I read 50 years ago, that a hillbilly was a michigan farmer. Has the dictionary change?

    How do I get help on the internet about from a dictionary 50 yrs old? Probaly webster not ramdom    house?

    +2  Views: 7750 Answers: 5 Posted: 11 years ago

    5 Answers

    No. I've lived in Michigan all my life and 50  years ago, when I heard people make fun of hillbillys, they were talking about the people from Tennesee and Kentucky ---mostly from Appalchia. ..and W.Virginia ..who Henry Ford the 1st, brought up here to work in the bomber plants and the automobile factories. I live near the spot where he made apartments, flats , and small two family flat roofed houses for them to live. These abodes were hurriedly constructed out  of cheap war materials ----mainly cheap wood. Some of them look like an after- thought. They are still there . And people still live in them. That housing developement also housed young married couples who later became local doctors, dentists, hardware owners. It housed the young men who came home from W W I I   and then got married. Hence, the term for their many children was the baby boomers. Two elementary schools were built in that same housing complex. They too, were hap- hazardly constructed out of cheap materials, b/c the good stuff went to the war effort.


    My grandparents had an old dictionary that defined hillbilly as a Michigan hill farmer

    Yes. Today's Mirriam Webster Dictionary defines Hillbilly as; a person from a backwoods area.


    Well, yes, my uncle in northern Mich. .....when he was still living, he refered to some low lifes up there, as "Northern Hillbillies "

    About that time, it was also a Tennessee oil millionaire who moved to California.

    I will post my firsthand knowledge. I'm over 50 years old now, in 2022, and grew up in Romulus, MI, during the 1970's and 1980's, right next to Metro Airport. My grandparents were hillbillies in the sense the word was being commonly used at that time. My grandmother was from Kentucky, and my grandfather was from TN (he had hoboed up from the South back in the day to work in the auto factories). They were poor, simple folk, but they were neither "white trash" nor ignorant. I had heard the word "hillbilly" all my life. Imagine my surprise when I opened the dictionary at school (don't remember which one it was, but I seem to recall it as a common large red dictionary used in classrooms) around about the fourth or fifth grade and read for myself that a "hillbilly" was a "Michigan hill farmer." Whatever the definition now and regardless of how it was commonly used during my childhood, at some time previously it had meant something somewhat different. Etymologies listed today neglect to mention that fact, but I can attest to the veracity of the claim made by the OP. My guess is that you'd have to lay hands on a dictionary from between 1960 and 1980, but that's only a guess.

    Not sure about how to get the information however I have very good retention and memory as well as a vocabulary and I learned this in school and I cannot find it anywhere either

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