What is a City Slicker?

City Slicker Meaning

Definition: Someone who lives in a big city.

The idiom city slicker refers to someone who has lived in a big city for most of his or her life and who is accustomed to living a fast-paced, city lifestyle. Depending on the context, a city slicker is also thought to be a smooth, sophisticated urbanite, slick possibly connoting being smooth in personality.

People who live in rural areas, however, often use this as an insult to describe those who live in cities.

Origin of and Ways to Use City Slicker

define city slickerThe etymology of this idiom is not entirely clear. As an American colloquialism, it appears to have first gained in popularity in the 1920s. It is speculated that it was first used in 1916, and a film titled The City Slicker debuted in 1918.

City slicker can be used with both neutral and negative connotations. If someone from a rural background calls someone a city slicker, that person is usually insulting the other. This term implies that someone from the city is deceptive, or slick, in some way.

City slicker can also mean that the person from the city is not well equipped to live a slower, rural lifestyle, which is considered superior to city life by those who are from rural areas.

Examples of City Slicker

Meaning of city slickerAlthough this idiom can be used in a neutral context, it is typically used as an insult, especially when the person using the term lives in or is from a rural area. It insinuates that someone who is from the city is inferior to those who are from the country.

This sample conversation between husband and wife illustrates the correct use of this idiom.

Jean: Did you hear Thomas got another promotion?

Conway: He ain’t nothing but a city slicker. Drives flashy cars and wears fancy clothes. Why do we care what he does?

More Examples

  • What incited their rage was a state tax on license plates based on the weight instead of price of a vehicle — making a farmer with a heavy, old pickup truck pay more than a rich city slicker driving a Porsche. – The Washington Post
  • The new city-slicker raccoons appear to enjoy city nightlife more than their country cousins. – NY Post


The English idiom city slicker refers to someone who lives in the city. It can be used with a neutral connotation, but is typically used as an insult, especially when used by someone who is from a rural area.