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Hoosier (pronounced /ˈhuːʒər/) is the official demonym for a resident of the U.S. State of Indiana. Although residents of most U.S. states typically adopt a derivative of the state name, e.g., Indianan or Indianian, natives of Indiana never use these demonyms.[citation needed]The State of Indiana adopted the nickname "Hoosier State" more than 150 years ago.[1] "Hoosiers" is also the nickname for the Indiana University athletic teams. The word Hoosier is sometimes used in the names of Indiana-based businesses and organizations. In the Indiana High School Athletic Association, seven active athletic conferences and one disbanded conference have the word Hoosier in their names.

In other parts of the country, the word has been adapted for other uses (see Other uses). In St. Louis, Missouri, the word is used in a derogatory fashion in similar context to "hick" or "white trash".[2] “Hoosier” also refers to the cotton-stowers, both black and white, who moved cotton bales from docks to the holds of ships, forcing the bales in tightly by means of jackscrews. A low-status job, it nevertheless is referred to in various sea shanty lyrics. For example, Shanties from the Seven Seas[3] includes lyrics that reference hoosiers.



The exact etymology of the word is unknown, but it has been in use since at least 1830. According to Bill Bryson, there are many suggestions for the derivation of the word "Hoosier," but none is universally accepted. Historian Jacob Piatt Dunn, Indiana historian and longtime secretary of the Indiana Historical Society, noted that "hoosier" was frequently used in many parts of the South in the 19th century for woodsmen or rough hill people. He traced the word back to "hoozer," in the Cumberland dialect of England. This derives from the Anglo-Saxon word "hoo" meaning high or hill. In the Cumberland dialect, the word "hoozer" meant anything unusually large, presumably like a hill. Immigrants from Cumberland, England, settled in the southern mountains (Cumberland Mountains, Cumberland River, Cumberland Gap, etc.). Their descendents brought the name with them when they settled in the hills of southern Indiana.[4]

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