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[pek-er-woo d] /ˈpɛk ərˌwʊd/
Midland and Southern U.S. woodpecker.
Southern U.S. Slang: Disparaging and Offensive. poor white.
Southern U.S. small or insignificant:
He makes a living farming and running a peckerwood sawmill.
Origin of peckerwood
1825-35, Americanism; pecker + wood1; inversion of woodpecker Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for peckerwood
Historical Examples
  • Matthew lingered behind the others and helped me feed the old red ally and Mrs. Ewe and peckerwood Pup.

    The Golden Bird Maria Thompson Daviess
  • Perhaps I didn't quite believe in the red-headed peckerwood myself just then, and felt unable to incarnate him to Matthew.

    The Golden Bird Maria Thompson Daviess
Word Origin and History for peckerwood

1859, U.S. Southern black dialectal inversion of woodpecker; in folklore, taken as the type of white folks (1929) and symbolically contrasted with blackbird.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for peckerwood



  1. A poor Southern white, esp a farmer; cracker, redneck
  2. Any white Southern man: Any white man from the South is a ''peckerwood''

[1929+ esp black; fr rural black use of the red-headed woodpecker, with dialect inversion of the word elements, as a symbol for white persons in contrast with the blackbird as a symbol for themselves; the red head may be the semantic base, suggesting redneck]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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