What Is a Hoosier?

Elmira | 08 - 19 - 2020
What Is a Hoosier

Hoosier Definition

Hoosier is an inhabitant or native to the U.S. state of Indiana.  The term “Hoosier” was commonly used in the 1840s. It is associated with the state of Indiana. Anyone born in Indiana or a resident of that particular period is known as Hoosier. Indiana State adopted the nickname “The Hoosier State” for more than 150 years.

Hoosier Origin

 The origin of the name remains unclear. There are several theories about the origin. As stated by the Indiana Historical Bureau, the term became famous in the state after the Indianapolis Journal published “The Hoosier’s Nest”- a poem written by John Finley in 1833. 

The last part of the poem expresses:

1. What Is Indiana's Nickname?
  • A. The Empire State
  • B. The Hoosier State
  • C. The Golden State
  • D. City of Flowers and Sunshine

 “Dried pumpkins overhead were strung

Where venison hams in plenty hung,

Two rifles placed above the door,

Three dogs lay stretched upon the floor,

In short, the domicile was rife,

With specimens of “Hoosher” life.”

The term “Hoosier” is utilized in many Indiana -based businesses and organizations. “Hoosier” is also the name of Indiana University athletic teams and many Indiana people have added the word “Hoosier” to their names. According to the U.S. Government Publishing Office, the term “Hoosier” is considered an official demonym. The former Governor J.B. Ray started publishing a new paper titled “The Hoosier” in 1833.

It is considered as the one of oldest of state names and gained wider acceptance than others. There are states that used some terms like Buckeyes of Ohio, the Tarheels of North Carolina, and the suckers of Illinois, but none of them gained popularity like Hoosier.

Among the More Popular Theories

Wondering why people from Indiana are called Hoosiers? There are many theories but none is universally accepted.

If a visitor knocked on the door or hailed a pioneer cabin in Indiana, the house owner would respond, Who’s yere?” The continuous usage of “Who’s yere” became the Hoosier.

The Indiana river men became so successful in trouncing or “hushing.” They were known as “hushers” and it turned into Hoosiers.

Once there was a contractor named Hoosier worked on the Louisville and Portland Canal who wanted to hire employees from Indiana. They were known as “Hoosier’s men” and eventually all Indiana people were called Hoosiers.

One theory says, Gov. Joseph Wright delivered the word Hoosier from an Indian word for corn, “hoosa.” Indiana flatboat men took maize or corn to New Orleans is also known as “Hoosa men” or Hoosiers.

One explanation was offered by “The Hoosier Poet,” James Whitcomb Riley, and claimed that Hoosier was originated in the pugnacious habits of early settlers of Indiana. They were vicious fighters who could scratch or bite off ears and noses. It was a common incident during fights so they used to casually ask, “Whose ear?” which became Hoosier.

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