Entries linking to roughneck
Middle English rough (late 14c.), also rouhe, rouwe, roghe, rugh, etc., from Old English ruh, rug- "not smooth to the touch, coarse (of cloth); hairy, shaggy;" of hides, "undressed, untrimmed;" of ground, "uncultivated." This is from West Germanic *rukhwaz "shaggy, hairy, rough" (source also of Middle Dutch ruuch, Dutch ruig, Old High German ruher, German rauh), from Proto-Germanic *rukhaz, which is perhaps related to the source of Sanskrit ruksah "rough;" Latin ruere "to rush, fall violently, collapse," ruina "a collapse;" Lithuanian raukas "wrinkle," rukti "to shrink."
The original -gh- sound was guttural, as in Scottish loch. The form row was a regular variant from early 16c. and lingered in dialects. Of actions, "characterized by harshness or disparity," c. 1300; of land, terrain, late 15c. as "rugged, hard to traverse." Of stormy weather from mid-14c.; by late 14c. of turbulent seas, rude language, discordant sounds.
From mid-14c. as "crudely made;" c. 1600 as "rudely sufficient, not smooth or formed by art." Rough stone "undressed stone mortared together" is from mid-15c. Of writing or literary style, "lacking refinement, unpolished," 1530s. The sense of "approximate" is recorded from c. 1600.
Rough draft (or draught) is from 1690s. Rough-and-ready "rude and disorderly" is by 1832, from an earlier noun (1810), originally military; rough-and-tumble "not elaborately or carefully ordered" is from a style of free-fighting characterized by indiscriminate blows and falls (1810). Rough music "din produced by banging pots, pans, etc. for the purpose of annoying or punishing a neighbor" is by 1708. Rough-snout (c. 1300) was an old term for "a bearded face."
"that part of an animal body between the head and the trunk and which connects those parts," Middle English nekke, from Old English hnecca "neck, nape, back of the neck" (a fairly rare word) from Proto-Germanic *hnekk- "the nape of the neck" (source also of Old Frisian hnekka, Middle Dutch necke, Dutch nek, Old Norse hnakkr, Old High German hnach, German Nacken "neck"), with no certain cognates outside Germanic, though Klein's sources suggest PIE *knok- "high point, ridge" (source of Old Irish cnocc, Welsh cnwch, Old Breton cnoch "hill").
The more usual Old English words were hals (the general Germanic word, cognate with Gothic, Old Norse, Danish, Swedish, Dutch, German hals), from Proto-Germanic *halsaz, which is perhaps cognate with Latin collum (see collar (n.)); and sweora, swira "neck, nape," probably also from a PIE root meaning "column" (cognate with Old English swer "column," Sanskrit svaru- "post").
Oxen and other draught animals being yoked by the neck, it became a symbol of burdens, of submission or subjugation, and also resistance or obstinacy (compare stiff-necked). Figuratively, "life" (late 15c.) from the breaking or severing of the neck in legal executions. Meaning "narrow part at the top of a bottle" is from late 14c.; meaning "part of a garment which covers the neck" is from 1520s. Meaning "long, slender part of a stringed musical instrument" is from 1610s.
Sense of "isthmus, long, narrow strip of land connecting two larger ones" is from 1550s. Phrase neck of the woods (American English) is attested from 1780 in the sense of "narrow stretch of woods;" 1839 with meaning "settlement in a wooded region." To stick (one's) neck out "take a risk" is recorded by 1919, American English. Horses running neck and neck "at an equal pace" is attested from 1799; to win by a neck is from 1823. To be up to the neck "have a lot of" at first (mid-19c.) suggested "fed full," but since c. 1900 it has implied "in deep."
"poor and poorly educated Southern U.S. white person, cracker," attested 1830 in a specialized sense ("This may be ascribed to the Red Necks, a name bestowed upon the Presbyterians in Fayetteville" — Ann Royall, "Southern Tour I," p.148), from red (adj.1) + neck (n.).
According to various theories, red perhaps from anger, or from pellagra, but most likely from mule farmers' outdoors labor in the sun, wearing a shirt and straw hat, with the neck exposed. Compare redshanks, old derogatory name for Scots Highlanders and Celtic Irish (1540s), from their going bare-legged.
It turns up again in an American context in 1904, again from Fayetteville, in a list of dialect words, meaning this time "an uncouth countryman" ["Dialect Notes," American Dialect Society, vol. ii, part vi, 1904], but seems not to have been in widespread use in the U.S. before c. 1915. In the meantime, it was used from c. 1894 in South Africa (translating Dutch Roinek) as an insulting Boer name for "an Englishman."
Another common Boer name for an Englishman is "redneck," drawn from the fact that the back of an Englishman's neck is often burnt red by the sun. This does not happen to the Boer, who always wears a broad-brimmed hat. [James Bryce, "Impressions of South Africa," London, 1899]