little hiss can’t be wrong

A friend who works in the private sector somewhere on the Great Plains sent me a story from a national business newsletter in which someone at her company was interviewed. She asked me to identify which of several quotes from this co-worker bothered other people at the company. I presumed this challenge would be easy enough but looked the article over several times and didn’t see what she was talking about. So I asked and the answer was this part where her co-worker was quoted using the phrase “throw a hissy fit.” This was bothersome because people felt it gave them impression of their corporation as a backwoods rube-run enterprise. It didn’t even faze me. I’m trying to figure out if “hissy fit” is an uninterrogated part of my rural habitus. I mean, of course I recognize it as a colloquialism, but is it really a rural colloquism? Is that I would now say “throw a snit” instead of “throw a hissy fit” an unconscious version of when I started saying “soda” instead of “pop”?

BTW, non-sequitur personal Thanksgiving update: Mother, father, sister, brother-in-law, another sister (maybe), niece, and great niece are all tentatively coming here for Thanksgiving. I felt like I was messing up by procrastinating on checking how placing an order from Whole Foods works. Then tonight I was in there anyway getting my dinner and I stopped by the special holiday counter and the whole order took less than ten minutes. We’ve got salad, turkey, mashed potatoes, two kinds of stuffing, green beans, butternut squash, cranberries, gravy, rolls, pumpkin pie, and chocolate cake. Circa $2oo, which is less than I was expecting.  I’ve never had an experience in Staples where I wanted to press a button and say “That was easy,” but  ordering Thanksgiving with Whole Foods: That was easy.

Author: jeremy

I am the Ethel and John Lindgren Professor of Sociology and a Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.

8 thoughts on “little hiss can’t be wrong”

  1. hissy fit was common in pittsburgh when i was growing up, as was “pop”, which I also stopped saying at a certain point. anyway, i don’t think hissy fit is rural. i think it’s our generation (assuming we are around the same age, which i think we are).


  2. We used “hissy fit” (and the shortened “hissy”) when I was growing up. I might even still use it occasionally. The other one from our generation (and I grew up in Seattle, too) that you never hear anymore is “having a cow.” I wonder if that had rural roots?


  3. I didn’t realise someone could throw a snit. I thought a snit was something one was in. “Hissy fit” doesn’t sound at all weird to me, but I don’t know what that suggests about its origins.


  4. I suspect there will be more stuffing left over than pumpkin pie, as I got two different kinds of stuffing because I was uncertain whether my family would be able to deal with either (at least from the photos, do-gooder Whole Foods stuffing is very different from what my Mom makes, and may be rated as sub-Stove-Top by my family).


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