Somebody from Arizona is an Arizonan, somebody from Montana is called a Montanan, and somebody from Indiana is called a... Hoosier? I mean, Indianan is a word, but perhaps it's not as popular because it sounds redundant, and the word Indian was already taken of course. Reflecting on this, it seems inevitable that a new demonym had to be created, but what does Hoosier even mean? Well, no one seems sure, so let’s delve into a realm of guesswork. We know that it became popular by the 1830s, but before that, it could have been everything from a combination of who’s there? to an Indian word for “corn”. The most possible explanation, however, is that it was a dialectal term for “redneck” or “hillbilly”. This could have been from an earlier word spelled like hoozer and probably pronounced differently, with Anglo-Saxon origins. Nothing is for sure, though, as with all etymologies.
Adam Aleksic, a freshman studying linguistics at Harvard University, has been described as the internet's sixth most famous etymologist. He has disturbing interests in words, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law, and he loves writing about himself in the third person.
The Etymology Nerd