Why is it called "THE" Ohio State University?

Why the superfluous “the”? It sounds pretentious and bothers me every time I hear it. Why do they want to be special?

Brand marketing.

The University of South Carolina went through that a while back, trying to brand themselves as “The USC.”

This was asked a couple of years ago, although the search function is acting up again. IIRC the law establishing a state university said something like “the legislature is authorized to establish and fund the Ohio state university…”

And when the university was incorporated, sure enough the name was listed as The Ohio State University.

I guess we should all be thankful the law wasn’t written to say “a single, unified university system for the state of Ohio.”

What? It’s the state university of Ohio. Ergo, the definite article is appropriate. Like, oh, I don’t know, THE University of Pennsylvania.


Be grateful for the short forms that are in common use. How’d you like to narrate a football game between the Leland Stanford Junior Cardinals and the William Marsh Rice Owls?

From The Ohio State University web site:

"Ohio State’s roots go back to 1870, when the Ohio General Assembly established the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. The new college was made possible through the provisions of the Land-Grant Act, signed by President Lincoln on July 2, 1862. This legislation revolutionized the nation’s approach to higher education, bringing a college degree within reach of all high school graduates.

The college’s curriculum was a matter of bitter dispute among politicians, the public, and educators. One faction, the “narrow gauge” group, held that the college should devote itself solely to the teaching of agriculture and mechanical arts. The “broad gauge” faction wanted a wider program that featured English and ancient and foreign languages as well. Joseph Sullivant, a member of the first Board of Trustees, pushed the “broad gauge” idea through the Board of Trustees, where it passed by a margin of 8-7. His legacy endures; Ohio State continues to offer a broad-based, liberal arts education and a diverse range of study.

Classes began at the new college on September 17, 1873. Twenty-four students met at the old Neil farm just two miles north of Columbus. In 1878 the college’s name was changed to The Ohio State University."

You’re missing the point. Of course it is the Ohio State University, the University of Pennsylvannia, the Ohio State Corrections Facility and the cafeteria. What other schools don’t do is put a pronounced emphasis on the word “the”.

It’s as if there is another Ohio State University out there and their alumni and students want to be certain that the two are not confused.

Misguided arrogance. :wink:

<------- Graduate of “The” other Ohio University, which was there first.


But there are, however, other “state universities” in Ohio, though OSU was the first.

And as **freckafree **pointed out, OSU was originally “The Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College,” which needed the “The.” When the name was changed, “The” was retained.

Which is a private school that has no connection to the state of Pennsylvania. The definite article is appropriate, but OSU is the only school I know of that makes a big deal out of it.

For the same reason that UT self-styles themselves “THE University of Texas”, or sometimes more obnoxiously “The University”, which is because they’re arrogant pricks… there are MANY Texas universities, and they just want to pretend that they’re special.

I agree that it is branding. They are The Ohio State University, rather than just an Ohio State university. There are tons of state universities, including, as before mentioned, Ohio University, which is also a state institution (and even predates OSU by decades). It emphasizes that Ohio State University is their name, not just a description of what they are (a state university located in Ohio).

The University of Michigan (public) is usually referred to with the definite article, even though nobody is arguing that Michigan only has one university. UVA (also public) is usually styled The University of Virginia, and JMU is not objecting. I’m not sure what the big deal is.

Also, ultrafilter, I don’t see how it really matters whether the school is public or private.

There are three common name formats for American state universities which include the name of the state:

  1. University of (state)
  2. (state) University
  3. (state) State University

In every case that I know of, except one, format (1) takes the definite article and formats (2) and (3) do not. I have never, ever heard anybody say that they attended “the Michigan State University” or “the Indiana University”. It isn’t a matter of these schools not emphasizing the definite article, it’s a matter of not using it.

Except for the Ohio State University. I guess they like to be different.

This much is common sense, and applies to anyone and anywhere else using the English language. It’s hard to refer to the University of the West of England or the University of Arts London without the definite article, but, as you say, there’s no need for this uncouth Ohio nonsense :wink:

But people who actually go there don’t use it either. In the seven years I went to OSU, I never heard anyone use the “The” in normal speech, or even in normal writing. It’s only included in an official context. I was one of the editors of the OSU yearbook for a few years, and most of the time we simply referred to it as “Ohio State” or “OSU.” But on the cover or spine or title page, yeah, we had to make sure it was "*The *Ohio State University.

The post he quoted made that point. He was just responding.

I watch lots of football and I only noticed it 5-6 years ago (during MNF introductions, natch). I kind of got the impression they were astonished to discover there was a university in Ohio, or something.

Hell, I was always told it was to differentiate the main campus from all of the branches. And I was a student there for 6 years. eg

University at Buffalo.


Yeah! Because – dare I say it? – we’re BUCKEYES!