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 the living 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 the The 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

Synonyms for boondocks


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.

Examples of boondocks in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web There is nothing glamorous about 620 Folsom St., a 99-year-old building in what once was the industrial boondocks of downtown San Francisco. John King, San Francisco Chronicle, 25 Sep. 2021 There is a unique force in the boondocks of Buenos Aires, Argentina: music producer Bizarrap, a sort of South American Dr. Dre, a hitmaker who has already accustomed its loyal fan base of tens of millions to a weekly smash rap hit. Javier Hasse, Forbes, 27 May 2021 The group would occasionally hit balls on a few makeshift holes in the boondocks north of Covington, but the experience was less than satisfying and the linksters desired a real course closer to home. Kim Chatelain | Contributing Writer,, 10 Jan. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'boondocks.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of boondocks

circa 1909, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for boondocks

Tagalog bundok mountain

Learn More About boondocks

Time Traveler for boondocks

Time Traveler

The first known use of boondocks was circa 1909

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near boondocks




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for boondocks

Cite this Entry

“Boondocks.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on boondocks

Nglish: Translation of boondocks for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!