Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Bumpkin - A Short Barrel of Country Fun

Country bumpkin
The Gamekeeper by Richard Ansdell (1815-1885)


Noun. Late 16th century.
[Perhaps from Dutch boomken little tree, or Middle Dutch bommekijn little barrel, used figuratively for 'squat figure'.]

A rustic or awkward person.

bumpkinet noun (rare) a little bumpkin L18
bumpkinish adjective L18
bumpkinly adjective (rare) L17

It's hard not to warm to bumpkin, with its associations of the charmingly naive and unsophisticated friendliness that many of its synonyms lack: hick and redneck in the US, for example, or culchie in Ireland. It's also curious in usually being qualified with country, as in a country bumpkin, indicating that one might encounter a bumpkin from anywhere, not just the sticks (an urban bumpkin, perhaps, or an inner-city bumpkin?). I leave you with The Two Ronnies, whose characters, while identified by another synonym, The Yokels, perfectly typify the notion of simple, jolly country bumpkins.

Are you a country bumpkin?

Do you know of any other such synonyms?

Do please sow your oats in the comment box below.


  1. A man in a flash car screeches to a halt beside a bumpkin and asks the way to a village.
    'Ooh,' says the bumpkin. 'I can't tell you that.'
    So the man gets out his map and asks the way to a couple of other villages, but he gets the same answer. At last in frustration he cries 'You're very stupid, aren't you!'
    'Well,' says the bumpkin, 'I may be stupid, but I'm not lost.'

    1. I met someone recently that could be described as a bumpkin, and while he might seem simple to me and the circle I move in (I like to tell myself I move in a circle - any circle at all), this was a man who runs a farm, pretty much single-handedly, a man who knows how to look after his animals, operate his machinery and tend his crops. Come the Apocalypse or any other such end-of-the-world scenario, it'll be the "stupid" bumpkins that make it.

    2. Uh oh!
      I look after animals (just dogs, cats, and a bird now, but used to have chickens and goats), operate a lawnmower, and tend a vegetable and flower garden.
      I'm a bumpkin! :)

    3. Then twill be you that survives the Zombie Apocalypse, Jingles.

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