Indiana University


The origin of the nickname “Hoosiers” is easily the most debated one in the Big Ten, and probably in all the country. Numerous theories have been suggested throughout the years, and when exactly the name was first introduced is unknown. Some theories include the following:

  • A slurred version of the phrase “Who’s here?” exclaimed by early settlers when approaching a dwelling in the woods.
  • A tribute to Harry Hoosier, an early 19th century black Methodist preacher who stood against slavery and inequality across America.
  • The word “hoozer,” of Old English dialect, referring to a big hill.
  • A mispronunciation of the English word “boozer,” originating in the southern US in the 9th century, referring to an unskilled, unruly country-bumpkin of sorts.

Despite some of the negative connotations of the word, the state of Indiana, and Indiana University, both officially adopted the nickname in the early to mid 1800s. Everyone still asks, “What’s a Hoosier?” No one really knows for sure, but today a Hoosier is a proud native of the great state of Indiana, an Indiana University student or Alumni, or simply an IU fan! To read a full study of the origin of the word, visit the Indiana University website here.