One-Liner Wednesday: A Regional Shibboleth

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary:

late 14c., in Bible translations, the Hebrew word shibboleth, meaning “flood, stream,” also “ear of corn,” as used in Judges xii.4-6. During the slaughter at the fords of Jordan, the Gileadites took it as a password to distinguish their men from fleeing Ephraimites, because Ephraimites could not pronounce the -sh- sound. (Modern commentators have decided the Hebrew word there probably was used in the “river” sense, in reference to the Jordan).

Hence the figurative sense of “watchword or test-word or pet phrase of a party, sect, school, etc.” (by 1630s), which evolved by 1862 to “outmoded slogan still adhered to.”

Online Etymology Dictionary

Every region has words, phrases, and pronunciations that are used only by people in or from that area.

So, when I was randomly assigned a roommate in college one year, the first thing she said to me was, “If you’re in a wagon and it hits the curb and turns on its side, what happens to you?”

And I said,

I tump out.

She cheered, and we were very good roommates.

The wagon, by the way, tumps over.

This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s weekly blog hop, One-Liner Wednesday. If you have a one-liner or just like them, follow the link.

A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Something is overturned.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “One-Liner Wednesday: A Regional Shibboleth

  1. Dan Antion

    January 25, 2023 at 7:39am

    I was tested once by a guy in a bar who didn’t believe I was from Pittsburgh. He asked me what I would call Baloney. The answer is ‘Jumbo’

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      January 26, 2023 at 8:38am

      “Jumbo”? You ain’t from around here, are ye? Another one is what one calls carbonated beverages. Some places it’s soda, or pop, or soda pop. Where I grew up, in the West End of Louisville, Kentucky, we called them sof’ dranks. As opposed to hard likker, I suppose.

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  2. circadianreflections

    January 26, 2023 at 10:11am

    I’ve never heard my mom say tumps, but I call soda…soda. I have no idea why I call soft drinks soda! I just always have. I’ve heard He-Man’s mom call baloney Jumbo, but not He-Man…of course we don’t eat or shop for it so who knows? I’ll ask him.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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