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[yoh-kuh l]
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noun Informal
  1. an unsophisticated person from a rural area; a country bumpkin.
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Origin of yokel

First recorded in 1805–15; origin uncertain
Related formsyo·kel·ish, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for yokel

Historical Examples

  • I have a notion that I sat there staring and listening like a yokel at a play.

    The Arrow of Gold

    Joseph Conrad

  • This man was a yokel of no interest to us, apart from this one episode in his career.

    An Old Meerschaum

    David Christie Murray

  • Thebold had been chagrined at learning that Don Cort was not the yokel he had taken him for.

  • This yokel from the woods and mountains needed a little coaxing.

    The Bright Messenger

    Algernon Blackwood

  • It is the militia-man, the yokel, standing facing the captain and gesticulating at him.

British Dictionary definitions for yokel


  1. derogatory (used chiefly by townspeople) a person who lives in the country, esp one who appears to be simple and old-fashioned
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Derived Formsyokelish, adjective

Word Origin

C19: perhaps from dialect yokel green woodpecker, yellowhammer
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for yokel


1812, perhaps from dialectal German Jokel, disparaging name for a farmer, originally diminutive of Jakob. Or perhaps from English yokel, dialectal name for "woodpecker."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper