Reese Witherspoon Explains 12 Slangs You Wouldn’t Know Unless You’re from the South

When you hear the phrase “America’s sweetheart” which person comes to mind? Maybe you think of Jennifer Aniston? Or a throwback, like Julia Roberts? Perhaps it’s the newly-minted Mirai Nagasu? We love all of those options, but the one person who beats out all the rest is the blonde bombshell herself, Reese Witherspoon.

Maybe we’ve seen Legally Blonde too many items (we have), or maybe we’re still a little TOO obsessed with the perfect Hollywood couple that was Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe (R.I.P. to that marriage), or maybe we still can’t get over how much the actress and her daughter look exactly alike (seriously, you, guys, it’s uncanny).

Maybe we love—and know! —a lot of things about the star, but what we love most is just how unabashedly Southern she is. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of catching an interview with Witherspoon, then you’re well-aware that the actress speaks with one of those dainty, yet feisty twangs that can only be attributed to her Southern roots.

You see, she was born in New Orleans and raised in Nashville, Tennessee—you can’t get any more Southern than that. In fact, the actress moved back to the Nashville area in 2014 after living on the West Coast for most of her teenage and adult life. She even named her youngest son Tennessee. Yep, pretty darn Southern.

So, who better to teach us Southern slang than Reese Witherspoon? She certainly has the pedigree to show us how it’s done! Recently, she made a video with Vanity Fair to do two important things: 1) reveal the meanings of the most common Southern sayings and 2) show us how they’re pronounced. Here are some of our favorites:

  1. Conniption (keh-NIP-shun)

    According to Witherspoon, a conniption is when you “absolutely lose your sh*t.” Good to know, Reese. Good to know.

  2. Dern Tootin’ (dern TOOT-in)

    The actress explains that Southerners use this saying as a sort of affirmation. Witherspoon translation: “You’re absolutely right. I completely agree with you.” Pro tip: Instead of saying ‘totes’, you can just say ‘dern tootin’. Cute!

  3. Bless your heart (BLAY-ess yer hart)

    “How we feel about everybody,” Witherspoon says. “It’s what we say literally about everybody we know. And we mean it. We do.” Confused? Yep, we are, too…

  4. June Bug (JOON bug)

    We never really realized that June Bugs are specific to South, but apparently—or according to Witherspoon, at least—they are much BIGGER down there. The actress claims that they are about as large as her hand, and describes them as being “small animals” and not “bugs.” Gross!

    She also mentions that “June Bug” is also a common nickname for women or girls named June. We like that meaning much better!

How fun are those sayings? To see the inimitable Reese Witherspoon deliver this slang AND learn a whopping 8 bonus Southern words from the actress herself, be sure to watch Vanity Fair’s video below. Dern Tootin’! Wait… did we use that right?

We’d love to hear your take on this Southern slang! Are you a Southerner? If so, did Witherspoon deliver the slang well? What’s your favorite term from the South?