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Tobacco Road refers to the tobacco-producing area of North Carolina and is often used when referring to sports (particularly basketball) played among rival North Carolina universities. The phrase actually originated as the title of a novel set in Georgia, but it naturally migrated to North Carolina because of the state's primacy in tobacco production.

The usual universities referred to by the moniker "Tobacco Road" are the following:

Three of the schools (Duke, UNC, and NC State) are separated by no more than 25 miles (40 km) and Wake Forest lies about 100 miles (160 km) west of the other three. It was formerly much closer to the other three, having originally been located in the town of Wake Forest, North Carolina until 1946. All four are no more than 6 miles (9.7 km) from Interstate 40; the road is sometimes informally known as the "Tobacco Road". The proximity of these schools to one another and the membership of each school in the Atlantic Coast Conference have created a natural rivalry among students and alumni.

These four universities are also known in the state as the "Big Four" and competed in the Dixie Classic tournament from 1949-1961 and the Big Four Tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina, from 1971-1981.

North Carolina State University's Red and White Song mentions each of the four universities in its lyrics.

See also

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

Etymology

There were and are many roads of this name in the American South. The meanings are derived from the 1931 novel, Tobacco Road, by Erskine Caldwell and the 1932 play and 1941 movie derived from it.

Proper noun

Singular
Tobacco Road

Plural
-

Tobacco Road

  1. A fictional place in the rural American South inhabited by poor and uneducated.
  2. Dilapidated housing as might be found in the rural American South.
    • 2004, Richard J. Lazarus, The Making of Environmental Law, page 169
      If you have traveled in the remote parts of the Deep South, I am sure you have seen the architecture of Tobacco Road - shacks built of whatever materials were available at the time, often by a series of owners. Maybe the roof is corrugated tin, but one wall is made from a billboard and the doorstep is a cinder block.
    • 2004, Mike Echols, I Know My First Name Is Steven, page 124
      All in all, the scene was one of an ethereal Tobacco Road West.
  3. (pejorative) Poor and uneducated rural Southerners
    • 2000, Phillip J. Obermiller, Thomas E. Wagner, Edward Bruce Tucker, Appalachian Odyssey: Historical Perspectives on the Great Migration, page 151
      Then we got Tobacco Road on the corner here, but they finally got burnt out. The family she referred to lived at the end of the block.
    • 2006, Lee Server, Ava Gardner: Love Is Nothing, page 43
      The next time he saw her it was her picture in the newspaper, with the story all about the Tobacco Road girl who had made good.
    • 2007, Geoffrey Nunberg, 'Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism Into a Tax-Raising, Latte , page 83
      But those Tobacco Road stereotypes of the South and rural America are the same disparagements that the Republicans hurled at the Populists a century ago [...].

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