I swan

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18 comments on this post.
  1. Angela:

    I’m from Kentucky and my mom says, “well, I swanny” to express surprise at some unbelievable gossip or as a term of frustration. For example, trying to thread a needle over and over without success would bring out an “I swanny” from her. I’m 46 y/o and she has said this all my life. My grandmother used to say, “Well, law” with the word law drawn out to express surprise and disbelief. The grandkids get a big kick out of hearing these phrases! My neighbor from Virginia will say, “that girl is as ill as a copperhead”, meaning the girl is in a really mean mood!

  2. larry knowles:

    “I swunny” was my Mother’s favorite expression for surprise or mild shock. She was born in 1913 in then rural Henry Co. GA, now merely a suburban area of Atlanta. Being a live-at-home old bachelor, I must have heard her say it, twenty thousand times, until her death in 2004.

  3. Katherine:

    Thank you so much! I have been searching for the origin of swan for forty years. If was and still is common in my mothers family in Tennessee. We always knew it meant to declare but did not know the origin. When grandma was surprised she said,”I swam”. When grandma was shocked and without an answer to a problem she would say,”I swanny mercy”.

  4. Drew Snider:

    I’d been wondering about this most of my life and finally decided to look it up and here it is-thanks!

  5. Chuck:

    My Dad was from Tennessee and he always said, “I swear and I swan.”

    My Mom, from Oklahoma said, “I swan,” or “I swanny.”

  6. Emgee:

    When expressing (especially feign) surprise, my father will often say, “I swanny and do vow!” My family has lived in Georgia for six generations.

  7. Ed Gombert:

    I first heard the character of Fibber in the radio show Fibber Magee and Molly and wondered where it came from. Thanks, I can finally wonder about something else.

  8. Ed Marlow:

    My grandma used to say: “I be swan!” whenever she was surprised by something.

  9. Paula:

    My mom from Oklahoma used to say I’ll swan or I’ll swan to goodness.

  10. Dennis Williams:

    This was a very common expression in western Kentucky when I was a kid growing up years ago. I was born in 1944 and my dad’s mother who was born in 1900 used to say it all the time.

  11. Lois Vance:

    I swan na goodness! Pon my honor! Forever more!

  12. JH:

    My grandmother, born in 1914 in East Texas (from Geaorgia grandparents) said “I swan” or “I’ll swanny” in the context mentioned here. She had no idea of what it meant or how she came to use it – it was just a natural expression of surprise.

    How about we bring this expression back to the mainstream…I’m going to say it at least twice a week as situations warrant. ;-)

  13. Amy:

    My grandma, who is 89, often says, “I’ll swan to pete!” I was reminded of this while listening to a Stephen King short story today. Thought I would look it up. She lives in Southern Illinois, which isn’t too far from Western Kentucky. She also often says someone is “faunching and raring” if that person is having a fit.

  14. MaryAnn hekgeson:

    My mom always said,”I’ll swan” when hearing something new or unusual to her. We are from Arkansas. it makes sense to me that the expression also means ,”I’ll swear”‘ which many southern also say.

  15. Grace:

    My mother was born in the Missouri Ozarks and I grew up hearing “I swan” and “I’ll swan to my time”, usually when she was perturbed at me. So glad to hear it again.

  16. Sam Pace:

    I’m 50 years old and was raised in south Mississippi and I still use the word “swunny”. But it has certainly been lost with the younger generations.

  17. Jeremy:

    My grandmother was born in 1915 in Burlington, NC. Whenever she was exasperated by some unpleasant revelation, she would say, “Well, I swunny!” She is the only person I ever heard use “swunny”, probably because we all migrated to Florida when I was a toddler. I’ve never heard anyone use the word in Florida, and I’ve lived all over the state, from Ft. Lauderdale to St. George Island.

  18. babbette:

    My grandmother went with “Well, I swan”. She told me a lady should not only never swear, but should never even say the word ‘swear’. I told her that if I wasn’t allowed to say ‘gee’ because it meant ‘Jesus’, that she shouldn’t say ‘swan’ because it meant ‘swear’.

    I started saying ‘Well, I duck.” to thumb my nose at the over restrictive limits on language in my family and over the decades it’s become a habit, scattering confusion worldwide.

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