Redneck vs. Hillbilly: You might be one if...

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Difference between Redneck and Hillbilly

Many people often use the terms “redneck” and “hillbilly” interchangeably, and oftentimes, it can be quite difficult to make the distinction between each. While most would argue that such terms are largely derogatory, and as such undeserving of critical comparison, the fact that so many people carry the tag proudly suggests that there is a lot more to both terms than meets the eye. What's in a name? This comparison article should give you a clue!



Many people unfairly perceive rednecks as crude people of a southern persuasion who are prone to displays of violence. They are also generalized as being into NASCAR, country music, and beer. Racism is also a common trait ascribed to them, although this and other generalizations aren't necessarily accurate. The term hillbilly is usually used in reference to people who live in the mountainous regions of the United States. Unlike rednecks however, hillbillies are generally perceived to be good-natured, honest and friendly. Most examples of hillbillies also tend to be quite individualistic in temperament, and most can trace their lineage to Scottish or Irish roots.

Basic Definitions

Both “redneck” and "hillbilly" are most often used in a derogatory manner, with "redneck" most often used to refer to people from the southern part of the United States, many of whom are poor, white farmers. "Hillbilly" on the other hand is often used in reference to inhabitants of the Appalachian region of the United States and nearby mountainous areas. Some people of Appalachian heritage perceive the term as being definitely derogatory, although not everyone seems to mind being labeled as such.

Historical Origins Of The Terms

The term "redneck" came into widespread use by the 1900s, when it was most often used to refer to poor white farmers in the southern portion of the United States. These people were also known around the same time as "wool hat boys" for their custom of wearing wool hats in contrast to wealthy people who often wore hats made out of silk. One of the earliest uses of the term seen in print was a newspaper notice published in a Mississippi daily in August 1891, which appealed to rednecks to appear at the polls on the upcoming election. Many so-called "rednecks" actually carried the label proudly until the 1970s, when the term took on decidedly more offensive connotations. In contrast, the origins of the term "hillbilly" were a lot more obscure, although it definitely appeared in print as early as 1900 in an article published in the New York Journal. Still others trace the roots of the term to 17th century Ireland.



  • Often perceived to be crude
  • Defined popularly by Jeff Foxworthy
  • Often generalized as being into NASCAR and country music
  • Often perceived as being racists
  • Considered by many to be a derogatory term
  • Came into widespread use in the 1900s
  • First used to refer to poor white farmers in the southern United States

  • Also sometimes considered crude
  • Often seen as good natured, honest, and friendly
  • Many have a Scotch-Irish heritage
  • Characterized by charming, folksy mannerisms
  • Often used to refer to people living in the Appalachians and other mountainous regions of the United States
  • First used in print in the 1900s


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