Riddin' up - Maine too

Posted by ESC on October 14, 2005

In Reply to: Red up posted by Victoria S Dennis on October 13, 2005

: : : I'm from Pennsylvania, and I often heard people where I grew up say "red up" (or "read up" perhaps) as in:

: : : "Okay, kids, it's time to red up your room."

: : : which means "to clean" or "to straighten." I'm assuming, without any real evidence, that this phrase has its origins with the Pennsylvania Dutch, but I don't really know. I learned quickly, in my Army days, however, that it does seem to be a unique phrase to this geographical area.

: : : I've brought this phrase (and smoe others) up in my classes from time to time, but I've never been able to find a satisfactory explanation. The closest I got ws one student (his great grandmother was PA Dutch and barely spoke English) suggesting that it goes back to the color of barns and that "redding up" the barn was a way to make it look better. That makes a bit of sense, but I'd prefer to have a more academic explanation. Any information would be appreciated.

: : Here's all I know.

: : RED UP, REDDING UP, RID UP -- to ready or to clean up. "We went to 'redding up' (after a strong wind had lifed the roof, sending moss and dried chinking mud down on the floor). From "Smoky Mountain Voices: A Lexicon of Southern Appalachian Speech Based on the Research of Horace Kephart," edited by Harold J. Farwell Jr., and J. Karl Nicholas (University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky., 1993).

: It's also Scots and N English dialect, with the same meaning. According to the OED it was originally identical with the verb "to rid", meaning "clear, put in order, clean up".

From "The Colorado Kid" by Stephen King (A Hard Case Crime Novel, 2005), set in Maine, Page 101: "Mother and Dad were in the kitchen finishin the supper dishes -- 'doin the riddin-up' is what we say in these parts..."

(This book is part of a series profiled on CBS Sunday Morning: PULP FICTION -- Growing up, writer Stephen King loved reading dime store novels. Now the established author has written one of his own, a paperback murder mystery called "The Colorado Kid," the latest in the retro series "Hard Case Crime." Anthony Mason sits down with the author and learns about his role in the comeback of pulp fiction.)