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In American English, Podunk, podunk, or Podunk Hollow denotes or describes a place of small size or "suburb", and is often used in the upper case as a placeholder name in a context of dismissing significance or importance.
The book portrays Waxtend as being drawn by his interest in public affairs into becoming a representative in the General Assembly, finding himself unsuited to the role, and returning to his trade. It is unclear whether the author intended to evoke more than the place near Ulysses, New York by the name "Podunk". Possibly the term was meant to exemplify "plain, honest people", as opposed to more sophisticated people with questionable values.
At the time he was living in Buffalo, New York, moving to Hartford, Connecticut in 1871, in a home within 4 miles (6.4 km) of the Podunk River). Elmira, where Twain had lived earlier, is within 30 miles (48 km) of Podunk, New York, so it is not clear which to village Twain was referring.
An 1875 documentation of dismissive usage is:
The United States Board on Geographic Names lists five places named "Podunk":
Other areas known as Podunk include:
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