9

How should I describe a guy who moves to a city or urban area, but does not know much about how things work in those cities, and make an ass of themselves?

The closest word I came up with is unsophisticated, but it is a broad term.

  • 4
    I think it's important to recognize that "ignorant" in this context means "ignorant about life in the city." Ignorance can go both ways between urban and rural life. I remember a good friend from Nebraska recounting how, when her city cousins came out to visit, and it was time to milk the cows, she asked one cousin, "Do you want to come help? You can pump the tail" – meaning move it up and down like a pump handle. By the end of the milking, she had convinced her "sophisticated" cousin that he was very good at tail pumping, especially for a first timer. – J.R. Feb 7 '13 at 10:34
  • 1
    I would point out that many of the terms provided in the answers are often considered insulting, since they are often used to characterize people as being of lower quality than oneself. Interestingly, the original meaning of "villain" was "serf", which provides some insight into this less-than-laudable aspect of our human nature. – BobRodes Mar 22 '14 at 21:45
  • A word I haven't seen in the answers is "naive". It's a more general term with the basic meaning of inexperienced. – BobRodes Mar 22 '14 at 21:51
  • I first thought of "rube." I looked it up to be sure, and it's defined as "country bumpkin." – user26302 Nov 10 '15 at 18:23
11

To describe a person like that I might say, "country bumpkin".

Using the word unsophisticated in this context would be accurate, and not too broad. It it a rather sophisticated way of saying it. "Country bumpkin" is much more casual English.

  • 1
    One could also use "country mouse," in reference to the famous fable and children's story; that metaphor does get used from time to time. – J.R. Feb 7 '13 at 10:26
  • 3
    @J.R. "Country mouse" is more of a quaint or cute way of saying "from the country". I'm not sure it has an implication of ignorance. – Matt Feb 16 '13 at 23:16
  • @Matt: Agreed – only "ignorant" about life in the city (or, as the O.P. said, "does not know much about how things work" there). I was keying off the word unsophisticated, as mentioned by Jeff and the O.P., not the word ignorant in the title of the question. – J.R. Feb 17 '13 at 0:12
11

There are a few choices, depending on how formal the word is that you are looking for.

The word you mentioned: unsophisticated fits well, and is pretty high on the formal list

Others include:

  • countrified
  • artless
  • provincial
  • rustic
  • hick
  • hillbilly
  • redneck
  • backwoodsman
  • yokel

Hillbilly, hick and redneck would probably be at the bottom in terms of formality. In line with the bit about '... making an ass of themselves' these phrases all have some degree of negative connotation, depending on context of course (as shown by the recent EL&U question on Redneck pride).

Look for synonyms of any of these words to find more. There are quite a few.

  • 1
    +1. That said, at least rustic can also be used to describe things (not people) in a positive light. Private cabin for two in a rustic setting: HBO and free continental breakfast! – kojiro Feb 7 '13 at 12:56
  • Countrified isn't a word I've ever heard. Of that list, provincial is my clear favorite. Nice word. – Jeff Allen Feb 7 '13 at 13:50
  • @JeffAllen blame the education system. Do you think the average teacher (mostly female IIRC) would have a reasonable understanding of how that would get (mis)used by the pupils? :-) – mcalex Feb 7 '13 at 14:24
  • 2
    @mcalex: It might be worth pointing out that "yokel", "redneck" and "hillbilly" in particular are more common in American English, whereas "countrified" is much more likely to be heard in British English. – Matt Feb 17 '13 at 0:33
  • 1
    Many of these words I think would be difficult for a learner to use appropriately because they can have connotations in common usage that go far beyond their dictionary definitions depending on the context, and some of those are pretty derogatory. I have family in West Virginia, and you would want to be careful with hillbilly around them. It means more than country bumpkin. – ColleenV Nov 12 '15 at 17:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.