Joskins, bumpkins and yokels

Last week a friend asked me about the origins of the word joskin [ˈdʒɒskɪn], which I hadn’t come across before. According to the Urban Dictionary it is defined as follows:

North-Walian term used in both English and Welsh to describe anyone from a rural or farming background. It is used both affectionately and in a derogatory way depending on the audience.

Example: He’s a right joskin – he’s got a tractor and everything.

According to the Collins English Dictionary joskin is a slang word meaning “a country bumpkin; hick”.

Wiktionary suggests that is comes from the dialect word joss (bump) and (bump)kin. Alternatively it comes from the name Joseph + (bump)kin [source].

Bumpkin, a clumsy, unsophisticated person or a yokel, apparently comes from the Dutch boomken ‎(shrub, little tree) [source]. Or it might come from the Dutch bommekijn (small cask), from the Middle Dutch bomme (cask) [source], and was also used as a derogatory reference to short and dumpy Dutch people [source].

Yokel possibly comes from German dialect word Jokel, a diminutive of Jakob, or an English dialect word meaning woodpecker [source].

What other words are there for joskins?

2 thoughts on “Joskins, bumpkins and yokels

  1. I’ve known the word “joskin” for years and heard it applied in both affectionate and derogatory ways (probably more often the latter, although sometimes with a mix of both senses) but never really stopped to think about the etymology of it. Nor of “bumpkin” or “yokel” for that matter, which are the only two synonymns that spring to my mind (except, perhaps, peasant).

  2. Etymology dictionaries don’t seem to be that conclusive with the origin of “joskin” nor do the Welsh language dictionaries for “joscyn” or “josgyn”. I wonder if it has a connection to Welsh “ioncyn, ionc” (fool, blockhead etc.) or is a corruption of the old term in English generically for a farmhand “Hodge”? There was an older term in English for a ‘simpleminded fellow’ namely “josser” which seems plausible?

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