Language is a strange and beautiful thing. We have a word for the loose skin on the tip of our elbow. (Weenus) We have a word for the pleasure derived from another’s misfortune. (Schadenfreude) We even have a word for a creature so perfect it brings a tear to your eye. (Dog) If you’ve ever wondered, “What’s the official name for my state’s residents?” there is, of course, a name for each of those as well. Be warned, once you learn yours, you will never be able to go back to the days of merely referring to yourself as “an Idaho native” or “from California.”
Natalie Jackson (@Nataliemj10) is to thank/blame for bringing these buck wild names to our attention. “After about a dozen arguments about what to call residents of certain states, I finally googled and found the U.S. Government Publishing Office Style Manual,” Jackson tweeted. “Have fun with this, [T]witter.” Oh, the fun that Twitter had.
Some are set on the names they’ve known since birth. (I see you, Michiganders.) Others are confused how some states got away with such simple names. “Hawaii resident” is the official name but the people of Indiana have to walk around calling themselves “Hoosiers?” Is there no justice?
If you want to see whether you’ve been referring to your state residents per U.S. Government Publishing Office Style Manual guidelines, here, in full, are each of the names:
- Hawaii resident
- Hoosier (Indiana)
- New Hampshirite
- New Jerseyan
- New Mexican
- New Yorker
- North Carolinian
- North Dakotan
- Rhode Islander
- South Carolinian
- South Dakotan
- West Virginian
I’d like to call special attention to a few names. “Utahn” is particularly distressing one. “What should we call ourselves, fellow people of Utah?” “Oh, I don’t know. Just stick an “n” at the end and we’ll think of something later.”
Then, there is “Massachusettsan” a word with so many consonants it should be a city in Iceland. Another personal favorite is “Mainer.” I’m sure the conversation went something like this:
“Could we just put an “n” on the end like Utah?”
“Okay, what if we add -ite?”
“Sounds too much like Mennonite.”
A shy hand raises in the back. “What if...we just...add an ‘r’?”
Celebration! Tears of joy! Uproarious applause!
“Connecticuter” is on a whole new level I can’t even begin to address.
There are also state native names that are exactly as you’d expect. New Yorker. Texan. Californian. Are the boring or classic? Are they uninventive or just a little easier to pronounce?
You can peruse the official style manual yourself, if that’s how you like you spend your afternoons. (That is with zero judgement. I’m currently brushing up on the correct article to use before “UFO sighting.” It’s “a” not “an.”) Terms for U.S. State natives is on page 96 of the document, page 109 if you’re looking at the PDF.
Perhaps a few of these names roll off the tongue a little easier to those from the area. (Can anyone vouch that “New Hampshirite” sounds beautiful and elegant with an east coast accent?) At the very least, we can add these state resident names to the list of regional words, dialects, and pronunciations specific to different areas of the country. (Only real ones know what a “bubbler” is.)
So, if you needed something new to argue with your relatives about, congratulations: you've got 50 new things. Enjoy?