All about demonyms, or What’s in a name?

The technical term for state nicknames is demonym, and some are not as obvious as you might think.


CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, February 8, 2016 — People from various states and cities in the United States have nicknames, from Hawkeyes to  Jayhaws, Cornhuskers to Tar Heels. The technical term is demonym, and some are not as obvious as you might think.

Thanks to collegiate athletics, there are the familiar monikers such as the Hoosiers of Indiana, the Iowa Hawkeyes, the Jayhawks from Kansas and the Cornhuskers in Nebraska. We also have Tar Heels, Sooners, Buckeyes, Volunteers and Mountaineers which are generally well-known.

However, there are others that are far less familiar.

Most states have multiple names for their citizens but the fun of this story is discovering the lesser known names that are primarily familiar to the locals. For example, Alaskans are sometimes known as “Ice Chippers” while citizens of Connecticut are referred to as “Nutmeggers.”

If you live in Delaware, you might be called a “Muskrat.” Coloradans are also known as “Highlanders.” Thanks to the Green Bay Packers we are familiar with the “Cheeseheads” of Wisconsin, but what about the “Pennamites” in Pennsylvania or the “Tejans” in Texas?

If you live in Massachusetts you are a “Bay Stater” which is fairly obvious thanks to Cape Cod and the state nickname, but how about the “Arkies” of Arkansas, or the Rhode Island “Rhodians,” or even being a “Wyomingite,” a “Wyoman” or a “Wyomingian” if you reside in Wyoming?

These are not all of the states, of course, but some of the others are well known to everyone.

Cities can also have odd names for their inhabitants.

Residents of Beatrice, Nebraska are known as “Beatricians.” If you live in Del Mar, California, you are a “Del Martian.”

There are the “Ho-Ho-Kusites” from Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey and the “Las Vegans” in Nevada. What about the “Chunkers” from Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania?

Historically speaking, citizens of Phoenix, Arizona are sometimes known as “Phoenicians.” People living in Walla Walla, Washington can be nothing other than “Walla Wallans.” And, of course, thanks to Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory, who could forget the “Bozites” from Bozeman, Montana?

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All of which brings us to the big three, otherwise known as the top contenders for the best regional or city nickname in the country.

Here are my personal choices in alphabetical order.

The first is not intended as an insult because it is so clever, however in this day and time, the residents of Cedar Rapids, Iowa might take offense to being known as “Bunnies.” Exactly how does that translate? It’s simple really, when you think about it “Cedar Rapids” when spoken quickly could become See Der Rabbits, hence the name “Bunnies.”

People living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan proudly claim the name “Yoopers.” Here again the derivation comes from the letters “U.P.,” or “Yoop.” Makes sense, doesn’t it?

And finally, Whittier, Alaska has two names from which to choose. The first is somewhat obvious as its people are often called “Whittiots.” The second is a bit more subtle but as with the Bunnies and the Yoopers, it is equally clever.

Whittier, Alaskans are also known as “POWs” or Prisoners of Whittier.

So my friends, that’s what you write about when there is nothing else to write and it just doesn’t get any “Whittier” than that.

Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (

Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News. Follow Bob on Twitter @MrPeabod

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