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9 Nicknames for Natives
What to Call Elsewherians (and Why!)
By Mark Peters
While the meanings of monikers such as Ethiopian, Hobokenite, and Earthling aren't hard to suss out, it's a little tougher to guess where to find a Moonraker or a Zonie. And why the heck are Oklahomans called "Sooners," anyway? We're not sure when Rand McNally and Noah Webster teamed up to create these wild nicknames, but after hearing the origins, we'll happily applaud their creativity.
Zonie is a derogatory term for the crowds of Arizonans who descend upon San Diego each summer, presumably to escape the ungodly heat in their Zonie homeland. San Diego newspapers feature plenty of references to the "Zonie Factor," and many residents long for a "Zonie-free" environment. Regularly used in that area, it's a good term to know. Just don't get it confused with a Zonian, one who lives in the Panama Canal Zone, or a Bizonian—someone who lived in the post-WWII British/American zone in Germany.
Oddly enough, the New York Knickerbockers should really be the New York Irvings, because the word came from Washington Irving's pseudonym, Diedrich Knickerbocker. Though not nearly as common as Hoosier or Sooner, a "Knickerbocker" is someone who descended from early Dutch settlers—and therefore is from New York State. Irving used the pen name while writing the satiric A History of New York in 1809.
Logically speaking, someone from elsewhere could be from anywhere, but language isn't especially logical. The term "Elsewherian" is actually specific to California, where it was invented by former Governor Goodwin Knight to refer to anyone who hails from anywhere but the Golden State. The Golden State being, of course, where Californians, Californios (Spanish-speaking settlers in the state's youth), Gold Coasters, Gold Diggers, and Prune Pickers can be found.
"Appleknocker" was originally an insult for a hillbilly, hick, or rube. In 1937, the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce in Washington tried to ban the term from the movies because it gave apple workers a bad name. However, as language changed, Appleknocker evolved into a more favorable, affectionate label for people from parts of New York or Washington State who are hip-deep in apple orchards.
[Author's Note] Special source credit to Paul Dickson for his book Labels for Locals: What to Call People from Abeline to Zimbabwe (Collins, 2006).
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