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In Wikipedia, “hillbilly” is defined as: … a term referring to certain people who dwell in rural, mountainous areas of the United States, primarily Appalachia but also the Ozarks. Owing to its strongly stereotypical connotations, the term is frequently considered derogatory, and so is usually offensive to those Americans of Appalachian heritage.

I am looking for a term of equivalent meaning denoting the highly loaded emotional characteristic.

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5 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

In British English there is the word yokel which has much the same pejorative overtones.

yokel noun
an uneducated and unsophisticated person from the countryside.

[ODO]

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While I'd agree that Andrew Leach's answer yokel is a good word for this, perhaps you could also (for British English) consider bumpkin:-

An awkward, unsophisticated person; a yokel.

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The previously-mentioned terms bumpkin (“a yokel; a clumsy, unsophisticated person)” and yokel (“(pejorative) An unsophisticated person”, also “A person of rural background”) both appear in the British-equivalent-of-redneck virtuallinguist link given in a third answer. The linked page also states that “The words hick and hillbilly are used too (also pejoratively) but not very often”, and it goes on to mention slightly-less-relevant terms chav (“(UK, pejorative, offensive) A working-class youth, especially one associated with aggression, poor education, and a perceived "common" taste in clothing and lifestyle”) and pikey (“(UK, pejorative) A working-class (often underclass) person; can vary from specifically Irish Travellers to gypsies or travellers from any ethnic background, but now increasingly used for any socially undesirable person, with negative connotations...”), besides some dialectical or little-used but perhaps well-known terms like Scottish heuchter-teuchter and Irish culchie (“(Dublin, slang, pejorative, offensive) A rural person”) and some more-general terms like provincial and parochial.

However, the previous answers and the virtuallinguist link fail to mention the noun rustic, which means “A (sometimes unsophisticated) person from a rural area”. Wiktionary illustrates it via the following quote from Arthur Conan Doyle's story Sir Nigel:

The King looked at the motionless figure, at the little crowd of hushed expectant rustics beyond the bridge, and finally at the face of Chandos, which shone with amusement.

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But (at least in the US) "rustic" could be positive, much more than "hillbilly". –  GEdgar May 30 '13 at 17:02
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So can hillbilly. It is a matter of context and intent. –  MετάEd May 30 '13 at 19:06
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Likewise, in (colloquial) Australian English, bogan can be considered roughly equivalent:

The term bogan (/ˈboʊɡən/) is Australian and New Zealand slang, usually pejorative or self-deprecating, for an individual who is recognised to be from an unsophisticated background or someone whose speech, clothing, attitude and behaviour exemplifies a lack of manners and education. (Wikipedia)

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I tend to think of bogans as more suburban than hillbillies, but still a good fit. –  user867 May 31 '13 at 5:07
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Here's an attempt at the answer: http://virtuallinguist.typepad.com/the_virtual_linguist/2008/09/the-british-equivalent-of-redneck.html

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England and Australia don't have the right socioeconomic classes to have a term like that. –  John Lawler May 30 '13 at 14:23
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Could you please include the text from that link that you think is relevant? Links can (and often do) go dead, so we'd like to try to preserve what we can. –  simchona May 30 '13 at 14:34
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