CLOSE
istock
istock

11 Idioms for Exhausted from Across the United States

istock
istock

Just because you’re tired doesn’t mean your language has to be. With some help from our friends at the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE), we’ve come up with 11 “tired” regional idioms for the next time you’re feeling all-gone, dragged out, done in, or just plain dusted.

1. ALL IN BUT ONE’S SHOESTRINGS

A phrase that means totally done in or hanging by a thread. Variations include all in but one’s shoelaces and all in but one’s bootstraps. This term is chiefly used in the North with quotes in DARE from Wisconsin, Vermont, Illinois, New York, and Washington.

2. POOHED OUT

This North Central and Upper Midwest expression means “to fail, grow weak or tired, come to nothing.” DARE notes that the “pooh” part might be a corruption of poop. Poop (out), meaning to break down or stop working, originated in the late 1920s, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). The sense of “to tire, exhaust” is from about 1931. The earliest quote in DARE of pooh out is from 1930 when the saying started as college slang and was particularly “common at Oberlin.”

3. WAGGED OUT

While to wig out means to freak out or get overly excited, to be wagged out or waggy is the opposite. This phrase is especially used in Maine and Massachusetts. A quote from 1877 says it means to be tired or worn out, “as if finished wagging.” A quote from 1968 suggests that waggy is more akin to feeling “mental or physical distress, agitation, discomfort, or illness,” and is similar to streaked, a term used chiefly in New England.

More weary out combos include beat out (especially used in New England), given out (used in the South and South Midland), pegged out (with quotes from Maine, Vermont, Arkansas, and Maryland), and puckered out, which is an alteration of tuckered out.

4. COOPERED UP

The next time you’re stiff, unable to move, or just plain exhausted, you can say you’re coopered up. A 1959 quote from Vermont History says the term is “from the days of barrel making or coopering.”

Other enervated idioms that use “up” include gone up, with quotes from Illinois, Iowa, Georgia, New York, and the Mississippi Valley, and janted up, with a quote from Kentucky.

5. AUSGESPIELT

Ausgespielt is the past participle of the German ausspielen, “to play out, play to the end.” In addition to meaning “very tired,” it might refer to something “finished” or “broken,” whether literally (“The potatoes are _____” or “My sewing machine is _____”) or figuratively (“If a man loses interest in a girl and stops seeing her,” the relationship is ausgespielt), according to quotes in DARE.

6. SHABBY

If you've got a touch of the blahs, you could say you’re feeling shabby. This term you might hear in the South is Scots in origin, says DARE, while shabby—meaning dingy, worn, or faded—might come from the German schäbig, meaning, you guessed it, "shabby."

7. GOOPY

You could also say you’re feeling goopy, another term for general ickiness. It could also refer to something sticky or smeared, or weather that’s unpleasant. Another meaning for the word goopy, according to the OED, is stupid or “fatuously amorous.”

8. LIMBER

Limber doesn’t just mean flexible. In the South and South Midland, it might mean limp, weak, and exhausted, and is often used in the phrase limber as a dishrag.

9. FLAXED

You might get flaxed out from flaxing around. To flax (out) means to become tired or weary, while flax (around) means to hurry and bustle. Flax (out) has quotes from New England and Ohio, and flax (around) is chiefly used in the North and especially New England.

10. WHITE-EYED

White-eyed, meaning exhausted or worn out, might mainly be heard in the Appalachians. A quote from the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English says the phrase “began as a description of one who became faint from fieldwork in the sun and gets pale around the eyes and mouth.”

11. SENT FOR AND COULDN'T COME

Feeling indisposed? Out of sorts? Exhausted? You could say you’re feeling like you were sent for and couldn’t come. Used especially in the South and South Midland states, one 1993 quote likened the phrase to “what younger people nowadays call ‘a bad hair day.’”

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
language
25 Smart Synonyms You Should Be Using
iStock
iStock

The word thesaurus literally means "repository" or "storehouse," and it ultimately comes from the same root as the word treasure. There's certainly some treasure to be unearthed in one, so in honor of Thesaurus Day, here are 25 smart-sounding synonyms to reboot your vocabulary.

