Wednesday, July 3, 2013

You Are Where You Live

Recently a friend asked me what people who live in Atlanta call themselves. I felt a little off-guard when I answered, "Well, Atlantans, I guess." I know I've used that moniker for years, but never very consciously.

As it turns out, terms for people who live in certain localities are called "demonyms." Demonyms are usually just a matter of adding a suffix such as -ite, -an, -ian, or -er to the end of the place name. Some examples are Seattleite (I love that one!), Ottawan, Californian, and Londoner.

There is also -ese, as in Taiwanese, -ish, as in Irish, -i, as in Iraqi, and -ine, as in Argentine.

There are less common suffixes, too, such as in the Glaswegian from Glasgow, the Oslovian from Oslo, the Spaniard from Spain, and the Slovenes from  Slovinia.

Then there are the names were nothing is added, but taken away. Afghans, Croats, and Thai live in Afghanistan, Croatia and Thailand.

Some of these don't even make much sense (at least to me.) For example, folks from Manchester are called Mancunians. Wha? And then how do you even make a name for denizens of Massachusetts? (Turns out they are Bay-Staters).

We in Portland, OR are Portlanders. I work with a bunch of Vancouverites in Washington. I have been, at different points in my life, a Missourian (often pronounced Missouran), a Louisianian, a Tennesseean, and a Georgian. I am engaged to a Texan.

So are you Saranacians? Saranac Lakers? Sarcusians? Please enlighten your fellow earthlings!

In the meantime, here are some books on demonyms:

Front Cover   Front Cover  


  1. Ah, Joanna -

    As ever, the provocateur!! I LOVE this so much!! Myself, I call myself "Lucky" or "a resident of the Capital City of the Adirondacks, and the Adirondacks' COOLEST PLACE", although the most common demonym I have heard used is "Saranac Laker".

    It is SO interesting, how "identified" we are with where we are from .... I have never thought about it, but as a native of Colonie, NY (suburbia Albany), I have NO IDEA what folks from Colonie "identify" as - I have never heard a denoym used to refer to being a resident of Colonie; most say: "I'm from Colonie."

    Thank you SO MUCH for this very fun vocabulary lesson!! Hope your summer is progressing as you hoped!
    Be well. And keep those interesting new words coming!