Redneck vs hick vs hillbilly

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| Grammarist

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| Usage, Words

Redneck is a term that can act as a noun or an adjective. It is a stereotype of a white person from the United States, usually from the South in a small town. This person is uneducated with outdated or discriminatory views.

The term was coined in the 1890s, describing the suntan farmers would get between hairline and shirt collar.

From the beginning it was used by the upper class in a derogatory manner, but it was also embraced by those people it described. They were proud of their “red necks”. Today it is used much in the same way. Some use it as a derogatory term, while others self-apply it proudly.

Hick is a synonym for redneck, but does not have the same specific locale attached to it. It can be used to describe anyone from any small town anywhere. It also has been around much longer, since the 1600s. Hick was a nickname for the name Richard.

Hillbilly is also a synonym. Billy being a nickname for William, a small town person was a Billy from the hills.


Council member Ashley Lay said the event’s redneck theme went against the reputation of a family-friendly atmosphere presented in previous community events held in downtown Milton. [Santa Rosa Press Gazette]

“He’s a sharp talking salesman who goes into this little hick town and sells his wares and is able to charm, particularly the ladies.” [Nottingham Post]

“I’ve been so blessed to be able to live a hillbilly singer’s dream and to still be living it today.” [Albuquerque Journal]

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