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What's a non-judgmental way to say a person or group of people are "red necks" in the sense they may hold some very conservative or old fashioned beliefs. For example, someone who doesn't believe autism is a real medical condition? I realize any phrase for it may cause offense, but I'm aiming for the least possible.

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    Three comments (points): (1) it depends on the country you are talking about, (2) it depends on what side of the fence you (as observer) are sitting, as to what might or might not be hostile, and (3) very sensible people can be conservative and old-fashioned, but know that autism is a medical condition - it is a pretty extreme position, and probably not the best example for your question.
    – Cargill
    Dec 2, 2015 at 8:41
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    There is no "non hostile" way to refer to this kind of person because the term in its modern usage is negative and hostile. Also, your "for example" doesn't relate to "red neck." Dec 2, 2015 at 10:51
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    Reactionary, hidebound, inflexible, obstinate, old guard, right-wing, dogmatic, isolationist, puritanical, uptight, philistine.
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 2, 2015 at 21:54
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    The term redneck (which originated in the U.S. as a pejorative term for a rural white farmer or farm laborer) is a very poor starting point for any meaningful description of what a person thus characterized actually thinks and believes. Are rednecks religious? Are they political? Are they educated? Are they Southern? The answer is, some are and some aren't. If I were trying to construct a category that captured the most regressive political, social, and educational qualities of rural working-class U.S. whites, I might try "unreconstructed working-class whites." But that is problematic, too.
    – Sven Yargs
    Dec 3, 2015 at 9:23
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    @GreenAsJade - My comment merely represents about 5 minutes blindly using the online thesaurus - hardly meriting an "answer".
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 3, 2015 at 14:49

6 Answers 6

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Let me offer some suggestions:

parochial: not willing to accept new ideas or methods

(Macmillan English Dictionary)

hidebound: stubbornly prejudiced, narrow-minded, or inflexible

(AHD)

traditionalist: stubbornly conservative and narrow-minded

(WordNet)

(However, it seems pretty much any term that fits the bill is bound to be somewhat disapproving, even if not derogatory.)

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I think that any candidate answer to this question has to carry some hint of the negative aspects of the word "redneck".

Unsophisticated might be the least offensive way of putting it.

This ties into some online definitions, such as

Redneck:

"Unsophisticated rural person from Southeast US"

@hotlicks comment offers other less gentle alternatives.

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    Well, here we disagree, of course. Unsophisticated is a word that is both lightly perjorative, and indicative in a mild way of the characteristics of redneck. That's just the sort of word the OP needs to be politically correct while pointing in the general direction of redneck. On the other hand, while oldfashioned can be perjorative, the picture it conveys is more like Grandma than Bubba Earl. Stuffy - even more so. No-one would describe a person who is a redneck as "stuffy" but they would describe them as unsophisticated. Dec 3, 2015 at 8:24
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    Of course saying someone is unsophisticated is potentially offensive. If there isn't the potential for offense, then you haven't captured the meaning of redneck. The OP didn't ask for free from offense, they asked for least offence possible and politically correct. Unsophisticated fits the bill well. Dec 3, 2015 at 8:36
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    @Rathony - You're doing a lot of dictionary thumping here, but I don't think you grasp the subtle differences and similarities in connotations between these terms. Unsophisticated needn't be an exact synonym to satisfy the needs of the O.P. (In fact, Wordnik's example usages includes this one: These cuddly suburban folk are the very people - labelled unsophisticated but self-serving middle classes - that John Reid is here urging...) Truth is, unsophisticated nicely overlaps with the connotations of redneck in a way that old-fashioned simply does not.
    – J.R.
    Dec 4, 2015 at 10:27
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    (cont.) The way you are arguing so vehemently while being so wrong makes me wonder if you've ever listened to much Jeff Foxworthy, the comedian who popularized this term in the U.S. Check out his criteria – people who have unworking cars in the front yard, etc. These people could aptly be described as unsophisticated, but to call them stuffy and old-fashioned would be way off the mark.
    – J.R.
    Dec 4, 2015 at 10:41
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    @Rath - My point is: When you don't know what you're talking about, you should be more quick to learn, and less eager to quibble. Moreover, you're really tipping your hand now. Wordnik lists six meanings for unsophisticated, two synonyms, four related words, 19 same context words, and 80 reverse dictionary hits. Several of those listed words would make excellent descriptors of a redneck: rustic, countrified, small-town, unconventional bumpkin – yet the word stupid is conspicuously absent. Haven't you professed enough ignorance already?
    – J.R.
    Dec 4, 2015 at 13:58
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Traditional or tradition-minded folks.

Agrarian people.

Bucolic people.

Country dwellers.

Rustics.

Arcadians (by Wordsworth, a great word, but few would understand it, alas)

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/arcadian?s=t

Pastorals.

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    Arcadian, bucolic, and pastoral carry connotations of idyllic and innocent country living, as opposed to unsophisticated or uncultured people as the OP seems to be after.
    – choster
    Dec 2, 2015 at 21:21
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Growing up out west I can tell you the correct term is Redneck. My brother is one and he'd be offended if you called him any of these other terms but he is happy to be called Redneck. You can also call him a country boy and not find a boot in your behind. Just be prepared for him to call you a city slicker.

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Consider,

unreconstructed

used to describe someone who has strongly held opinions and beliefs that have not changed even though they have been criticized or have become unpopular M-W

horse-and-buggy

: clinging to outdated attitudes or ideas : old-fashioned M-W

small-town

: limited in outlook or experience; unsophisticated; provincial AHD

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  • Do you mean someone who lives in the South and believes he should be allowed to own slaves, or at least be able to rent a few on an as-needed basis?
    – Ricky
    Dec 2, 2015 at 9:44
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It really depends on context, but you could consider using stuffy which means:

(Of a person) not receptive to new or unusual ideas; conventional and narrow-minded:

Old-fashioned would be better as suggested in the comment:

adhering to customs of a past era

If you focus on your example for someone who doesn't believe autism is a real medical condition, narrow-minded could work better which means:

not willing to accept opinions, beliefs, or behaviors that are unusual or different from your own

[Oxford Online Dictionary, Merriam-Webster]

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    I can't see how stuffy or old-fashioned get even close to "redneck"? Red-neck is more than just old-fashioned or traditional. One dictionary (via google) has "rural white southerner who is politically conservative, racist, and a religious fundamentalist (see fundamentalism). " "Stuffy and old fashioned" barely touches this. Dec 3, 2015 at 7:56
  • @GreenAsJade Do you mean there is no word for that? I agree. How do other answers sound to you? Do they touch that?
    – user140086
    Dec 3, 2015 at 7:59
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    Honestly: I think the OP's question is "wrong". What I mean is that they asked for a word that means "redneck in the sense of oldfashioned", but redneck doesn't really mean oldfashioned. Old fashioned is included, but "redneck" refers to a set of negative characteristics in addition. My grandma is old fashioned, but she is not a redneck. In Australia, if you said the word "rural" in a certain tone of voice, you would convey the message more politely, but in general I suspect it's hard to be inoffensenive while describing negative characteristics. Dec 3, 2015 at 8:04

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