What in Tar Nation?? Cotton Pickin??

Okay… What in Tar Nation and Wait a cotton pickin minute or better yet A cotton pickin mind?? This sounds very offensive to me…
I heard this ‘rhetoric’ on…oh what was that show called… “You 'all come back now yah hear”…damn…what is that show called…AHH my husband chimes bing bing THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES… tell him what he wins Johnny!!..

It just occured to me what they are referring to…

I have to assume…that… “What in Tar Nation!” has to be… a large concentrated population of black people?? so I suppose there is cause for excitement?

and… “Cotton picken mind” Well that has to mean…a chap that isn’t too bright… yeah?..

what throws me through a loop is “Cotton pickin minute” I have yet to interpret this… Who can tell me… mm…who?

~signed a foxy black mama

Well, you’re wrong about tarnation. It has nothing whatsoever to do with race. OTHO, cotton picking did originate from a racial epithet. The adjective form, today, is considered inoffensive, however.

Cotton-pickin’ probably was racial, or economic. Before the civil war, slaves picked the cotton. After the slaves were formally freed, cotton picking was still done by poor black people and a few poor whites. Now, it’s done by machines, and the original meaning is blurred a bit.

I’ll leave tarnation to somebody else, but I’m pretty sure that when Tennessee Ernie Ford, in the 1950’s, said, “Bless your little pea-pickin’ heart,” it was with affection, and no insult was meant. :slight_smile:

Tarnation issupposed to be another way of saying Damnation----or Hell–or the devil-

As in “where’n tarnation.the hell,or the devil did you come from”?

It kept the preacher off your back for cussin"


“Tar Nation” ? - Rap group name!

In the ironic “Niggaz with Attitude” etc. etc etc. sense.

I will not reply using the word “niggardly”… I will not reply using the word “niggardly”… I will not reply using the word “niggardly”… I will not reply using the word “niggardly”… I will not reply using the word “niggardly”… I will not reply using the word “niggardly”… I will not reply using the word “niggardly”… I will not reply using the word “niggardly”… I will not reply using the word “niggardly”…

Sorry, MissesGina. Since you’re a guest, I shouldn’t make snide references to in-jokes, at least not without explaining them. “Niggardly” is the benchmark case for word misunderstod as racial slurs around here, owing to a case in the late '90s in which a member of the Washington, DC, government was asked to resign after using the word, despite having used the word properly and without racial overtones.

I can see how “tarnation” would actually sound that way if you’d never read it and only heard it infrequently. At least you came here to check if the conclusions you jumped to were correct instead of going off half-cocked first.

BTW, I was surprised by the history of "cotton-pickin’ ", both the fact of its racist connotation (which I suppose should be fairly obvious, but never crossed me mind) and its coinage by Bugs Bunny!

Niggardly, if memory serves, is of Scandinavian origin. Is this a case of being tarred with another kind of brush?

Thanks soo much for responding… I love finding the route of terms…

I found this site searching for the meaning “the whole nine yards”.

My husband and I looooovvveeee reading everyone’s responses…

I think they all sound great!


On a related topic: ‘Fair-to-middlin’ is another cotton-ralated term. As in “How you doin’?” “Fair to middlin’.”

The phrase derives from the grading of cotton at the mills, dating from about the first third of the 19th century. Cotton was graded from fine to inferior. Fair to middling was average grade.

What about

Oh my sheepskin heart…
Does that mean anything?

Except for an 11 year period, I have lived in the south every since my family moved to Atlanta in 1947. That was at the end of the Jim Crow period and I have never ever heard the term “cotton picker” used to refer to blacks. I am not saying that it did not start out that way only that it must have lost its racial tone many years ago. In the neighborhood I now live in anyone over the age of 40 will tell you that they picked cotton when they were younger, so I doubt that they would mind being called a “cotton picker”. They did not have electricity, so they will proudly tell you that they were poor.

Incidently, the term “cracker” that’s used in such a derisive way today was not considered that way when I grew up in Atlanta. Back then there were no major league teams south of the Mason-Dixon line or west of the Mississippi (except St. Louis). We followed the teams in the Southern League and my team was the Atlanta Crackers (which was a farm team for the Boston Braves.)