1. INSTEAD OF "PAUNCHY," TRY USING "ABDOMINOUS."

Up-close shot of an overweight man measuring his belly.
iStock

Derived from the same root as abdomen, if you're abdominous then you have a paunchy stomach, or a large, protruding belly.

2. INSTEAD OF "BAD LANGUAGE," TRY USING "BILLINGSGATE."

speech bubble with implied curse words
iStock

Billingsgate was a famous fish market in central London. Thanks to the foul language of the people who worked there, the name eventually became synonymous with all coarse or abusive language.

3. INSTEAD OF "BAD IDEA," TRY USING "CACOETHES."

Blindfolded Businesswoman About To Step Off Cliff Stairs
iStock

Derived from the Greek "bad character," a cacoethes (that's "ka-ko-EE-theez”) is an insatiable desire to do something inadvisable.

4. INSTEAD OF "SKILLFUL," TRY USING "DAEDAL."

darts on the bullseye
iStock

Daedalus was the architect who built the Labyrinth in the ancient myth of the Minotaur, and, derived from his name, someone who is daedal is especially skilled or artful.

5. INSTEAD OF "CONFUSE," TRY USING "EMBRANGLE."

Confused business man
iStock

A brangle is a squabble or a noisy argument, while to embrangle someone is to throw them into a quandary or to utterly perplex them. An embranglement, likewise, is a tricky, confusing situation.

6. INSTEAD OF "FEVERISH," TRY USING "FEBRILE."

Mom takes care of sick daughter
iStock

If you've come down with the flu you might be feeling febrile, or feverish. It might only be a febricula (that's a light or passing fever), but nevertheless, you might need a febrifuge (a drug that lowers your temperature).

7. INSTEAD OF "SLIPPERY," TRY USING "GLIDDERY."

Ice
iStock

If something glidders, it freezes over, which makes something gliddery very slippery, as if covered in ice.

8. INSTEAD OF "GOOSE BUMPS," TRY USING "HORRIPILATION."

Woman's legs with goosebumps
iStock

That's the medical name for this curious phenomenon, which is also called gooseflesh, henflesh, or goose-pimpling.

9. INSTEAD OF "APPROPRIATE," TRY USING "IDONEOUS."

men in suits shaking hands
iStock

It's a little on the old-fashioned side, but idoneous, derived from the Latin word idoneus, makes a perfectly, well, appropriate replacement for words like proper, fit, and suitable.

10. INSTEAD OF "BOASTING," TRY USING "JACTANCE."

Man pointing to himself
iStock

Derived from a Latin word meaning "to boast" or "speak out," jactance or jactancy is vainglorious boasting.

11. INSTEAD OF "RECOGNIZABLE," TRY USING "KENSPECKLE."

Women waving hello to each other
iStock

A word from Scots dialect but with its roots in Scandinavia, kenspeck or kenspeckle means "easily recognizable" or "conspicuous."

12. INSTEAD OF "INDIFFERENT," TRY USING "LAODICEAN."

woman being indifferent on date
iStock

Laodicea was a city in ancient Asia Minor. According to the biblical Book of Revelation, the people of Laodicea were known for their religious apathy, their fair-weather faith, and their lukewarm interest in the church—all of which prompted a pretty stern letter from St. John. As a result, a Laodicean is an apathetic, indifferent, or unconcerned person when it comes to religion.

13. INSTEAD OF "SMELLY," TRY USING "MEPHITIC."

Young man with disgust on his face pinches nose
iStock

A mephitis is a noxious, foul-smelling fume emanating from inside the earth, and anything that smells as bad as that is mephitic. Case in point, skunks were known as "mephitic weasels" is the 19th century.

14. INSTEAD OF "MISER," TRY USING "NIPCHEESE."

miser
iStock

As well as being another name for a ship's purser (the steward in charge of the ship's accounts), a nipcheese is a mean, penny-pinching person. Feel free to also call your most miserly friend a nip-farthing, a shut-purse, a pinch-plum, or a sharp-nose.

15. INSTEAD OF "BEND," TRY USING "OBLIQUATE."

Metal springs bending
iStock

Derived from the same root as the word oblique, if something obliquates then it turns or bends to one side.

