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1812, possibly from dialectal German Jokel, diminutive of Jakob; alternatively, from dialectal English yokel (woodpecker).[1]



yokel (plural yokels)

  1. (derogatory) A person from or living in the countryside, viewed as being unsophisticated and/or naive.
    Synonyms: boor, bumpkin, country bumpkin, joskin, hillbilly, hick, peasant, provincial, rube, rustic, yahoo
    They love the scenery near their summer home, but have no desire to mix with the local yokels.
    • 1838, Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, London: Richard Bentley, Volume 2, Chapter 30, p. 81,[1]
      [] my opinion at once is [] that this [robbery] wasn’t done by a yokel―eh, Duff?”
      “Certainly not,” replied Duff.
      “And, translating the word yokel, for the benefit of the ladies, I apprehend your meaning to be that this attempt was not made by a countryman?” said Mr. Losberne with a smile.
    • 1895, Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage, New York: Appleton, Chapter 8, p. 88,[2]
      He eyed the story-teller with unspeakable wonder. His mouth was agape in yokel fashion.
    • 1985, Peter De Vries, The Prick of Noon, Penguin, Chapter 6, p. 119,[3]
      I went to New York and bought myself a secondhand stretch limousine twenty-eight feet long, calculated to reduce the most blasé country-club sophisticates to bug-eyed yokels.
    • 1993, Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy, London: Phoenix, 1994, Chapter 8.6, p. 560,[4]
      ‘You may think that because you live in Brahmpur you have seen the world―or more of the world than we poor yokels see. But some of us yokels have also seen the world―and not just the world of Brahmpur, but of Bombay. []

Derived terms[edit]


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  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2021), “yokel”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.