Popular Names and Nicknames for Residents of States

Green Bay Packers fans
The nickname cheesehead refers to a person from the state of Wisconsin and to a fan of the Green Bay Packers football team. (Patti McConville/Getty Images)

It's easy to see why someone who lives in New York State is called a New Yorker. And why a resident of California is a Californian. But what do people in Massachusetts call themselves? And where do Huskies and Nutmeggers live?

In the first column of the table below, you'll find the official names for residents of the 50 states according to The United States Government Printing Office Style Manual. The right-hand column contains alternative names and nicknames.

Origins of Some Nicknames

It's probably self-explanatory to think of why Colorado folks unofficially call themselves Highlanders or Alabama residents 'Bamers. But the name Hoosiers, in Indiana, didn't come from the basketball movie but actually a poem by John Finley about the state called "The Hoosier's Nest," from 1830, where the term was originally spelled "Hoosher." Nebraskans aren't Huskers just because of the state university nickname of Cornhuskers for its sports teams but actually for the people who husked corn there by hand before the advent of machinery to automate the task. 

Empire Staters, in New York, derive that nickname from the name of the state being the Empire State, a place of great wealth and resources, or an empire. Bay Staters of Massachusetts are proud of their definitive water inlets. Ohio's Buckeye name is in reference to trees that once dominated the landscape there.

Down Easters aren't a serious type of winter storm; the term was actually a maritime reference to a specific area of Maine coastline, begun in the late 1700s. Ships going from Boston to Maine in warmer months had a strong wind at their back while traveling east, so they were traveling downwind and east, which became combined into the shortcut down east.

The term also became associated in general with New England, but Mainers are the ones who kept it for their own.


You don't actually want to call an Iowan an Iowegian to his or her face, though; it's a pejorative term for the people from there (often used on the two-lane highways in Minnesota when drivers can't pass an Iowa car going less than the speed limit, for example).

Whether the term Cheesehead is an insult to a Wisconsinite or not, though, depends on who's originating it (and possibly if it's being said inside a football stadium). Wisconsin is particularly proud of its dairy industry, so people from there proudly wear the foam cheese wedge hats on their heads to their sports arenas—and quite conspicuously to other ballparks and fields when following their teams—turning a former insult into a badge of honor. Those hats have even saved people from injury a time or two. (Really!)

For more information about the origins of more of these names, along with the terms for residents of other countries and of major cities around the world, check out Paul Dickson's entertaining book Labels for Locals: What to Call People from Abilene to Zimbabwe (Collins, 2006).

Official NamesNicknames & Alternative Names
AlabamianAlabaman, Alabamer, 'Bamer
ArkansanArkansasian, Arkansawyer
ColoradanColoradoan, Highlander
Hawaiianmalihini (newcomer)
IllinoisanIllini, Illinoyer
IndianianHoosier, Indianan, Indianer
KentuckianKentucker, Kentuckeyite
MainerDown Easter
MassachusettsanBay Stater
MichiganiteMichiganian, Michigander
MississippianMississippier, Mississipper
New HampshiriteGranite Stater
New JerseyiteNew Jerseyan
New Mexican 
New YorkerEmpire Stater
North Carolinian 
North Dakotan 
Rhode IslanderRhodian
South Carolinian 
South Dakotan 
West Virginian 
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Nordquist, Richard. "Popular Names and Nicknames for Residents of States." ThoughtCo, Apr. 23, 2018, thoughtco.com/names-and-nicknames-states-residents-1692783. Nordquist, Richard. (2018, April 23). Popular Names and Nicknames for Residents of States. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/names-and-nicknames-states-residents-1692783 Nordquist, Richard. "Popular Names and Nicknames for Residents of States." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/names-and-nicknames-states-residents-1692783 (accessed May 27, 2018).