A Hoosier by any other name

Who’s a Hoosier? Let’s take a quick look at some possible origins of our famous name.

A historic photo of people dancing at the Indiana Roof Ballroom.

We’ve been Hoosiers since the early 1800s, even before the time this photograph was taken.

Photo via Crystal Signature Events

Here’s a new vocab word for you: demonym, a word that identifies residents of a particular place. For us, it’s “Hoosiers,” but where did that name come from?

The history is actually pretty muddled. Nobody seems to know exactly when the name was invented — only that it entered the general lexicon after Richmond resident John Finley published a popular poem titled “The Hoosier’s Nest” in 1833.

Since then, scholars and news sources have suggested several origins, including:

  • Census workers calling “Who’s here?” at the doors of Indiana homes — or frontier settlers calling out to strangers on their property
  • A reference to Methodist minister Rev. Harry Hosier
  • Derived from the French words for “redness” or “red-faced”
  • A reference to Colonel Abraham Stover, who said, “Ain’t I a husher,” after beating several men in a fight

Whatever the origin, given its official recognition by the US Government Publishing Office, our Hoosier demonym isn’t going anywhere soon.

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