Redneck vs Hillbilly: Difference and Comparison

Redneck and Hillbilly are American slang terms that are used to refer to different types of people. They are frowned upon by many.

However, each of them had a different meaning originally, which changed over time due to different interpretations. They have many other differences between them as well.

Key Takeaways

  1. Rednecks are associated with working-class whites in the South, while hillbillies are associated with people living in remote rural areas.
  2. Rednecks are perceived to be more politically conservative and stereotyped as racist, while hillbillies are associated with poverty and backwardness.
  3. Rednecks are known for their affinity for country music, hunting, and fishing, while hillbillies are known for their self-sufficiency and isolation.

Redneck vs Hillbilly

Redneck is a more negative connotation used to describe a person who is perceived as being working-class, politically conservative, and having traditional values. Hillbilly refers to someone from a rural or mountainous region, in the Appalachian region of the eastern United States.

Redneck vs Hillbilly

The term ‘Redneck’ was given to people whose necks would get sunburned or turned ‘red’ by working under the sun for too long. Such jobs were only popular among the white labourer class of people who dwelled in the Southern United States.

However, the word was used in different contexts throughout time, giving it an entirely new meaning.

Meanwhile, the term ‘Hillbilly’ is used to refer to any person who resides in an isolated mountainous area and does not have much sophistication in his lifestyle.

They are considered to be socially awkward and apathetic towards their lifestyle and clothes. However, its meaning has gone through almost no changes, and people use it nowadays with the same connotation.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonRedneckHillbilly
MeaningIt is a slang term that was used for the white people of the labourer’s class living in the Southern United States.It is a slang term that was used for any socially awkward and unsophisticated person who lives in the mountains.
ConnotationThey were considered to be better than Hillbillys.They were considered to be a lower class as compared to Rednecks.
OriginsIt began to be used for Southern men who work under the sun for long hours.It was derived from Scottish expressions including ‘hill-folk’ and ‘billie’.
ChangesIts meaning went through many changes.Its meaning did not go through any changes.
DescriptionsA Redneck was someone who had orthodox thinking while living in a city or a village.A Hillbilly was supposed to be entirely cut off from the modern world. 

What is Redneck?

Redneck is an American slang that is frowned upon by many people. It refers to white people who are not well off, those who live in rural areas of the Southern United States.

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The meaning of this term comes from the situations in which white people would work for long hours under the sun. Due to this, they got ‘red necks’ or sunburned necks.

The term has its roots in the 19th Century when farmers would work for long hours in the fields. These people were considered to be uneducated, prejudiced, orthodox, and even superstitious.

Even though many people consider this term to be offensive, Southern locals call themselves Rednecks while joking.

Regardless, the term went through several changes, as many people interpreted it differently. It has now been used in various contexts that changed through time.

In one of its phases, the word was used to refer to people who would not conform to how things happen. Later, it came to be associated with anti-establishment while being pro-labour.

However, originally, rednecks had close associations with racists. These people had conservative beliefs and weren’t in tune with modern life and ideas. Interestingly, this term is referred to be not as derogatory as the term ‘Hillbilly’.

What is Hillbilly?

The term ‘Hillbilly’ is another derogatory American slang. It is used for anyone living isolated from modern societies and probably in mountainous areas.

People like these were considered to have no sophistication. They didn’t think about how they appeared or how their lifestyle was.

Such people were known to live in the rural mountain regions of the Southern United States. These included Appalachia and the Ozarks. This term also spread to be used in Western Areas.

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This included the Rocky Mountains and even the Rio Grande.

‘Hillbilly’ did not go through many changes. However, people grew opinions about it being positive or negative over time. For example, the term also implies that such people are self-reliant and independent.

However, other times, the term implies that such people are backward and violent.  

The term ‘Hillbilly’ has its roots in the Scottish dialect. It is considered to be derived from the words ‘hill-folk’, which is used for people who live in isolation on remote mountains, and ‘billie’, which was used for a companion.

Regardless, the term was always used in a derogatory manner. This is why its use is still frowned upon by many people these days.

hillbilly

Main Differences Between Redneck and Hillbilly

  1. Redneck is a slang term that was used for the white people of the labourer’s class living in the Southern United States, whereas Hillbilly is a slang term that was used for any socially awkward and unsophisticated person who lives in the mountains.
  2. Rednecks were considered to be better than Hillbillys, whereas Hillbillys were considered a lower class compared to Rednecks.
  3. The term ‘Redneck’ began to be used for Southern men who work under the sun for long hours, whereas the term ‘Hillbilly’ was derived from Scottish expressions including ‘hilly-folk’ and ‘billie’.
  4. Rednecks meaning went through many changes, whereas Hillbilly’s meaning did not go through any changes.
  5. A Redneck was someone who had orthodox thinking while living in a city or a village, whereas a Hillbilly was supposed to be entirely cut off from the modern world.
Difference Between Redneck and Hillbilly
References
  1. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9780203412107-15/white-people-rednecks-hillbillies-white-trash-marked-racial-subjects-john-hartigan-jr
  2. https://search.proquest.com/openview/f9ade62f4f09b3dbb3d2f37a3782de66/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=44156

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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