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What's a hoosier?

Well, in St. Louis, it doesn't mean someone from Indiana!

In a nutshell, it's the St. Louis term for white trash or redneck. Also similar to "hesher" which is more common out west. There actually is a link to Indiana hoosiers in the way the term became known as being derogatory. But exactly when that happened is up for debate.

Bob Putnam of the Way Out Club says the term hoosier became derogatory in St. Louis when they moved the Chrysler plant from Indiana to St. Louis back in (I think) the '50s. You might ask him for exact details. And the workers were blue collar, of course, and they moved in and were not quite fully adjusted for city livin', so the locals used hoosier as a derogatory term for the new interlopers in their neighborhoods. I'm sure the term had derogatory roots dating back much earlier than that, though, but this chain of events certainly didn't help matters any!

Some more background on this topic:
"Hoosier" is simply a nickname for a resident of Indiana, and has no other meaning. The origins of "hoosier" are, if not totally obscure, uncertain at best. The Oxford English Dictionary lets it go at "origin unknown," but elsewhere speculation abounds. "Hoosier" first appeared in the early 19th century, when Indiana was considered "the frontier." Throughout what was then "the West," any man who could outrun, out-drink and out-fight any opponent was known as a "husher," from his ability to silence his foes. "Husher," in fact, was a common synonym for "bully" throughout the Western Territories. The bargemen of Indiana who plied their trade up and down the Mississippi were known as an especially combative breed, often turning their visits to ports such as New Orleans and St. Louis into impromptu mass boxing matches. It is said that the reputation of these bare-fisted ambassadors of pugilism earned the nickname "husher" for their home territory of Indiana. By the mid-19th century, the word had mutated to "hoosier," and, in a curious turnabout, had come to be a popular synonym for "hick" or "rube." Since the turn of the century, "hoosier" has lost both of its former connotations and been a neutral, if somewhat mysterious, term for anyone from Indiana.

Hoosier vs. White Trash

In case you are confused on the difference, here is a common discription of both, for your reading pleasure:

A hoosier most likely lives in South City, works for a union, and is usually found after work with a beer in his hand. He most likely is working on his lawn, or chatting it up with the neighbors and being somewhat obnoxious. He drives a nice truck and on the weekends he does things like work on his classic 'vette that may never run. He wears a pair of light khaki Dickies and a union T-Shirt. Please keep in mind that this breed will most likey have a beer gut and a farmers tan. A hoosier is usually harmless, but some times teeters on the pervert line. (ex. – he sees a cute girl in a pair of shorts and a sports bra running down the street and to his neighbor, he will say "Man, I would like to be that bra.”)

Now a red neck or white trash...this is a totally different breed.

They live in Jeff Co, mostly in trailer parks or in the back woods of Illinois. He works at a gas station, and after work you find him watching wrestling or NASCAR on his 15 inch tube TV (on his front lawn, mind you). He is drinking profusely from his bottle of Mad Dog 20/20. He is also sometimes seen driving to the gas station on his old beat up riding mower, with a can of the Beast in his hand, to pick up cigs, more beer, and milk for the baby. Sometimes he gets too drunk and beats his wife, poor thing, she is afraid to leave his sorry ass. But, every time he yells “Woman, get me another beer!", she always stops what she is doing and brings one out. Often this white trash man drives an 82 Camero and is sporting a mullet. On the back of his Camero, you will surly find a KSHE 95 bumper sticker. He wears cut of jean shorts and an AC/DC T-shirt with the sleeve cut off.

External Links

  • Hoosier - More background on the term. In a nutshell, it says that the original meaning was hillbilly/redneck and only later did Indianans latch onto it.