Haints and Hags — is a term I first learned watching a show about South Carolina on one of those fancy cable television channels about flipping houses.

“Haints and Hags” — as I understand it — means “Ghosts and Witches” and the episode that taught me that was an exploration of a guided tour in Charleston pointing out all the “Haints and Hags” haunts.

I was fascinated by the phrase “Haints and Hags” and when I looked it up on the internet I found only one search return — the website for the Charleston tour in South Carolina!

That discovery led me to wonder if “Haints and Hags” had a historical etymological importance — it doesn’t appear in Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary (though “hain’t” is defined as) —

partly contraction of have not, has not; partly alteration of ain’t

— so I began to stew on the idea if “Haints and Hags” was really a common phrase in South Carolina or if the phrase was made up just to sell tour tickets.

Are there any “specialty phrases” you used growing up as part of your cultural experience that had great meaning and resonance in your community — but not beyond — in your life away from your hometown?

I can only think of “Big Bohunk” — usually used as an insult to call someone uneducated and culturally boring — but in the farmland of Nebraska, “Bohunk” is a term of endearment for a Eastern/Southeastern European immigrant, usually from Hungary or Bohemia or Czechoslovakia, who came to the land specifically to till it and raise it up into crops so people around the world could be fed.


  1. I’ve actually been on one of those tours and they’ve never called it that and my mother used to work for that company and I never heard her call it that either. I think someone just needed a boost in their company profits if you ask me.

  2. Hi hterry!
    Now that’s funny! Thanks for sharing your experience. The name of the show was “Flip This House” on A&E. I remember seeing a rather fancy “Haints and Hags” sign but I guess it was all made up. It worked on me!

  3. As a homegrown Carolina native, I’ve never heard the term either. As far as other terms, I’m not sure right now. I’ll have to ponder on it. 😉

  4. Well now I’m getting insulted that my favorite TV show pulled one over on me!
    I wonder who invented that phrase and for what purpose if not to fool people?
    I wonder what the inventor of the phrase will think when we find out it’s all fake?
    Love the new Avatar!

  5. Hazzah, Karvain!
    “Unboring” is a good example. I wonder what other “advertiser invented” words now have a more common meaning?
    I suppose Kleenex is one obvious choice… it appears in both the dictionary and in the marketplace as a trademarked product.

  6. I had a friend in school who would jokingly call people “cracker-head.” It was sort of a play on “crack-head” and “cracker.” Eg.: “What’s cracking, cracker-head?”
    I think she was just having fun with combining the two ideas to make an ultra-derogatory, but fun, name.
    When I was young and living in Northern New Jersey, I remember people there calling South Jersey folks “pineys” because of the Pine Barrens.
    The same thing happens here with Wisconsin and “cheddar head.”
    I think people always like to have local nicknames for local rivals.

  7. Hi Chris!
    “Cracker-head” is pretty funny! Perhaps we could start a national tour of the “Cracker-head Haints and Hags!”
    I like the “pineys” name — that’s very interesting and it redirects one to the most famous of all the Sopranos episodes:
    Nicknames are fun. The Nebraska Cornhuskers used to be known as “The Bug Eaters.” Now there’s a memorable moniker!

  8. The pine barrens Sopranos episode was both horrifying and hilarious as the urban mobsters got lost in the dead country. There’s nothing quite as scary as a forest and most of the children’s literature over history always has the evil lurking and the bad things happening in the woods.

  9. I bet someone snags the “Cracker-head Haints and Hags” and goes on a world tour. It does have a special quality to it, doesn’t it?
    It’s pretty cool that the Sopranos had an episode in the Pine Barrens. You know who lives in the Pine Barrens? Here’s a link, in case you don’t know.

  10. Yes, I think Carla will soon take up the lead in the “Cracker-head Haints and Hags” tour and make the millions she deserves by insulting while bewitching!
    Whoa! No! I didn’t know who lives in the Pine Barrens! It’s the perfect co-star for Carla’s World Tour!

  11. Looked it up in another online dictionary, and “haint” is listed as a variant of the word “haunt.” So I would guess a “haint” is “one who haunts.”

