1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of the country.
2. Of or relating to people who live in the country: rural households.
3. Of or relating to farming; agricultural.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin rūrālis, from rūs, rūr-, country; see reuə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: rural, bucolic, rustic, pastoral
These adjectives all mean of or typical of the country as distinguished from the city. Rural applies to sparsely settled or agricultural country: "I do love quiet, rural England" (George Meredith).
Bucolic is often used pejoratively or facetiously of country people or their manners: "The keenest of bucolic minds felt a whispering awe at the sight of the gentry" (George Eliot).
Rustic frequently suggests a lack of sophistication or elegance, but it may also connote artless and pleasing simplicity: "some rustic phrases which I had learned at the farmer's house" (Jonathan Swift).
The hiker slept in a charming, rustic cottage. Pastoral, which evokes the image of shepherds, sheep, and verdant countryside, suggests serenity: The train passed through pastoral landscapes.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.