A Brief Tutorial For All Y’all New Southerners

by   |   [email protected]   |  
Greenville welcome sign

For recent transplants from the North and points west, getting a handle on BJU slang and academic terminology will come in time. Southernisms are something else entirely. So you’re not caught off-guard, here are some sayings and food background you’ll be exposed to:

Y’all and All Y’all

Y’all–two people. All y’all–three or more. Example: All y’all should come to Homecoming & Family Weekend from October 10th through the 12th.


What South Carolinians call the state that BJU has called home since 1947. North Carolina is referenced by its full name.

Bless Your Heart

It can be empathetic and, then again, sometimes it’s snarky when the speaker believes the recipient to be misguided.

Sweet Tea

A South Carolina staple that’s rooted in history. Tea served over ice in a tall glass or mason jar and (some would say excessively) sweetened. Make sure you specify unsweetened tea when ordering or you might hear, “Well, bless your heart, you must not be from around here.”


In South Carolina, it’s pulled pork for the most part, though I’ve enjoyed exceptional brisket at Monkey Wrench in Travelers Rest. There are four staples of sauces in the state, and sometimes you’ll find them all on the menu: mustard (the unofficial state sauce, found mainly in the Upstate and midlands, associated with German immigrants), vinegar and pepper (coastline), light tomato (northeast and midlands) and heavy tomato (western and northwestern sections).

Meat and Three

A restaurant patron selects one meat entree from list and three sides (vegetables, mac & cheese, etc.). Meals are often served with cornbread and sweet tea.

Mustard Greens

A staple on meat and three menus, they are peppery leafy greens of the mustard plant related to kale and collard greens, which are also regular menu items.

Full as a Tick

What you feel like after a plentiful meat and three meal.

Fixin’ To

About to begin, as in “I’m fixin’ to enjoy some BBQ on Saturday.”

Fish Camp

They are restaurants usually next to a body of water that feature fried fresh fish and an otherwise limited menu. There aren’t bunks in the back.

Lowcountry Boil

Also called Frogmore stew or Beaufort stew, it’s definitely a hands-on, three-napkin meal of ears of corn, potatoes, shrimp and sausage. It sometimes also contains clams or oysters.

If the Lord’s Willin’ and the Creek don’t Rise

Translation: I plan to do it if nothing stops me.

Have a Blessed Day

Salutation. This one brightened my day when I heard it for the first time from a store clerk. Not likely you’ll get such a thank you for your patronage in NYC.

Shut the Front Door!

Expressing surprise or disbelief.

Looking for more advice on adjusting to college? Take a look at International Students: The Charm of Adapting to the South or Welcome Week Helps Students with Transition.