I have to translate an idiom in Spanish, "pelo de la dehesa", which refers to a person who lives in an urban setting but who still has elements of their rural origins. The author who used that phrase is trying to demonstrate in his article that cityfolk associate countryfolk with animals--with the "hair" of farm animals' furs/pelts, in this particular case. And although I know that there are many phrases that allude to a person's countryside origin, all I can think of is, "being raised in a barn". Which is not helpful...

  • 1
    Perhaps you could add the translated sentence with a blank where this idiom should go.
    – Jim
    Sep 7, 2020 at 14:06
  • Apparently, the expression comes from the title of a play by Manuel Breton de los Herreros, "El pelo de la dehesa," performed first in 1840, according to cervantesvirtual.com/obra-visor/el-pelo-de-la-dehesa--0/html/….
    – rajah9
    Sep 7, 2020 at 14:33
  • Thank you very much--I will probably leave the phrase in a footnote and add a literal translation, with an equivalent idiom, if I can find one. The "dehesas", or sort of prairies/open fields where cattle is left to roam partly free in many parts of Spain, is where fighting bulls spend their winters--come Spring, they shed their winter coat/pelt, and it is said that "el pelo de la dehesa" has dropped from them. Hence the origin of the expression--before it was applied, by Manuel Breton de los Herreros, to rustics.
    – Yesenia
    Sep 7, 2020 at 19:01
  • Since the literal meaning of the phrase seems to be essential to the point the author is making, it seems to me you have to simply translate it literally. The answers so far are representative of what I would consider things urban people associate with rural people in the U.S.: hay, straw, barns, dirt, even turnips. But urban people in the U.S. did not have the idiom el pelo de la dehesa to shape their mental associations.
    – David K
    Sep 8, 2020 at 3:17

4 Answers 4


Hayseed and hay behind his/her ears (Brands, The First American, pg. 86) come to mind.


You can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy

This expression means that people who are from the countryside can leave, you can try to change them, but they will always stay true to their country roots.

More precisely this is a snowclone of the form “you can take X out of Y but you can’t take Y out of X”, found for example in A Dictionary of American Proverbs and The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs. This means you will frequently see another word, as appropriate, in place of “boy”, such as “girl”, “farmer”, or “man” (and the same is true for “country” though those wouldn’t be the expressions you’re looking for).

  • Although this expression in itself does not apply to the specific case I am dealing with--for I need something that compares "rustics" to animals--I hope that it will help me find expressions with similar meanings.
    – Yesenia
    Sep 7, 2020 at 19:02

He just fell off the turnip truck

This idiom points to naivete and gullibility. The turnip is a rural vegetable, and implies that he has recently arrived from a rural region.

fall off the turnip truck: (chiefly US, idiomatic) To be naive, uninformed, or unsophisticated, in the manner of a rustic person.


Although the OP has dismissed bumpkin in the comments, s/he might consider

country bumpkin

The idiom means:

An unsophisticated person from the rural area of a particular country. [Wiktionary]

The same entry has a number of good synonyms, some of which are more oriented towards being uncouth and others which are more close to nature (although all synonyms have an aspect of both).

  1. boor (uncouth)
  2. churl (uncouth)
  3. hick (uncouth and close to nature)
  4. hillbilly (uncouth and close to nature)
  5. rustic (close to nature)
  6. yokel (unsophisticated and close to nature)

Finally, I would be remiss to forget the word redneck, but it should be approached with caution, as it will almost certainly be considered pejorative when applied by an urbanite. It contains the notions both of being unsophisticated and as coming from a rural area. Please see this thorough answer.

Randy Newman wrote a song entitled Rednecks (1974). It calls out (more urbanite, more sophisticated) Northerners "hypocrites" for their denigration of Southerns (as rural unsophisticates). The pejorative "redneck" has been adopted as something of an anthem in the South, in similar fashion to the songs mentioned in the answer of the previous paragraph. The Malcolm Gladwell podcast entitled "Good Old Boys" discusses the evolution of the song's meaning. (Good Old Boys was the title of the album that Rednecks came from.)

  • And as UD at least confirms, 'turnip' itself is used to mean a boring / stupid person. Sep 7, 2020 at 13:41
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    The addition of stupidity and gullibility to the rural characteristics sought by the question is entirely unjustified. Regrettably, I still cannot provide an answer.
    – Anton
    Sep 7, 2020 at 13:52
  • I would not say "entirely unjustified," @Anton. The rural farmer's unfamiliarity with city ways makes him easy prey to the "city slickers" (a pejorative term for urban dwellers applied by rural dwellers).
    – rajah9
    Sep 7, 2020 at 14:41
  • Yes, in the case at hand, I need an expression that, more than gullibility, represents rustics not as "bumpkins" but as uncouth, close to nature (literally and figuratively)... But thanks!
    – Yesenia
    Sep 7, 2020 at 19:04
  • No one has mentioned that the moral of Aesop's fable of the city mouse and the country mouse is not that the country mouse is stupid or gullible, nor easy prey, but I don't know that "country mouse" would answer this question either.
    – livresque
    Sep 8, 2020 at 21:29

I could offer son of the soil. It is not so much an idiom as metaphorical expression.

Here are some examples in context:

ludwig.guru son of the soil

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