Thursday, February 23, 2017

Etymology "Red Neck"

Etymology:  The study of the origins of words.

On the hunt

From Wikipedia

The term redneck is a derogatory term chiefly used for a rural poor white person of the Southern United States. Its usage is similar in meaning to cracker, hillbilly (especially regarding Appalachia and the Ozarks), and white trash

"Hold my beer?"  What kind of idijiot do you think I am?  Nobody holds MY beer but me.
Well, that is their story.

But consider that English has many words of Germanic origin via its Saxon roots.

Have you every heard of "Reineke"?  Sounds a bit like Red Neck, doesn't it? the main character in a literary cycle of allegorical Dutch, English, French and German fables. Those stories are largely concerned with (Reineke), an anthropomorphic red fox and trickster figure. His adventures usually involve him deceiving other anthropomorphic animals for his own advantage or trying to avoid retaliations from them. His main enemy and victim across the cycle is his uncle, the wolf Isengrim (or Ysengrim). While the character of (Reineke) appears in later works, the core stories were written during the Middle Ages by multiple authors and are often seen as parodies of medieval literature such as courtly love stories and chansons de geste, as well as a satire of political and religious institutions.
So what we have here predates the Br'er Rabbit stories.  The humor is rich....White man's Rednecky is a fox.  Black Man's Br'er is a rabbit.  The same character and many of the same stories.

The etymology of the word "Rednecky" itself, as I like to think of him, is old German for "made hard by the gods" or "denoting someone who is wise, clever, or resourceful" depending on the authority you prefer.  Both work for me.  Both describe most of the "Red Necks" I know.

Those who would reject it on the basis that "there is no evidence"  cannot present evidence that it is not true.  In fact, there IS evidence that my etymology is the true origin.  If you doubt it, reread the last paragraph and consider that some of the Br'er Rabbit stories sound much like the Red Necky stories told by slave owners.  As the fox is to the wolf, the rabbit is to the fox.


  1. Actually the first use of the term redneck was after the mining strikes in West Virginia where the rebel miners wore red scarves around their necks so the other fight would know who was on their side.

  2. And here I thought it was all about (Very) white Scot Irish immigrants getting sunburned necks working outside every day.
    Actually still think it's that.

    1. That is the version that was shared with me.

      My reaction, at the time, was that everybody who works outside in the sun on a regular basis wears hats. Even those swarthy, migrant laborers in not-so-sunny Michigan wear hats out in the onion fields.

      You would have to be very, very stupid, or very, very poor to not wear a hat when everybody else was wearing one.