This month alphaDictionary will set a new record of more than 500,000 unique visitors to the site. A ‘unique visitor’ is a distinct viewer. This excites me because it will bring more mail and, hopefully, delightful pieces like this one, received today from Julie McIntosh of Dallas, Texas. By the way, she is right: you can say pert much what you want to about a person down South so long as you prefix or suffix it with ‘bless my heart’. . . and that’s what I like about the South.
I have to correct y’all about your definition of “bless your heart” [in your Glossary of Quaint Southernisms]. This is not [only] a compliment, nor is it an expression of encouragement or approval. Quite the contrary, this delightful and right useful expression is frequently called upon because properly bred Southerners (particularly Southern ladies like yours truly) would never want to say a harsh word about anyone. Therefore, we soften it with “bless your heart” or “bless his heart” or “bless her heart”, etc.
Example: “Bless his heart, if you put his brain on the head of a pin it would roll around like a bowlin’ ball on a six-lane highway.”
Example: “That child has a face only her mother could love, bless her little heart.”
Example: An uncouth man says to southern lady, “Damn, woman… You’re FINE!” Southern Lady responds, “Well, bless your heart” rather than giving the uncouth man the “go to hell” he so richly deserves.
For my last example, if you have a little ol’ lady in her Ford Tempo driving 45 in the fast lane in Detroit, someone might say to her, “HEY! (expletive deleted) What the (expletive deleted) do you think you’re doing? Get the (expletive deleted) off the road!” Down South, we’d just pass her on the right and say, “Well bless that darlin’ ol’ girl’s heart.”
Basically, if the heart is sufficiently blessed, then any negative comment is softened into something downright pleasant — or at least less than nasty.
But y’all just didn’t know, what with you bein’ from Pennsylvania and all…bless yer precious little ol’ Yankee hearts!
Hugs and Kisses,