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Compound of clod +‎ hopper (agentive form of the verb hop). Perhaps affected by analogy with grasshopper. Attested in the sense of "peasant" since the seventeenth century; the extended sense of "boot" or "shoe" dates from the nineteenth century.


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clodhopper (plural clodhoppers)

  1. A strong shoe for heavy-duty use, a boot.
    • 1830, Margaret Hundy, "First Epistle from Mrs. Margaret Hundy", The Lady's Magazine:
      ...who had got on his "hill shoes," as he calls a pair of clodhoppers as thick as a ploughman's, and stuck round with nails.
  2. (US) Any kind of shoe.
    • 1959, Claude F. Koch, "A Matter of Family":
      We had to walk slow because of his wooden clod-hoppers, and that was the way I wanted it now
  3. (military slang) United States Navy ankle length work shoes, distinct from dress shoes or combat boots.
    • 1943, "Senators go global: Five will fly to all fronts", LIFE Magazine, August 16:
      Smiling Jim Mead of New York tries on his GI clodhopper boots. He decided to return them "because we couldn't make any altitude with those aboard."
  4. A peasant or yokel.
    • 1719, René Le Bossu; Pierre François le Courayer and Peter Anthony Motteux, translators, Monsieur Bossu's Treatise of the Epick Poem, J. Knapton and H. Clements, OCLC 714190298, page 332:
      [] now a book is no greater rarity than bacon and greens in Virginia; and the clodhopper of this country returns from his daily labours to a book []
    • 1869, Richard Doddridge Blackmore, Lorna Doone, ch. 14:
      'Nephew Jack,' he cried, looking at me when I was thinking what to say, and finding only emptiness, 'you are a heavy lout, sir; a bumpkin, a clodhopper; and I shall leave you nothing, unless it be my boots to grease.'
  5. (Britain) A clumsy or foolish person.
    • 1826, P.H. Clias, "Gymnastics", Blackwood's Magazine, Volume XX, No. CXV, August:
      All guess-work exploits shrivel up a good yard, or sometimes two, when brought to the measure, and the champion of the county dwindles into a clumsy clod-hopper.
  6. Wheatear; any of various passerine birds.
    • 1834, Robert Mudie, The Feathered Tribes of the British Islands, volume 1:
      ...and as the birds then begin to resort to the downs and open commons, the "fallow-chat," "wheat-ear," and "clodhopper," are not unappropriate names.

Usage notes[edit]

This term mostly occurs in the plural, e.g. “a pair of clodhoppers.”