Hillbilly Names: Rubes, hayseeds and bumpkins
Blame L’il Abner, The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, Andy Griffith and even The Simpsons, for the fact that some names have long been stereotyped as aw shucks, rube, hick, hayseed, country bumpkin names. Well, one of our causes here at nameberry is the slaying of stereotypes, and we think there are names here that are definitely worthy of resuscitation. Some of them are already making their way back from that cartoony pigeonholing—there have, for example, been starbabies and civilian named Chester, Gus, Homer, Jasper, and certainly lots of Lukes—but they all deserve a second look–I think several of them have a nice, down home, funky appeal.
BARNEY (has other problems related to prehistoric purple)
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on May 26th, 2010 at 5:17 am
on May 26th, 2010 at 6:30 am
I love this list! Floyd, Ike and Jethro are personal favorites.
on May 26th, 2010 at 8:42 am
Bo a Hillbilly name? I have always thought of it as a Scandinvian name.
on May 26th, 2010 at 10:00 am
I know a Gus. I have a soft spot for Jasper, Jethro, and Roscoe. I also like Luke and Silas, but I’m uncertain if they should be on this list!
on May 26th, 2010 at 10:38 am
Beau is a hillbilly name. I know one of those! I like Silas and Jasper a lot, I don’t really consider hillbilly.
Names I would also suggest to add to this list that come from my east coast rural upbringing: Petey, Clinton, Dwayne!
on May 26th, 2010 at 10:45 am
Only 23 Americans actually named their baby Rufus in 2009, exactly the same number who selected Wilbur and well short of the number of Clydes and Floyds born.
I think Nameberry search stats have given many people the idea that Rufus is being seriously considered by elite namers for their babies, when it’s just as likely that puppy namers are driving the stats.
on May 26th, 2010 at 11:41 am
Well My son is a Gus and we love it although it is short for August, so that dispels the hayseed stereotype. I want to use Ike for another son, but am unable to find a long name to even it out like Gus.
on May 26th, 2010 at 11:46 am
They are so wonderful.
on May 26th, 2010 at 11:58 am
Some you left off – Dwight (presidential, but hillbilly to be sure) Ray, Avery, Shelby (both for boys only), Dewayne, Elmer, Sterling, Moe, Roy, Asa, Calvin (Cal is always a good HB name) and the ever popular Robert Lee. It’s two names breaking the rule of listing doubles, which could go on forever, but you just can’t ignore a good HB name like good ‘ol Robert E. Lee.
on May 26th, 2010 at 11:59 am
Beth, I know a little Isaac who is nicknamed Ike. Luke doesn’t strike me as hillbilly, in spite of Luke Duke from the Dukes of Hazard. If anything, I think of Luke Skywalker.
on May 26th, 2010 at 12:48 pm
There is anything wrong with the name Luke, but let it be noted that Luke Skywalker was a hayseed as well.
on May 26th, 2010 at 1:03 pm
I’ve noticed that usually when we talk about “rural” names we mean a combination of Southern rural and TV Westerns. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. (BTW one of my favorite users of great Southern rural names is Charlaine Harris, not that you asked)
My husband grew up country, grandson to dairy farmers from Star Valley, Wyoming. He goes by his middle name because his first name is Udell.
Most people meet “Udell” with incredulity, EXCEPT for people from places like Star Valley, Wyoming–where settlers were overwhelmingly of English descent. Udell’s actually not that rare in Afton, WY, I am told.
So: I love these hillbilly names, but I’ve noticed in practice hillbilly names often include really clunky Anglo-Saxon names, and names that the we city folk might think a little sissy: names like Randy and Marion and Len and Lonny and Dell. These are, like, GIRL names, right?
But I dare you to tell them that to their face, because the guys I know with these “girly” names are the toughest people I know. One’s an MMA fighter and another wrestles his misbehaving horses to the ground, just to show them who’s boss.
I LOVE Jethro. I would add Absalom to the list, but only because I like it so much and am shameless.
(pardon my huge post)
on May 26th, 2010 at 1:05 pm
Wait! No SETH? You’ve got Reuben. “Seth and Reuben also”–anybody else read or seen Cold Comfort Farm? “I saw something nasty in the woodshed”?
on May 26th, 2010 at 1:08 pm
on May 26th, 2010 at 1:37 pm
My mother reacted in horror when someone she knew named her son Silas. Seems that she has hated the name since she was forced to read “Silas Marner” or, as the students called it, “Silly Ass Marner.” My grandpa was named Elmer, another good rural name. It was highly popular in the Midwest in the 1920s. I’ve known quite a few of them.
on May 26th, 2010 at 2:33 pm
How very interesting! It really does all bubble down to cultural conditioning. I’m from the south of England, and growing up, a lot of my friends had names from the list. Their parents weren’t bumpkins, but dope-smoking middle-class hippies!! In my mind, hillbilly names are Luanne, Billy-Ray, Kelly and Britney, etc etc, but then again, I have never visited the mid-west…
Also, now that I live in Portugal, names considered quite posh in English-speaking countries, like Amelia, Vanessa, Genoveva and Joaquim, are considered a bit bumpkin-ny around these parts. All a question of cultural upbringing I guess.
Nicolette Sari Said
on May 26th, 2010 at 8:11 pm
Can NCIS save Jethro? Because I will admit to loving the name, country bumpkin or not.
on May 26th, 2010 at 9:39 pm
It’s funny to me: this list of names–very well compiled I think–has a lot of overlap with the types of names Hipsters/Yupsters favor for their offspring. Obviously choosing a name so apparently so bumpkin-ish ostensibly shows just how much you “don’t” care about looking cool.
That said, I do quite like Lem, Zeke, Clem and Clyde.
on May 26th, 2010 at 9:45 pm
I love Lil Abner, the movie. I would love to use Abner, Chester, Gus and JAsper
on May 27th, 2010 at 10:58 am
Of your list I like
Jasper, Jeb, Luke, Roscoe, Rufus, Zeb, Zed, Zeke and I kinda like Gus and Bo/Beau
I agree that Dwayne should have made the list and I really don’t think of Luke as a hillbilly name. Great post!
Eric Byron Said
on December 3rd, 2010 at 10:44 am
I am analyzing early sound recordings (1890s- 1920s) that deal with ethnicity and race. Certain recordings incorporate “rube” names , some of which have been mentioned in your discussion. Can anyone suggest academic reading on the subject? I want to focus on the years the recordings were made. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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