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Curtis Honeycutt: Revisiting the home name game

Mexico Gay Pride Parade

Participants take part in the annual Pride parade in Mexico City in June. Residents of Mexico City call themselves "Capitalinos," which is a demonym. Columnist Curtis Honeycutt explains what demonyms are in his latest column.

I love being at home. It’s where I sleep. It’s where I write. Home is where I watch Netflix. It’s an amazing place. I would be content to stay at home all the time if it weren’t for the fact that my house isn’t also a coffee shop.

We have some interesting names for people where I live. In the state of Indiana, we’re referred to as “Hoosiers.” My home state, Oklahoma, calls its inhabitants “Okies” or “Oklahomans.” While I understand Okie, the Hoosier moniker is an ongoing mystery.

This got me wondering: Is there a name for the nickname we apply to people from certain places? Of course there is! Demonyms are the words we use for groups of people from different places. We get the word demonym from the Greek words “demos” (people, citizens, tribespeople) and “nym” (name). I have written about demonyms before, but I learned about some new ones recently and simply had to tell you about them.

I grew up in Norman, Oklahoma, where its residents are called “Normanites.” Now I live in Noblesville, Indiana, where I hope we are called “Noblesvillains,” but that can’t be right. People in New York are New Yorkers. Folks in Nebraska are Nebraskans. Yawn.

I’m more interested in funky demonyms (and, boy, there are plenty of them). For instance, people in Mexico City are called “Capitalinos,” as Mexico City is the capital of Mexico. Those living in Tangier, Morocco are proud “Tangerines.” You can’t make this stuff up.

I can’t pronounce the word for people from Utah without yawning; I can’t even type it. They’re called “Utahns,” which just reminds me of a yawn. Sorry for making you yawn — blame the Utahns. Crossing the U.S., residents of Arkansas are called “Arkensawyers,” although many will contend they are called “Arkansans.” For some reason all I imagine when I hear “Arkensawyer” is Tom Sawyer floating down the Mississippi in a boat big enough to fit two of every animal.

The capital of my adopted home state, Indiana, is Indianapolis. What are people from Indy called? “Indianapolitans”? Indianapolisians”? “Indianapolites”? If I keep thinking about it, my head might explode.

If you’re from Amsterdam, you’re an “Amsterdammer.” If you hail from Hamburg, you’re a “Hamburger.” Similarly, residents of Frankfurt are called “Frankfurters.” Those Germans get all the cool meat names.

So whether you’re a Honolulan, a Fort Wayner, an Oklahoma Cityan or a Providentian, I hope you take pride in the town or state from which you hail, and find solace in the place you call home.

Curtis Honeycutt is a syndicated humor columnist. He is the author of “Good Grammar is the Life of the Party: Tips for a Wildly Successful Life.” Find more at curtishoneycutt.com.

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