16. INSTEAD OF "CONCISE," TRY USING "PAUCILOQUENT."

"Keep it Simple" written in book
iStock

Ironically, the thesaurus is full of weird and wonderful words for people who don't say very much. As well as pauciloquent, people who like to keep things brief can be laconic, synoptic, or breviloquent.

17. INSTEAD OF "QUINTESSENCE," TRY USING "QUIDDITY."

coffee bean next to mug
iStock

Quintessence is already a fairly smart-sounding word, but you can up the stakes with quiddity: Derived from a Latin word meaning "who," the quiddity of something is the very essence or nature of something, or a distinctive feature or characteristic.

18. INSTEAD OF "CHEERFUL," TRY USING "RIANT."

cheerful businesswoman
iStock

Derived via French from the Latin word for "laugh," if you're riant then you're cheerful or mirthful. A riant landscape or image, likewise, is one that makes you happy or is pleasurable to look at.

19. INSTEAD OF "TWITCHY," TRY USING "SACCADIC."

Horse twitching
iStock

A saccade is an involuntary twitch or movement of the eye—and, figuratively, that makes someone who is saccadic characteristically fidgety, twitchy, or restless.

20. INSTEAD OF "EQUIVOCATE," TRY USING "TERGIVERSATE."

Young couple breaking up
iStock

To tergiversate literally means "to turn your back on" something, but more loosely, it means to dodge a question or issue, or to avoid a straightforward explanation.

21. INSTEAD OF "HOWL," TRY USING "ULULATE."

Coyote Howling in Winter
iStock

Probably originally meant to be onomatopoeic, ululation is a howling sound like that made by wolves. More figuratively, to ululate can be used to mean "to bewail" or "lament."

22. INSTEAD OF "PREDICT," TRY USING "VATICINATE."

Fortune teller's hands
iStock

Derived from the Latin word for a soothsayer or seer, to vaticinate is to prophesize or predict something.

23. INSTEAD OF "UNLUCKY," TRY USING "WANCHANCY."

woman with broken down car
iStock

Wanchance is an old Scots dialect word for misfortune. Derived from that, the adjective wanchancy has fallen into more widespread use to mean "unlucky," "ill-fated," or in some contexts, "uncanny" or "eerily coincidental."

24. INSTEAD OF "LAST NIGHT," TRY USING "YESTERNIGHT."

There are more yester– words in the dictionary than just yesterday. As well as yesternight, there's yesterweek, yestereve, and yestermorn.

25. INSTEAD OF "CRITICISM," TRY USING "ZOILISM."

Zoilus was one of the harshest critics of the ancient Greek writer Homer, and he was known for his scathing, nit-picking attacks on Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. Derived from him, a zoilist is an overbearingly harsh critic, while unduly harsh criticism is zoilism.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
language
Love Hygge? Meet Lagom, Your New Favorite Scandinavian Philosophy
iStock
iStock

The Danish concept of hygge is all about indulging in simple pleasures during the cold, dark winter months. In Sweden, people take a different approach to living their best lives: They focus on lagom, an idea that roughly translates to “not too much, not too little, just the right amount.”

As Condé Nast Traveler reports, lagom can be found everywhere in Swedish culture. Swedes might use it to describe the strength of their coffee or slip it into conversation with sayings like lagom är bäst (“lagom is best”). But you don't need to speak Swedish to embrace the concept. Condé Nast Traveler has a few tips for how to incorporate lagom into your own life no matter how far from Scandinavia you live.

One obvious place to practice lagom is in the home. Get rid of the clutter you haven’t used in years and hold onto items with practical value. But because lagom is all about balance, you should leave room in your house for objects with special aesthetic or sentimental value as well.

Lagom also has a place at work. If you’re someone who works non-stop from 9 to 5, remember to schedule time for breaks and really disconnect from your job during those times. It may feel like slacking off, but your work performance will actually benefit.

Finally, one of the most important ways Swedes express lagom is through day-to-day personal interactions. If you live according to the lagom philosophy, dominating the conversation isn’t a priority. Giving others room to speak, and even allowing comfortable silences to form, is more important.

Looking for another untranslatable European life philosophy to adopt this winter? In Scotland, Còsagach is how people stay cozy.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios