At its simplest, the term "hillbilly" means someone who lives in the hills. Overtime, the meaning has become twisted and nuanced. When used by people living in cities, the term, similar to Redneck, generally describes stereotypes including a prideful ignorance and references White Trash. But within the communities where people self-identify as hillbillies, these words have layers of meaning. Because of the different meanings the word can take on, the word can be empowering or insulting.
Because the term has taken on different meanings, it is best to avoid the word unless you are self-identifying. It is a word meant to belittle another person, based on not only a physical characteristic, but also because of their socioeconomic standing. It is dehumanizing and insulting and should therefore not be used to describe other people.
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