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saservp's avatar

What is the actual origin of the word 'redneck'?

Asked by saservp (291points) June 23rd, 2010

I.E. is there any history beyond just someone with a sunburn on their neck ;)

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18 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

It suggested a man of fair complexion who spent each day working in the field.

stratman37's avatar

If you were too poor to have a desk job (uneducated), you had to work the fields.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, I think it originate too from the farmers tan, dark arms and neck.

I admit to using that term from time to time..but, because I live rural it is more about a sort of beer guzzling, gun totin’ good ol’ boy in my mind, plenty of brawn, minimal brains…I know, I know..sounds terrible, I am really a nice person, but…some of these ‘redneck’ types are pretty intimidating.

bellusfemina's avatar

Red dirt, red ants and red necks all come from the south. I think they all have to exist together amongst broken down vehicles in the tall grass…...

rangerr's avatar

I think the most popular origin is as everyone said above the red neck caused by working outdoors constantly.

The reason I always heard from my grandparents lovely country folk was that in West Virginia in the early 1900’s, there were arguments and pretty violent fights between mine owners and the workers in the mine. The people with ties to the union would wear red bandannas around their necks to signify that connection. and because obviously WV is filled with hicks and stupid people~, the name stuck

ragingloli's avatar

It is a small singing bird in Europe.

Thammuz's avatar

A redneck is someone who, being forced to work the fields because he lacks a proper education, passes most of his time hunched under the sun, getting a red neck.

Mikewlf337's avatar

it is what it is. The tend to have sunburned necks and the phrase caught on. Some of you in this thread are douchebags though. Assuming a redneck is an idiot who doesnt have a boring desk job is nothing more than generalizing. Some people dont want you boring deskjob. Some people like working with their hands and fixing things and building things, Not eveyone wants to sit at their desk acting important.

Mikewlf337's avatar

Let me add that just because you don’t have a desk job doesn’t mean you are uneducated. If you all are so smart how about using your brains and give some thought before you run your mouths

UScitizen's avatar

All of the above are common misperceptions. During the Battle of Blair Mountain, September, 1921, coal miners wore red bandanas as they went to war, (yes, war) on U.S. soil against the private and public security cronies of the mining companies. Since the miners wore red bandanas on thier necks to identify their loyalty, the press dubbed them red necks.

rangerr's avatar

@UScitizen Yeah.. that’s essentially what I said.

In my opinion: there are so many stories and traces of the word going back to random dates and countries, that finding the origin of the word as we have come to know it generally as an insult is going to be impossible.

UScitizen's avatar

@rangerr I’m not convinced it’s an insult. However, I appreciate what you have said.

Many honest and hard working people are proud to be called red necks.

dpworkin's avatar

@UScitizen You are incorrect. there is a citation from 30 years before the Battle of Blair Mountain:

A citation from 1893 provides a definition as “poorer inhabitants of the rural districts…men who work in the field, as a matter of course, generally have their skin burned red by the sun, and especially is this true of the back of their necks


This is disambiguated from a different meaning of the word related to Union workers which is of “unknown origin” and Blair Mountain is just one of many stories to explain this secondary meaning.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

“Redneck”, as others have already said, originates from the time people used to work the fields. They spent so much time outside, their necks would turn bright red. The name was a way to distinguish one class of people from another. And it’s origins were, and generally still are, derogatory.

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Dog's avatar

[Mod Says:] Just a friendly reminder that this question is in the General section and that off- topic/unhelpful quips will be removed.

Let’s stick to the topic folks which is: “What is the actual origin of the word ‘redneck’?”

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