Word of the day – Yokel

Word of the Day : June 26, 2020


noun YOH-kul


  • : a naive or gullible inhabitant of a rural area or small town

Did you know?

The origins of yokel are uncertain, but it might have come from the dialectal English word yokel used as the name for the green woodpecker (the nickname is of imitative origin). Other words for supposedly naive country folk are chawbacon (from chaw, meaning “chew,” and bacon), hayseed (which has obvious connections to country life), and clodhopper (indicating a clumsy, heavy-footed rustic). But city slickers don’t always have the last word: rural folk have had their share of labels for city-dwellers too. One simple example is the often disparaging use of the adjective citified. A more colorful (albeit historical) example is cockney, which literally means “cocks’ egg,” or more broadly “misshapen egg.” In the past, this word often designated a spoiled or foppish townsman—as opposed to the sturdy countryman, that is.


Many of the town’s residents felt that the documentary unfairly portrayed them as bumbling yokels.

“Few would have predicted that the guys behind the frat-house anthem ‘Fight for Your Right’ would grow into alt-rock heroes, acclaimed for their innovative sampling and attention to musical craft. By the 2000s, the Beastie Boys were festival headliners, beloved by music fans of all stripes—from rock snobs to hip-hop heads to shirtless yokels.” — Rafer Guzmán, Newsday (Long Island, New York), 24 Apr. 2020