A redneck is a white, working class US southerner, often with provincial and insular attitudes. It is most likely a reference to the sun-burned necks of those who work in the fields all day. But it could be a reference to either anger or pellagra, which can both turn the neck red.
Use of redneck dates to 1830. From Anne Royall’s Mrs. Royall’s Southern Tour of that year:
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This may be ascribed to the Red Necks, a name bestowed upon the Presbyterians in Fayetteville.
Copyright 1997-2014, by David Wilton