Country Bumpkin

Meanings of “Country Bumpkin”

The phrase “country bumpkin”  refers to someone who is dupe, awkward, or quite rustic in manners and looks. It could also be used for a clown or an unsophisticated person.

Origin of “Country Bumpkin”

The word “bumpkin” was originally a name the English had for the Dutch people to portray them as comic, small, and tubby. The phrase “country bumpkin” seems to have originated from Pete Levens’ dictionary about rhymes. The word, however, was “bunkin” and it was published in 1570. However, it was not a complete phrase. Its complete version is stated to have been used by Lord Chesterfield in 1774 for stupid fellows which goes: “A country bumpkin is ashamed when he comes into good company.” Since then, the phrase has been used in several shades of meanings.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Country Bumpkin’ by Bernadette Meessen

“Then we fin’ly get sum rest
And the wind blow from the west
Weather’s gainin’
Prancin’ through December’s tempest
Hasn’t been a thing I ain’t attempted
I’m so glad I’m weak and tempted
Ain’t refrainin’
I’m a country bumpkin’
Searchin’ for my handsome pumpkin’
Makin’ love beneath the haystack
Goin’ down the Hudson in a kyack
I’m a country bumpkin’
Wearin’ my funky buckskin
Hangin’ out drinkin’ my white lightin’
Be crazy and really frightin’
I’m a country bumpkin’”

The poet has beautifully stated that a self-confessing person continues with his story of finding his pumpkin with a pinch of salt, adding that he is a country bumpkin who does not look good but enjoys the weather. The phrase used with the first person has been repeated three times. Hence, the phrase has been used as a refrain.

Example #2

The Acorn and The Pumpkin by Jean De La Fontaine

Once there was a country bumpkin
Who observed a great big pumpkin
To a slender stem attached;
While upon an oak tree nourished,
Little acorns grew and flourished.
“Bah!” said he. “That’s badly matched.”

“If, despite my humble station,
I’d a hand in this Creation,
Pumpkins on the oaks would be;
And the acorn, light and little,
On this pumpkin stem so brittle
Would be placed by clever Me.”

The first stanza starts like a fable but immediately opens up with the mention of the bumpkin, saying that when that person sees a pumpkin on an oak tree instead of an acorn, he balks at this observation to state that it is a strange thing, but he innocently tells that he has created this by putting the pumpkin on the oak tree. The second stanza brings mild laughter and chuckles on the lips of the readers. The phrase is used as a pun.

Example #3

Country Bumpkin by Carl Smith

He walked into the bar and parked his lanky frame upon a tall barstool
And with a long soft southern drawl, he said “I just have a glass of anything that’s cool”
A barroom girl with hard and knowing eyes slowly looked him up and down
And she thought I wonder how on earth that country bumpkin found his way to town
She said, “Hello, country bumpkin, how’s the frost put on the pumpkin?”
“I’ve seen some sights, but man you’re something”
“Where’d you come from country bumpkin?”

These lines narrate an anecdotal story of a villager entering a bar in some city where he meets a barroom girl who asks him how the frost on the pumpkin was. The way he enters the bar and meets the girl and the conversation they have brings laughter to the audiences’ face.  But the singer is in a serious mood. The phrase shows irony and also repetition.

Example #4

A Martial Odyssey by Edmund Shen

Lele was feeling dizzy, “Who says so?”
Ye Ping said, “Everyone…Everyone says that if two people go to bed together, then they will have baby in no time…”
Lele almost fainted as she smiled weakly, “Yi Ping, you are…a country bumpkin…let me tell you. I am erm…attain divinity a long time ago. It is really impossible for us to have any children, alright? So don’t you worry or think too much about it.”

In this passage, Lele is telling her lover, Ye Ping, that they cannot have any children. She calls him “a country bumpkin,” when he tells her that he has heard stories about having children in no time. However, Lele does not mean to offend him; she uses the phrase to tease him for his naivety. Therefore, the phrase portrays mild irony.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “ Ian is an intelligent, smart man, unlike his friend, Carter, who seemed like a country bumpkin who hardly had any wit in it him.”

Example #2: “Kate was astounded at his naivety and asked him, ‘Are you a country bumpkin or just look  like one?”

Example #3: “Marsha was heard yelling at her son upon seeing the marks get got in a test, ‘If you don’t study well, you might as well become a country bumpkin like your father who does nothing but watches television all day long.’”

Example #4: “Most of my friends are country bumpkins, dull and rough over the edges, but the others are at least educated enough to know how to behave,” said Jake while talking over the phone with his mother.

Example #5: “When I alighted from the train, they all started shouting; ‘country bumpkin, country bumpkin’, but I did not care tuppence about them.”