The OED defines street-smart as

The experience and knowledge necessary to deal with the potential difficulties or dangers of life in an urban environment

(emphasis mine)

Is there an equivalent word or phrase for someone who has similar sort of knowledge, but for rural or otherwise non-urban areas?

"Outdoorsman" is close, but is only for knowledge of things relating to nature, like camping or hiking. I'm looking for a word that can also encompass things like how to handle cows, navigate village politics, avoid getting shot at by a farmer, and dealing with bears.

(I'd prefer a word over a phrase, but both are acceptable, and will be used in an informal context)

I can't use street-smart to describe this character because she is being contrasted with someone from a city who does have more urban knowledge.

  • 1
    I'd say something like "countryside-savvy", which is maybe as short as it can be
    – wismuthaft
    Nov 9, 2015 at 10:57
  • Tell them you're a frontier girl.
    – Ricky
    Nov 9, 2015 at 12:10
  • One might say "wise to the ways of the world" to be more generic.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 9, 2015 at 12:52
  • I think that the phrase "know the ropes" began as sailor talk, but it implies not just common sense but familiarity with the practical subtleties of a particular line of work—and you can't get much less urban than the open ocean.
    – Sven Yargs
    Nov 10, 2015 at 20:51

3 Answers 3


Know-how has a similar meaning to "smarts" in the context of "street smarts" - I'd say it better fits the type of practical knowledge and understanding that comes with country life (whereas "smarts" tend to be about instincts and reacting to fast changing situations). It also arguably sounds a little more traditional or folksy.

Then you just choose a prefix that is the appropriate contrast to "street" in "street smarts":

  • country know-how
  • farming know-how
  • village know-how
  • etc

For example, there's a book called Country Wisdom and Know-How, which seems to be about exactly what you describe:

Country Wisdom & Know-How is an unprecedented collection of information on nearly 200 individual topics of country and self-sustained living... including animals, cooking, crafts, gardening, health and well-being, and home

"City smarts" and "country know-how" have a nice ring together, for example:

Country know-how meets city smarts as Jim Mitchum and Ray Sharkey square off in TRACKDOWN (1976)

A few slightly narrower alternatives:

  • Country wisdom is also suggested (that book is based on "Storey Publishing's landmark series of "Country Wisdom Bulletins"). "Wisdom" has a similar meaning but suggests something more traditional, and more about understanding, while know-how is more about skills and abilities.

  • Country lore is a fairly common phrase, and gives across a sense of traditional rural knowledge inaccessible to outsiders; it's a good option for maximum contrast with "street smarts" because the implication is that country lore can only be passed down through the generations, while street smarts are learned on the streets. "Lore" meaning (from Google's definition):

a body of traditions and knowledge on a subject or held by a particular group, typically passed from person to person by word of mouth

  • Bushcraft could work, but is specific to wilderness skills. It would cover things like making a fire and knowing which berries to eat, but wouldn't cover things like animal husbandry or village politics.

You don't use modifiers such as "city", "urban", "downtown", etc. before "streetsmart" or "streetwise" as it has become an idiom that doesn't require those modifiers.

You could consider using "country street-smart" to denote the difference between the two.

"I think the brightest one had an IQ of about one hundred. The average was around eighty. Many of them couldn't read or write. But they were street smart, country street smart," the officer said. He used the term country because most of the troops in his unit came from farming families in the Carolinas.

[The Road to Victory]


You might use Horse Sense or, even plainer, Common Sense.

From Merriam Webster:

Horse Sense: the ability to make good judgments or decisions : common sense

Other similar terms that might work are gumption, prudence, perspicacity, and clear-headedness.

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