The Official List of What People From Each State Are Called Is Causing Controversy

Someone found the government's official list of what to call residents of each of the 50 states. Some of them are surprising.

Robin Zlotnick - Author

Aug. 5 2019, Updated 9:08 a.m. ET

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Me? I'm a New Yorker at heart. That's where I grew up. But now... now I'm a reluctant Californian. Yes, just like that SNL sketch. Each state has its own name for its residents. Some of them make sense. And some of them... well, let's just say Indiana has some explaining to do.

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Recently, curious Twitter user and research director Natalie Jackson finally did what none of us have ever thought to do because we're idiots. She googled the official list of what residents who live in each of the 50 states are called. That's right. The U.S. Government Publishing Office Style Manual has the whole list. And let me tell you, there are some words on this list that I have never heard in my entire life. Take a look for yourself.

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Some of these are terms we have definitely heard before. New Yorkers are loud and proud, as are Texans. Mainers love hunting moose and Californians take the 101 to the 405 and get off at Wilshire. I'm so sorry, but that one is 100 percent true. Three-quarters of every conversation in Los Angeles is about traffic or the best freeway route to a destination. 

Then there are the lesser known ones that still kind of make sense, even if they're a little awkward to say. Utahn, Ohioan, Iowan, Coloradan, and Montanan fall into this category. Almost all of these end in "an." 

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When Natalie shared these official terms with the Twitterverse, people from several states got really up in arms about their state's name for them. Some people from Michigan do consider themselves Michiganians. But many more, it seems from Twitter, think of themselves as Michiganders. Massachusettsan is a preposterous word that should not exist. Everyone knows they're Massholes.

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The Twitter reactions were varied and very strong. For the record, Hawaii residents are probably called such because Hawaiian is a language and Native Hawaiian is an ethnicity. I actually really like "Hawaii residents" because it preserves Hawaiian culture and acknowledges the super diverse population of that group of islands in the Pacific.

But for real, let's talk about Hoosiers. When you google "hoosiers," the first results all have to do with that basketball movie starring Gene Hackman. Which is fine. But google "hoosier meaning," and you learn that people from Indiana have been called "Hoosiers" since the 1830s. There are a bunch of theories about where it originated, ranging from a poem published in the Indianapolis Journal to the story of when Indiana's first settlers arrived. Apparently, they'd say, "Who's yere?" when there was a knock on the door. Whatever the story, it's ridiculous. 

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But even Hoosiers aren't the craziest state resident names on the list. Let's take it alphabetically, shall we? The first insane name is Connecticuter. Cuter! As in "more adorable than..." I love this. Connecticut doesn't have a lot going for it, except for like, a great college women's basketball team. They deserve this. 

New Jerseyan isn't even trying. How New Jersey of them. And let's just take a moment to condemn the absurdity of New Mexican. Like, oy. Carolinians are fun to say, but nearly all the "-ites" are insane. Wisconsinite? Just call them cheese heads! And last, but certainly not least, we have Wyomingites.

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Yes! Wyomingite sounds like something you put on toast that does not taste good. Who came up with these names anyway? I'm imagining some old man sitting in a tiny, windowless room with a typewriter and a bunch of maps. It is 2019, but he doesn't know about the Internet. Clearly.

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If I learned anything from this thread, it's that the U.S. government is not nearly as creative as the people of Twitter when it comes to naming the residents of the states. Of the many better suggestions on this thread, my favorites were "Illinoid," "Hobbits" for people from New Hampshire (because they're from the 'Shire), "Mainiacs," and "Les Missourables."

Now I kind of do want California to split into three different states just so we can figure out how to name them and the people who live in them. Many of the existing names for state residents could be vastly improved. I don't know who we write letters to in order to change them, but I think we have to try. We deserve "Hobbits."

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