Popular Names and Nicknames for Residents of States

Green Bay Packers fans
(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.

Insults

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).

State-Based Nicknames

Official Names Nicknames & Alternative Names
Alabamian Alabaman, Alabamer, 'Bamer
Alaskan
Arizonan Arizonian
Arkansan Arkansasian, Arkansawyer
Californian Californiac
Coloradan Coloradoan, Highlander
Connecticuter Nutmegger
Delawarean Delawearer
Floridian Floridan
Georgian
Hawaiian malihini (newcomer)
Idahoan Idahoer
Illinoisan Illini, Illinoyer
Indianian Hoosier, Indianan, Indianer
Iowan Iowegian
Kansan Kanser
Kentuckian Kentucker, Kentuckeyite
Louisianian Louisianan
Mainer Down Easter
Marylander Marylandian
Massachusettsan Bay Stater
Michiganite Michiganian, Michigander
Minnesotan
Mississippian Mississippier, Mississipper
Missourian
Montanan
Nebraskan Husker
Nevadan Nevadian
New Hampshirite Granite Stater
New Jerseyite New Jerseyan
New Mexican
New Yorker Empire Stater
North Carolinian
North Dakotan
Ohioan Buckeye
Oklahoman Okie
Oregonian Oregonner
Pennsylvanian
Rhode Islander Rhodian
South Carolinian
South Dakotan
Tennessean
Texan Texian
Utahn Utahan
Vermonter
Virginian
Washingtonian 'Toner
West Virginian
Wisconsinite Cheesehead
Wyomingite