4.8.24 2

Well, I Swanny

I recently shared a list of my favorite Southernisms for moments of exasperation on Twitter. One of those phrases was, “Well, I swanny.” It’s one Mamaw used often.

Mamaw didn’t cuss much. In all the years she was alive, I probably only heard her drop a curse word a handful of times. She stuck to classier euphemisms.

I wish I picked that up from her – but I didn’t. My favorite expressions would make a sailor blush.

A lot of my Twitter followers are the same. I wouldn’t dare share their favorites on the blog. They were smitten with I swanny, though.

Many had never heard it before, and others wanted to know what it meant or where it originated.

After some digging, I found a reference to swanny in The American Heritage Dictionary. The Southern expression means I swear or I declare. Mamaw often used it where others would say, sh-t.

Its origins come from Northern England, where folks used to say Is’ wan ye. It meant I shall warrant, which was a menacing way of saying I swear.

The first recorded usage of the expression in America occurred in a Missouri Intelligencer article in 1823. They printed, I swan it is.

Swan is just another way of saying swanny. My cousin, Wendy, prefers swan. And, though it’s not quite the same, I’m still reminded of little ol’ Mamaw every time I hear it.

Do any of y’all say swan or swanny? If not, did you grow up with someone who did?

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  1. I have heard my Buncombe County, NC relatives say, “Well, I swanny.” More often, I heard them say, “I do declare,” which means the same.

    Published 4.8.24
    • Cassie wrote:

      Mamaw said that too! 🙂

      Published 5.11.24