Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Word of the Week - Hillbilly

I had no internet yesterday, so the Word of the Week is coming to us a day late. But I found a fun one, quite by accident. =)

Growing up in West Virginia, I've heard the term "hillbilly" plenty of times. And of course, there are the famous ones from Beverly Hills. ;-) But I really had no idea where the term came from. Turns out it's pretty straight forward--"hill" (the southern Appalachians, to be precise) plus the proper name "Billy." But the fun part comes from some of the earliest quotes using the term.

First is the original one, from 1892:

Then again, I do not think It will do so well. I would hate to see some old railroad man come here and take my job, and then, I don t think It is right to hire some Hill Billy and give him the same right as I just because he was hired the same time I was. ["The Railroad Trainmen's Journal," vol. IX, July 1892] 

And this one from 1900 is even more interesting:

In short, a Hill-Billie is a free and untrammelled white citizen of Alabama, who lives in the hills, has no means to speak of, dresses as he can, talks as he pleases, drinks whiskey when he gets it, and fires of his revolver as the fancy takes him. ["New York Journal," April 23, 1900]

If that is, indeed, the definition, then I gotta say I don't know a single hillbilly, LOL.

Hope everyone's having a good week!

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