AskDefine | Define bumpkin

Dictionary Definition

bumpkin n : not very intelligent or interested in culture [syn: yokel, rube, hick, yahoo, hayseed, chawbacon]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. a short boom or spar used to extend a sail or secure a stay
  2. a clumsy unsophisticated person; a yokel

Extensive Definition

Yokel (also commonly known as "Hicks") is a derogatory term to refer to the stereotype of unsophisticated country people. In America, is commonly used as a derogatory term for someone from the rural South or Midwest; the word is almost synonymous with Bumpkin.


In England yokels are traditionally depicted as wearing the old West Country farmhand's dress of straw hat and white smock, chewing or sucking a piece of straw and carrying a pitchfork or rake, listening to Scrumpy and Western music. Yokels are portrayed as living in rural areas of Britain such as the Yorkshire Dales, the West Country, Wales or East Anglia. English yokels speak a country dialect from some part of England.
Yokels are depicted as straightforward and simple, but they aren't easily deceived as they easily see through false pretenses.
Yokels are also depicted as talking about bucolic topics like cows, sheep, goats, wheat, alfalfa, fields, crops, tractors, and buxom wenches to the exclusion of all else and dont seem to be aware of or at least show interest in the world outside of their own surroundings.


The word may derive either from a comic mispronunciation of the word 'local', from a dialect word 'yokel' meaning 'woodpecker' or from the Somerset word 'yogel' meaning 'owl', owls being common in Somerset.


The development of television brought many previously isolated communities into mainstream British culture in the 1950s and 1960s. The Internet continues this integration, further eroding the town/country divide. In the 21st century British country folk are less frequently seen as yokels. In British TV Show The Two Ronnies, it was asserted that despite political correctness, it is possible to poke fun at yokels as nobody sees themselves as being one.

Origins for "Hicks"

According to the Oxford English Dictionary the term is a "by-form" of the personal name Richard (like Dick) and Hob (like Bob) for Robert. Although the English word "hick" is of recent vintage, distinctions between urban and rural dwellers are ancient.
According to a popular etymology derives from the nickname "Old Hickory" for Andrew Jackson, one of the first Presidents of the United States to come from rural hard-scrabble roots. This nickname suggested that Jackson was tough and enduring like an old Hickory tree. Jackson was particularly admired by the residents of remote and mountainous areas of the United States, people who would come to be known as "hicks."
Though not a term explicitly denoting lower class, some argue that the term degrades impoverished rural people and that "hicks" continue as one of the few groups that can be ridiculed and stereotyped with impunity. In "The Redneck Manifesto," Jim Goad argues that this stereotype has largely served to blind the general population to the economic exploitation of rural areas, specifically in Appalachia and the South.

Further Information

Famous fictional yokels

See also

External links

  • The Man from Ironbark, (An Aussie Poem)Note for readers who speak English as a second language, Aussie means Australian.


Further Reading

Goad, Jim. (1997). The Redneck Manifesto: How Hillbillies, Hicks, and White Trash Became America's Scapegoats. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0684838648
bumpkin in German: Jockel
bumpkin in French: Péquenaud
bumpkin in Tagalog: Promdi

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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