The Origin of the Word ‘Hoosier’: A New Interpretation

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William D. Piersen


Neither of these first two speculations was particularly compli­mentary of early Indiana life, so some state residents adopted more flattering explanations of Hoosier origin. Several argued that the word "hoosier" derived from a mispronunciation of the European term "hussar" attached to Hoosier boatmen in honor of their fight­ing hearts and manly prowess. Others contended that high-spirited Indiana boatmen were termed "hoosiers" because they liked to jump up and crack their heels together while shouting "Huzza!" But neither the "hussars" theory nor its "huzza" counterpart accounts for the derogatory way the term was actually used in the early Southeast, and neither has ever been taken seriously as a likely etymology by students of American usage.


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Piersen, W. D. (2018). The Origin of the Word ‘Hoosier’: A New Interpretation. Indiana Magazine of History, 112(3), 218–225. Retrieved from