  12. Time for a slightly mean story. How we made fun of a newspaper person. I’d call them a journalist, but I don’t really see writing a column for a monthly free newspaper to involve much brain power, especially in this case.
    Ever seen Fast and the Furious? Well I’m one of those crazy car girls. Didn’t get along with other girls, played with cars, and did naughty things in them late at night (not the sexual kind).
    In NZ there is a real anti towards us, many calling us hoons (along with much ruder things). Police take great pleasure in trying to find reasons to order us off the road (in several cases making up things to do it), government passing more and more laws restricting what we can do to our cars legally, and news papers having a party reporting it all in a negative light.
    So, when someone approached a friend of mine to talk to us about our side when thought this might be a good joke, after all, we knew he wasn’t going to write anything positive about us. He didn’t, he made us out to all have an IQ of 98, and bums sitting at home. How does a bum afford a set of chrome mags? They don’t! Anyway.
    He wanted to know what some of our slang meant, so we told him that “hoiking a minga” was doing a burn out. He actually published it and we spent the month laughing about it (until someone ruined our fun and told them what it actually meant). What does it mean? ……. to spit on an ugly chick.

  13. Hiya krome!
    Okay, you got me — what’s a “hoon” and do I want one or not?
    What kind of naughty things can do you in a car late at night that ISN’T sexual?
    Love the story about fooling the reporter! Hey, if you don’t check your facts you deserve your own derision!

  14. Hoon, someone who roars around at great speed.
    Things we would do ..
    We would drop diesel. This is where you take a can of diesel and tip it onto the road, then position your car over it, pull the brake, and seem how much smoke you can create. Then you start doing burnouts in the smoke. If you do this at night with your lights on it is very beautiful to watch. We took this a step further by having someone climb out of the car and onto the roof.
    We would race.
    My favourite was a massive gravel and dirt area where we would do burn outs. The dust would rise and we’d have 3 or 4 cars doing it at once. It was amazing to watch the lights in the dust. It was light watching a dance.
    We would rally.
    There was the “sand pit”. Same as the above burn outs only this time it was at a massive sand area. This was great because it was a nice drive out to the beach, with opportunities to rally and race while getting there and back.
    I loved playing follow the leader, and tiggy. Yes, you can actually play this while in a car. We would follow people around town, seeing who could come up with the weirdest route and who would just get lost and end up having to go back to the main point where we’d meet up again.
    We never raced or dropped diesel in places where people were, we always picked places we knew had no traffic, on back roads where no one but us could get hurt.
    The joy of being young .. and stupid.

  15. Hi krome —
    Thanks for explaing it all to me. “Hoon” is a new one on me!
    What is the point, exactly, of doing burnouts? Creating beauty? Doesn’t it ruin the tires?
    Sounds like you had a really crazy time!

  16. It can ruin your tiers, if you leave them on your car. We never did. We always swapped them for ones we specifically used for burnouts to prevent damage to the “good” ones.
    The point to it depends on the person. I loved it all because I feel a sense of freedom when I participate in car “stuff”. Like I was flying away from everything painful towards something beautiful, and I found everything beautiful.
    Some guys do it to get woman, and it does pull woman. Generally not the sort you’d want a relationship with, after all who wants a relationship with someone who only cares about your car? But it is one reason.
    There are others who do it for sport, and there are actually competitions you can enter, some of which have up to $10,000 worth of prizes for first place. Usually including brand new mags and tiers.
    A lot of woman do it because they “have something to prove”. Which I feel can cause them to take serious risks they shouldn’t. But this is, again, a reason why some do it.
    There’s those who do it for the rush. I’ve never had an adrenalin rush from doing this, but I’ve herd some people do and that would be a reason for some doing it. Kind of like bungee jumping. Not my thing.
    Art. Some people see being able to control a car enough to make it do as they wish to be an art form taking massive amounts of control and endless dedication to perfect.
    Then you have those who are like me, where it’s almost a spiritual experience to do this kind of thing. There’s something magical and beautiful about it and they want to be part of that.
    There is probably many more, but those would probably be the most common.

  17. Thanks for the information, krome!
    I’ve seen burnouts on TV and they are popular and now, thanks to you, I better understand the beauty behind the exhibition.

  18. Haints are spirits, Hags are witches.
    This is not viral marketing, well unless my 98 year old grandma has been on it since I was a kid!

  19. I’m from Alabama. I’ve heard a lot of older southerners use the term “haints” for malevolent spirits or ghosts. For example, I’ve heard someone say: “De’s haints in dees woods” or ‘There are ghosts in these woods.’

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