Without an accident (as they used to say in the South), it’s time again to harvest a quarterly crop of regional words for the online Dictionary of American Regional English. As usual, the new update is available free on DARE’s website, though a subscription fee is required to get the whole six-volume 60,000-word dictionary online.
The dictionary was compiled in 1965-70 by researchers from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, who went out into the field in “word wagons” — campers equipped with tape recorders — to record how Americans talk. In the digital update, also as usual, there are about 40 new or revised entries, without an accident being among the most notable and useful. George Goebel, DARE’s editor, defines the phrase as “probably, very likely,” that is, “if nothing unexpected happens, barring an accident.”
So back in 1925, as the new entry in DARE gives evidence, we could have said, “Without an accident it will rain tonight,” or “If you go down to the log camps, without an accident you will see him.”
Most of the new or revised entries are for the first two letters of the alphabet, since Volume I, covering A-B-C, was published in 1985, before the internet was widely available, or for that matter, before there was much of anything on what we now call the internet. Other published and unpublished sources have also been made available since 1985.
So in this update we find ackempucky (“vigor, spunk”) from Iowa in 1949 with reference to a law: “It had more on the ball, more genuine ackempucky (a word that originated in your southern Ohio) than any other enactment congress ever accomplished.”
There’s also afterclap, with an added New England meaning of “dessert,” and buggy, a widespread current term (South, South Midland, Ohio, Pennsylvania) for what the rest of us call a shopping cart.
Finaciously, there’s a word in eastern Kentucky that means “finally, completely,” as in “Joe took it into his head he’d play one on my old man at’d stop his hunting and trapping and fishing afinaciously and forever more” (1978) and “I know jest the kind you’d want, and I warn you right now hit’ll be your finacious ruination!” (1925).Return to Top