What the hell is a Hoosier?

Yeah, yeah, yeah…I know it’s the term for an Indiana native…but where the hell did the name come from? Are they hosers? Are they losers? What exactly is a Hoosier?

…And I don’t know. No one does. Check this link:


Well, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

One entry found for Hoosier.
Main Entry: Hoo·sier
Pronunciation: 'hü-zh&r
Function: noun
Etymology: perhaps alteration of English dialect hoozer anything large of its kind
Date: 1826

“Hoozer”, meaning anything large of it’s kind.

I suppose that doesn’t help much. But it’s a start.

Ah…I once emailed Cecil this very question soon after becoming a member of the SDMB. CDextHavn was kind enough to send a Staff Report reply to me with a link, but, alas, I have since deleted it. The Yahoo link posted by Superdude referrencing the Indiana Historical Society is generally accurate, although I have information that the earliest certain written reference to Hoosier was in a poem published in the Indiana Democrat in 1832.

There have been several theories put forth on the origin of the word but with no hard data to back them up. Dunn’s theory (found in the Yahoo link) is probably the most plausible but still speculative.

In short, echoing Superdude, no one knows for sure.

Here in St. Louis, people use Hoosier as a derogatory term, along with “Bucket Head”. Being a transplant here, I have no idea why, other than it’s used the way most people use the term Redneck. (Maybe St. Louisans don’t like Indiana folk)?

The explanation I heard in my Indiana childhood was when a stranger approached an Indianan he would say “Who’s ya’?”…short for who are you?

I (being from Indiana) recall in my 4th grade Indiana history book that the term Hoosier came from a period in early America when there were many taverns scattered around the countryside. Once, accoridng to legend, there was a particulary nasty barfight in Indiana, and one of the participants lost his ear in it. No one noticed it and it was kicked under a table or somthing. Later, someone found and called out “Whose ear?”. The book said that it eventually came to signify rough and rowdy bar slinkers in Indiana. This is what i heard in a textbook, and I think it is complete baloney. Oh well, maybe i just muddied the waters a little bit more for you guys.