What does it mean to be a "native" of a place?

The thread on passports and places of birth, and specifically the mention of being a “native Texan” reminded me of a question I got a while back that I couldn’t answer. Someone asked me if I’m a native Californian–although I was born in California, my parents moved soon after and I didn’t grow up here. So I felt somehow it wouldn’t be completely accurate to claim to be a native, even though it might be true by the dictionary definition. But I would feel even less sure of saying that I’m a native of the state I grew up in, because, well, I wasn’t born there! So I was left feeling like I’m not really a native of any place, which is somewhat dissatisfying but what can you do. I’m still not sure how to answer the question without adding “technically…” or something.

What do you think? Maybe I’m over-thinking it and it really is just a matter of a dictionary definition, but I’m not sure.

Walt Disney: Born in Illinois, grew up in Missouri, lived the better part of his life in California.

Ronald Reagan: Born and raised in Illinois, lived the better part of his life in California.

Abraham Lincoln: Born in Kentucky, spent some time in Indiana, lived the better part of his life in Illinois.

Just throwing it out there for discussion.

I’m in the same boat. Born in San Jose, but I only lived in California for three months, before my family moved to the Midwest. Technically, I suppose I’m a native Californian, but I don’t feel any affinity for it. If I consider myself to be “from” anywhere, it’s Wisconsin, though I only lived there for 14 of my 46 years (age 10 to 24).

OTOH, my wife was born in El Paso (her father was in the Army, and stationed there). She lived there for only a year or so, before her family moved to the Midwest. And, yet, she takes great pride in being a “native Texan”…her license plate even proclaims it (TEX S 63). I think it’s a Texas thing. :wink:

How do you define ‘hometown’? for earlier, related opinions.

If you live somewhere long enough you become a native. IMHO You know the streets, the best restaurants, you have friends, the city is your home.

I have no connection at all to the place where I was born. We moved to another state before I was six months old.

Concur. However, when newspapers do it, I stick with grown up there. I was born in one podunk town in Arkansas, where my grandparents live, but, within a few days, was moved to a slightly less podunk town. I say I am a native of that second town.

I think this is the best, non-elitist definition. I suppose there is some kind of star-belly right someone can have who was born and raised within a 2-mile radius, but I think another term for that could be “provincial.”
What I want to know is: how many generations of folks born and raised in N.America do I need to cite before I can be considered a Native American.

Natives can claim “born and raised,” and there’s no way to “become” a native no matter how much time passes. With a two and a half year exception, I’ve lived in NH since the age of ten. I am not a NH native. I’m pretty sure we have a reputation for being a bit more rigid about the definition up here, though :smiley:

I don’t have this problem, as I was born and raised in one place. Not only that, but my dad and grandad were born and raised in the same city as I and my great-grandad was born in the same state, but not the city. I still live here too.

I’m a Pennsylvania native, but I haven’t lived there since I was ten. I don’t consider myself Pennsylvanian at all now – I’ve lived in California far longer.

Do people from there reckon you’re from there? Then you’re a native.

I’ve known someone who was born and raised in the same town I was born, but his mindset is so different from the local culture that even his siblings tell him he’s not from there. Apparently he is from their mother’s hometown, so much so that people there are perfectly happy to accept him as a local despite his strange accent and having been born and raised elsewhere.

I’m from the town where I was born, not from the one where I was raised; Middlebro is from the town where we were raised (mindset again). People from the first town accept me as “from here since forever” as soon as they hear my lastname, ask whether I’m related to [insert here name of relative] and get an affirmative answer and the exact degree; people from the second one accept my brothers as locals but not me.

Texans are totally weird about this. I lived in Texas for just over 10 years and was told on many occassions that I would never be considered a Texan because I wasn’t born there. And the way people said it - they were genuinely sorry for me that I couldn’t be a Texan. My response was usually a big SO WHAT?! :dubious:

These same people, however, were thrilled when I had my daughter in Texas because it was very important to some friends and most of my (then) husband’s family that she be a “native Texan.” And they still consider a Texan, even though we moved to Tennessee when she was 10 months old.

I was born in Wellington, New Zealand. My adoptive parents collected me and I was brought home to Christchurch a couple of weeks later. I grew up in Christchurch and left when I was 24. I consider myself a native Cantabrian.

I voted: You grew up in X, but weren’t necessarily born there.

Interesting results so far.
I went literal and answered “You were born in X, but didn’t necessarily grow up there.” Virtually all of the dictionary listings define it as specifically relating to place of birth.

I actually expected something of a landslide and was surprised by the different interpretations of the word.

Other . Meaning, all of the above.

It’s born there; couldn’t be anything else. I refer to the town where I grew up my hometown, but I’m actually a native of somewhere else.

I’ve lived so many places I don’t have a place I think of being “from”; I have the place I was born and the place I live now, but I don’t think of myself as a native of any one place. I barely remember living in the state I was born in, and have moved rather extensively since. Where I am now…is awesome. It’s a bit late to be a native, though, in any sense. It’s going to be a while yet before I even qualify as “local” in some people’s view.

Therefore I picked grew up, not necessarily born. If I had one place I thought of as being from it’s not going to be where I was born.