You May Be Southern If You Know...

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#1
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Thanks to Scarlett O’Hara, Southern women have been teased about “pitching” hissy fits for years (Please note we never “have” or “throw” them). While Scarlett certainly brought prominence to hissy fits and the Old South, the general consensus is that nobody knows the origin for certain. Either way, I thought it was time to give them their due so here goes.

I have traced the word, hissy, back to an 1884 periodical called Johnsoniana (G.Bell & Sons). It contained the word in a single sentence, "'He endeavored to raise a hissy among you,' says he, 'but without effect I believe.'"

The site, wisegeek.com, presents a good summary of the three main theories about the origin of hissy fits.

· Allusion to how cats (and catty women) react when angry – hissing, baring claws, etc.

· Shortened from hysterical – deriving from or affected by uncontrolled extreme emotion.

· Shortened from histronics – exaggerated dramatic behavior designed to attract attention.

I think for a term like this to have gained and maintained such a reputation it probably gets some input from all three. However, I put more weight on histrionics. It may be the least common, but to those familiar with it, the "attention-seeking" theatrics seem particularly apropos.

Oxford English Dictionary defines hissy as: “n. chiefly U.S. a fit of temper, an angry outburst, a tantrum.” So basically, it’s what happens when a Southerner orders sweet tea up North and learns they don’t serve it. The phrase, hissy fit, has popped up more than a few times in pop culture. Reese Witherspoon was actually nominated for “Choice Hissy Fit” for her role as Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde” at 2001’s Teen Choice Awards. The phrase also gets referenced a lot in Southern books like, “Daisy Fae and the Miracle Man,” written by Alabama native, Fannie Flagg. Fannie humorously wrote that “Momma always looks like she is on the verge of a hissy fit, but that’s mainly because when she was eighteen, she stuck her head in a gas oven looking at some biscuits and blew her eyebrows off.”

Now as bad as a hissy fit can be, it pales in comparison to an actual Southern conniption. I’ll have more on that later.


*This is meant to be a fun, light-hearted post. Although there is some truth in it for sure, please don’t take it too seriously. I wouldn't want you to have a conniption. :giggle:
 

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#3
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Thanks to Scarlett O’Hara, Southern women have been teased about “pitching” hissy fits for years (Please note we never “have” or “throw” them). While Scarlett certainly brought prominence to hissy fits and the Old South, the general consensus is that nobody knows the origin for certain. Either way, I thought it was time to give them their due so here goes.

I have traced the word, hissy, back to an 1884 periodical called Johnsoniana (G.Bell & Sons). It contained the word in a single sentence, "'He endeavored to raise a hissy among you,' says he, 'but without effect I believe.'"

The site, wisegeek.com, presents a good summary of the three main theories about the origin of hissy fits.

· Allusion to how cats (and catty women) react when angry – hissing, baring claws, etc.

· Shortened from hysterical – deriving from or affected by uncontrolled extreme emotion.

· Shortened from histronics – exaggerated dramatic behavior designed to attract attention.

I think for a term like this to have gained and maintained such a reputation it probably gets some input from all three. However, I put more weight on histrionics. It may be the least common, but to those familiar with it, the "attention-seeking" theatrics seem particularly apropos.

Oxford English Dictionary defines hissy as: “n. chiefly U.S. a fit of temper, an angry outburst, a tantrum.” So basically, it’s what happens when a Southerner orders sweet tea up North and learns they don’t serve it. The phrase, hissy fit, has popped up more than a few times in pop culture. Reese Witherspoon was actually nominated for “Choice Hissy Fit” for her role as Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde” at 2001’s Teen Choice Awards. The phrase also gets referenced a lot in Southern books like, “Daisy Fae and the Miracle Man,” written by Alabama native, Fannie Flagg. Fannie humorously wrote that “Momma always looks like she is on the verge of a hissy fit, but that’s mainly because when she was eighteen, she stuck her head in a gas oven looking at some biscuits and blew her eyebrows off.”

Now as bad as a hissy fit can be, it pales in comparison to an actual Southern conniption. I’ll have more on that later.


*This is meant to be a fun, light-hearted post. Although there is some truth in it for sure, please don’t take it too seriously. I wouldn't want you to have a conniption. :giggle:
Sounds something like where my wife volunteers.
 

Cavalry Charger

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#8
Personally, I love a good hissy fit :tongue: It can be a win-win from my perspective :D Great way for someone to relieve tension, and for other people to have a good eye roll or get a good laugh. Are we assuming only women have hissy fits btw??
 
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#10
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Stuart Lennon


As I said in my OP, hissing fits can be bad, but they pale in comparison to an actual Southern conniption. Both can be had by women and men (North or South, East or West - yes even outside of the US.@Cavalry Charger ), but I've yet to see a Southern woman be outdone.

Dictionary.com defines conniption as “a fit of rage or tantrums,” which sort of sounds like a hissy fit, right? Wrong. That’s so, so wrong on so many levels. You see conniptions are when things get “physical.” A person in a true conniptive (I made that word up) state starts gesturing wildly with their hands (not the same as merely talking with your hands which all Southern belles do) or throwing things which may lead to things getting broken. Of course all this occurs simultaneously with an ongoing hissy fit. It’s an extension of the hissy fit since the hissy fit didn’t derive the reaction being sought.


So, where did this word come from? Once again no one really has a clue. According to the “Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins” by William and Mary Morris, the word conniption is most likely the creation of an imaginative American who coined the term in an attempt to sound educated...”

The folks over at Podictionary did a podcast about the etymology of the word conniption and suggested that the word was “first used to describe a woman by the name of Aunt Keziah who lost her cool in the 1800s. She and the rest of her neighbors in a small town of New England were waiting for a scheduled visit by President Andrew Jackson that was canceled with very little notice, at which said conniption fit did ensue.”

It doesn’t really matter to me where the word comes from. All I know is they’re a spectacle to behold. Trust me friends. If you witness a conniption fit you’ll know it and you’ll never be quite the same. Now go forth and share this great knowledge. And always be on the lookout for a possible sighting.


Source: It’s A Southern Thing and Eleanor Rose's life experiences
 
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Cavalry Charger

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#13
Extreme heat will likely bring on a conniption on top of a hissy fit if you're not handling it well :tongue: Air conditioning has helped to sort that problem out :wink: But they're definitely a world wide phenomenon and the internal temperature is the one to take to try to head them off. Of course, this may not be possible, and then it's clear the decks while the pressure cooker explodes!
 

Cavalry Charger

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I was just thinking, Ellie, imagine all those women in those heavy dresses in the heat. They must have got very hot and bothered in the warmer weather. Could this have contributed to Southern women gaining a reputation for conniptions?
 
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#16
I was just thinking, Ellie, imagine all those women in those heavy dresses in the heat. They must have got very hot and bothered in the warmer weather. Could this have contributed to Southern women gaining a reputation for conniptions?
It certainly would put me in a bad mood. I've also wondered about the uniforms the generals wore. How in the world could they stand to wear a coat in Gettysburg in July? I've been there during the summer months and it's hot!!
 

Cavalry Charger

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It certainly would put me in a bad mood. I've also wondered about the uniforms the generals wore. How in the world could they stand to wear a coat in Gettysburg in July? I've been there during the summer months and it's hot!!
I agree. And there were some really high temperatures in the summer of 1864 in Virginia as far as I know, when a lot of those battles were going on. You did mention men having conniptions as well, and I wonder if this level of heat pushed them to their limits. Of course, we've also heard of deaths from heat stroke, so it would definitely have a dramatic effect on the person, and their ability to cope.
 
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#18
Of course, we've also heard of deaths from heat stroke, so it would definitely have a dramatic effect on the person, and their ability to cope.
And quite possibly their decision making. I've often wondered about that aspect of it too, but I've never read anything about it. It almost looked like they were dressed for winter year round.
 

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Oh my! But the consequences of pitching that fit! I was usually asked to go pick out my switch from the nearest bush! If I was in the throws of a conniption, Nanny grabbed her fly swatter (it was usually faster) and boy, did it sting! I was always envious of Scarlett's ability to get away with such sass.
My father told me that his mother (and she was a very loving mother and grandmother, btw), if they were naughty, would make them go cut their own switch. AND if they brought back a thick one, she'd make them go cut a thinner one. Mind games that mother's play, North or South! - I think it is universal.

Growing up in a lumber family, here in NH, my mother had an ENDLESS supply of yardsticks - thick ones, thin ones, whippy ones, ones that had just the right "feel" to it. Seriously, I was only spanked maybe 3 times growing up. My parents were kind and not hitters. However...... my mother kept a boatload of them in the closet, so we could look at them and THINK. One time she warned me that "my legs would get spanked" for something I did (can't remember) and I grabbed the yardstick and snapped it in two. I remember doing that and I had to be all of 5. It tickled her and she laughed and said I could keep doing that and she could keep the reinforcements coming. What I DO remember is she didn't do anything - she just went into the kitchen laughing. I must have been a little spitfire to dare to do that.
 


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