plural noun
boon·​docks | \ ˈbün-ˌdäks How to pronounce boondocks (audio) \

Definition of boondocks

1 US, informal : a remote, thinly settled rural area : sticks Upper Michigan seems both exotic and entirely American, a boondocks with its own special flavor.— Frank Conroy usually used with theliving out in the boondocksIn show business, this trio would have bombed in the boondocks, far from the Broadway lights.— James Baldwin
2 US, informal, chiefly in military use : rough country filled with dense brush usually used with theThe drill is to swim in undetected, get into the boondocks, change to camouflage, and move out for some kind of simulated strike on the base.— Richard Hill

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Boondocks and Boondoggles

Boon (“ a timely benefit; a favor”) is a fairly old English word, dating back to the 12th century. In light of this one might be excused for thinking that words such as boondocks ("a rural area") and boondoggle (“a wasteful or impractical project or activity often involving graft”) are of similar vintage. However, not only are both of these words much newer than boon, they are not related to it (or to each other), except by a coincidence of spelling. Boondoggle is believed to have been coined in the 1920s by the American scoutmaster Robert H. Link as a name for the braided leather cords that are made and worn by Boy Scouts; it took on the “wasteful project” meaning sometime after. Boondocks is also a word from the early 20th century: it comes from the Tagalog word for a mountain, and was brought to English by the U.S. military forces who had occupied the Philippines at the beginning of the 20th century.

First Known Use of boondocks

circa 1909, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for boondocks

Tagalog bundok mountain

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The first known use of boondocks was circa 1909

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Cite this Entry

“Boondocks.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2020.

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