase “bigger’n Dallas”? It’s short for “bigger than Dallas,” but the meaning is a bit more complicated than that. Sure, it can be used to refer to the enormous size of something (once upon a time, Dallas was the largest city in the state), but it can also be applied to something obvious or impossible to miss, with zero deniability. Such as, “I looked all over the house for the keys to my truck, yet there they were on the kitchen table, bigger’n Dallas.”
Shutterstock/ Orest lyzhechka
You know how everyone is familiar with the idea of extraterrestrial visitors, but the only people who allegedly get abducted are from rural areas? That’s kind of how it works for chupacabras. Meaning “goat-sucker” in Spanish, these legendary (and likely mythical) creatures attack and drink the blood of livestock, and have been spotted everywhere from Chile to Russia to Maine — however, a large majority of the stories seem to come from Texas. Pull up a list of recent reported chupacabra “sightings,” and you’ll see notable tales from San Antonio (three in 2004), Coleman (2005), Cuero (2007 and 2008), Blanco (2009), Hood County and Cresson (2010), Lake Jackson (2011), and Victoria County and Ratcliff (2014). Most of the creatures in these cases turned out to be coyotes suffering from severe mange, but that doesn’t change the fact that the chupacabra legend is still alive and well in Texas, more so than anywhere else in the world.
If you don’t hear what someone said, but prefer not to use the phrases “excuse me?” or “pardon?” it is perfectly acceptable in Texas to say, “Do what?” It can be used in almost any situation, even if the person talking to you is not describing an action. For example, if your friend casually remarks that the weather is “hotter than a stolen tamale,” and you’re not paying attention, you can simply ask, “Do what?”
“Don’t Mess With Texas”
Of course, Texans would be the only people to use the phrase “don’t mess with Texas,” but you’re more likely to see it said in print than hear it out loud. For some background, the slogan was actually first used by the Texas Department of Transportation in a statewide campaign to reduce littering, but it has since been printed on numerous tourist souvenirs and other items as an identity statement and declaration of Texas swagger. It is also the official motto of the USS Texas submarine and the unofficial slogan for the entire state. In case you were wondering, that original campaign is credited for helping to reduce litter on Texas highways by roughly 72 percent between 1986 and 1990.
If you’re not from Texas, you probably have no idea what this is, and likely have never even heard the term before. Homecoming mums are basically elaborate corsages given from a student to his/her dance date, but there’s really nothing basic about them. These accessories are often bigger’n Dallas, with a dinner-plate-sized portion at the top (which can include flowers, bows, stuffed animals, and even LED lights), as well as streamers, ribbons, and/or strings of feathers that can extend down for several feet. These are usually given to the girls, with the guys receiving similar, smaller ones (called “garters”), which they pin on their sleeves.
Although most of the country is familiar with the greeting “howdy,” it is almost exclusively used in Texas as a shortened version of the question “how do you do?” Cowboy movies are mostly to blame for the phrase’s notoriety outside of the Lone Star State, and it is often presented with the stereotypical addition of “partner” on the end.
Before refrigerators and freezers were invented, folks would use insulated boxes containing blocks of ice, which were aptly named “iceboxes.” Even though they have now been replaced with the aforementioned ubiquitous electronic appliances, some people in the South — Texas especially — will still use the old-school term when referring to fridge portion.
An artificial pool, pond, reservoir, or cistern used to hold water for livestock or irrigation is also called a tank, which is a term generally only used by those familiar with life on a ranch or farm — which are especially popular in Texas.
Another name for a laundromat, the term “washateria” originated in Fort Worth, Texas, after Noah Brannen opened the first self-service laundry facility in 1936. It’s definitely a dated term, but one that is very much still in use among many Texans.